How to Edit Logos

By Elizabeth Mott

Experimenting with logo variations may help you find the look you want.
i Pavlo Kovernik/iStock/Getty Images

Ideally, a logo's combination of graphic elements and text encapsulates the essence of an organization's identity. As an organization grows and evolves, its logo changes along with it. When editing that logo becomes your responsibility, you may need to modify colors, change or add shapes, delete or crop parts of existing artwork, or even start from scratch. To ease the tasks involved in altering a logo, start with it in an optimal digital form.

Bitmaps Vs. Vector Artwork

Ask a professional graphic designer what kind of artwork to use for flexible reproduction of a logo, and the answer may surprise you if you haven't prepared artwork for print as well as online use. Bitmaps -- TIFFs, JPEGs, PNGs and other raster file formats from applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Paint and the GIMP -- limit your ability to resize and otherwise edit your logo. Every bitmapped file consists of a matrix of tiny picture elements, or pixels, arranged like a mosaic. As you enlarge a bitmapped logo, you begin to see jagged edges around curves and stair-stepped distortion around diagonal lines. Vector artwork -- the typical output of programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape and CorelDRAW -- consists of a set of mathematical instructions for drawing objects and text, each of which remains individually editable. You can recolor, rearrange and remove elements to your heart's content. If you really need a bitmapped representation of your logo, you can create one from your vector artwork, giving you the best of both digital worlds in one document.

Changing Colors

The colors you assign to the objects in your logo depend on the way you plan to reproduce it. In print, you need either process or spot color. Process color builds a vast array of shades out of mixtures of four basic ink colors -- cyan, magenta, yellow and black -- which mix on the fly in a printing press. Spot color relies on premixed inks that produce specific individual shades. Onscreen, you use RGB color to match the way computer monitors and TV sets operate. When you edit a logo, you may need to change it from one of these color modes to another to produce a version that suits a specific use. Some colors don't translate well from spot inks or RGB into process output. To verify how your colors will look, rely on a prefabricated color system that provides a reference swatch book in which you can look up individual formulas.

Editing Graphic Elements

In a piece of vector artwork, you can reshape, resize and redistribute the objects that make up the logo to revise its appearance. The applications that edit vector artwork provide you with tools that select individual objects, scale them, alter individual parts of them and transform their shapes. These programs also support live, editable type that you can enlarge or reduce, resize and recolor. If you only have access to a bitmapped representation of your logo, you face greater limitations on your ability to edit it. Color areas may blend together, making them difficult to alter individually. Depending on the file format, type may consist of pixels, meaning you can't enlarge it or change its style without removing and replacing it.

Software Options and Online Solutions

Your operating system offers options that can display your logo files and even offer you basic editing options. Under Windows, Microsoft Paint offers bitmapped editing capabilities, although it only supports RGB color. In Microsoft Office, you can create combinations of text, shapes and imported graphics in Microsoft Publisher and export your work as a bitmapped or PDF file. GIMP and Inkscape, both open source applications, give you broader editing capabilities and file format support -- the former for bitmaps and the latter for the SVG format of vector art -- but they, too, support only RGB color. Pay-to-use applications such as Adobe Photoshop and CorelDRAW broaden your editing capabilities and color support, the former with bitmapped graphics and the latter with bitmaps and vector art. Along with programs you install on your computer, look to online options for some simple ways to edit and embellish bitmapped graphics.