If we use a photo in your logo, this means the logo is now partially a raster image, and you lose all the benefits of having a vector image. Why does this happen? When a camera takes a photo, it is kind of like using the individual pegs on a LightBrite (or creating a cross-stitch with individual stitches) to create a scene. The camera creates and stores color information for each pixel (tiny dot, shaped like a square) that makes up the image. When you take a picture, the camera setting determines how many pixels are created and stored in the digital file. The quality of an image is called its “resolution”, measured by calculating how many dots the camera stored per inch (dpi). The resolution of an image taken by a camera can’t be improved later by a designer.
A low-resolution image looks blurry, grainy, or jagged, especially when you zoom in on the image or expand it to a larger size, because you are seeing all of the individual squares. A high-resolution image has more pixels stored per square inch, so if you zoom in or print it at a large size, you still don’t see the individual squares because there are still so many of them. However, once you display the image large enough, it will eventually get blurry–the setting of most digital cameras is such that you can’t print most pictures any larger than 11” X 17” without starting to notice the pixels.
In contrast, creating a vector image is like quickly coloring in entire sections of a picture in a coloring book (or pouring paint into different sections of a multi-section paper plate). This gives a vector image “perfect” resolution–you can expand it to be as large as you want, and you’ll never see any pixels. Using Adobe Illustrator, a designer defines relationships between endpoints in terms of proportion and placement, rather than specific lengths or widths, and can instruct Illustrator to fill in each entire section with color rather than one pixel at a time. Illustrator plays “Connect-the-Dots”, but you never see the dots because it always knows how many to fill in between two points to make a perfect line. Pretty handy, huh?
Why don’t cameras use this shortcut? Why can’t you “take” a vector picture? Well, in a real-life image, the colors are so random and varied that there just aren’t enough relationships to create any shortcuts (or “fill” areas). So how is a logo different? Fortunately the colors in a logo design, unlike a picture, are not random–even if there are multiple colors used in the design, they are not used in a random way. But this doesn’t mean vector designs have to be all flat and boring. There are many techniques, like gradients, with patterns that can be calculated into a vector formula. But certain photographic/3-D effects require so much random color that they can’t be created as a vector file. They must be created (using a program such as Adobe Photoshop) as a raster image, like a photo, one pixel at a time. This is a bad idea because, again, you lose all the advantages of having a vector image.
Once you understand the basic difference between how vector images and raster images are created, you’ll start to see “Why a Vector Logo Wins”. And here at Businesslogos.com, we want you to have the best!
In Part 3, we’ll show you some examples of vector effects vs. raster effects.
Here at Businesslogos.com, we love feeling the excitement our customers have about their new companies. Starting an organization takes passion, creativity, and hard work. But thankfully it doesn’t require being an expert in everything! Your job is to find seasoned professionals that you can trust to help you with each piece of your business. That’s what we’re here for! We’ve been designing for over 15 years, and so we’ve pretty much seen it all. You get to tell us what you want out of your logo, and we get to worry about all the technical stuff. Thank goodness! But sometimes our customers request elements in their logo design (such as the use of a photo or certain photographic/3-D effects) that we hesitate to do. When we disappoint our customers, that makes us sad, so we want to explain why. These limitations don’t reflect a lack of expertise in creating these effects; rather, our expertise is what compels us to take the design in a different direction. Sometimes it’s for aesthetic reasons, but more often it’s for technical reasons. We don’t usually like to worry you about the technical stuff, but since we get this request so often, we think it’s worth explaining this concept–in the most non-technical way we can.
When we design a logo, we create what’s called a “vector” image using Adobe Illustrator (file type “.eps” or “.ai”). This type of image is different from the image types most of use on a day-to-day basis, such as jpgs, pngs, gifs, tifs, or bmps. These common image types are called “raster” images. Vector logos and raster logos are created in fundamentally different ways. Raster logos are a fixed size, comprised of individual pixels, whereas vector logos have no fixed size at all. They store relative information about the proportion and relationship of each section of the logo to the others. To get the full scoop on why this is and what it all really means, see our next post on Monday; “Understanding the Difference between a Vector and Raster Image”. But we’ll get straight to why it matters: while a raster format may have some advantages in certain situations, vector is the universally preferred format for logo images by designers and printers. There are many benefits to creating a vector logo instead of a raster logo.
Benefits of Vector Logos
Take that raster images! This is just a taste of why vector images work much better for logos. It’s not that we can’t create a raster image for your logo—it’s that we shouldn’t. While vector images may have a few limitations, the benefits truly reign supreme. If you think you want a photo or photographic elements in your logo, think again–we promise you’ll ultimately agree that a vector-based logo is the way to go. Take another stroll through our gallery. Every logo you see on our site is a vector logo, and hey, we think they look pretty good!
Next Monday: Understanding the Difference Between a Vector and Raster Image