File Types

Jesse MacKenzie
January 22nd, 2015

The Vital Basics

If you’ve spent any time dealing with images or art, you’ve probably come across a smorgasbord of different file types. File types can make a huge difference on how your print turns out, this page will explain the best file types to use separated into Raster and Vector files, so if you don’t understand the difference, check out our Vector vs. Raster page.

Raster Files


The best way to send us raster files is with the .psd extension. This is the default Photoshop file type, and it gives us the most flexibility when working with your files. PSD files are safe because they don’t compress or change your work when they save. Every other raster file type will compress, merge, or change your art in some way, and it may have a negative effect on the final print.


The second best way to send raster files is in PDF format. There is a risk to the file if the wrong settings are chosen, but it is possible to get smaller file sizes than a PSD without damaging the file.

When you save a PDF, a good start is to go under presets and choose the “High Quality Print” setting. Make sure that the “Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities” box is checked. If you do all of that, the file will be easy for us to use and will retain almost all of its detail and quality.


Photoshop EPS files are often much larger than a PSD or PDF and only make sense in certain situations. If you don’t have a specific reason to use EPS, we suggest avoiding it completely.


These file types are the most common for saving and transferring images. They each use different methods of compressing the image into the smallest file possible. The most important thing to know about compression is the difference between “lossy” and “lossless.” Lossy file compression (JPEG) compresses the file so much that some information is lost every time it is saved, while lossless compression (PNG) retains all of the exact information. A GIF is also lossless, but it reduces the colors of the image to save space, so it is great for low color images such as logos, but it will not work for full color photos.

File Types

Vector Files


The best way to send vector files is with the .AI file extension. This is the default Illustrator file type, and gives us infinite flexibility with your file. The only problem we could encounter is with text. To fix this, select all of your text, and go to Type > Create Outlines, then export your art. This will give us complete control of your art so that we can get it to the perfect size and resolution before we separate it.


Illustrator does an excellent job exporting PDF files. Once you have your art completed, save as an Adobe PDF. Choose “Illustrator Default” and make sure to check the “Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities.”


When working with vector files, you should never save as a JPEG, PNG, or GIF. There is simply no reason to. You will lose all of the benefits of working in vector format and you probably end up with a bigger file than with exporting as a PDF.

Jesse is our Creative Director. He splits his time between the Art Department and Creative duties, looking to innovate and push the company in both areas (unless he overslept.)

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