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Create Your Logo in a Resolution Independent App (This excludes Photoshop!)
Saturday, September 02, 2006
What's a resolution independent application? Think vectors: Vector-based applications such as, Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand (whose days are numbered) and Corel Draw all create resolution independent graphics. If you want to turn your logo into a tiny "powered by" web button, or if you want to blow it up onto a billboard, your logo must be resolution independent. It needs the ability to be resized and to retain 100% quality. Here's what happens when you try to scale up a logo created in a non-resolution independent app (Photoshop):

Scaling up in Photoshop creates painful results -- scaling down can too. This is why when a logo reaches its final form, it must be vector-based, not pixel-based. By the same token, I find it easier to design logos in Photoshop than in Illustrator. This is especially true if I use gradations and shadows. Once I have exactly what I want in Photoshop, I rebuild the image in Illustrator. Here's an example of a logo that I rebuilt in Illustrator:

What if I don't need to resize my logo?
Do you want business cards? If you want nice quality business cards, your logo ought to be scalable. Why is this true? Because what you see on your monitor is not what you get on paper. The beautiful logo you designed in a pixel-based program like Photoshop does not necessarily transfer to print easily. Your monitor resolution is 72 dpi (dots per inch) and standard print resolution is 300 dpi. To print a nice quality logo on paper requires nearly four times the dots!*

The Sniker example above shows what happens when you change a 72 dpi image in Photoshop to a 300 dpi image (Do you want your business cards to look like that?).

The down and dirty secret of an EPS file
An EPS file is an ugly little word loaded with misunderstanding. It stands for Encapsulated PostScript. The confusion of the EPS format is that many people think that all EPS files are resolution independent. This is false. For instance, if a newspaper or news website contacts you and says, "Hey, we are writing a story about your product, can we have an EPS file of your logo?" What they are asking for in this instance is a resolution independent image created in a vector-based program. So just because Photoshop and other applications allow you to "Save" in the EPS format does not mean that the resulting file is scalable.

*This translates into creating your logo in Photoshop many times larger than what you need for your website. For instance, a nicely printable Photoshop logo (for a business card) ought to be 1000x500 pixels and look smashing at this resolution.

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