Creative Series: Understanding File Types - BONUS are My Favorite Tools and Tricks


The most asked question I get from clients is the purpose of different file types. Through the process of any branding project I throw a lot of different files at my clients and do my best to explain how to use each and every one. I think; however, anyone can benefit from this little crash course. Oh, and be sure to scroll down to the bottom for some BONUS tools and tricks!




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First things first, there are raster graphics and vector graphics. Raster graphics are composed of pixels and will become blocky when scaled too large. Vector graphics, however, are composed of paths and can be scaled very large without losing its quality.


  • .PNG (Portable Network Graphics) – Best used online for text and graphics with high quality and high image size (longer loading time). Transparent backgrounds allow users to see graphics behind it. Not meant for scaling larger than its pixel width or print.
  • .JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) – Commonly known as the “default” file type. Typically used for high quality photography (for its low file size) and low-resolution images online. Not recommended for print use. Does not support transparency online.
  • .TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) – Known as the “print ready” file format. Files are too big to ever be used in web design, but quality is not lost when saved or compressed. Can support layers when necessary.
  • .GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) – Specifically for online use. Mostly known for their ability to be animated. File reduced to only 256 colors, which results in low file size and lower quality.
  • .PSD (Adobe Photoshop Program) – File generated solely from the Adobe Photoshop program. Never to be used online, but great for printing and sharing files with other designers. Supports layers and transparencies, but often results in huge file sizes.



  • .AI (Adobe Illustrator Program) – File generated solely from the Adobe Illustrator program. Creates vector type files that are completely scalable. Cannot be embedded online, but great for printing. Supports layers and transparency.
  • .EPS (Encapsulated Post-scripted File) – Creates vector that are ideal for any design element that could need to be resized. Files are print-ready but not meant to be shared online. Ca be converted to PNG, JPG or GIF to web use. Typically shared with the client, printer or other designers.
  • .PDF (Portable Document Format) – Good for both print and digital. PDF’s often contain both raster or vector images. Can be compressed if necessary and a great way to share design previews with a client. Can be embedded online, but often shared as a downloadable file.




You won’t always be able to run to your graphic designer every time you need a quick advertisement design or blog image. So, as promised, I’m giving some of my favorite tools (outside of the Adobe family) and handy tricks that’ll help you look like a professional designer.





  • Pair Contrasting Fonts – Choose fonts with high contrast. This will help bring balance.
  • Illustrate Information with Shapes and Icons – You might be surprised how much information you can relay with an image. Creating infographics is a great skill to create original designs.
  • White Space – White space is your friend. Space out your elements evenly and let your graphics breath.
  • Simple Backgrounds – Less is more. Busy images take away from the message your want to stand out.
  • Typography – Watch for line height and spacing. Steer clear of overused fonts like Ariel, Curlz and Calibri and you’ll look like a pro.

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Lara Lewis is the owner of Bealara, a branding studio. Through timeless graphics, stunning websites and social strategy Bealara is here to take your business to the next level. As a solopreneur, Lara knows all too well that building a business is not always easy. She herself bounced from one creative industry to the next never knowing how to market or form a brand. After an “ah ha” moment she took the graphic design skills she acquired in college, every ounce of professional experience (good and bad) and launched her branding studio. You can check out her website at

Creative SeriesGeily Romero