Knowing which file type to send to your design team (and how to send it) can end up saving you some time and headaches in the long run. But what exactly are “vectors”? And why does “ppi” even matter? Here is our handy guide to help clarify some of our design terms!
Logos come in two types of graphic files: raster and vector. Raster files are made of pixels or many little blocks of a single color each. The best example of this concept is A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. I’m sure you’ve seen this painting, if not in person then maybe in movies or online. When you get up close, you’ll see the painting is made up of dots… many, many dots. The further away you move from it, the clearer the picture becomes. (Wait, you mean those dots are actually people?) Raster files work the same way. We can make them smaller and keep them looking clear, but we cannot increase their size and expect to see anything other than the “dots” (or pixels) that make up the graphic.
“But isn’t there a way to resize logos and have them look great no matter the size?” Fear not, dear reader, there is: vectors!
Vector graphics are made of mathematical points to create lines, objects, colors, etc. What exactly is so magical about that? Math makes it possible for files to be resized to either tremendously large or incredibly small, while keeping all of the original details! Need your logo on a small keychain? Or possibly the side of your building? No problem! With vector files there is no limit to what we can do with your logo.
Raster File Types: JPG, GIF, TIF
Vector File Types: AI, EPS
Files that straddle the fence: PDF and PNG files can have both vector and raster items within their layers.
PPI stands for Pixels Per Inch. While I’m sure you may find this acronym to be incredibly interesting, you may also be wondering how this pertains to you and your logo. When you upload your logo to Facebook, for example, the website automatically lowers the resolution of your graphic to 72ppi. Don’t worry; I don’t plan on getting incredibly technical with this. All this really means is that your graphic is now optimal for viewing online.
“It looks so clear on my screen. Why does it look grainy when I print from the web?” Images built for web (mainly social media) weren’t intended for printing. Ideally, print materials are set to 300ppi to ensure clarity. Your graphics may have begun at 300ppi but, again, if they were uploaded to the web using a website like Facebook or WordPress those pixels were automatically lowered to ensure fast web loading times. This is why the original file works better than pulling them off of your Facebook page. The more pixels the better!
If you simply don’t have a vector file for your logo or even a high-resolution raster file, that’s not a problem. Some file types may just mean a few extra steps in the process but rest assured that we can work with whatever you have!