Image Compression Experiments

on an Editorial Cartoon

a mostly black-and-white
image, with a little coloring

JPEG, PNG, GIF files

This is the image used in the
PNG, JPEG, GIF experiments
below --- experiments in

FE Home page > FE Screenshots page >

JPEG-vs-PNG-vs-GIF page >

--- on-an-Editorial-Cartoon-image'

! Note !
Text, images, file-size-data, or links may be adde
or improved --- if/when I revisit this page.

Go to File Size Results, below.

Go to some Conclusions, below.

Go to Start of Test Images, below.


This is a page of experiments in image compression-versus-quality.

Images are shown, and text under each image explains how the image was processed.

Before the images, a summary of file sizes is listed, at the bottom of this introduction --- along with some discussion of how one may be able to get relatively small GIF or JPEG or PNG image files while preserving (for the most part) the quality of the original, captured image.

The summary of file sizes is followed by the images, along with some information about each image, underneath each image.

    If you want to examine the images --- for example, by magnifying them --- you can 'right-click' on each image to do a 'Save As ...' of the image file to your local computer.

    Then you can use image-viewing software on your computer to examine any of these images in detail.

This page is a link on the 'parent' web page JPEG vs. PNG vs. GIF - quality vs. file size.

The 'Introduction' on that page describes some of the considerations in compressing GIF, JPEG, and PNG files while preserving the quality of the original image (in terms of what the eye can see, without magnifying the image).

See 'The bottom line' section of that page.

It contains a summary of GIF-JPEG-PNG compression-versus-quality guidelines that were deduced from the image compression experiments in these web pages.

The making of the images on this page :

The images on this page were made from an 'original' image in a PNG file.

That 'original' image-file was created by doing an 'entire-screen' capture (to a PNG file) when the cartoon was displayed in a web-browser window.

The capture was done with the 'gnome-screenshot' utility.

I then used the 'mtpaint' image-editor program to read the PNG file and crop the cartoon from the image of the entire screen.

I saved the cropped image to a PNG file, from the 'mtpaint' program --- which creates rather large PNG files that can be compressed using a utility command like pngcrush.

So the 'original' PNG file was made using the 'gnome-screenshot' and 'mtpaint' programs.

Other, compressed image files (PNG, GIF, and JPEG) were made from this 'original' PNG file by using either

  • the ImageMagick 'convert' command


  • the 'pngcrush' command.

In a little more detail, the steps in making these images were as follows.

  • An image of the entire screen was captured as a PNG file using the 'gnome-screenshot' utility --- on Ubuntu 9.10 Linux, where 9.10 means '2009 October'.

  • The 'mtpaint' image editor program was used to crop the cartoon out of the 'entire-screen' image, and the cropped image was saved as a PNG file.

    That PNG file is the first of the images below.

      (The 'mtpaint' image editor tends to make rather large PNG files --- larger than the PNG file that was read in --- even after some cropping.)

  • Various PNG and JPEG and GIF files are shown below --- in file-size order, largest first.

    Most of the compressed image files were made with the ImageMagick 'convert' command.

    One image file was made with 'pngcrush'.

  • The JPEG files shown below were made, from the 'original' PNG file at the top of these images, by using the ImageMagick 'convert' command, with the '-quality' and '-sampling factor' and '-filter' options.

    The '-strip' option of the 'convert' command was used to assure that the JPEG file would be stripped of text data such as EXIF text data.

    Experiments on some other PNG image captures have indicated that smaller JPEG files are yielded when the '-sampling-factor 2x2' option is used --- rather than '1x1' or '2x1'.

    Some of those JPEG-making experiments also indicated that the choice of '-filter' may not have a great influence on file-size --- at least not as much influence as '-quality' and '-colors' options.

    So '-filter Mitchell' was used to make these JPEG files.

