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When designing a logo is there a minimum size canvas that should be used to keep quality when it is enlarged or when reduced?

Obviously the dimensions of a canvas depend on the shape of the logo, but is there a sugested size?

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4 Answers 4

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Typically a logo is designed in a vector program such as Illustrator, so it can be scaled to meet the various needs required by the customer. For instance, a logo will typically end up on:

  • Business cards
  • Letterhead / envelopes
  • T-shirts
  • Web headers / web pages

Since you're theoretically going to be designing in a format that can be scaled without loss (vector) the size you work with should be something you're comfortable with (remember if you put too much detail into your logo it's going to be lost when it's scaled down to fit on a business card).

If vector won't work for you (e.g., don't own Illustrator / don't want to learn another program / strictly prohibited by your religion) you should try and figure out where the logo is going to be used. If it's only going to be on a web site I'd try and figure out the largest iteration of the logo and work at that size. If it's going to be printed you should figure out where it's going to be printed (business card, t-shirt, mint tin, sticker, etc.) and again work at the largest physical size (i.e., x inches by y inches) at a minimum of 300 ppi.

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"Largest physical size at 300 ppi" could get extreme if it's going to be used on a billboard - what's wrong with just saying largest pixel size plus some extra room for error – Random832 Jan 17 '12 at 18:25
billboard prints are set at around 50 ppi never 300ppi. hand held prints are 300ppi small 11x14 and 24x36 posters are printed around 250-300ppi but larger posters around 36x48 are set at 100-200ppi. this has nothing to do with file size but viewing distance. You just don't need a photo quality print that large for ad work. Museum or fine art prints are a different subject. – danferth Jan 17 '12 at 23:28

While you should be creating vector artwork which is scalable to any dimensions, it makes sense to create the logo in the order of a few inches/cm across.

This is just so that when you initially import it at 100% scale into a empty box on a page layout at 100% scale, it's not so big that you only see the white space from the logo's upper-left corner. You'll generally need to scale it up or down, or just auto-scale to fit the box, but this just avoids a potential second or two of confusion.

Variant logos are sometimes created for extra large or extra small applications, but this is fairly rare.

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As others have mentioned logos should always be designed in vector format for scale-ability, embroidery, screens... you never know what the client will do with it latter. But I always use a standard letter size canvas horizontal to display the logo or variants for the customer. I find it a good size when they call and want a pdf sent over. It fits on the screen well and if they print it out they usually have letter size sheets in the printer so it's just easier on them. Customers are not as computer friendly as you may think sometimes so giving them something they don't have to think about make things go smoother. All preference though.

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You should definitely use vector graphics for logos, not just because they scale to whatever size you want but also because you can change them later. Your customer might want it in a different colourscheme or in B&W or whatever and you can't efficiently do this unless you use vector graphics. While others recommend Illustrator or Corel Draw, I think Inkscape is far better and it's free:

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