As a graphic designer and creative director for The Walsh Group, I was recently preparing a Logo Usage Handbook for a new client’s branding campaign.  I created a page for each type of file, what colors were used, why the colors were used, and where each file could be used.  As I was doing this I realized that what has become part of my vocabulary may still seem unfamiliar to others.

I know how aggravated I get sitting with a bunch of “tech-heads” as they throw around various computer terms that non-techies don’t understand.  Yet, I assume everyone knows the difference between Vector and Raster, EPS and JPEG, CMYK and RGB (see definitions); or Photoshop and Illustrator, to name a few.

That being said, I decided to go back to the basics and define each of these file type acronyms for you.  Not that you can’t Google all this info.  I am also going to explain some user friendly situations we all encounter.  Let’s start with some basics that I follow.

Rule NUMBER 1: You cannot pull the logo off your website and expect it to look good on a billboard! That is because it is a lo-res Raster image [there I go now] that means a low resolution file created specifically for viewing on a computer screen.

Putting that Raster image into a Vector (suitable for printing) program, such as Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator does not automatically make it a Vector image.  My cousin once told me, “just because a cat has kittens in an oven, it does not make them muffins!” Okay, I have crazy cousins, but he made a good point there. Yes, you can “put” a Raster image into a Vector program, but it does not make it a muffin… I mean, a VECTOR image. You need to recreate it in a Vector program. That is why software and services are out, like this one:

Click here to enlarge image

I have found that no matter what a client says (or thinks), a logo will need to be “scalable.” Meaning, it has to look just as good on their business card as it does on a billboard or building signage or truck. This means to me, as a designer, start with the VECTOR image! You can convert a Vector image very easily into a Raster image.

I think I made my point here.  Unfortunately most people (meaning non-designers) don’t understand why their logo  or graphics may need to be recreated, redrawn or altered to work across all mediums.

Next time: What is a PDF and how did it get on my Web site?

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