Whether you work as a graphic designer for print or the web or for TV and film, an effective compression technique is a must to get things done efficiently. Without it, files would take hundreds of megabytes, large files would take hours to send, your landing page wouldn't appear, and browsing the web sluggish like it was in the 90s on dial-up; in other words, not fun.
Looking to hire a new graphic designer? Yes, you’re going to want to brush up on your knowledge on this too.
Understanding image compression is very important. All modern design tools rely on complex built-in image compression algorithms. While a lot of these processes are automated, knowing how and why image files are compressed will help you optimize your output further, giving you a clear understanding of output accuracy and how to reproduce it as intended.
Before jumping into how image compression works, let’s quickly go through the two fundamental types of images you’ll be working with, Bitmaps and Vectors.
Bitmaps are basically a collection of colored pixels (bits)that are mapped out in a space to form a cohesive, smooth image from a distance. These bits are static and work well when they are viewed in their optimum distance. As a result, going too close or zooming in too much will break the illusion of a unified image. You’ve probably seen this happen when zooming into bitmaps and getting less-than-ideal, pixelated imagery.
Vectors on the other hand is a mathematical set of co-ordinates that declares a series of lines, shapes, and fills. These coordinates are fixed and will tell the bits where to go and how to dynamically arrange themselves in order to stay consistent. These images can be reproduced at any size, scaling up and down without the loss of quality experienced in bitmaps.
Then why don’t we just use vectors all the time you ask? Well, vectors aren’t suited for photo-realistic images because it lacks the capabilities of working with huge variations of textures and tones over small areas. That complexity becomes a disadvantage and is the reason why bitmaps are still here to stay.
As a result, vectors are generally tiny in size and don’t typically require compression while bitmaps do.
Image compression is a type of compression that is applied to the artwork itself. It reduces the redundancy of the image and stores or transmits data in an effective way. By examining the task more closely, we note the objective of image compression is to save data. To save or transmit data is to save or transmit information.
Compressing a file is done when you remove or group together particular parts of the image file. This serves to make the file size smaller and more manageable. So whenever you visit a website, or use any function on the internet including sending an email, chatting or send large files, compression at work.
- It makes your website load faster. Websites with uncompressed pictures can require longer to load and can cause users to leave your webpage. This also affects your website rank on search engines like Google.
- For image sending and sharing. Most email serves limit the file sizes and it takes a while to upload and download without compression.
- To save disk space. If you’re working with a lot of files all the time, you’ll know how quickly your disk space can fill up. Compression enables you to store more image files with less space.
There are two basic methods of compressing files: lossy and lossless.
Lossy compression works by discarding information from the original file. The degradation won’t generally be as noticeable, but more compression means lower quality. File types include JPG and GIF.
Lossless compression retains all the original information but that comes at a price. File sizes are usually bigger than lossy files. Filetypes include EPS, PNG and PSD.
Thankfully, there are several free tools you can use online for file compression. These are some to choose from:
Adobe (Yes, they have their very own online tool)
These are all great tools you can use to compress your images quickly. The best part of all is that they’re free. Of course, if you were planning to use those images for design, on the web or in your presentations, the tools you use may already have a built-in compression capability.
Need help compressing images and want to get beautiful designs that your brand deserves? Mad Creative Beanstalk can help you with that.