What software should I use to design a Webpage logo?
August 26, 2009 10:09 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to create a professional looking logo for a Web site. I am using GIMP but finding I am very limited in terms of what I can do with it. Is there a software package that I should be using that will allow me to create a good looking logo/header image? I understand Photoshop is the best however, it's really expensive (700.00). Are there any software alternatives or do I just have to pony up for Photoshop? By the way, I have a PC.
posted by hellodonna to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
What exactly do you find lacking in GIMP?
posted by kidbritish at 10:14 AM on August 26, 2009

I agree that GIMP is full of usability fail.

I hear there are educational versions of Photoshop that are cheaper; you could look into that.

If all you want is to zoom in, edit some pixels, have a few layers, and fill some regions, you can grab Paint .NET for free. It isn't a professional tool by any standards, but it gets the job done for amateurs like me.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:18 AM on August 26, 2009

I think Inkscape is a pretty good alternative. It doesn't do a lot that gimp/photoshop does, as it's more of an illustrator replacement, but the quality of work produced with it is generally high. Its also a lot more usable than the gimp, and in my opinion, photoshop.

However if you just need photoshop for one thing, you can download a 14 day trial at adobe.com by giving them your email address.
posted by shownomercy at 10:22 AM on August 26, 2009

Software answer:
Photoshop Elements can probably do what you want to do and is significantly cheaper.

If you want to check out either PE or regular Photoshop, you can download 30-day trials from Adobe's Web site.

Not software answer:
I also encourage you to question whether this is a software problem; ultimately the software is not what makes the logo good or professional-looking (except insofar as it can prevent unprofessional-looking pixelation etc. in a particular file or version). If your problem is with rendering the logo on the computer, then that's a software problem, but if your problem is creating the logo -- you don't need the computer to do that. In fact, if you are spending most of your time trying to get the software to work, you might want to re-examine that approach and hire someone who's speedy with Photoshop to render your design for you (i.e. one that you have carefully documented in some other form.)
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:23 AM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]

Another option is LineForm, if you're ont he mac. Not really full featured, but easy.
posted by rr at 10:31 AM on August 26, 2009

Honestly you are likely to spend a lot of time and money on trying to figure out how to do this, and end up with a poorly designed logo. There are a lot of services that do cheap logo design. I think you should check out that route. It's not a matter of what software to use, it's a matter of knowing design principles. I don't...for my photography business someone did my cards for me (a friend) and they came out awesome.
posted by sully75 at 10:35 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Inkscape is probably more suited to logo creation than GIMP. It is a (free) vector graphics program.
posted by fings at 10:37 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would add to chesty's answer that the graphic designers I work with use Adobe Illustrator almost exclusively -- not Photoshop -- for creating new creative (as opposed to editing and manipulating existing creative). If it's "only"* needed for online media, the limitations of Photoshop relative to Illustrator can be got around... but it might be a cheaper alternative to Illustrator**, not Photoshop, that you actually need.

*I don't mean to minimize web graphics; just saying that a logo that never needs to be printed at 1200 dpi or even 300 dpi, or never needs to be vector, might allow for software wiggle.

** if such a thing exists?
posted by pineapple at 10:42 AM on August 26, 2009

Nthing that it's (probably) not the software. You can do amazing things with Microsoft Paint, if you know what you want. You can't do gradients, alpha-channel blends and play with the various levels, but you can make designs.

Note: you do not want to get a student version of photoshop, if you're intending to be legitimate about the end use. I don't know the likelihood of someone knocking on your door and asking for your software licenses, but if that's something that concerns you, I doubt the student edition would save you much grief.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:43 AM on August 26, 2009

You could grab a free logo here. They're actually pretty well designed. They do come in a photoshop file, but I guess you could always use the trial? Can Gimp open photoshop files?
posted by kylej at 10:44 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're not going to be image-editing regular-like, then Inkscape will probably do what you want and looks much more friendly than GIMP.

I really just came in to defend GIMP. Just because it's not a Photoshop clone doesn't mean that it's not well designed. It's not perfect, obviously (and it's been getting better rapidly), but it's not worse than Photoshop.
posted by cmoj at 10:49 AM on August 26, 2009

• Design a logo with pencil and paper.
• Build a logo in a vector drawing program (like Illustrator) especially if there is any type involved. Using a vector program will keep the art clean and sharp and scalable without deterioration or quality. When done, scale to needed size.
• Move finished vector art to Photoshop (or similar) to add anything to the art that can't be accomplished in Illustrator. Save to needed file size and resolution.