  • Some compressed PNG files were made from the 'original' PNG file at the top of these images, using either the 'pngcrush' command with the '-brute' option --- OR the 'convert' command with the '-quality' option.

  • GIF files were made from the 'original' PNG file at the top of these images, by using the 'convert' command with the '-colors' option --- and with '+dither' to turn OFF dithering.

    A range of '-colors' values were used --- from 256 to 2.

  • File-size results are summarized just below.

    See the images further below to examine the image quality.

Below is a list of the sizes (in bytes) and names of the image files shown below --- sorted by size, largest files first.

The filenames indicate the kind of conversion and/or compression that was done.

File size results from various compression tests are listed below --- in file size order --- largest to smallest.

The descriptive file names are quite long and have been 'folded' onto a second line.

   944,184    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_
              (the 'original' PNG file)

PNG compression results:

   293,029    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_

   272,725    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_

              (This is the best LOSS-LESS PNG compression we
               get. Converting to JPEG and GIF, below, give
               smaller files sizes. Test images below indicate
               that some of the JPEG and GIF files would be
               acceptable -- no noticeable quality loss.)

PNG-to-GIF-and-JPEG results:

    83,164    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_
              (256-color GIF ; no noticeable quality loss)

    66,136    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_
              (quality-92 JPEG ; no noticeable quality loss)

    52,081    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_
              (64-color GIF ; no noticeable quality loss)

    39,537    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_
              (quality-70 JPEG ; still good quality)

    31,904    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_
              (starts showing quality loss with only 16 colors)

    31,336    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_
              (very little quality loss)

    22,336    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_
              (obvious color loss)

    15,557    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_
              (obvious color loss ; text is getting ragged)

     9,535    cartoon_minimumWage_maximumWage_gnome-screenshot_
              (obvious color loss --- just black and white remain)

PNG vs. GIF vs. JPEG :

Note that we achieved the maximum loss-less compression of the PNG file to another PNG file with the '_pngcrushBRUTE.png' file --- created with the 'pngcrush' command with the '-brute' option.

We also created a PNG file several times smaller than the 'original' by using the ImageMagick 'convert' command with a '-quality' compression parameter of '00'.

    For the PNG '-quality' parameter of 'convert':

    • 00 is recommended for images with mostly AREAS OF SOLID COLORS.

    • 05 is recommended for images like NATURAL LANDSCAPES.

    • 00 and 90 seem to give small file sizes with good quality.

    The first digit (tens) is the zlib compression level, 1-9.

    However if a setting of '0' is used you will get Huffman compression rather than 'zlib' compression, which is often better!

    The second digit is the PNG data encoding filtering type (before the data is compressed):

    • 0 is none,
    • 1 is 'sub'
    • 2 is 'up'
    • 3 is 'average'
    • 4 is 'Paeth'
    • 5 is 'adaptive'.

However, we can get still smaller files, than these PNG files, by allowing some 'lossiness' --- by going to GIF files (with a max of 256 colors) or by using the 'lossy' compression inherent in creating JPEG files.

On GIF :

Since this cartoon image is composed primarily of several solid colors (mostly black and white --- with some blue in the sky and some beige on the seat cushions), we can expect to preserve most of the original image if we convert the 'original' PNG file to a GIF file of less than 256 colors.

In fact, it turned out that for this image, we could even go down to 16 colors and still get a GIF file that was quite close in appearance to the 'original' PNG file from which it came.

    (We could try converting the 'original' PNG file to PNG files with a restricted number of colors --- such as 256 or 16 --- but if we are going to do that, I would rather use GIF --- since it has been supported by web browsers for about 10 more years than PNG --- and there may be some cases of software not reading certain types of PNG files.)


Note that when text fonts (in a quite contrasting color to their background) are in an image, the 'lossy' compression of JPEG typically introduces 'mosquito noise' around the text characters --- especially when we use a 'quality' value lower than the range of 100 to 92 for the 'convert' command.

