How to Create a High Resolution Logoby Naomi Bolton
A logo is the visual representation of a company and should, as such, encompass everything the company stands for. A great logo is versatile, simple and easily recognizable and should be as distinguishable on a pen as on a billboard. Your company should have a high-resolution logo, especially if you are planning to use it on large format prints in future. To ensure that the logo can be enlarged limitlessly, the vector format is the most desirable one for logos.
Vector vs. Raster
Raster images, such as photos, are limited to the original amount of pixels they consist of. As soon as they are enlarged, these images pixelate and may appear blocky on large format. Vector images, on the other hand, consist of lines and curves that are calculated mathematically. These files include the positions of nodes, curves and line lengths. As soon as you scale them, these images are simply recalculated, which means they can be enlarged without sacrificing resolution.
Vector images need to be created with software that is specially designed to create these wire-frame-type images. Commercial programs that are often used in the industry include Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw (links in Resources). Free and open-source alternatives are also available for download from the Internet, such as Inkscape, Serif DrawPlus and Xara Xtreme (links in Resources). Printers will typically only have one of these software packages, which is why they will often specify the file formats they are able to print.
Creating the Image
The design process should not start directly on the computer. Brainstorm about what your logo needs to represent. Jot down a couple of sketches to see what works visually. Create the logo in black and white first to ensure that it is visually strong enough to appear in only one color when photocopied. In your vector editor, use the pen tool to create clean lines and curves. If you have a raster image that you want to use for your logo, some software, such as Inkscape, Illustrator and DrawPlus, have a feature or plug-in that can convert it to a vector. These conversions are not always accurate, however, as they could interpret pixels wrongly or add too many nodes. To get the simple lines you need for a logo, it is better to trace the elements you want from the photo. Do this by adding it as an extra layer to your document, drawing on top of it and discarding the photo layer when you are done.
Saving as a High-Res Image
Most vector programs are capable of converting vector images to high-resolution raster images. Use the "Export" feature, usually listed under "File" in the menu bar of your software, and save it as a JPG, PNG, GIF or TIFF to convert it to a raster image. As a rule of thumb, printers prefer images to be at least 300 DPI (dots per inch) for high-resolution prints. Change the measurement settings to inches instead of pixels to specify the print size. For the Web, you need a resolution of 72 DPI. All printers are able to open raster images, but some also prefer to work with a vector because of the smoother lines and relatively smaller file size. If your printer cannot open AI (Adobe Illustrator) or CDR (CorelDraw) files, save your logo as an EPS or SVG as both these formats can be opened by most vector editing programs. Save your logo in different formats to ensure that you have different options archived. Back it up to another hard drive or DVD to be sure you have an extra digital copy for future use.
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