Oct 20, 2010

The Mighty Mighty Png Image


copyright by Marsha Jorgensen 10/11/2010. All rights reserved.
Digital journal page. Image credits: words, flowers, and some border pieces from Crowabout Studio B at Deviantscrap.com; body and some border and background pieces from Finecrafted Designs at Deviantscrap.com; eyes from Sherrie JD at Deviantscrap.com; main face and some background texture from my images at tumblefishstudio.etsy.com; flypaper texture on top.

Inspired by my friend Tracey of Glitterbug Studio's comment to my last post, I thought I'd try and shout from my own little mountaintop how Png images are so misunderstood!

Hand cut and paste folks tell me all the time how they have to use jpg images because they don't work digitally. Helloooooo! Up until a few weeks ago, I worked almost entirely in hand cut work. Png images can absolutely be used by anyone and has so many benefits over jpg images.

So what's the difference between the two you ask? Here's the skinny on png and other images . . . There are three main types of image file formats: png, gif, and jpg. For some reason, everyone has fallen in love with jpg at one time or another but have given png and gif the cold shoulder.

I'm not gonna talk much about gif because I still ignore them and no one I've run across sells gif images. Gif stands for Graphics Interchange Format and from what I understand, are the largest of the three types of files without anything lost in the saving process. They also only support 256 colors. But they are better used in animation projects for reasons I don't yet understand. Mainly, they are not used much by most people we know that are not professional graphics artists and designers because of their huge file size -they aren't easily shared or displayed.

The most popular until recently, jpg files are more portable - trimming the quality and information of an image to a size that is more easily stored and shared. Jpeg is short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the name of the committee that designed the format. The jpg format is designed to compress color and grayscale images. Compress being the key word. From Webopedia . . "The information that is discarded in the compression is information that the human eye cannot detect. JPG images support 16 million colors and are best suited for photographs and complex graphics. The user typically has to compromise on either the quality of the image or the size of the file. JPG does not work well on line drawings, lettering or simple graphics because there is not a lot of the image that can be thrown out in the lossy process, so the image loses clarity and sharpness." Thought it says the changes are not detectable to the eye, they are if you save them over and over. I'm sure you've heard that every time you resave a jpg file you lose quality of the image. It's true! And, jpgs come with a built in white background and have no transparency benefits. It is the smallest of the image formats but the least flexible and over time actually degrades your quality.

Oh, the lovely png format! My favorite! First, let me tell you . . . all of you hand cut and paste that just want to buy an image and print it out . . . you can do that with png! You can simply print it just like any other jpg image or collage sheet you own.
  • You can, if you feel uncontrollably determined, also save a png file as a jpg anytime you like and convert it to jpg permanently but I would urge you to try out the benefits of png first.
  • Png stands for Portable Network Graphics and brings to us the happy medium between Gif and jpg. Not as big as a gif, more flexible and better quality than a jpg
  • Png images never lose any image information so they are not as compressed, and therefore degraded like jpg files. You can save them over and over and not lose any quality.
  • Png files, because they are not compressed like jpg, are larger files but not as large as Gif because png files do not support animation.
  • You do not have to work digitally to use png images but they offer the option to work digitally if someday down the road you choose to.

