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Image File Types: .pdf, .ai, what's the difference?

When working with designs or logos, there are different file types that screen printers or embroiders require to give the best quality when being translated onto apparel. Luckily, we've broken down most of the definitions for you to make the process of sending over your files to us easier, especially if you're not a designer or in digital arts.

There are two fundamental types of image files:

1) Vector files

AI: "Adobe Illustrator" files are mainly used for logo design and illustration. Vectored .ai files are preferred when sending over your design to us at Stitchworks.

PDF: "Portable Document Format" is an industry standard when exchanging documents electronically. When saving in PDF form, make sure to embed your fonts and flatten your files in your program beforehand.

EPS: "Encapsulated PostScript" files is a vector format that is best used for high resolution digital illustration and one that we prefer dealing with directly.

PSD: "Adobe Photoshop Document" is a document created in Adobe Photoshop enables manipulation of text, image, shape and layers. This is not a screen printers preferred way of receiving files, however you are able to send us PSD files for a quote and we can also quote you on vectoring your PSD file for screen print use.

2) Raster files

JPG (JPEG): "Joint Photographic Experts Group" is best used for photo images that require smaller files. (ie. websites). Web designers typically use .jpg files as it uses lossy (with losses to quality) compression to compensate for taking up less space. Please note that once the image is converted to .jpg, the quality cannot be fully recovered.

PNG: "Portable Network Graphic" files are similar to jpg's are more commonly used for web based images. However, PNG's can have transparent backgrounds and are generally higher quality making it easier to work with than JPG's.

TIF: "Tagged Image File" is a type of raster file of a higher image quality meaning that can be saved as a larger file.

Things to note:

For screen printing: When a logo is in vector format, typically it is saved in the appropriate file type which contains bitmaps without any loss of information. However, when you convert a vector into a raster file, the image file can lose some information.

For embroidery: The image file that is required is much more flexible when it comes to embroidery. The image must be entirely recreated and digitized into what is called a .dst file, so we do not require a high resolution image. Please send us the image files that you have and we will let you know if the file is suitable.

  • JPEG, PDF, AI, EPS, PNG, PSD and TIFF are all file types that can be accepted.

  • If your image is not in the required vector format, please send us your image file, as we can still offer a quote on vectoring the image for screen print.

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