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On this episode of Jargon, we paint in the details of the lingo of digital art

Welcome to another episode of Jargon, the show from Digital Trends that deciphers the complex terminology of various industries into words and concepts the rest of us understand. We’re live each week on Tuesdays with a fresh set of jargon from a different industry.

On this episode, host Myq Kaplan artfully dodges his ignorance of the baffling jargon of digital art by inviting Joe Sliger, senior technical solutions architect for Wacom, to teach him all about it. We run the color gamut of the ones and zeros that create the digital world of GIFs, JPEGs, and PNGs we see every day through our screens, as well as discuss alternatives to the higher-cost, professional programs so you can create digital art of your own.

Jargon discussed on this episode:

  • RGB versus CMYK – RGB, which stands for “Red Blue Green,” and CMYK, which stands for “Cyan Magenta Yellow Black,” refer to the color options in digital art. Choosing which standard to build your art or digital images from starts with what you want to do. “Think about your intent,” says Sliger. A rule of thumb is that if the digital art is created to be seen on the web, then RGB is the way to go, as that is how monitors display colors. If your intent is to print out your art, then using CMYK, which is the color range used to physically print something, may be the best option.
  • Aliasing – Aliasing refers to the “blocky” appearance some low-quality images have around the edges.  “It’s like Minecraft,” notes Sliger. “All the edges are hyper-defined by the blocks making up a pixel. So if you blow an image up, you will see the blocks.”
  • Vector Graphic versus Raster Graphic – If you have ever tried to blow up an image to print and found the results a blocky, blurry mess, then you have experienced a “raster” image made from a set amount of pixels.  “Vector” images, however, “define things mathematically in relation to each other,” says Sliger. When you enlarge or zoom into a vector image, the image will still be smooth and a perfect replication of its smaller size, because vector images are built to be scalable.
  • JPG versus GIF versus TIFF versus PNG – Now that you’ve created your art, how do you determine what file type is appropriate?  Again, notes Sliger, “everything is designed with an intent. Where will the file go?” The intent of the file will decide the file type.  “JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) gives you the highest quality for lowest file size,” Sliger says. A TIFF is considered “lossless,” which means it “holds on to all info without losing any of it via compression,” says Sliger.  Another option is a GIF (Graphics Interchange File), which is an older file type usually associated with low-resolution (limited to 256 colors), short video clips often found in message or comment threads on the internet.  “A PNG is a preferable format to GIF,” notes Sliger. “They are lossless, and can make the most out of least.”
  • Low Poly – “Low Poly,” which is short for “low polygons,” refers to images that have a small number of polygon shapes that it can use to build an image. Again, think of the Minecraft video game series. Low poly images are often used in video games, while high polygon art is used in movie animation and other high-resolution computer art.

On next week’s episode, we’re poppin’ bottles and testing our collective palettes with the jargon of wine. Tune in and you’ll be uncorking a new level of knowledge.

For past episodes of Jargon, go to

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