Whenever I export my assets/artboards in PNG format, the actual output (the PNG file) is noticeably pixelated. I don't expect it to be scalable in the same way as an SVG or PDF, but I did expect it to accurately represent the original image (without noticeable pixellation) when viewed at it's original size.

That is to say: If I export a 100×100 px artboard in PNG format, I expect the output to look nice and sharp, when viewed as a 100×100 px image. But that's not the case. Instead it looks more like a 50×50 px or 75×75 px image was blown up beyond 100% to fill a 100×100 px area.

So much so that I never export 1:1 PNGs, opting to export @4x instead. This arrangement has worked fine for me in the past. I export every final artboard in three formats:

  • SVG
  • PDF
  • PNG @4×

When scaled down (with a web browser, or image software like Apple Preview or Adobe Lightroom for instance) to the size of the original artboard, each of these three files look more or less identical. The larger PNG files occupy more harddrive space than you might expect, but the image is nice and that's my highest priority. However, it starts to become a problem when trying to optimize file sizes/load times for snappy, responsive/reactive web pages.

The problem for me now is that as my design skills improve, I have more people asking for images with very specific sizes to use for their official social media (Facebook, SoundCloud, etc.) cover art, web banners (page headers, footers, etc.), and so on. For example Facebook covers are apparently 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall for desktop; 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall for mobile. So I created a template to take this into account. It works well for positioning the graphics within the acceptable margins, but the pixelation issue remains. I know that Facebook uses a fairly acute compression algorithm, but that's not the issue here.

  • 1
    If you are exporting a 100x100px artboard to a 100x100px png.. and it doesn't look good, you've got some other issue going on - such as bad export settings. Exporting vector artwork at size and then viewing the export at size should pretty much always look good (or as good as possible for a raster format). Facebook is its own animal and reprocesses uploads - see here – Scott Feb 2 at 23:17

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