Why I think png is better for any collage artist, hand cut or digital . . .
Ever since I started working in collage, I didn't like the idea of having to print out a whole sheet of images to get the one or two I really wanted to use over and over. So, I started making my own custom sheets to save on ink and paper. I would crop out the parts of a sheet I wanted, save it as a picture by itself or drag it where I wanted it, and then design, a sheet of images in Microsoft Publisher at the time (now I do it in Photoshop Elements), print it out and went about my work cutting and gluing, etc. Well, with jpg images, the white part always got in the way during that process. I couldn't put a pair of glasses on a face, I couldn't put something behind or "in" a hand or jar, I couldn't place things close to each other because of the white background, etc. The day I discovered png everything changed.
  • No more white background to hide what was underneath, things could be overlapped or placed closer to each other on a sheet allowing for even more saving of paper and ink.
  • And the quality of a png image is better than a jpg! Png images are sharper because they don't compress as much as a jpg when saving. This can make a difference when purchasing collage sheets - designers that create jpg collage sheets from jpg images have already degraded the image before you even buy it. Png sheets from png images retain the sharpness and color of the original image.
I wouldn't be a good girl if I didn't tell you the downside to png.
  • Some browsers, like Internet Explorer, don't support png so if you want to share an artwork on your blog it's best to save finished work as a jpg. Gif's are too large.
  • Png images are larger than jpg and very difficult to email. Even when zipped, they don't lose much size because they won't compress much. That's why most scrap image sites and a lot of other image designers have to send the images you purchase through download links. (but remember you are getting more versatile, higher quality images!)
The poor png is just misunderstood. If you ever want to give them a try, just let me know when ordering from my Etsy that you'd like to try the png. If it doesn't work for you, I'll send the jpg. I can't do that for everyone all the time or I will never finish mailing links and attachments, but I am happy to send you one or two to try if you ask.

Thank you for your input!
Thank you for all of the comments on the previous post. Your input is invaluable! I am continuing to check on file sharing services to find the one that has enough storage for all of my sheets and the best ease of use for customers. I'm going to let the post sit another day or two and then I'll announce a winner drawn from the comments to win some collage sheets.

Specific responses to your suggestions . . .
  • Since I started selling images, I have asked in three different places in each item listed in my Etsy for people to tell me if they prefer png or jpg. 95% of the time no one tells me so I have to take the time to write and ask or take the time to send both. So asking for preferences has not worked.
  • We're all busy. Most of us, including myself, don't always take the time to read everything so asking for preferences or explaining how things are sent most often gets overlooked and unaddressed. I'm guilty of it too.
  • Most people don't realize the limitations of their own email service. There are a million services like AOL, and Yahoo, and Gmail and all the others in the world and most people don't realize the limitations of their account. So, when they don't get their images, they assume it's something I'm doing wrong and not that their box is full or their email service does not allow for certain size files, etc. Because most people assume the problem is on my end, I have to research and solve the problem for them. As a business owner looking for word of mouth recommendations, the customer is always right and you have to make it work for them as best you can.
  • Resolution - lowering the resolution of my images is not an option I want to consider at this time. Most people I sell images to don't just work in ATC size most of the time. Most work in larger or in digital formats, so the higher the resolution the better. The sheets are easily enlarged to work in 5 x 7 or even 8 x 10 journal pages without much loss of quality. I have decreased the resolution from when I used to send separate images in kits, but I look for the largest size I can include, taking into account the amount of images you can get for your $2 or so invested in a single sheet of multiple images.

Are you all snoring? Did you make it through that long post awake and informed? Perhaps willing to try png images? Perhaps ready to slap me?

Have a great Wednesday! I have some exciting Feature posts coming up in the next few days along with new collage sheets so keep an eye out!

For your viewing pleasure
  • My friend Betty of The Gossamer Tearoom has a beautifully delicious Midnight Carnival post for you to visit here!
  • For some of the most beautiful journal pages you'll ever see, visit Kate at The Kathryn Wheel.
  • One of the artists that has most affected my work and inspired me to expand my horizons in recent months has been Trudi of Two Dresses Studio. She is also the creator of The Butterfly Effect project you can see linked in the upper left side of my blog.
  • Her work is always inspiring to me (such rich color and detail), but Terri of Pringle Hill has the most wonderful post on an Envie Journal here!
  • Julia of Julia and Co is going to be one of my blog features coming up soon. She is such a kind and generous person and has some of my most favorite collage images in Etsy. You can take a preview peek here.


thekathrynwheel said...

OOh I love your art here, The grey eyes on the coloured background looks spectacular :-)
Well said about png / jpg etc. I have had comments on my blog from some people saying that they can't use images because they don't do digital! Well, I don't do 'digital' but the images couldn't be easier to download and use. And the images themselves are sooo gorgeous that they lend themselves to art of any kind :-) You are an inspiration to many Marsha.
P.S. Thanks for the shout *blush*

The Painting Queen said...

I read the whole thing! haha Go PNG!

Fiona (anubis 1 ) said...

