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In this movie, I'll show you how to save a highly graphical file to the GIF format. I'm going to switch to this graphical image down below. This was a file I created for an Illustrator technique and you can see that it has a lot of sharp transitions. But not many colors. So we've got some black and some white, as well as, some orange and some yellow. And then, a little bit of a gray drop shadow interacting with the background and a soft drop shadow around the letters. Now we could save this image as a JPEG file, but JPEG is ill-suited to high-contrast graphics.
Let me show you what that looks like. I go up to the File > Save for Web. I am going to go ahead and zoom in as well. Now remember that the original graphic appears on top, the compress version of the image appears at the bottom. The file format is JPEG. The quality setting is high, just as in the previous movie. And while the bottom image looks okay, I mean we do have some rough transitions here and there. I'll go ahead and zoom in even farther, so you can see what I'm talking about. Notice these weird artifacts around the edge of the B.
But generally speaking, it's okay. And those artifacts will be less recognizable when we're zoomed out. But my image size is 67K, which is pretty darn large. And the image will take 2 seconds to download at a connection speed of 1 megabit per second. So I might be tempted to reduce the quality to medium, at which point we get the size down to 40K, but look at all the artifacts inside that file. It looks just terrible at this point. You're better option with low color, high contrast graphics like this is the GIF format.
Now you'll hear a lot of people pronounce this format as gif, which is fine. But the reason I call it GIF is because that's what the original creators of the format at CompuServe called it. It stands for Graphic Interchange Format, for what that's worth. And what it does, instead of applying lossy compression the way that JPEG does, it reduces the number of colors from a potential 16.8 million colors, which is the standard maximum for your everyday average 8-bit per channel image, to at most 256.
And it creates this index table, which allows it to generate smaller files. And notice, in fact, that even the biggest version of this GIF graphic will be just 64K, which is smaller than the high quality JPEG we saw a moment ago. And it looks much better. But, of course, we want to get the file smaller. And where you start is with this Colors option right there. now, notice it goes from 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 to 32, and so on colors.
And the reason for these increments is GIF is saving file size by devoting so many bits of information to each and every pixel. So at 256 colors, you have 8 bits per pixel. At 128, you have 7 bits per pixel. At 64 colors, you have 6 bits per pixel, and so on, all the way down to 1 bit per pixel for two colors. So what I typically do, is I'll start things off at 8 colors. I just know anything lower than that is going to look terrible. And sure enough, eight colors looks pretty bad.
And then, I'll go ahead and bump it up to 16 and see how that looks. That's still too few colors. I'll try out 32. That's not all that much better. We have all this noise around the number for example. That's known as Diffusion Dither, and we'll come back to that in a moment. Whereas, if I take the number of colors up to 64, things are starting to look good. So, basically, you want to take the number of colors down as low as you can stand. Notice now we end up with an image that's almost 46K. Just a little bigger than the medium quality JPEG image, but it looks a heck of a lot better.
They can save transparency along with that GIF image. If you turn Transparency off, then the transparent areas will be filled in with a matte color. Not an issue for us, because there is no transparency in this file. You can go ahead and snap the colors to the web-safe palette. There's no reason to do that these days. And you can add lossy compression, which rather defeats the purpose of the format. I don't recommend you turn interlaced on, because that will cause the image to appear in two passes. Now these other options are a little more useful. Notice that we have the option of turning off the Dither, which is the noise pattern.
But if I do that, even though I do drop the file size slightly. So, I drop pretty much a K. By turning the Dither off, we get more jagged transitional pixels. So you generally want some kind of Dither pattern. The Pattern pattern ends up creating a regular pattern of noise, which I think has too much of an automatic quality to it. If you want to go with the most random Dither pattern possible, then switch to Noise. Or, you can stick with diffusion, which is generally the best way to go. And if you want to get rid of some of the noise, then take the Dither value down to 50%.
Next, we have these methods for generating the color table. If you switch to Perceptual, then notice that Photoshop goes ahead and reinvents the color table, so it picks different colors. And what it's trying to do is better represent the transitional colors, the gradients and the continuous tone inside of a photograph, for example. Whereas, Adaptive is on the other end of the spectrum. It's going with a strict popularity contest. So the most popular colors end up winning and the least popular colors end up losing, which is bad for the transitional areas.
Whereas, Selective tries to strike a balance in between the two. Frankly, it's the one that's most likely to give you the best results which is why it's selected by default. And then, finally we have Restricted, which goes ahead and snaps all the colors to the web-safe palette. You only need that if the person on the other end of your website has a 256-color monitor. Otherwise, it's a waste of time and it really ruins the colors inside of the image. So I'm going to switch back to Selective here. And that's my graphic. Looks pretty good to me especially if I zoom out, I can hardly see the effects of the reduced color palette at all.
So I'll go ahead and click on a Save button and notice that Photoshop goes ahead and automatically generates a save filename, so all I need to do is click the Save button in order to save out a GIF version of that image. And that's how you save a high contrast GIF image using Save for Web.
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