And, honestly, GIMP is all kinds of fail, and I would not suggest you even go down that path unless you are some kind of über-geek. Dealing with fonts alone in the GIMP makes the baby jeebus cry.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:03 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing inkscape. It's very easy to use--easier than illustrator, I'd say.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:07 AM on August 26, 2009

I teach graphic design at the University level and want to second a few thoughts that have come up here.

Graphic design is a profession with learned visual skills. So I agree with folks who write that it's not so much about software as it is about knowing how to create a visual symbol that effectively and appropriately communicates your intent and message. This could be done (and has been done for a very long time) with pencil and paper. Unfortunately, computers trick pretty much all of us into thinking that if we just knew the right combination of buttons to push we could breeze though the creation process and have something sparkly and shiny. This is not the case.

To more directly answer your question : a logo should be designed in a vector program as a proper logo can be scaled to any size and repurposed in a variety of resolutions. Vector programs can do that. Adobe Illustrator is the professional tool for this work. Inkscape is a free tool, like GIMP, that has plenty enough features to make a logo. For that matter, though, a designer could make a logo for you in GIMP - Photoshop doesn't have any fancy "logo" tools. This returns me to my top point, that is, that a logo is made by applying visual principles and skills to the creation of a succinct symbol that appropriately conveys the spirit and ideas of an organization or product or group...

A few people on here have recommended free or cheap online tools. Those tools will make something shiny, but maybe not really effective or specific to your message. My recommendation would be to contact a design professor at your nearest college and ask them to recommend an advanced student to help... They might like the chance to make something professional and real-world applicable.

Good luck!
posted by Slothrop at 11:09 AM on August 26, 2009 [12 favorites]

If its a one off then adobe usually have 30 day free trials on most of their products. Inkscape is very good for a free vector program. I found GIMP to be a complete nightmare but inkscape was really easy to use and just jump into.
posted by missmagenta at 11:13 AM on August 26, 2009


Photoshop and Gimp are both bitmap image editors. They are tools for manipulating detailed image data--photographs, artwork, etc.--and getting it into a final form for production. They are not intended to be used for generating original artwork.

What you need to generate original artwork is a vector drawing program, something along the lines of Adobe's Illustrator or the much-mentioned-in-this-thread Inkscape. These are programs that let you draw a complete piece of artwork on a blank campus, something that neither Photoshop nor Gimp were intended for.

Once you have your design drawn, you can take it into a bitmap editor for fine tweaking, adding effects like drop shadows or posterization, etc.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:16 AM on August 26, 2009

Paint.net is comparable to Photoshop Elements and its free.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:19 AM on August 26, 2009

a) Photoshop will be $700 wasted unless you've got a couple of years of training to go with it.

b) I think you want a vector tool, like Illustrator or one of the freeware alternatives, even though the final output will obviously be raster.

c) good type is worth more than both of these things by themselves. visit http://www.myfonts.com - there's plenty of decent free type there as well.
posted by luriete at 12:18 PM on August 26, 2009

Please note that if you get a "cheap" or "free" logo from a fly-by-night company, they often use unlicensed clip art, and in the future you could get a bill or a cease-and-desist from the real owner of said image.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:33 PM on August 26, 2009

Please note that if you get a "cheap" or "free" logo from a fly-by-night company, they often use unlicensed clip art, and in the future you could get a bill or a cease-and-desist from the real owner of said image.

The site I linked to creates all of their logos in house, so you shouldn't have any problems with them. They were also featured on lifehacker, if that makes you feel any better about them.
posted by kylej at 12:53 PM on August 26, 2009

fings: "Inkscape is probably more suited to logo creation than GIMP. It is a (free) vector graphics program."

Yes you need a vector image. Photoshop and the like are good for quickly playing around and mocking up, but logos need to be vectorized.
posted by radioamy at 8:37 PM on August 26, 2009

nthing vector image. Inkscape for free, Illustrator for money.
posted by beerbajay at 4:21 AM on August 27, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you all! You gave me much to consider.
posted by hellodonna at 6:31 AM on August 27, 2009

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