File Formats To Use When Saving Digital Art For Printing


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When it comes to digital art, there are many factors to consider when preparing your work for printing. One of the most important is understanding which file format you should use to ensure that your artwork looks its best on paper or other mediums.

There are two main answers: PNG and JPEG – each with its pros and cons – and sRGB vs. CMYK color modes, depending on what kind of output you need. In this blog post, I’ll explore these topics further, so you know how best to prepare your artwork for print!

Key Takeaways

  • Use PNG as the file format.
  • Save/have the digital art file resolution of at least 300 DPI/PPI.
  • Use RGB color mode when creating the digital art file.

What Is A File Format?

A file format is a structure of how data is stored in a computer file. It defines how bits are used to encode information in a digital storage medium. Different types of files can be created using different formats, such as text documents, images, audio, and video files. The type of file format determines which software can open and edit it.

Different Types Of File Formats

There are many different types of file formats available for digital art printing. Common image formats include JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), PNG (Portable Network Graphics), TIFF (Tagged Image File Format), and GIF (Graphics Interchange Format).

Vector graphics formats like EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) or SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) are also popular for creating logos or illustrations with sharp edges that don’t lose quality when resized.

Choosing The Right File Format For Your Digital Art

When choosing the right file format for your digital art project, you should consider factors such as size, resolution, color mode, and compression settings. For example, if you want to print high-resolution photos at large sizes, then you should use an uncompressed format like TIFF or PNG since they retain more detail than compressed formats like JPEGs do when printed at larger sizes.

PNG is the most used file format and best to use when printing digital art. Also, do remember to have the drawing at the right DPI (dots per inch) or PPI (pixels per inch) levels. 300 DPI is the industry standard when it comes to resolution.

PNG vs. JPEG: Pros And Cons

What Is PNG?

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics and is a raster image format that supports lossless data compression. It was created as an improved replacement for the GIF file format, which had been widely used in web graphics since the late 1980s.

PNG files are generally larger than JPEG files, but they can be compressed to reduce their size without sacrificing quality. The advantage of using PNG over other formats like JPEG or GIF is that it preserves transparency and allows images to have transparent backgrounds or semi-transparent elements such as drop shadows.

Transparent backgrounds are great when you are printing digital art for t-shirts, for example.

What Is JPEG?

JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group and is a popular image file format used mainly for photographs and digital artworks with many colors. Unlike PNG, JPEG uses lossy compression, which means some detail from the original image will be lost when saving it in this format.

This makes it ideal for photos where small details aren’t important, but overall color accuracy needs to remain high; however, if you need to preserve every single detail of your artwork, then you should avoid using this format because some information may be lost during compression.

Using JPEG or WEBP with 72 DPI resolution is great for websites but not for printing.

Comparing PNG And JPEG For Digital Art Printing

When deciding between these two formats for printing digital art, there are several factors to consider, including file size, color accuracy, and resolution requirements of the printer being used. In general, if maximum color accuracy is needed, then a high-quality version of either one should be chosen (e.g., 8-bit RGB instead of 4-bit).

For smaller prints with fewer colors or shades – such as line drawings – either one will work fine; however, if the artwork has many gradients or complex shapes, then opting for a higher quality version of either one is recommended (e.g., 16-bit instead of 8-bit).

Most printers require at least 300 dpi resolution, so ensure your artwork meets this requirement before sending it off.

RGB vs. CMYK: Pros And Cons

RGB and CMYK are two different color modes used in digital art printing. RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue and is an additive color mode that uses light to create colors. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black) and is a subtractive color mode that uses pigments to create colors.

What Are RGB And sRGB?

RGB is an additive color mode which means it adds red, green, and blue light together to produce various colors on the screen. It’s commonly used in digital devices such as computers or smartphones because of its ability to display bright, vibrant colors with more accuracy than other color modes like CMYK. When you look at a picture on your computer monitor or smartphone screen, chances are it was created using the RGB color mode.

Adobe RGB and sRGB have the amount of colors, but the range of sRGB is narrower. Some printing techniques, like DTG (Direct-to-Garment) printing, tend to work with the sRGB color range.

