Do you need to know how to set up your files for digital art-making? Here's a helpful guide for you!
Whether you're just getting into digital art, or need to know which kind of format to send to a client, this post may help.
Down to the Basics
For digital images, there are a couple file formats that most clients/websites prefer to use:
JPG: The most used image format. This is a good, basic file to use for mostly everything you need to do online. However, the compression is lossless, meaning every time you open and save the file, it will lose it's quality.
PNG: Very similar to JPG with a couple differences. PNG's will not lose their quality when opening and saving, so it's a good file format to use for high-quality web viewing. PNG's also allow you to work with a transparent background, which comes in handy for logos.
GIF: This format allows you to make small animated images. This image is most suited for a small, low quality format, which is why some gifs taken from videos may look lower quality. You can make gifs in photoshop as well by using the animation features.
Bitmap vs Vector: Bitmap images are created by using different rows of pixels to create an image. If you work with Photoshop, that program works with a bitmap structure. Bitmap is great for images with a wide range of colors and values. Vector images are made using shapes, lines, and text to form an image. They do not use pixels, so they are great for logos that need blown up really big. Adobe Illustrator uses a vector structure.
Knowing all these basics can help when deciding which format you want for your digital images. Most if not all art programs allow you to export your digital art into these formats.
Let's next talk about a good way to ensure you're producing high-quality images every time.
DPI: Stands for (dots per inch), or PPI (pixels per inch). This means how many pixels are included in one inch of your document. It's marked below as "resolution" in Clip Studio Paint. The more pixels per inch, the higher quality your image will be. If you want to have high-resolution digital art every time, be sure to set your DPI to at least 300. It doesn't matter how large in inches or pixels the piece is, 300 dpi is a good baseline for hi-res images. You may want to go higher the bigger you plan on making your image, but 300 is a good start.
It's much easier to scale DOWN an image than it is to scale UP. Scaling up risks pixelization of the image.
For example, here's how I set up most of my digital images:
Stickers: 10"x10", 300 DPI
Mini Prints/Postcards: 5"x7", 300 DPI
Art Prints: 8.5"x11", 8"x10", or 9"x12", 300-350 DPI
Print Comics: Size varies, but generally 5.7"x8.9", 600 DPI
Webcomic (for Tapas): 940px (pixels) x 20000 px, 350 DPI
-The actual size of the sticker is usually around 1.5-3 inches, but I give myself a lot of room to draw it. Then I scale it down when printing.
-I tend to up the DPI the bigger I go for art prints. If I were to print something 11x14, 17x21, I would go around 400-600 dpi. This does make the file massive, so sometimes you may have to have lower res versions of files available.
-For print comics, this was the standard sizing I learned in college. 600 DPI is very high quality, and is very good for full color, print comics, especially if they have that glossy cover.
-The Tapas webcomic format uses this format which makes is handy for reading comics on a mobile device.
RGB vs CMYK
This is getting into printing your files now. RGB is preferable for web-viewing because the color code is meant to use the light of a monitor as it's white, and black as the absence of light The colors are red, green, and blue, with everything in between. CMYK is preferable for printing because it uses white as the natural color of the print, and black as the combination of colored inks. If you try to print something with the RGB color code, the colors may not turn out how you hope, and could look a little more muddy. It's important to convert your colored digital pieces to CMYK before printing. If you are making a webcomic, or any digital piece meant only for web-viewing, you can work in RGB.
These are the basics of setting up files for digital art. If you want me to get into more about printing your digital art, what kinds of paper to use, and other things like that, lemme know! I have lots I can talk about in terms of making prints and stickers to sell for conventions and Etsy shops.
See you in the next post!