I came here when I found AI vs EPS vs SVG here. The main point most (all) answers have is that the workflows in the three formats are different.

How and why these differences are is not so clear to me. I use for example SVG to design for web. All fine, but what would be different when I started the same project focused on print? What would be different when I take the SVG version and convert it to EPS for print?

4 Answers 4


The difference.... Imagesetters and/or Platemakers and Web Browsers. It has very little to do with any proprietary or open source issues.

Imagesetters or platemakers are not "up to snuff" in the most cutting edge web technologies. Yes, I know that SVG has been around a few years... but that's still "cutting edge" when you are speaking of a thousand year old practice.

So the facts boil down to....

  • Web browsers can't render AI or EPS files well. At best they render full PDFs with a plug in, not natively.

  • Print production can't always understand the XML behind SVG, so using SVG can cause problems in RIPS or output.

In terms of backbone all the vector formats are viable to use/edit during construction. It is more a matter of final output. Adobe Illustrator is built on a PDF core, whereas Inkscape is built on an SVG core. Use either... but when your done editing, you will want to save an appropriate version for output.

Older raster formats, such as tiff, compared to newer formats, such as png, have the same sort of issues at times.


One really big humungus mistake designers make, is thinking: "Design first, think of the output later" In reality if someone thinks like that I would have some doubts he is a designer. Probably an illustrator, probably something else.

Design has a purpose, an objetive that is to be mass reproduced. (Versus some other things like art or crafts). This mass reproduction output is an intrinsec part of the design.

You can see the errors of not thinking this from the beginning. Wrong resolution, dimensions, proportions, color modes, file formats, etc.

So the first question

How and why these differences?

It is simply because the output media is different.

the workflows in the three formats are different.

Yes and no. The workflow depends on the design, and you always have some steps on preparation of the design. For example:

  • Choose the color model, at least the primary one. You always need to do this on every project. Some filters in photoshop do not work on CMYK, the photo is RGB, or you need to define spot colors, etc.

  • Vector or raster?

  • Among those decisions is the application to use. Illustrator, Indesign, Corel, Photoshop, Gimp, Inkscape, Scribus?

Those are decisions you always are making. But if you only use one application you assume you are not making that decision.

Leaving all that explanation behind. In reality the options you have:

Do I use a complete vector application for this or a limited one?

If you choose to use a complete application your choices are reduced to 3. Illustrator, Corel Draw and Affinity Design. Then it is simply a case of exporting to either file format, PDF (Forget EPS), SVG, Native Format, or even PNG, TIF or JPG.

If you choose specifically Inkscape, because the Color modes are limited, you are somehow sticked to RGB, you need to make some other tweaks to make it for print.

So the difference in reality relies on your design that includes the output format, and the application itself.

  • Disagree that design is ALWAYS for mass production. And I don’t know why you say Inkscape isn’t a “complete” vector application.
    – Wildcard
    Apr 19, 2019 at 8:39
  • 1
    For the moment it can not support CMYK or spot inks. wiki.inkscape.org/wiki/index.php/…
    – Rafael
    Apr 19, 2019 at 10:01

SVG is what could be considered the basic, open-source format. Anything that supports SVG should be able to read an SVG file. Like all things web-related, different browsers may render things differently.

AI files extend upon that, they can do many other things that just aren't possible in SVG such as photoshop filters, variable stroke width, patterns, and warps just to name a few. While AI files can be written as SVG's in most cases, the effects will all be rasterized or 'hard coded' into the svg so that they can't be easily changed by a program such as illustrator again.

EPS files I typically see only used in printing, and for a good reason. They embed fonts into the file type, and in large printing projects its much easier to have everything in one file rather than a zip. I also personally think its better because it provides an extended-feature intermediate file type that most SVG editors can read, though that clashes with the research I found here.

From: What unique benefits does the EPS format provide?

EPS was never designed to be a transfer format between graphical applications. It was just intended to be a conduit for you to talk to a printer.


A simple answer, but others might expand on this:

  • use AI for print (EPS is somehow similar to AI, but arguably less popular)
  • use SVG for web
  • That's what I already sayd. The answers in the linked article boiled down to this conclusion. Many of them wrote that it is a matter of workflow for the different output media. I am more interrested on the why. It's more is there an issue with using just one of them and IF the other is needed just convert it to this format or is that problematic?
    – Booser
    Jan 23, 2017 at 19:27
  • You build your own workflow by learning different tools and applying that to real-life projects. You cannot just replicate workflows. You can always convert between AI-SVG-EPS with the proper tools. And deciding which format to use means you first need to build your own workflow and learn from experience. For example, you decide to use Inkscape as your workflow because its free of charge. You do a logo in SVG and decide to print this. The print shop tells you they need a CMYK version in AI or EPS. Then you break your workflow, switch to Illustrator and convert to AI or EPS.
    – Lucian
    Jan 23, 2017 at 19:43

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