don’t save as jpeg
as a former yearbook editor and designer, let me explain this further
if youre only planning on posting your art online, them please save it as .png ;this is also better for transparencies as well
please, if youre planning of printing your art, NEVER use png. it makes the quality of the image pretty shitty. use jpeg or pdf instead. and always set your work at 300dpi to get a better printing quality - this means, the images are crisper and sharper and theres no slight blurriness. i had a talk with my friend who is currently taking design, and pdf is much better to use when youre working with a bigger publishing company because it still has the layers intact, but if youre only planning on printing your stuff at staples or at some small publishing store, the jpeg is the way to go.
this has been a public service announcement
This post has about 30,000 notes and a lot of back and forth on what you should and shouldn’t do. Part of this is because there is a lot of personal preference when it comes to printing. People like to work with different formats and equipment because that is what they learned on. They achieve basically the same things through different methods and much like Mac/PC… there is much debate.
I don’t have a degree in anything but maybe I can clear a few things up.
First of all, if you are printing things yourself, there is no reason to convert your photoshop or illustrator document to anything else before printing. So keeping it a PSD or AI file is fine. If you are having someone else print your document, ask them how they prefer the file to be formatted. They will choose the best option for their experience and equipment.
Keep in mind you will get sharper prints if you adjust your document’s pixels per inch to match the printer. Epsons are 360ppi. Most other manufacturers are 300ppi. Sometimes people erroneously refer to this as dpi, so just be aware of that.
I wrote a more detailed post on how big you should make your art here.
On file formats…
JPEG - This compresses your image to make the file size smaller. This can cause quality loss because it is basically throwing away data. This is especially hard on text, graphics, and simpler artwork. Fine lines can get jagged and pixelated during the compression process. However, photos and photo-realistic art will look just fine.
That means JPEGs are ideal for posting photographs or highly detailed artwork online. They are compatible with all browsers and will load much faster for people with slow connections. At the sizes people view JPEGs on the web, it will be hard to see the loss of quality.
As long as the resolution is good and the compression is minimal, you can still get nice prints from a jpeg, but it is not ideal.
TIFF - This is basically a super JPEG. It has no compression and is compatible with most image editors. It handles colors well and prints nicely. Due to its robust compatibility, most printers can handle TIFFs with no worries. If I had to save a file into a flattened format, TIFF is probably my choice. The disadvantage is that the file sizes can be very large and you cannot publish TIFFs online in very many places.
PNG - These are typically used for web-based graphic design or simple artwork. They are compatible with all browsers and allow you to preserve transparency. They also render text and fine lines much better than JPEGs. If you were posting more cartoon-like artwork online or something very graphical (charts and graphs) this would be a good option. File sizes can get big with more complicated images. I don’t recommend saving photos or photo-realistic artwork as PNGs.
In my experience I have found that color rendering with PNGs is a bit unreliable, so I would probably avoid this format for printing purposes.
PDF - This is basically a container. You can throw whatever you want into a PDF. It will maintain the quality of the images you put inside it. PDFs are great for multi-page documents. Especially if they are a mix of graphics, art, text, and photos. If you don’t have experience using publishing software like InDesign, this is a good alternative for these types of jobs. If you only have one page to print, I’m not sure it is worth the trouble of making it a PDF.
RGB vs CMYK
I recommend always starting your document in the RGB colorspace and converting it later only if needed. It is rare that you do not publish on the web, and RGB is much more suited for that. Converting from RGB to CMYK is much easier than the other way around.
If you are printing yourself, you are probably using an inkjet. Modern inkjets do great RGB conversion and in some cases will handle it better than CMYK. You can try both formats, but in the end you will just have to accept the fact that nothing you can do will get you a perfect color match. The goal is to get a good print. View it and judge it independently of what is on your screen. Do not drive yourself mad trying to get them to match perfectly.
If you are having someone else print your work, again, ask them what they prefer. If they have large offset printers, they may ask for CMYK. If they have inkjets, they may just want RGB files. If this is a very large printing operation, your printer should want to do any color conversions themselves. If they do not, I might suggest looking for a different printer.
I hope that is helpful. Happy printing.