The Problem with

.PNGs and Printing

Need prints but you only have a .PNG file? Here's a little summary of why we don't usually recommend this file format. In some cases though we do if the resolution meets our standards, but technically, .PNG's are a no no. Here's why...

What Is A .PNG File?

One of the most common file formats that people use today for graphics and artwork is the .png file.

This file type, also known as "Portable Network Graphics" was designed generally for web and screen use which we use daily nowadays. Some examples are websites, social media, phone graphics, anything that can be viewed on a screen basically.

The main function of this file type is to permit transperancy at any extent to be published on screens. A .png is a great option for artworks, designs, and logos to use on your online shops, websites and other images that don't have backgrounds to stand out.

Stands For:

Portable Network Graphics

Best Uses:

  • Images with transparency
  • Images with no backgrounds e.g logos
  • Web images
  • Social Media

Features:

  • Permits background transparency (adjustable)
  • Can display different opacity levels making the back ground completely see through or slightly faded to your satisfaction
  • Cons: PNG is only compatible with RGB colour profile (on screen purposes only) and not suitable or recommended for CMYK (printing purposes)

What Happens When We Print A .PNG?

While we occasionally accept .PNG formats it is vital to ensure that these .png images are provided in the highest possible resolution from 300 dpi to 600 dpi. It would also be highly dependent on what kind of printing you require for us to be able to identify if your .png file will be enough to print a high quality image.

One issue for printing .png files is it's intrinsic colour profile. As mentioned above, .png files can only be saved with RGB (Red, Green, Blue) colour profile which is basically for on screen images only. Printing out an RGB profile may cause difference in colours since printers are calibrated to use CMYK.

For the best quality in resolution and colours we would still recommend using CMYK images. If you have a look at the inside of any sort of printer you will find that there are only 4 ink cartridges available to create the best and most accurate colours, C - Cyan, M - Magenta, Y - Yellow, K - Key (black).

 In technical terms, RGB and CMYK are two totally different colour languages that may cause slight differences in colour. While some colour differences may not be easily noticed, a trained eye will be able to distinguish the slight variations.

The Take Away

What we really want to say is, the best solution for providing quality prints is also providing quality resolution images. The best image formats we prefer and recommend are .PDF or vector files over .png for almost all of our offline print solutions. .PDF files are much more compatible with CMYK colour profile and is easier for our designers to manipulate on Adobe Illustrator for any changes, or adding margins, bleeds and etc.

If you only have a .PNG file and are willing to take the risk of printing the image despite our artwork requirements, please expect some slight colour changes between the actual printed product versus your image on a screen as they will potentially be a tad bit different.

More About File Types

If you are curious about the different file types, what they mean, and what they are best used for, check out our Difference Between file types

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