What Exactly Are File Extensions?

What Exactly Are File Extensions?


So you are probably new to graphic design or digital art and lately you’ve been seeing all these options of file extensions every time you try to save a file or download images or stuff like that and you don’t really understand what they are? Or perhaps you are a client and you want to understand better what the files your graphic designer sent to you are used for?

A long time ago when I was just being introduced to the world of computers by my big brother, one of the first things he explained to me was file extensions and that single lesson helped me a lot going forward.

While some file extensions are software specific and can only be opened by that software, others can run across different devices and software. File extensions are usually saved as three letters added to the end of a filename after a dot (.). For example: filename.jpg, filename.png. Each of them have their various uses and work best in certain situations.

JPG (or JPEG) : this is one of the most popular if not the most popular file formats when it comes to images. It works well across platforms and devices. When you take a picture with your phone it is usually saved as a JPEG file. You can also export your designs to this format as well. However, it doesn’t keep a transparent background so it is not best for exporting logos and images if you wish to have transparent backgrounds.

PNG: this is another popular one in the graphic design game. It does almost exactly what a JPG does but with slight differences. The most obvious difference is the fact that it saves your image with a transparent background. In fact when you are searching for a transparent image online you should always add the keyword PNG.

GIF: when I was first introduced to GIF, I learned that they are animated pictures and that is a very good way to understand them. They also save photos with a transparent background, as animations can also be without backgrounds. Of course not all GIFs are animated, you can definitely save a still image as a GIF file as well. Actually GIFs made me understand the basic secret of animation and triggered my interest in animating. Animations are basically combinations of pictures to create an illusion of motion. You can open a GIF in PhotoScape to understand this better, that’s what I used back then too.

PDF: you probably already know this one well. You know it as a format for text documents and e-books but it is also very handy when it comes to graphic design. This format saves images in such a way that they can be viewed and edited easily using different software. For example the texts in a pdf can still be edited when opened in a software with editing features even on mobile. It is very wise to save your files in this format, especially logos and files you intend to print.

SVG: it stands for Scalable Vector Graphics and is used by vector programs to save files in a non-destructive format which can still be edited across different programs. I believe it also works well for web design and coding as I had a friend of mine who is a web developer ask for the SVG of a logo I designed for a website he was working on.

EPS: At first I avoided this file extension but it always seems to pop up everywhere and so I had to start saving files in this format in addition to other formats as well. While working on this post I checked some materials online and I learned that it is great for saving vector files to be used in different programs and for prints. External link.

PSD: Now this is a software specific file extension for photoshop but other software also give the option of saving files in this format and can even run them in most cases.

AI: hold on this is not Artificial Intelligence but rather a file extension for Adobe Illustrator, a vector based program.

KRA: this the file extension used by an open source digital painting software called Krita.


Originally published at https://edaboyi.blogspot.com on May 6, 2022.



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