In this Design Cuts Live session, we welcomed back one of our favourite creatives Leslie Nicole from French Kiss Collections.

This time around, Leslie tackled something a little different than usual; the topic of file and software compatibility when it comes to design. Leslie covered the major extensions: GIF, PNG, PDF, TIF, JPG, AI, EPS, PSD, SVG, PROCREATE, AFPHOTO, AFDESIGN, AFPUB, plus the Photoshop Add-Ons like ABR, CSH, ASL, PAT. She also touched on compression Lossy vs. Lossless and file size limitations for Procreate.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again, there's no better person to learn from when it comes to the fundamentals of graphic design. This session is jammed packed full of goodness to help you in your design endeavours, plus Leslie provided us with her PDF guide, which you can download here.

Difference between Raster Files and Vector Files

Raster Files are made up of grid pixels on the file. They is resolution-dependent, which means that the ability to scale up is limited to the pixel dimensions resolution output. All photographs are raster. Raster can can be used for drawings, line art, and typography, but the result will be raster and not infinitely scalable like vector files. 

Vector files are a mathematical format based on points and lines. They can be infinitely scaled up and used for illustrations, logos, line art, charts, graphs, and typography.

Difference between Universal Raster, Native Raster and Raster and Vector File Formats

Universal Raster File Formats

Any graphic software can open and save these file formats. They are also great for archival purposes. This can also be used for compressions. With a Photoshop file, save a copy in .JPEG or .TIF to archive so that they can be used even 10 years later. 

There are two types of compressions - lossless compressions and lossy compression. With lossless compressions, there’s no reduction to image quality but usually saves to larger file sizes. If you save it in this format, you will not lose any information. With lossy compression, there’s a reduction in image quality and results in smaller file sizes. 

GIF

.GIF is a lossless compression but within the parameters of the format. This format is best for simple graphics and web animations, with large areas of color. It supports transparency. 

PNG

.PNG is a lossless compression, where no quality is lost. It supports transparency, with a large number of colors. It’s best used for graphics that need compression. The file sizes can be larger than .JPEG.

JPG

.JPG is lossy in format, best for web and print. It does not support transparency. There can be a loss of detail depending on the compression settings chosen. The file sizes are smaller than .PNGs. 

TIF

.TIF is a high-quality format. It supports transparency. It can be both lossy or lossless depending on the save settings. It supports layers, colors, and large file sizes. 

Native Raster File Formats

The file formats supported in this software are .PSD for Photoshop, .procreate for Procreate, and .afphoto for AFPhoto.

Pro tip: With Procreate, you can import files that are up to 8,192 pixels, but limits the layers. So even though opening a large .JPEG or Photoshop file in Procreate, you could have some problems with the file size, but it can be resized with Procreate. 

Vector Graphic Formats

It is a mathematical format based on points, lines, and curves. It is fully scalable. The .AI is used for illustrator files. The .EPS was used earlier, however it is now fading out in its usage. The .SVG is used for web vector files, creating charts, logos, etc. for the web. It is also used for print and cut machines.

Transparency Supported

This is how Leslie explained when somebody from the audience asked her about how she uses transparency:

For example, when she makes overlays in Photoshop, they have a transparent background that can be used as overlays. With the transparency in the collection, you can see the background behind the text. This shows transparency. See the image below for reference.

PDF Compatibility

.PDF is not universal, but anyone can open up a .PDF and view it. Multiple softwares can open up .PDFs, but only a .PSD can open up a .PDF file. InDesign, Illustrator and AAF can open up a .PDF. So it's compatible with various softwares because it contains a raster and vector in its print radius. It can be used to share files online. You can even export vectors and logos in .PDF format.