Design Tutorial

Design Decoded: Why Do I Need a Vector Logo?

A vector format logo in all of our brand services at Anchored Creative Studio, and it's something that is purposefully listed first in all of our services. To me, it's the first thing any business should look for when evaluating the branding work a graphic designer is planning to do for them. 

So, what's so important about a vector logo?

There are two types of graphics: vector and raster. I wrote more about the difference between the two in a blog post earlier this year, but the basics are that raster graphics are composed of pixels and are a set size, whereas vector graphics are composed of vectors (intuitive, yes?) and can be scaled up or down to be as large or small as you would like. 

Because raster logos are composed of pixels, they become pixelated and blurry when scaled up or down. Pixels are tiny boxes of color that take up a tiny box (which is called a pixel).

Sounds great, but what does that mean for my business?

A pixelated and blurry version of my company logo

A pixelated and blurry version of my company logo

You know what I was saying about graphics becoming pixelated when you try to size them up or down? When you do this to a logo that's saved as a raster graphic, it gets very blurry, very quickly. Having a pixelated logo can make your organization look unprofessional or amateur. 

Always having a vector format of your logo on hand is important so you can hand it off to any organization that's using your logo for events, or in the case you need to make a change to your logo in the future. If you don't have that vector file, it's difficult to make changes to your logo while still maintaining its original integrity. With a file logo, your logo can be blown up as large as a billboard or as small as a matchbox and still look crisp and clear. 

How can I tell if a file is saved as a vector?

Vector files will have the file extension of .ai, .eps, .svg or .pdf. And that's it! If you have a logo saved in .pdf format, I would recommend verifying with a graphic designer that this .pdf is a native file, since a .pdf can also be a raster file. A "native file" is the original file the designer created the graphic in, as opposed to a copy of the file in a different format. All vector files can't be viewed on your computer unless you have vector software, like Adobe Illustrator. 

So, should I ever use a raster version of my logo?

Yes! There's a huge value to raster versions of your logo. Vector files are important for long term usages, but raster files are the versions you'll be using on an everyday basis. Raster files include .png, .jpg and .gif files, which you are likely familiar with. These files can be opened on all computers and smartphones, and you don't need any special programs to look at them. 

Any other tips your average person should know about vector files? 

When starting a new brand, have as many logo files as possible! You only need one vector file per each type of logo, but it's helpful to have large, small, and social media-sized logos for each color and variation of your logo. Most of Anchored Creative Studio's branding packages include up to 16 logo files at the end of the branding process, so the client is armed and ready to go with everything they need.

Questions? Shoot me an email! I'm always happy to chat about design questions!


Design Tutorial: Placing Photos in a Shape in Photoshop

It took me way too long to figure out clipping masks in Photoshop. I'm a little embarrassed to say that for a long time, I was cropping images to the size I wanted them to be in a separate Photoshop file and then placing them. This does not have to be the case! Clipping masks can quickly become one of your favorite Photoshop tools, and will expose you to some of the more advanced ways to make awesome graphics for your brand.

Why use clipping masks? For the purposes of what I'm explaining today, it's an awesome way to place a photo or other graphic in a certain shape. This could be a simple rectangle, or a circle, line, triangle, star, or other shape you can easily make with the Shape tool in Photoshop. If you want to get fancy, you could place an image or graphic over other graphics like handlettering or logos (as long as it fits into your brand's guidelines, of course), and even text. This is an amazing way to utilize brand patterns and make fun graphics for social media and other digital communications.

But to keep it simple (like the GIF in this post says), let's start with a photo collage for social media. For the small business owner or nonprofit that's looking to DIY some of their design work, this is a quick way to make a professional design that doesn't take a ton of time. Doing design yourself doesn't mean your design can't still look great. 

Here's the steps:

  1. Create a new document in Photoshop; make sure the background layer is color you'd like it to be.
  2. Make your shapes. If you have several shapes you're placing images or graphics in, I would recommend making each into its own layer group. It makes things a little less confusing and makes sure you don't accidentally mix up your shapes!
  3. Place your graphic(s). Save the images to your computer if you haven't done so yet. Then, go to File > Place Embedded and place your first graphic or image. Make sure the graphic layer is placed on top of your shape layer. You can move the layers around in the layers panel if you need to.
  4. Right click your graphic layer and choose "create clipping mask." Ta-da! You've created your clipping mask! If you need to move your graphic layer around to make it look better, you can do so with the Move tool, and can make it larger or smaller with Transform (command + T, or Edit > Free Transform; hold down shift to keep proportions).

Below is a short video to see exactly what it looks like in action, specifically steps 3 and 4. Any questions? Drop em in the comments! Hopefully this tutorial is helpful for your small biz.