3.2. Graphic/Image File Formats

Graphic/Image Data Structures
Standard System Independent Formats
Specific System Dependent Formats

This section introduces some of the most common graphics and image file formats. Some of them are restricted to particular hardware/operating system platforms, others are cross-platform independent formats. While not all formats are cross-platform, there are conversion applications that will recognize and translate formats from other systems.

Most image formats incorporate some variation of a compression technique due to the large storage size of image files. Compression techniques can be classified into either lossless or lossy. We will study various video and audio compression techniques in Chapter 4.


3.2.1. Graphic/Image Data Structures

Monochrome Image

Example of a Monochrome Bit-map Image

Gray-scale Images

Example of a Gray-scale Bit-map Image

24-bit Color Images

Example of 24-Bit Color Image

8-bit Color Images

Example of 8-Bit Color Image


3.2.2. Standard System Independent Formats

The following brief format descriptions are the most commonly used formats. Follow some of the document links for more descriptions.

GIF (gif87a, GIF89a)



Graphics Animation Files

Postscript/Encapsulated Postscript


3.2.3. System Dependent Formats

Many graphical/imaging applications create their own file format particular to the systems they are executed upon. The following are a few popular system dependent formats:

Microsoft Windows: BMP

Macintosh: PAINT and PICT

X-windows: XBM


Further Exploration

A new graphics file format -- PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

Current PNG References

Animated illustration of the PNG 2-D interlacing

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