Useful Digital Skills for Artists

Imaging Skills

Print& Scan

Web Skills


Image formats for the Web
also useful for email, PowerPoint, inserting in Word documents

Cynthia Beth Rubin

GIF and JPEG are both standard, small, compressions

Instructions on saving to these formats in Adobe Photoshop and ImageReady are here

Standard Formats are needed when:

  • Uploading to the Web.
  • Sending email to some one with limited software (and limited time)
  • When you do not know the limitations of a particular software

Compressed Formats are needed when:

  • Uploading to the Web.
  • Sending normal email (special collaborations are exceptions)
  • When disk space is limited, and image quality is not critical

Why use a GIF?
  • A GIF is an 8 bit image (256 colors or less). This makes it a good format for images with few colors.
  • Only a GIF can be animated with standard software (not using Flash)
  • The fewer colors that a GIF has, the smaller the file size (generally).
  • The advantage of a GIF is that the artist does all of the file reduction. What you see when you are done reducing is exactly what you get.
  • A GIF can have "transparent" as one of its colors
  • A GIF can be made up of any 256 or fewer colors, but only 216 colors are Web safe (will look the same on all computers)
  • To read more about Web safe palettes Lynda Weiman's page. You can download charts of safe colors from her site.
  18 web colors, dithered 18 selective colors, no dither

Why use a JPEG?

  • A JPEG uses the full range of thousands of colors. This makes it the best format for images with many colors.
  • A JPEG is a "lossy" compression. The more detail that is lost, the smaller the file size. Thus the scale in quality for jpegs.
  • Blurred images compress better than sharp ones.
  • Low contrast, and less saturated images compress better.
  • The advantage of a JPEG is that subtle tones can be preserved.
  • A JPEG which is viewed on an 8 bit monitor (256 colors) will be dithered as it is displayed.

Resources for Understanding Web Images

Common Graphics Formats, by Mark Flemming

Color Charts on Lynda Weiman's page

Lynda's Main Page (