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graphic formats

Graphics on the web can hugely add to the visual effect of a web site, but they also add to the download time. Web graphics can be static, animated or photographic. These are usually either gif, jpg or png file formats.

It is virtually impossible to "teach" on-line how to create graphics, it takes both creative talent as well as knowledge of the tools. Most tools provide both a within-product tutorial as well as a booklet. You can also learn a lot from the "Help" menu in the software. There are some specific Photoshop tutorials here.

graphic formats


  • 8-bit colour
  • Compresses solid areas of colour and preserves detail, like logos, or illustrations with type
  • Reduced amount of colours and interlaced for faster download
  • Support tranparency
  • Also used for animated graphics


  • 24-bit colour
  • Preserves the quality of brightness and hue found in photographs
  • Also used for continuous-toned images
  • Can be saved as high or low quality
  • A progressive jpg file can also be used - low-resolution version of image appears while the full image is downloading
  • Don't support transparency


  • png-8 supports 8 bit colour
  • Compresses solid areas of colour
  • Preserves sharp detail
  • Supports transparency
  • More advanced compression than gif (see above) - can be 10-30% smaller file size than gif
    • View optimized images in gif and png-8 format to compare file size
  • Only supported by version 4+ browsers
  • support it in the HTML 4 specification over gif (because the gif format is owned by Compuserve)
  • Read more about png from here:

basic pointers

  • Keep the file size to a minimum
  • Always use RGB colour
  • Use the web palette (216 web-safe colours)
  • Keep the physical size small - larger graphics look clunky on a web page

If gif:

  • Save with as few colours as possible
  • Save as an interlaced .gif
  • Make the background colour (where applicable) transparent

If jpg:

  • Lowest quality possible
  • Save as progressive