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What is a Tiff File & What is a Layered High Resolution Tif + Clipping Paths

Last Updated: 2021-06-15
HomeWhat is a Tiff File & What is a Layered High Resolution Tif + Clipping Paths

What is a .tiff file and why do we deliver it?

Before you can learn what a Clipped Tiff is, you need to know what a basic Tiff File is.

A Tiff file is a universal image file format. It is typically used because it has the ability to apply a non-destructive compression called LZW and maintain a high resolution format. This means that when it's saved, it does not remove any data from the file to make it smaller.

The pro is when a retoucher takes it editing in photoshop, there is a lot of latitude on the file to make larger color and contrast adjustments without any reduction in image quality. This is not true of other types of files like jpegs where data has been removed to compress the file smaller.  Another pro is that when saved it maintains Photoshop adjustments and compresses.

The con is that the file is large. Much too large to use on the web and typically to large to email. However, it's LZW compression is sufficient enough to make it significantly smaller than Photoshop's uncompressed .psd file format. Which is why we use it. Since this file cannot be used on the web, it must be converted either a .jpeg (normal files), a png (transparent files), a gif(animated files) or a .webp format (next gen compression) are all web ready formats that can be used on a website.

How Tiffs help you stay organized

In a digital assets management workflow, this file would be considered a Masterfile as the central source of truth for the image.  It is the highest resolution file you can have and all other derivative files, like webready files  can be created from it.  For example, a good workflow would only maintain the final .tiff files or (working retouched .psd files) and when you need to create a file for your website, you would generate it from the Masterfile creating a "derivative file" that is formatted specific to the websites use.  Changes can be made to the Masterfile without degrading image.  Once it's uploaded to the site, you would delete the "derivative file" so you don't have duplicates of the file floating around your computer.  If you need more derivative files, you would return to the Masterfile to create more for that specific use.  This is why we recommend ordering the Tiff as opposed the .jpeg or .pngs, because they can be created from this Masterfile.

What is a Clipped .Tiff?

A Clipped Tiff / Layered Tiff or what we sometimes call Designers Ready Tiff, is Tiff file where the product is outlined in photoshop.  A retoucher will go in and "hand path" the product in photoshop and separate the product and shadow into 2 different layers.

Download An Example File

Key things to note about these Clipped Tiff / Layered Tiff files:

  • You can only be access the layers using Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop knowledge is required.
  • This file is not web-ready and cannot be used online.  It must be converted before use.
  • The transparency does not work when imported into Indesign.  Learn more
  • This file is different than a PNG file which has fake or no shadows.  This file maintains the actual real shadows using the multiply blending modes.
  • If you order a tiff & a clipped tiff, you will only get the clipped tiff.  They are the same file just one has extras in it.

Why would you want a clipped tiff file?

This file has all the pros of a standard tiff to begin with.  In addition, if you want to do extra work in photoshop to completely remove the background, photoshop the product into a different image or do some advanced graphic design work, then this file can shortcut a lot of time separating the file.  With the file, you can easily change the background to a different color, background or texture since the shadow layer is set to multiply blending mode and the background is 255 white.  This will fade the shadow realistically into whatever is behind it.

Learn more about using different backgrounds

Things you can do with a clipped tiff are:

How to order a clipped tiff

A Clipped Tiff is available for +$5 per photo and can be accessed when you place your order online in the File Types area.  It is also available upon request.