In this essay I will be discussing processes, applications and file formats that are commonly used in the media industry. I will write about the advantages and disadvantages of each, what they are, uses, and what they are supported by.
Bitmap (aka raster graphics) is a process used in graphic design. It is made up of pixels, so when the image is enlarged it becomes pixelated. This is the main difference between bitmap and vector processes. It is a format that is used for designing detailed graphic images and adjusting photography. It allows the user to create photo realistic images that are very complex with a multitude of layers.
Some examples of bitmap graphics are:
- You see what you will get, and the paintbrush keeps in real time rather than having to wait to see the image update itself.
- It uses file formats such as JPEG and PNG which are easily readable and transferable. It computes with most bitmap based software, such as Photoshop, which makes the process easy to use.
- With bitmap/raster files you can create photo-realistic graphic images.
- You can scan and adjust pre-existing artwork/graphics if you scan it.
- You can add multiple layers and make your design as detailed as you like.
- Information must be stored for every pixel in the image and the file usually ends up large. This makes transferring it a slow process, and the file takes up a lot of space.
- If you accidentally delete something on bitmap software, such as Photoshop, it can be difficult to retrieve.
- If you flatten an image it cannot be undone.
Vector is the other main graphic process. It’s used for more simple graphics with less layers and detail. The main difference between vector and bitmap is that when vectors are enlarged they don’t pixelate. There are no pixels so the image resolution is the same. It’s a smaller file size, and is used for functions such as graphs, simple graphic images, charts, and other line images.
- The artwork can be saved and opened any time, and can continue to be edited. It does not finalise when saved temporarily.
- The image size can be changed without decreasing quality. It’s not made up of pixels so it doesn’t pixelate.
- They are fast and easy to transport as they typically have a small file size.
- Vectors are typically used for simple purposes so it is difficult to produce detailed graphics and doing so is time consuming.
- The more layers added the bigger the file gets which can be difficult to work with.
Adobe Photoshop is a bitmap software program used for creating detailed graphic designs. It’s used commonly throughout the media industry and is mainly used for professional functions. Because it’s a bitmap program it is made up of pixels and to create designs it uses layers and there are large selection of functions available within the application. It is different to paint because Photoshop is available on most platforms whereas Paint only works with Microsoft. It also has a different set of features to Paint.
- The program is neatly organised and easy to manage. The set up is neat making it easy to keep track of photos and graphics.
- Most of the editing can easily be done and doesn’t often take more than one click to adjust a graphic, for example, reducing red eye in a photo. There are plenty of tools for a variety of uses making it one of the best known graphic software.
- If it is a program the user is already familiar with then it is easy to use.
- It gives you the ability to create and adjust complex and detailed graphic designs, and can be as customisable and personalised as the user wishes.
- You cannot undo actions past a certain point, and if you accidentally delete something it can be difficult to get the project back to its original state.
- It is a very expensive piece of software to download and is only worth the money if it is being used for professional purposes.
Adobe Illustrator is an application for creating vector graphic designs. Because it is vector based, the images turn out in high resolution and are often used for purposes such as business logos, graphs and charts, photographs, and prints.
- The graphics can be scaled to any size without losing resolution because it is a vector based program. This is because vector uses math based equations to be able to create designs.
- It has an extensive range of tools to choose from, many of which can also be found in Photoshop, such as feathering and drop shadows.
- There is a lot of options for text and typography as well as images.
- It is easy to share and save as the files are smaller in comparison to Photoshop.
- Creating photo-realistic images can be very time consuming as it is a vector programme so therefore it requires a large amount of layers in order to be photo-realistic.
- It can take a lot of time to master as it is a complicated programme and the user will needs skills in order to use it successfully.
Adobe InDesign is a software by Adobe for publishing. Unlike the other two applications discussed, InDesign is primarily used for writing based projects in the media industry. Typical examples of projects it’s used for today include things such as online magazines, books, flyers, brochures, and newspapers.
