transparent backgrounds in images

I’m looking for an image format that supports transparencies that will be supported by the average schmoe’s average layout program.

I’m doing some work for a small record label where the artists are expected to design their own CD insert layouts. We provide them with a label logo to include with the art. I’m working on PSP7, and while the native format is supported (I think) by most respectable programs, some of the artists may be working with decidedly low-end editors.

So is there a relatively common, compatible format that I can use to distribute these images that will support the transparent backgrounds, or should I just suck it up and design the logo around it so it won’t be an issue?


You can’t just make a transparent .gif? Or do not all programs make gifs?

Your easiest option is probably to use transparent GIFs as pointed out by ZipperJJ. There are however limitations with that, as it only supports a single ‘shade’ of transparency - full transparency. What you really want in order to make anti-aliasing etc look nice is a full so-called alpha channel. That means that you have four channels, red-green-blue and alpha, where the alpha value indicates how transparent every single pixel should be. That means that you can have shadows and cool anti-aliased smooth edges that will look good on any background!
The best format for this is PNG (pronounced ‘ping’), which supports non-lossy 24 bit colour plus an 8-bit alpha channel. (Unless you want to use the native formats of your editor of choice).
PNG is supported by most recent editing programs, and is intended to completely replace GIF, as that has some copyright/patent problems. PNG on the other hand is completely free. For more information about the PNG format, check out the official PNG site:

If you’re working with transparency in print (CD inserts would be print, right?) then I don’t think PNG, GIF or TIF would be approriate formats. All of these are bitmap-based graphics; print with transparency would seem to require vector-based graphics.

The standard vector format is .EPS (encapsulated post script).

An EPS is a vector graphic that will reproduce faithfully at any size or resolution, and will also support transparency better than GIF or PNG format. PNGs are way better than GIFs for transparency, but will lose image quality if they’re sized bigger than the original. I would imagine that almost every graphics package supports EPS, as it’s industry standard. EPSs can be produced my many tools, such as Adobe Illustrator or FreeHand. One pitfall: it is possible to export a bitmap image within an EPS. If your designers make the mistake of doing this, it won’t give you any advantages over bitmap formatted images such as TIFF and PNG.

Thanks folks. Looks like I’ll send 'em PSP, EPS, and PNG files, and let them sort it out themselves.