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Logo Design Studio Pro - Create Business Logos in a Snap

written by: Jeremy Rule•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 2/24/2009
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Logo Design Studio Pro lets you design logos for your company or charity, or just for fun. This easy-to-use graphics program for slick 3D or 2D logos is an alternative to expensive and hard-to-use products like CorelDraw and Photoshop, offering vector graphics, raster, and print support.

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    Introduction

    Imagine creating a logo for your business, website, or team with just a name, icon, and slogan. There's no need to buy and learn Photoshop or CorelDraw; for a little more than $40 and an hour of time you'll have a pretty good-looking logo. That's the idea behind Logo Design Studio (LDS) and, for the most part, the idea really works.

    Every so often, I get it in my head that I need to carve out some time to really learn Photoshop. Among other uses, I want to be able to create logos for various endeavors. Now that I have Logo Design Studio Pro, I can procrastinate a bit longer on learning Photoshop. The software is far from perfect, but I was certainly able to create some logos for projects at work and my website, so overall it's been a success.

    When you first install LDS, you are prompted for a Windows XP or Vista install. That made me think, "Cool, they support Vista" as well as, "Yikes! don't they know how to detect what operating system I'm running?" My main workstation runs Windows Vista 32-bit, so I did most of the testing on that machine.

    To get started, a wizard will present you with a library of templates to pick from.

    [templates.jpg]

    They are categorized but there is no search, so you need to spend a few minutes browsing through what is available.

    After you choose a template you can begin to work on the logo. The obvious first step is to replace the text with your own. Just select the text and use the entry box on the right to put in your own.

    [text.jpg]

    Next you can add a tagline somewhere on the logo. If you can't think of one, LDS will suggest some for you:

    [taglines.jpg]

    Finally, you can either keep the graphic portion of the logo, modify it, or even replace it with one of your own design. The software comes with basic vector drawing tools as well as a large selection of pre-built objects to insert and modify.

    [objects.jpg]

    LDS comes with four basic effects: drop shadows, emboss, frame, and blur. You can select any element in the logo and apply an effect. Probably the most advanced feature in the product, and one you don't really have to worry about with simple logos, is layers. The layers act like those in Photoshop. Instead of treating the image as a single two-dimensional image, layers allow you to sandwich together a series of images. This comes in handy when you want to modify or apply effects like drop shadows to a text layer but not disturb a graphic layer.

    [layers.jpg]

    The lock and eye icons allow you to keep a layer from accidentally being modified and allow you to selectively turn on and off layers as you make your edits. If you're a Photoshop veteran, layers will be easy. If you're not, don't worry about it, or use it as an opportunity to learn how to work with layers.

    Once you have the logo how you want it, you can export it for print use, online use, or grayscale. The print options like PDF and TIFF were high quality and looked great on my inkjet. The online use gives you basic JPG images at preset sizes. The grayscale option would be for business cards and fax documents. On the JPG images I would have liked a little stronger antialiasing on the fonts, but that's being quite picky.

    [exports.jpg]

     

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    Price to Value

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    At $40 plus another $5 for two years' worth of download privileges, it's certainly not expensive software. A general-purpose vector drawing package like CorelDraw will set you back $1000, so Logo Design Studio is a far less expensive option.

    If you have a very small business or maybe just a business idea, this package will certainly help you create a nice-looking logo quickly.

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    File Support

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    Logo Design Studio has in-the-box support for many useful file types. Once you export your final image for printing or web use, you can choose from classic raster formats like JPG and BMP or go for a vector format like PDF that will scale to the largest printing size.

    [filetypes.jpg]

    What's Not: 
    If you select the JPG option, the file extension will actually be .jpeg and not .jpg. If this was 1994 and we were running Unix workstations that would be excusable, but the .jpg extension is far more compatible and widespread now.
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    Installation & Setup

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    The program is signed for Vista and runs in Windows XP, Windows Vista 32-bit, and Windows Vista 64-bit.

    What's Not: 

    Logo Designer is a study in bad installation. It starts by prompting you for which operating system you are running. I'm serious here. It's a very simple programming call to figure out which version of Windows is running, but the installer will prompt you for this.

    Once you have things installed, you'll notice your desktop has a pile of new icons to deal with: icons for the program and registering it, and another to check for updates.


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    Help & Support

    Rating AverageWhat's Not: 
    When you run Logo Designer on Windows Vista you will be given an error message: "HTML Help is not installed on this PC."

    Windows Vista does away with classic help (.hlp) files in favor of compiled HTML help (*.chm). What's mighty confusing about the error message is that Windows Vista has great support for HTML help and Logo Designer comes with an HTML help file. The end result: if you click on help in the program, it will not launch the help file, but you can browse for it:

    C:\Program Files\Summitsoft\Logo Design Studio Pro\LDSHelp.chm

    I was going to search the user forums to see if others had experienced the same issue, but Summitsoft does not appear to have any user forums.
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    User Interface

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    The user interface somewhat resembles that of a Microsoft Office product. LDS has a top ribbon with common tasks in easy reach.

    What's Not: 
    The default behavior when you click on a logo is to move the element that happens to be selected to where you've clicked. This is terribly annoying because you may have just been browsing an object gallery and then want to go back to work on the drawing, and all of a sudden you've moved something.

    The toolbars can all be docked or pinned. However, don't expect your new setup to be saved between sessions.

    I also found the keyboard shortcuts to be non-standard. For example, when I have a text element selected, Ctrl-Z does not undo but instead makes the text larger.
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    Working With Grids

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    One of the first options you will want to turn on is the grid feature. Under the Format tab, click the Canvas Background button, and you can then turn on a grid. With vector graphics, this is especially important and will save you from constantly using the alignment tools.
    [grids.jpg]

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    Images

    Templates To Get You StartedTaglines to pick from...Supported File  TypesExample logo I created for my new shedText ReplacementObject GalleryLayers Feature!Export OptionsGrids and Snap-to-Grid
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    Suggested Features

    Saving the toolbars between sessions should be the first feature Summitsoft adds. Good keyboard and mouse shortcuts would also be nice. For example, I'd love to be able to press Ctrl-mouse wheel up and down to zoom in and out of the logo. The final thing might be to really expand the font options with light sources, wrap-around objects, and so on.
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    Conclusion

    I appreciate how LDS pivots everything around building a logo. There is a powerful drawing package under the hood, but they keep things focused on the elements of a logo. I probably will pull it out two or three times a year to create a logo and forget about it the rest of the time--and that's how it should be. If I were a professional graphics designer, I'm sure this software would be insufficient, but for the novice logo designer, this product hits the spot.
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    Related Products

    corel draw, photoshop