PNG File Troubleshooting

What is a PNG File?

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. PNG images are great as they hold the color and sharpness of an image, graphic or text all while keeping the files small for easy and convenient sharing and downloading. Additionally, unlike files such as JPEG or JPG, PNG images support transparent or clear backgrounds making it perfect to use within artwork for banners, backdrops, signs and more.

Best uses for PNG files

  • Images with transparencies or clear backgrounds
  • Images with no backgrounds
  • Website images
  • Social Media images

Pros of PNG files

  • Supports background transparency
  • Supports gradients or fades that transition to transparent
  • Retains color and sharpness of an image

Cons for PNG files

  • Only supports RGB color profiles
  • Is not ideal for printing (CMYK profile)
  • Can create unexpected color results during printing

What happens when you use PNG files for print?

PNG images are commonly used in files, however, PNG files are not the best to use in large format printing because they only support RGB color profiles and when it's printed in CMYK color profile it can yield some unexpected results. The printer interprets RGB differently than it interprets CMYK and it can cause a change in the colors and transitions especially if you are using CMYK colors behind the PNG images.

The hardest thing with PNG files is that they look great in the file and in the proofs but we are not familiar with how the file was set up making us unaware of any issues and we are not able to see the PNG issues until it prints. In our experience, the transparent background tends to create an off colored box around the image especially when printed on fabric.

Here a real example (the customer's logos as been blurred for privacy)

Actual Print file:

File looks great, no issues can be detected

Actual Digital Proof:

proof with png issue

File still looks great, no issues can be seen or detected

Actual Printed Graphic: