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How can I make my logo suitable for all purposes, from webpages to very large printed banners?

I currently use use Photoshop.

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Photoshop is simply the wrong tool for any logo. –  Scott Jul 24 '12 at 12:56
    
@Scott Thank you for your reply. Is corel draw good for vectors? –  jitendra222 Jul 24 '12 at 14:35
    
Corel Draw would be good. The important thing for any log is to create it using vectors and not photos/rasters. –  Scott Jul 24 '12 at 21:59
    
There's more to scalability than just using vectors to avoid pixelation: if a logo has detail, it can sometimes need subtle variations to work as an image at different sizes. See this related question, it's about icons but there are similar issues graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/7526/… –  user568458 Jul 26 '12 at 11:43
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4 Answers 4

The answer is to create your logo artwork as vector rather than raster graphics. You can then use this artwork directly for print work, or export raster artwork at the size you need for web graphics.

While Photoshop has some vector support, if you have Creative Suite, Illustrator is the tool for the job. If you don't, then Inkscape (which is free) is worth looking at.

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In addition to Adobe Illustrator which is clearly the gold-standard of commercial vector graphics tools, you should give some consideration to Inkscape. Inkscape is a vector drawing tool that would be an excellent chose for building scalable logo art. Inkscape is also free and runs on lots of platforms including both Windows and Mac.

The key attribute of these tools is that they operate in an abstract representation of shapes and lines rather than on a field of pixels. When using the resulting artwork, it is only converted to pixels near the end of the process. This allows the art have sharp features at all scales.

Note that this advantage holds from billboard scale down to the printed page. However at very small scales (small in the sense that the rendered image would span only a few tens of pixels, as in an icon) it is often the case that a skilled artist will need to refine the art to make the best possible use of the limited number of available pixels.

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+1 for a solid explanation of just what vector graphics are. –  huzzah Jul 24 '12 at 21:10
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I use Photoshop to create logo's, if you use the correct tools within Photoshop I don't see any problem - you can create vectors so you would be able to scale them no problem. You can obviously use Illustrator as others have suggested, but just use what you're comfortable with.

@Scott I think you were a bit blunt with your comment as you gave no constructive ideas as to what to use instead and why Photoshop is so wrong?

With Photoshop you can't just create something and save it in a vector format and be good to go, but all I'm saying is you can create a logo that will be scalable, using the Pen tool and text (so long as you don't make it bold using Photoshop when the actual font didn't come with a bold option etc). I'm sure there are other ways, I just prefer to draw things from scratch with the Pen tool :)

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Nope. Photoshop is flat-out, always, the incorrect tool for any logo. 25+ years experience has taught me that. A raster image editor will always result in a less portable file. Logo files must be as portable as possible. You can not create a Photoshop document which will reproduce equally well at 5 feet big as it does a half an inch big. Photoshop is not the be-all-end-all in software. Photoshop NEVER creates true vector files. No matter how much you use Photoshop's vector tools. –  Scott Jul 25 '12 at 22:18
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@Scott There's a difference between incorrect and sub-optimum. For example, the guy who created the Firefox logo initially used Fireworks (not ideal) because at the time, it was what he was most comfortable with and got best results with. Then, later, he converted it to AI. It would have been better if he was already an Illustrator expert when he started, but he wasn't, and he'd have got worse results forcing himself to use a tool he wasn't fluent with (sacrificing skill and quality) than he did by using his most fluent tool then converting it (sacrificing speed and efficiency). Skill > tools. –  user568458 Jul 26 '12 at 11:38
    
@Scott - 25 Years experience means nothing and is probably more of a hinderance as it sounds as though you are not up to date and current with software. Photoshop CS6 is an extremely capable bit of software not just for raster graphics. It's true that Illustrator is better suited for vector graphic production as that's it's exclusive purpose, but if Photoshop is what one is familiar with and owns, it makes ZERO sense to buy and learn Illustrator if they can get by with Photoshop. –  Anonymous Jul 26 '12 at 17:32
    
I just love defending vectors to those that feel Photoshop is the be-all-end all. I defy anyone to create and save a true vector file from Photoshop. Go ahead. As soon as I see that, I'll reverse my opinion. To date, it's not possible. I never stated Photoshop doesn't have vector tools, it does. But Photoshop does not now, and never has, created vector files. Can you pound in a nail with a screwdriver? Absolutely, is it the correct tool to use, definitely not. –  Scott Jul 26 '12 at 20:21
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I'm basically agreeing with you, in an ideal world, all vector graphics would be created in programs dedicated to the purpose. I can see from your profile that you'll know exactly what all the differences in how Photoshop and Illustrator handle vector graphics are, but you have to understand that it's not always practical to have a 'purist' attitude to this kind of thing - if the OP has and knows Photoshop and has never touched illustrator before, it makes sense to use Photoshop (if possible), if not, go for Illustrator. –  Anonymous Jul 26 '12 at 21:13
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e100's advice is spot on. A vector application such as Illustrator is the best tool for logo design, whether you start on paper and scan it in, or work directly within the program.

This isn't the whole story, however. Scalability doesn't just involve vectors; the detail in a logo must also be adjusted for the size of the finished artwork. Just as with text, fine detail will either get lost or appear too fussy at small sizes, and a logo that is drawn to look good at business card size will tend to appear stolid or clunky at very large sizes.

This is a bit tricky to demo on a low-resolution device like a monitor, but I'll try to convey the idea.

Here's a logo for a riverside community non-profit:

logo

The wavy lines read well at this size, but look what happens when we bring it down to a business card:

logo reduced

You see the problem immediately: those fine lines are all but invisible. In print, you run a very strong chance that ink spread will swallow them completely. The solution is to make a version for small sizes with less detail, but that conveys the same impression:

logo for small scale

In this case, increasing the text weight to bold is also necessary, because it is a subtly crafted serif face (Trajan) with fine detail that disappears at tiny sizes.

There is an excellent example of this in John McWade's "Before and After Graphics for Business." There is an entire section of the book devoted to logo design, and this is one of the books I recommend frequently for this and its other content.

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