JI Design | A Logo vs. An Illustration
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A Logo vs. An Illustration

The line between a logo and an illustration can be a bit fuzzy at times. They both start from the same thing (a drawing), but their end results are much different.

Concept

An illustration tells a story, a logo defines a brand. While every brand has a story, a logo should take this and create an icon that represents the ideas, motives, and goals that the company currently represents, rather than depict an intricate history or situation.

This definition in a logo also allows for a brand to appeal to a wider audience, embody increased clarity, and increase recognition.

Here’s a dramatic example of a logo versus and illustration:

Scalability

An illustration is pretty set in its ways. If you want to print it in one-color, it will need some careful editing before that is possible, and this secondary version is usually not as strong of a piece as the original artwork.

Designers take numerous potential applications into consideration while developing a logo so that no version is less-important that the “original.” A logo should be ready to be used as an icon, in greyscale, in one-color, in full-color, and more.

A logo should also be legible at tiny sizes and large sizes, without turning into something else. Illustrations, especially the highly-detailed variety, can become blobs or blurry at different sizes (more on this later). This consistency only improves the quality of a brand.

Vector vs. Image

Perhaps the most obvious difference between a logo and an illustration is the file format. A logo should be a vector drawing (a series of anchor points connected to each other) in its cleanest form. This allows color conversions and size changes to happen easily, smoothly, and without a distortion to the clarity or quality of the image. A vector at the size of a business card will appear just as clear when it is placed on a billboard. It is also the ideal file format for printers and can be converted into another file type (PNG, JPG, SVG…) as necessary with just a few clicks

Illustrations are often either images of a paper drawing, or computer drawings. The paper drawing images are probably a JPG or something similar. The size is defined in these file types – it can’t grow much larger than its original size without getting blurry. JPGs or other image file types also can’t be converted into a clean vector file with just a few clicks, like the reverse.

If an illustration is a computer drawing, it may be a vector image, but it’s probably a crazy one with a million anchor points. This makes color conversions and size changes much more tricky than a vector drawing created with these abilities in mind.

Need help?

Whether your logo needs a revamp or you realized that you’ve been working off of something closer to an illustration, JI Design is here for you.

Caroline Garriott