- You can create documents with multiple pages, and split the workload in a team and then compile each piece together afterward. This is due to the Book feature. It’s ideal for those working in the publishing industry, and is useful for magazines, newspapers, and books.
- The application can compute with having a multitude of layers, featuring long passages, alternate characters, manipulation, and open fonts. You can also add anchors and hyperlinks.
- Because it is a vector program, it uses layouts so therefore images cannot be manipulated.
Lossy and Lossless – Compression
Compression is when a file is reduced in bit size. It is useful to compress a file as it allows fast transfer, and it saves storage. If you were to compress a large number of files, it would save a massive amount of space so that your device could contain even more files and would load pages and files faster.
Lossless compression is a form of compression where when the file is compressed, no data is lost and the file remains in its orignal state. All parts of the file stay the same and are uneffected – the only thing that changes is the file size.
Lossy is the alternate form of compression – this form compresses the file and removes any data deemed redundant or useless. It does not affect the project itself, and usually will go unnoticed by the user. This type of compression is useful for video and sound, as it ‘cleanses’ what is unnecessary so that the file is smaller and works therefore more smoothly.
It can be a little hard to tell the difference, but you may notice the lossy version is slightly more pixelated.
The more an image is compressed, the more pixelated and less smooth it becomes.
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group – the name of the committee that created JPEG) is a bitmap file format that uses lossy compression. It is the most common format, and is used mainly for digital photography and images. It can be used in any program that incorporates graphic images, as most platforms support JPEG files. Some examples of supporting applications are, Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as web browsers.
- It’s suitable for colourful images as well as monochrome, as when it is compressed the colour changes only a small amount and is undetectable to the human eye.
- The user can control how much the file is compressed, which makes the file versatile.
- Every time a JPEG is compressed, the image quality decreases.
- It takes longer to load on a page than a GIF file does.
- The more a JPEG image is compressed, the more blurry and less sharp the edges become.
TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is also a bitmap file format, and it is commonly used in the printing and publishing industry. Programs that support TIFF are lossless programs, such as publishing, image manipulation and page layout programs. One factor of TIFF is that it cannot be compressed – this is an advantage as it means that no matter how many times it’s saved, the quality wont decrease. But it’s also a disadvantage as this means the file size is typically larger than a JPEG file and takes up more space. However with the LZW algorithm the image can be manually compressed, but this means then the file will not be universally supported.
PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is also another bitmap file format, which when compressed is lossless so no quality is lost. It’s the replacement format for GIF and is now the most common lossless file format used. Graphic design applications such as Photoshop and InDesign support PNG, as well as a wide range of web browsers. However, a drawback is that PNG doesn’t support CMYK, used in printing. On the other hand PNG is useful as the file size is small
and can contain multiple layers. Although PNG only supports some colours, and does not work with animation.
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is another bitmap lossless file format. It’s easy to use and has become one of the most popular formats used across the internet. The colour palette however has its limits so is best used for files with few colours. Despite this, the format is well suited to images with solid areas of colour, such as logos, cartoons, shapes and simple graphics. Another advantage is that the file size is relatively small so is easily imported and viewed across the web. GIF also supports transparent backgrounds. However, GIF is dependant on internet connection and once a GIF has been finalised it cannot be edited. If the user needed to make even a minor adjustment, they’d have to start over.
PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file that can be either bitmap or vector, lossy or lossless. Adobe developed PDF, so Adobe programs e.g. Adobe Acrobat support PDF files. It’s used for document files and is good for magazine articles, product brochures, or flyers. Advantages of PDF are that they contain more than one page image which you can zoom in and out from. Also it is easily opened with any operating system due to its popularity, and the file size is negotiable because it supports a variety of compression algorithms. However some disadvantages are that editing PDF files is difficult and not free, as they require Adobe software to be edited which costs money. It can also be difficult to work with as it is only supported by Mac and Windows devices.