I am looking to design in color mode 'bitmap'. I don't understand the use of the color mode bitmap. When and how can I use it?

  • Digital Lightcraft I was going to design in photoshop as a colour mode bitmap i never made design in bitmap but i was checking how it look and how it work?!
    – Profile9
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 10:02
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    should it not be made apparent that this refers to a 1-bit colour mode bitmap? this hasnt been mentioned anywhere... There may be a lot of visitors thinking "Hold on, i can save as a colour bitmap" Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 7:52

4 Answers 4


It can be said to be an (old) alternative to vector. I have used it for some very old logos and drawings, but more recently in signatures. It is not vectorized, and not anti-aliased, so it needs to have very high resolution in order to not appear pixelated.

It can only have one color. If you place a bitmap colored file in InDesign, you can actually change the color there. Which is quite handy especially for signatures.

  • 1
    Interesting, so does the saved file contain any colour information at all or is it always assigned when used? Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 9:46
  • H.W. Sanden how it work in printing bitmap, because i am in printing media like coaster design, pillow cover design. it work good or bad ?
    – Profile9
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 10:08
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    You don't need to assign a color in order to make it visible. The original color will be added to swatches in InDesign. Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 10:11
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    I have no experience with bitmap in those cases, but my guess is that it will work fine as long as the resolution is high enough – like 1200 DPI. Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 10:13
  • Bitmap mode images are black and white in Photoshop. In InDesign, they are black and transparent by default, like a transparent PNG. A color swatch may be applied directly to the image in InDesign, changing the black to the swatch color.
    – 13ruce
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 13:10

This is kind of a history thing, I'm sure the mode is being used in creative ways differently that how I describe, but ---

In traditional PostScript-based offset (big printing press) printing the imaging is done in one of two ways (to simplify things) --

  • As a half-tone where a raster image is broken down into dots and those dots are in a grid with sometimes limited resolution (say 85-110 of these half-tone dots per inch).

  • As individual "pixels" printed at the device resolution (which could be 1,000+ "pixels" per inch, depending on the device).

Continuous tone images (photographs) are normally rendered using the half-tone process, and items like text are normally rendred using the individual "pixel" approach -- with text (and vector art) taking an intermediate step of being represented as math at first. That keeps the text sharp, but limits how you can use color with text without using tricks.

The Photoshop bit-map mode was used mainly when scanning in line art (like old-school black and white cartoons that are drawn in black ink, with no grays, or black and white logos), it allows you to print the black and white artwork with as much detail as the printing device allows, without going through the half-tone process.

Black and white cartoons for newspapers are still produced this way. In fact, the color cartoons are normally the bitmap mode black and white scans with colored half-tone raster overlays (probably designed in Illustrator and then rasterized, but I don't know for sure).

  • Thank you so much David Rouse For The Describe and history of Bitmap and taking time to my question thank you
    – Profile9
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 13:11

A Bitmap is an image where each pixel is either black or white (no shades in between).

It is very useful when you are designing for devices that cannot output shades of gray, like dot-matrix printers (labels, receipts) or monochrome LCD displays.

  • ok AndreKr Good thank you but we can use in UI designing part the bitmap?
    – Profile9
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 12:35
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    You can, but I don't see any reason not to use another color mode, usually RGB.
    – AndreKR
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 13:11
  • Hahaha AnderKR Thank you so much taking time to my question
    – Profile9
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 13:14

If you have a monochrome high resolution image >900 intended for print. Then you can save it as a bitmap. Bitmap images can be very aggressively compressed making the file size very small despite having a lot of pixels. Only realy useful for printing, or archiving paper documents.

Now the thing is a bitmap image more closely works like a printer does and not like a monitor does and as such it contains only one channel and 2bits of information. This can be useful if you do something really really special, like doing your own rasterization (for example you make your own stochastic screening). You can also use bitmaps as sort of a replacement for vector images for scanned content.

Its not a new versus old technology thing as others have suggested. Its just rarely used these days, since your computer is probably equipped with a few gigabytes of memory, if not quite hundreds of gigabytes. And looking from the other end your not doing so special things with your printer that you need it for that.

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