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Optimizing the Graphics File : Page 8

Finding the right graphic is just the first step in putting graphics into your Web site. Once you've created or found the graphic, you need to prepare it for online use, structuring it to display quickly at the maximum quality. Optimizing the File shows you how to make the balance between file size and quality level.




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GIF Options

When you use the GIF format, you must also set several parameters including bit depth, palette, and dithering.

To save a graphic as a GIF you perform the following steps. Click on any step to learn more about it.

  1. Convert the graphic from 24-bit RGB to an indexed file. This process also flattens or merges the layers within a graphic file.
  2. Select a type of color palette, usually either Web of adaptive palette.
  3. Choose a bit depth for the palette. In most cases, 7-bit or less is sufficient.
  4. Select whether to dither or not dither the image.
  5. Save the file with the three-letter extension .gif at the end of the file name.

TIP: The Web graphics program Fireworks has an export wizard that is very helpful in determining which file format and settings are appropriate for an image.

To use the wizard:

  1. Create your image in a vector-based or bitmap drawing program, or use Fireworks as your creation tool.
  2. When the image is complete, import it into Fireworks. Fireworks supports the following file types: PNG, GIF, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, xRes, LRG, ASCII, RTF, Adobe Photoshop 3, 4, 5, Adobe Illustrator 7, Macromedia FreeHand 7, 8, CorelDRAW 7, Targa.
  3. Make any adjustments to the image (like setting its size and resolution to one appropriate for your Web page)
  4. Select Export Wizard from the File menu.

    The Export Wizard asks you a few questions about the image and its intended use and then displays a large dialog box containing options for export file type and image settings on the left side and a preview area on the right.

    Through the palette bar at the bottom right of dialog box, you can tell the preview area to show 1, 2, or 4 simultaneous previews of the same image.

    Each preview area lists file format, compression, file size and speed over an average Internet connection. Fireworks places the preferable choice in the top preview area.

  5. In the upper left corner is an Option tab, which contains pull-down menus for file format and format options. To change Firework's recommendation, click on the settings until you are happy with the result.
  6. When the setting are the ones you want, click on the Next button to continue. You'll be see the usual dialog box for saving a file.
  7. Save the file in your images directory.

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