Logo Design: Raster Graphics or Vector GraphicsArticles June 8, 2012
Logo design is made up of different defining aspects – from the designer’s influences and personal whims, to the design’s colour and its shape. We’ve discussed how logos are defined by colour and shape in our previous post. This time we’d like to talk about the file types and the things that you ought to know when you’re designing a logo for different media.
As technical as these two graphic design terms may sound, they’re actually very simple. Raster graphics are basically made up of pixels, the things you see on your screen, the rough edges that you see on an image when you zoom in too much. On the other hand, vector graphics are made up of lines and anchor points that are auto-adjusted by Adobe Illustrator (or any other vector software editor you’re using) when you’re resizing your work. That’s the basic gist of raster and vector graphics, but let’s delve deeper into the abyss and know where and when to use them, and on what project, aside from logo design, you can use them.
Upon first inspection, raster and vector graphics will basically look the same way. The difference becomes apparent once reproducing the design becomes an issue.
If you’re going to zoom in on an image, you’ll notice that the edges become more pixelated. This is because most images (JPEG, JPG, PNG, etc.) are rasterized to allow an artist or photographer to manipulate the image using a graphics editing software, like Adobe Photoshop.
A raster graphic image is made up of pixels, with each pixel having only one colour. This means that if you have fewer pixels in your image, you’ll have lesser colour and a low quality image. Otherwise, you’ll have a perfectly crisp and sharp image.
Why it’s not for any logo project
The primary concern in using raster graphics to create your logo design is the resolution. As I’ve mentioned before, rasterized images tend to be more pixelated or jagged on the edges. Resizing will be the main problem when it comes to reproducing a rasterized logo. You may be able to produce high resolution image on Photoshop, but you’ll never know how big the logo needs to be in actual production.
A logo design that’s created using Photoshop will show pixels once you zoom in within the image. This becomes an issue when you need to create a larger design from your original.
Another issue is professional quality. If you’re designing logos as a professional, you’d aim for the best quality and using a raster file for your project doesn’t help your cause. As mentioned earlier, upon closer inspection rasterized images would eventually produce pixelated images. This’ll reflect your knowledge about industry standards and practice, which is better that you know it now, than later.
What’s it for?
Photos and graphic rendering are done in raster graphics. Because of the extensive colour manipulation capabilities of raster graphic editors, they’re apt tools in adding and editing colours, tones, and textures on images, and photos. Usual projects done in Adobe Photoshop are web design, promotional graphics, and your usual illustration colour rendering.
In simple terms, vector graphic images are collections of lines and anchor points that make up a whole image. The lines serve as your drawing’s outline and the anchor points control where your lines should go. It’s similar to how the Photoshop pen tool works. If you’re familiar with it you’ll be fine, if not it’s time you work on it.
The anchor points and lines that make up a vector graphic image are manipulated through mathematical calculations (done by the software you’re using, no worries), which make the image done in vector to be scalable to any size.
Why it’s used in creating logos
Because of the ease in resizing a vector graphic image, logo designers find it easier to reproduce a logo in any size, any time, without losing quality. Aside from resolving sizing issues on a logo design, editing it will be a lot easier. Logos made in vector graphics are more adaptable and streamlined when applied to different media – from promotional prints and corporate stationery, like business cards and letterheads, to web design applications and other media.
Vector Graphics’ primary strength lies on its scalability. Since you’ll be applying the logo on different media, you’ll have to create different sizes of the same design. But if you’ve created the logo design as a vector graphic, size and scaling issues are easily resolved.
Most conceptual artists directly sketch their work on vector graphic editors and just render them on Adobe Photoshop, or other raster graphic editors. Because of the power combination of Adobe Illustrator’s intuitive drawing tools that work best with a tablet – this makes it easier for artists and illustrators to create sketches, concept designs, or adding details to a drawing easier.
Look out for our other logo design posts for the month of June. Make sure that you’re subscribed to our RSS Feed to receive awesome design news and inspiration. If you’ve got any questions, topic suggestions, or some love to share, just hit us up on Facebook or Twitter.