When should and shouldn't I use image files?

A picture is worth a thousand words. Literally. Image files convey a much smaller amount of information in a much larger size than plain text, and as such should only be used when text simply isn't a viable option.

Image files are best used for maps, diagrams, and large drawings that can't easily be duplicated in text. Image files shouldn't be used for small diagrams, text tables, or basically anything that can be duplicated in text with no loss of information.

What kinds of images are accepted on GameFAQs?

GameFAQs accepts maps (both world and smaller-scale, screenshot and hand-drawn), screenshots (containing important information and/or comments), diagrams (such as puzzle solutions), and image-based tables. Other image styles may be accepted, depending on the game; contact GameFAQs for more information to be sure before proceeding.

What image file types are accepted on GameFAQs?

GameFAQs only posts the three Internet standard image types: JPEG, GIF, and PNG. You are free to submit files in almost any other format, however, as GameFAQs can transform the files for you.

When creating and submitting images, you should always submit them as lossy uncompressed (GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF) unless you are sure that it's the right format to use. See below for a better explanation of compression types.

What is lossy compression?

Lossy compression, most commmonly seen in JPEGs, is a method of image file compression where information is lost; similar colors are blended together, patterns are duplicated, and so on. Lossy compression should only be used for complex images, such as complex screenshots and graphics.

Lossless compression, often seen in GIFs and PNGs, compresses the file information in the same way that a ZIP file does, with no loss of image quality. This is best used in simple images, such as line-drawings, maps, and text information.

Be sure not to save the only copy of your image as a JPEG; once saved as JPEG, it cannot be converted back, and bad compression will make an otherwise good image unusable. If you're not sure, don't compress the file at all; save it in an uncompressed format (such as BMP) and let GameFAQs handle the rest.

What's the best program for creating images?

Paint, included with most Microsoft operating systems, is a not a good program to use for images of any complexity. Paint Shop Pro and PhotoShop are the most-used and comprehensive image programs out there, although The GIMP is gaining a following, and it's free as well.

How do I submit images to GameFAQs?

You can submit and update your images the same way you would a FAQ. There's no difference in how the files are handled by GameFAQs. You can find the submission form in Contributor Central.

Why is JPEG so evil and why shouldn't I use it?

JPEG works great at compressing complex images to a fraction of their original size. Complex images, like photographs, contain lots of bits indistinguishable to the naked eye that can be compressed.

However, JPEG should never, ever, ever, ever, ever be used with simple images. Simple images like small screenshots, maps, line art, text, charts, and diagrams not only compress terribly with JPEG, but also suffer from nasty compression artifacts.

Another important thing to note is that saving an image as JPEG is a one way conversion. The damage done to a simple image cannot be undone by simply then saving it as a PNG or GIF. If you do not have a copy of the original uncompressed source image, repairing the damage done can be a very time-consuming process.

Unless you've spent quite a long time working with image types, submitting your file completely uncompressed is the best way to go. GameFAQs will be more than happy to take your BMP, TIFF, PSP, or PhotoShop file and convert it into a web format for you.

What are some common problems to avoid while creating an image?

  • Oversized Canvas: For the image canvas size, you don't want to have your image require a person using to have to scroll their browser, and remember, a lot of people are using mobile phones to browse. A size of 800x600 pixels is a good start, although your canvas may be larger or smaller depending on exactly what you're trying to do.
  • Very large files: For the image file size, GameFAQs will rarely accept images in their final converted format over 250KB. A good line-drawn map, no matter how complex, will usually be under 50KB in size if created and converted properly.
  • Pattern Fills and Fancy Graphics: These look nice, but greatly increase an image's size without adding a byte of actual content. Keep your images simple and to the point.
  • "Actual Size": Making a map out of screenshots is a tradition as old as time itself, but there is nothing to be gained by having the map be the same size as all of the screenshots put together. You can almost always reduce the canvas size of an image without losing any significant detail.
  • More Easily Done In Text: If a chart or graphic can be recreated in text, it generally should be. A 100KB image of nothing but text can often be submitted as a 5KB text file.
  • Uncredited, Unannotated Images: GameFAQs will not accept images without any credit to the author or any annotation (i.e. just an image with no explanation, title, or references). A good image will stand on its own and require no additional explanation.