In this age of color (4 color CMYK printing is much less expensive than it used to be and the web is a color rich environment) the use of your logo as a black and white grayscale image is often overlooked. As we’re trying to be perfectionists when it comes to the consistent high-quality use of your new design, any halftone or linear black & white usage should also be viewed as extremely important. Like most aspects of using your logo, having access to a vector based version is critical when it comes to creating high-quality BW versions that can be used when color reproduction isn’t available. We’ll use the logo our studio created for Papa’s Sports Lounge & Casino (featured in our business logo design gallery) as our example.
A black and white grayscale (also known as halftone) image of your logo (below right) is a version that is consists of screens and tonal ranges which are made up from varying sizes of black dots. In practical terms you can think of newspaper photographs where, due to the relatively low resolution of the printing, the dots are visible. When creating a grayscale version of your logo, it’s often not a matter of changing the colors to black & white by using a ‘save as’ feature of whatever desktop design software we’re using. Often, colors lose their contrast when automatically converted to black & white and the tonal range that was so apparent in the color version is lost. In many cases, our designers will have to create separate black & white files, adjusting the tonal quality of different areas of the logo for maximum impact. This is only practical if we have access to a vector version of the image that we’re converting. Many pixel based logo versions created by ‘paint programs’ (Adobe Photoshop for example) allow us to adjust the contrast of an image, but these changes are usually ‘global’ (the entire image changes) rather than ‘local’ (specified areas of the image) that are available with vectors.
A black and white linear version of your logo is a version that is made up of solid black (above left). There are no halftones (screens) or grays and is the best type of logo for use on low-resolution reproduction (FAX cover sheets, check artwork, etc). This type of image is almost impossible to create (at least with any measurable amount of quality) without access to a vector image. In order to create a linear version of your logo, we have to remove all colors, and adjust certain portions of the logo into black or white. This isn’t simply a matter of turning color ‘off’ using our handy-dandy design software. Rather, we have to create entirely new versions of the design and adjust it visually, by eye. This becomes especially critical when producing ‘reversal’ prints – versions of your logo that print on dark backgrounds. Simply ‘flipping’ black into white will not create a reverse image of your logo, but rather a negative image (similar to a roll of photographic film). In cases like these, we’ll need to adjust certain elements of the logo, and add white outlines to others. None of this is possible without a vector of the original image.
Print resolution issues with black & white images are identical to those of spot color and four color logo design artwork. If we have a vector version of your logo, we can scale up or down without any concerns. If not, the usable image will pixelate on a screen and appear ‘fuzzy’ in print. Visit the design help center for a quick reference guide for all logo formats.
Logo design formats explained. Video graphically illustrates the advantages of vector-based artwork over its pixel-based (raster) based counterpart and illustrates why you should (almost) never design a logo in Photoshop.