But in this image, there are no high-contrast text characters --- so we do not have to be so concerned about introducing 'mosquito noise' when converting the 'original' PNG file to a JPEG file of 'quality' less than 92.

These JPEG files do NOT show appreciable 'mosquito noise' --- even when we go down to a '-quality' value of 50.

On choosing a file-type :

For this particular image, IF file size was my main concern (for example, if I were posting the image on a web page along with a lot of other images), I would be tempted to use a JPEG file of 'quality' 70 (or even 50) rather than use the loss-less, maximally-crushed PNG file.

Those JPEG's would be about 7 to 8 times smaller than the loss-less, maximally crushed PNG file.

Alternatively, I would use a GIF file with about 16-colors --- because its size and quality compare favorably with the JPEG's that were created with '-quality' of about 70 to 50.

To me, it would be almost a coin-flip whether to use the JPEG-quality-50 or the GIF-colors-16 image file of this cartoon.

If it proved to be the case that a GIF file would load into a web page faster (or with less CPU processing) than the JPEG file, then I would probably choose the GIF file.

Below are the images. Judge for yourself.

(Click on these images to see the image
in a separate window or tab.)

The 'original' cropped PNG file from
'gnome-screenshot' and 'mtpaint'.
File size: 944,184 bytes
(The 'mtpaint' image-editor saves to
a rather large PNG file.)

PNG from 'convert -quality 00'
File size: 293,029 bytes

PNG from the 'pngcrush' command
with the '-brute' option.
File size: 272,725 bytes
About 3 times smaller than the original PNG.

GIF from 'convert -colors 256 +dither' (no dithering).
File size: 83,164 bytes
About 3 times smaller than the maximally-compressed PNG
via the 'pngcrush -brute' command.

JPEG from 'convert -quality 92 -sampling-factor 2x2 -filter Mitchell'
File size: 66,136 bytes

GIF from 'convert -colors 64 +dither' (no dithering).
File size: 52,081 bytes

JPEG from 'convert -quality 70 -sampling-factor 2x2 -filter Mitchell'
File size: 39,537 bytes

GIF from 'convert -colors 16 +dither' (no dithering).
File size: 31,904 bytes

JPEG from 'convert -quality 50 -sampling-factor 2x2 -filter Mitchell'
File size: 31,336 bytes

GIF from 'convert -colors 8 +dither (no dithering).
File size: 22,336 bytes
(Here you can see a definite degradation
of the image. It appears that we need more
than 8 colors to get an image whose quality
is near that of the 'original' PNG file.)

GIF from 'convert -colors 4 +dither' (no dithering).
File size: 15,557 bytes
Lines on the back of the seat cushions are
degrading. Also edges of the text have
become 'harsher' --- not so soft.)

GIF from 'convert -colors 2 +dither' (no dithering).
File size: 9,535 bytes
The text has become quite 'harsh'.
All color, even grays, have disappeared.
In this 2-color image, only black and white
are left. This is a pretty unacceptable image
--- unless you really need to save about
20 kilobytes versus a nice 30 kilobyte file above.)


Some other PNG-JPEG-GIF compression-versus-quality experiments (using different image types) are available from the 'parent' page of this page --- the JPEG vs. PNG vs. GIF - image-quality vs. file-size page.

'External' WEB LINKS to other JPEG/PNG/GIF info :

For more information on image file quality and compression issues, for JPEG and PNG and GIF files, you can try the following WEB SEARCHES on the indicated keywords.

You may wish to change or add keywords to these queries in order to hone in on answers to your particular questions.

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Image Compression Experiments - on an Editorial Cartoon Image.

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Page history:

Page was created 2015 Feb 03.

Page was changed 2018 Aug 18.
(Added css and javascript to try to handle text-size for smartphones, esp. in portrait orientation.)

Page was changed 2019 Jul 11.
(Specified image widths in percents to size the images according to width of the browser window. Also added some web links.)