Beautiful work as always my dear. Hail to the png!!!! well said and great explanation of the different formats. Phew......... I read the whole shabang he he.......

Terri Kahrs said...

Wow!!! Pointy hats off to salute the beautiful PNG file!!! Well done, Marsha!!! You've explained every little detail, and I don't blame you for not wanting to lower the resolution on your gorgeous images. That's what make your work so stunning!!!

BTW - your digi journal page is lovely. Thanks, too, for the more than honorable mention!!! I'm humbled by your kindness, My Friend!!! Love Ya! Terri oxoxo

"MOI" Freubel said...

Hey Marsha
I've also noticed that the use of png files are often underestimated.
You are so right !
I often thougt to make a blog devoted to the theme. But my english is not so good.
I'm happy to read it here at your blog and I hope many others will do that to !

Another misconception is downloading PSD's .
A PSD (PhotoShopDocument) is a layered file and easy to modify.
The formats can be opened in most editing programs including PSP.
Many users don't know that.

(I share my freebies as PSD's and in my shop I offer only PNG's)

But anyway....A big hurray for your post here !
I just wanted to let you know how I appreciate it.

Hearty greetings from the Netherlands. Rian

Tracey@glitterbugstudios said...

LOL Marsha! All hail the mighty png! And I have YOU to thank for introducing me to these beauties! That is too funny that you made a piece inspired by my comment. I really do want to tell every cut and paste collager out there to try using pngs. They have absolutely, positively changed the way I make my art. And the quality is unmatched. I read your whole post and and I liked learning all about the different image files. You are a big inspiration in my life and thanks so much for the shout out!

Outstanding Stranger said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you and well done Marsha. The reason some people didn't reply was because they didn't know the difference between Jpeg and png. I have only used jpeg because I do alot of photos. I usually save my purchased sheets as all files. Just because??? I will be excited to print my next sheet as png. Thanks for your loving kindness..

The Gossamer Tearoom said...

Dear Marsha,
Thank you for all of the info about PNG files. I have to admit that I am guilty of being stuck in a JPG rut because it is what I am used to, but I promise to give them an honest try soon!

Also, thank you so much for the mention of my Carnival! It is so very sweet of you!


Anonymous said...

YAY FOR PNGs!! I thought this was a very clear explanation, I'm sure others till find it so too.

And as for Internet Explorer not liking pngs - no one in their right mind should be using such a buggy browser when the wonderful Firefox is available - oh dear, I'm such a nerd!

As always, Marsha, LOVE YOUR WORK!!

Anji Johnston said...

It must have taken you a week to write this post! Very informative and a lot of stuff I never knew about - thank you Marsha!! Now to find the time to use some png's!
Thanks so much for your comment on my blog, and yes, I am an interior decorator (not to be confused with designer - much too pompous for me!) and faux finisher. Have been for about 30 years. All my photos are of other peoples projects except for that gorgeous buffet - a steal at $52's! I just love it and will cram it full of more stuff before the week is out!
Hope all is well with your son? and you. Anji XxX

Brenda Grace said...

Thankyou for taking the time to do what the rest of us dont and stay stubborn and stuck - reseach and laymans terms! - okay I am ready to give PNG a real go now thanks to your outline. I thought you had to run a photoshop type program to even simply print? Do I just need to get into photoshop to do the overlays etc? My next order can be PNG's and I will be sure to mention it in the purchase process. Brenda xxx

Brenda Grace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
"MOI" Freubel said...

I've wrote in my blog about your shout Marsha and hope that many readers will come over to read your blog !!
Hearty greetings

greer / eggstudio said...

Great article. Thanks for the info I actually learned something today

jody said...

Great post! A nice, clear explanation of the different formats. I made a link to it from my blog. Hope that's alright. I recently discovered the joy of .png. Yay! No more erasing white backgrounds.

Trudi Sissons - Two Dresses Studio said...

Heh there - PNG is the new BLING? :0)
You are a doll taking the time to put this informative and well written article together Marsha - and thank you for your over the top comments - you make me blush!

free online image converter said...

If you are looking for something easy to use and simple for converting your images formats then use the imverter.com for free and online application.