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The Complete Guide to Image File Types

February 14, 2019

It is easy to get confused on which type of file to use and send when you want to get a piece of artwork printed as a screen printed or digital transfer to heat apply with a heat press.


There are so many different file types out there – which one do you need to use?


But don’t worry…


It can be confusing, but we make it easy to send files for printing.


Here are some of the most commonly accepted file types with most screen printers.   


So the good news is…


Most likely, your artwork can be used!


However, sending us the best file you can will definitely help your heat applied transfer image be the best it can be and how you expect it to look.


Sending the best file you can involves knowing the various file types.


To learn more about the different file types, you’ve come to the right place


Vector vs Raster – what are they and what is the difference?


There are two main types of images that most file types will fall into – vector or raster.


Raster images are more common to come across. They are your popular photo files – jpg, png, gif, tif, etc.


Vector files are not as common. Vector files are usually created by artists or designers. They are typically for logos or for commercial printing purposes, to name a few examples.


Common vector file types are ai, cdr, eps, and pdf. (These files can actually contain raster art also, so it can be tricky – more on this later.)

The difference between these file types is how the art is created within these different types; how the artwork is built.


Raster images are made up of pixels, or tiny squares of colors. That’s it. You’ve seen images like this before.




Vector art, on the other hand, is made up of “points” or “nodes” that create lines. This type of art can create smooth curves without “blocks” like raster art.



This brings us to the next part – resolution.


Image Resolution – What is it?



Image resolution plays a part in each type of art file, whether it is raster or vector.


Resolution is basically the quality of the image – how clear or blurry the image is. The higher the resolution, the more clear the image will look.


Resolution is measured by “dpi”, meaning dots per inch (or ppi – pixels per inch). This is measured in a linear inch.


For example, going back to raster art and pixels, the images are made up of the tiny boxes of colors.


The boxes (pixels) are in rows upon rows, like a grid.