Design Help Center

Technical talk.

A series of Design Help tips, suggestions & practical advice assembled by designers in our studio. For more recent help features check out the Design Tutorials category on our blog.

Changing Logo Formats

Converting vector logos to bitmap versions and vice versa

Throughout our technical section, we’ve taken a look at the properties of the two different image formats – pixel based bitmaps and vector based logos – as well as the various methods of reproduction, and the limitations of each type.

NEWtypes-of-reproduction

But what if we only have access to one format or another? How will that effect our marketing efforts and the creation of material that showcases our new brand – say letterheads, business cards and brochures? And what happens if we need a format that we don’t have?

Vector bitmap conversion chart

Let’s assume we have a vector based format of logo. We’re pretty much home free (above) – The Logo Factory (or any other design company) can create any format you will require, with a minimum of headache (and more importantly, charges.) We can enlarge your logo, convert from one color space to another – monitor friendly RGB to full color CMYK and back again, change our color setup to spot color and then into one color black & white linear or grayscale. We can set up pixel based bitmap images of any size and any resolution. Every eventuality can be handled and using our new logo won’t be an issue.

bitmap format conversion chart

Now let’s pretend we ONLY have a bitmap version – a .JPG or a .PNG for example. We’ve used spiffy do it yourself software (which use bitmap logo templates as their library of images for you to use,) or went for that ‘new logo for your web site’ $99 McLogo special. What can we do, without resorting to format repair (and the resultant costs?) Let’s take a look at the conversion chart (above.) We can convert our logo from RGB to CMYK and back again. We can convert our logo from color to black and white (halftones.) So far so good. We can reduce the size of our logo for use on websites and blogs and when it comes to using making an avatar from our logo on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we’re pretty well golden.

But now, let’s look at what we CAN’T do. We cannot prepare the file for economical spot color printing. We cannot effectively change the colors without some serious messing about in Photoshop or Fireworks (and even then, our results will be iffy.) We cannot enlarge our new logo at all (without the image pixelating.) We can’t move elements around. Looks like we’re stuck. Well, maybe not stuck, but if we want to edit our artwork at all, we’re going to need to convert it, creating a vector version so we can utilize the conversions that are available. At The Logo Factory, we coined a phrase for this a few years back – logo repair – an effective, but sometimes expensive method of creating the correct formats.

Fixing your logo formats – creating professional ‘logo assets.’

In order to ‘fix’ your logo format problems, we first need to create a vector source file from which we can generate ALL the various file formats you’ll need (take a look at our file format reference guide for those.) Officially nown as vectorization, this is a sometimes nit-picky and finicky process.

bitmap logo close-up

Our designers literally have to ‘trace’ the artwork by hand (below,) using vector based drawing software such as Adobe Illustrator.

Hand tracing bitmap logo

There are a few automated solutions for tracing logo images, but these are generally not adequate for truly professional logo design results. The artwork created by software – Adobe’s Live Trace for example – usually requires extensive editing to remove redundant points and areas that have not converted correctly. The time required to ‘clean up’ the image negates any time saved by auto-tracing. Automated solutions also require a large bitmap image for even the most marginal results. And while high-resolution files also make repair easier, we’re dealing with file format problems, and the likelihood of this quality file being available is quite slim. If all you have is a bitmap version of your logo, chances are you snagged it from your website.

Adding colors to vector format

Once our designers have finished hand-tracing your logo, we’ll end up with a series of vector shapes that we can now edit together or individually. We can change colors by simply ‘pouring’ color inside the various vector shapes (above.) We can change the various components of the image, add new text, remove or add elements. The sky’s the limit. The logo can now be adapted and converted to a wide variety of uses and applications. We can set up the logo for use in spot color reproduction or, if the application warrants it, use the logo in 4 color process printing. The logo is now completely scalable as the resolution of vector file formats is, for all practical purposes, unlimited.

Time honored napkin doodles.

At this point we’ll be able to create as series of source files of your logo – known as ‘logo assets’ – that can be used for years to come, in almost every use imaginable. As these formats are ‘industry standard’ they can be utilized by any designer you choose to hire for the production of your marketing and advertising material. The process described here would also apply to a project where ceoncepts and ideas gathered during the time-honored process of napkin ‘doodles’ are the starting point.

See here for case studies and logo repair examples from actual projects.

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The Logo! Factor is the official design blog of The Logo Factory, offering features for business owners and designers alike. To receive notifications of new releases, subscribe to our Design Dispatches mailing list.

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