What Is CMYK?

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta yellow, and key (black). It’s a subtractive color model, which means it absorbs certain wavelengths of light from white paper or fabric instead of adding them together, like in the case of RGB.

This makes it ideal for printing since printers use ink instead of light to produce images on paper or fabric surfaces. Most commercial printers use this type of technology, so if you plan on having your artwork printed as wall art, then you should consider using the CMYK or sRGB format when saving your files.

Comparing RGB vs. CMYK For Digital Art Printing

When choosing between these two formats, there are several factors to consider, such as what kind of printer will be used and what type of output is desired from the prints. If displaying artwork digitally, then go with the RGB format since most monitors support this file format.

However, if you desire high-quality prints, then choose the CMYK format since most professional printers require this type of file to achieve accurate results when printing onto paper or fabric surfaces.

There are always exceptions to these rules, so please do make sure to gather more information whether you are doing t-shirt printing, for example, or wall art printing, as they differ quite a lot.

It should also be noted that some colors may appear differently depending on whether they were saved as an RGB file versus a CYMK file; thus, it is important to check how each looks before committing them to print.

Preparing Your Digital Art for Printing

When preparing your digital art for printing, it is important to consider the size and resolution of your image. While there are plenty of AI image upscalers, remember that in most cases, resizing the image to a bigger version will create blurry pixels as the pixels are generated from thin air.

Make sure your source file is as big as possible, and no resizing is needed.

Make sure the resolution of your digital art piece is at least at 300 ppi level. Resolution refers to how many pixels are used per inch (ppi) in an image file. The higher the ppi, the better quality print you will get from your digital art piece. For example, if you want a large poster-sized print of your artwork, aim for at least 300 ppi or higher.

Applying color profiles (like sRGB IEC61966-2.1) is an essential step in preparing digital art for printing. Color profiles allow printers to accurately reproduce colors on paper by adjusting them according to specific printer models and settings, such as RGB versus CMYK mode or Pantone colors versus spot colors.

These color profiles must match the type of printer being used; otherwise, there may be discrepancies between what appears on screen and what actually gets printed out onto paper or merchandise, resulting in poor results overall.

Be sure to check with your printer or printer company beforehand about which color profile works best for them before sending off any files.


When deciding which file format to use when saving your digital art for printing, consider the pros and cons of both PNG and JPEG files and RGB vs. CMYK color modes. By following these tips, you can ensure that your artwork will look its best when printed out.

The right file format to use when saving digital art for printing depends on what type of project you are working on and what kind of output you need from it. T-shirt printing and wall art printing are totally different printing scenarios, so you need to make sure to know what kind of printing you are about to do.

FAQs For File Formats With Digital Art Printing?

Is PNG Or JPEG Better For Printing Digital Art?

When it comes to printing digital art, the best file format is usually either PNG or JPEG. Both formats can produce high-quality images with excellent resolution and color accuracy.

PNG files offer better image quality than JPEGs due to their lossless compression algorithm and support for transparent backgrounds, making them ideal for detailed graphics such as logos or illustrations.

What Is The Best Format To Save Art For Printing?

The best format to save art for printing is vector graphics. Vector graphics are made up of mathematical equations and can be scaled infinitely without losing any quality, making them ideal for printing. They also support various colors, gradients, and effects that raster images cannot match.

PNG is the second-best option format to save your artwork for printing. PNG is a lossless file format and thus keeps the artwork as crisp as possible.

Also, save the artwork as a high-resolution (300dpi or higher) image so that details remain sharp when printed at larger sizes. Going past 300 DPI usually doesn’t bring any noticeable difference to quality.

Should I save digital art as PNG?

Yes, PNG is the best file format for digital art. It offers lossless compression, meaning no data is lost when saving images. This makes it ideal for preserving the original quality of your artwork and ensuring that colors remain vibrant and details are sharp.

Additionally, PNG files support transparency which can be useful if you want to use your artwork in a t-shirt design, for example.



Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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