A .png file (Portable Network Graphics) is the most commonly used lossless image compression format on the Internet. Whoa! Lossless compression? Don’t get scared by a little name dropping, it’s just an image file that takes up little storage space while remaining of relatively high image quality. As opposed to its cousin the .jpg, which uses a lossy compression routine, meaning that the image loses quality and information each time it is saved.
Why should you care about boring file types though? Well, whether you own or run an online store, or just want to put a picture of your friend making a silly face upon the background of an erupting volcano with a T-rex roaring behind, it’s a good skill to have: knowing how to use basic low-cost imagery tools to your advantage.
Natural Habitat: where are PNG’s spotted most often?
Ever seen a logo? Chances are it’s a PNG. In fact anything that needs to blend into its surrounding environment smoothly is probably a PNG. Ever searched for an image and saw one on a checkerboard background? That too.
From a designer’s point of view, this file type allows for transparency and fading, techniques that are very important in graphic and web design. This means that (with the right software) one can play with the level of opacity of the image, determining how see-through/solid they want it to be.
Why PNG’s are the Alpha dogs of images
This file types biggest advantage – Alpha channel! We’ll save you the complex explanation and give you the short version: it allows transparency in your image. What does this mean? That your image is like a cutout which can be placed onto or into almost any image, just make sure that the color scheme matches (or contrasts, depending on your desired result).
This transparency also allows you to connect multiple elements all together into one image. Whether text, a background, a product packshot, a model, drop shadows or any other design element, you can piece everything together into one composition.
We’ll once again save you the confusing technical jargon and just give you the lowdown, but first a fact: the same exact image viewed on a Mac or on a PC will appear different. PNG images have the ability to adjust gamma based on monitor settings, meaning the image will be viewed as originally intended, with the same hues, tones and brightness no matter which device. This allows for optimal image viewing, something very important, especially when selling an item that is judged primarily by how it appears.
I’m the Jon Snow of Photoshop (he knows nothing)
For a seamless professional look, yeah, let a graphic artist do what they get paid for. But if you’re looking to lower your budget, you can piece images together by yourself using Paint on Windows, Paintbrush on Mac, or any free software you can find online. It’s very simple, and so long as you’re not trying to combine too many elements it can look pretty decent. There are plenty of tutorials out there on Youtube.
Lifehack: you can search for PNG images online and find free ones, just add those three magical letters after the name of the item you are searching for.
JPEG vs. PNG
While there are dozens of commonly used image file types, the undisputed king is the JPEG (AKA .jpg). Comparing between these two would be like comparing apples to oranges, basically they are both image files, but each has its own benefits. The JPEG’s biggest advantage is being smaller… in file size that is. You can piece a few PNG’s together into one image using any one of the methods mentioned above, then save it as a JPEG which will take up less memory and load faster. Note that this is a general statement which depends of course on resolution, compression and a bunch of other factors, but the basic tradeoff between the two is file size over image quality, the PNG usually being higher in both.
Why are we telling you all of this!?
If you didn’t figure it out yet, Malabi’s advanced algorithm that automatically cuts out the object in the foreground of an image, turns that object into a PNG within the process. You can have your image on a white background of course, but you have the choice to get it as a PNG as well. This means Malabi can be your very own PNG creator for any image that you have or can take a picture of.
With this newfound knowledge of all these limitless possibilities, it’s time for you to go get a little creative.