Do I have to outline or expand strokes when making a logo? When I use an ink brush for example, should I expand or outline the stroke or can I leave it if I want to?

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My general workflow for both Illustrator and Photoshop is a two file workflow.

  • 1 file for my records which contains all the layers, effects, appearance settings, etc in tact and is not flattened and everything is as "live" and editable as it can be. This allows me to return to the file later and more easily edit anything which may need changed. I keep this file in the client archive. The client never sees this file.
  • 1 file for the client which is expanded, flattened, merged. etc. Editing for this file is not a concern. The concern is to save a file as universally usable as possible. Clients typically should not need to edit files. However, they may need to utilize the file in multiple production environments. So create a file that is as absolutely simple as possible is beneficial.

Illustrator files are not much different than creating something like a digital painting in Photoshop. When you work in Photoshop, you create layers, add styles, etc. But when you're ready to provide a file to the client you save as a jpg or tiff which flattens all the layers and merges all the styles. That's all the client needs. Yet you retain the .psd for you to edit again later if needed. The same style workflow for Illustrator works well for me.

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  • Thanks , but what is the difference between flatten and expand – Mooona Aug 26 '17 at 5:01
  • Flattening artwork means to remove any transparency/blending modes applied to objects. From the menu > Object > Flatten Transparency – Scott Aug 26 '17 at 5:51

Yes, all strokes should be expanded when supplying final art to clients etc. This will minimise the risk of errors in reproduction. Sometimes the logo or art can be scaled and the stroke may not scale as it should. Also gives you quality control over the logo you are supplying, knowing that it hasn't been edited or scaled incorrectly along the way. Keep a non-expanded master file for your records.

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  • Thanks , but if I use ink brush when I expand it I can,t change the colour any more , is that right for the client? , and when I use clip mask to make a vintage feeling , also I must expand? – Mooona Aug 26 '17 at 5:01

When saving or archiving your own personal working files it is a personal option whether to flatten, expand or outline. If you perform these actions, however, you will not be able to adjust stroke width, edit text or use your brush shape as a brush anymore. If you want to be able to edit your elements again then don't flatten them.

When you are preparing images for web display or delivery you export a flattened version using the "save for web" dialogue. It doesn't matter if the objects in your file are expanded or outlined beforehand, just how they appear on the canvas before you at the moment of export.

When you are sending a work file or high quality image for printing to a client for them to re-use you should expand strokes, outline text and generally flatten everything so there is no error on their end (unless for some reason your agreement gives them the fully editable work files).

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  • Thanks , and when I use flatten?at any case? – Mooona Aug 26 '17 at 5:02
  • Good question, I don't know, they often work the same. Expand is a vector consideration, you lose all your appearance settings so appearance is locked. Flatten does the same but you can apply it to any graphics on your screen, i believe, it has nothing to do with styles that you applied. Flatten has an important use in reducing file size and locking elements so the image cant be altered by others. – Webster Aug 26 '17 at 6:43

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