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Logo Design Studio Pro - Don't Believe the Hype

written by: Dan_Darri•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 2/24/2009
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Logo Design Studio Pro piqued my curiosity as I was not familiar with either SummitSoft or its product. Logo Design Studio Pro touts ease of use and incorporated design features to create your own professional corporate identity. Is it everything a small business owner would need, or just hype?

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    Introduction

    Logo Design Studio Pro asserts itself as an easy to use software with incorporated design features enabling you to create a professional corporate identity. On top of that, the advertised price is hard to beat. It sounds like it has everything a small business owner would need to create or maintain his or her own corporate identity in a fast and easy manner. 

    I was a small business owner at one time. I owned my own Internet consulting and development business and I often created corporate images for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. I longed for a solution other than Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator that would produce high-quality images and logos, while allowing me to easily teach my client how to update their files.

    You see, I am what I like to call an enabling consultant. Whether I’m designing a corporate identity, customized software, web presence, or database implementation, I place as many tools as possible that will allow my client to self manage. Out of all of those, the corporate identity was the toughest to hand over for self management. It’s not like you can just teach every small business owner how to use Adobe software, my tool of choice at the time.

    Could Logo Design Studio Pro be the long-lost Holy Grail for which I’ve searched?

    The Trial Version

    My finger twitched in anticipation as I clicked on the download link, the page trembled just a bit and I was then taken to a CNET page. I searched the contents to no avail, not even a mention of Logo Design Studio Pro or the trial download. I quickly clicked my back button and tried a different link but I got the same result. Every link on the site took me to an incorrect location for the trial download.

    At this point, even though I was beginning to become a bit aggravated at the amount of work for me to demo this software, I decided to try a search at download.com to see if the install file was located there. I was able to find the install file on my first attempt. I clicked Download Now and the file began to cache. The 33MB file took about five minutes to download at 144 K/s and installed without a hitch.

    The first thing I noticed was that there were quite a few icons installed in the program menu. I opened the HTML help file to browse the quick introductory. Yes, I am still one of those people that like to read the manuals first, a residual of childhood and my TI99-4A. After browsing the help articles for a couple minutes, I decided to close them and launch the program. I browsed the Programs hierarchy for the Logo Design Studio icon and clicked it.

    Suddenly, I was presented with a nag screen that had fully exposed HTML code. [See image: HTML Code Exposed Nag]  I expected the nag screen but I also thought that since this would be one of the first screens a user would be looking at in the demonstration software, it would be the prettiest and most perfect screen out of the entire software.

    I chose not to Buy Now, and expected the application to now open. Wrong again. This time I was prompted with a message box that told me that my computer didn't have HTML Help installed. Wasn’t I just reading the help files?

    After clicking OK, I was finally presented with the user interface. Again I wasn't very impressed about how this was laid out. Although they have tried to add some newer XP or Vista skins, they seem to have ignored all the other Windows standard designs and keying.

    The main menu is a non-sizable window that looks as if it should have been designed in the days of 640 x 480 resolutions. [See image: Main Window]  I have a dual monitor system with a resolution of 1280 x 1024 and yet I had to scroll to view a mere 18 templates. Although I had not yet found something that I liked about Logo Design Studio Pro, I decided to continue on because a bad user interface doesn't necessarily mean entirely bad software.

    I began to examine the demo logos that they offer. As I browsed through the first twelve logos, they reminded me of Microsoft Office 2000 Clip Art . I then clicked on Arts & Entertainment, figuring that would be a more professional looking set. At that point, I was batting a thousand while staring at yet even more clip-art types of logos and pixilated images. All categories underneath contain even more of the same.

    I set out to create my first image by Clicking New Logo. Thankfully, this screen allows for resizing and takes up an entire monitor which gave me a decent canvas size to begin my work. The initial list of objects that you’re allowed to use for the demo was somewhat small so I chose a very simple concept of a 3D design company.

    For this exercise, I selected the orb in mango, the neon orange three, and the blue double swoosh. I am not a big fan of orange so I decided I would like to change my orb and number three to red and dark green opposing colors. [See Demo Images]

    I opened the advanced tools and chose the advance palettes. I hoped that I could find a nice PANTONE or CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key) selector since I’m going to want this logo on my letterhead and stationary. The first thing I noticed from the advanced palette is that they only offer RGB (red, green, blue) and HSL (hue, saturation, luminosity).

    This was extremely odd since as a publishing company, SummitSoft should know that the CMYK color scheme is the global print standard. If you are going to be designing your identity in a RGB color scheme, you will be sorely disappointed when they return from the printer and look nothing like what you saw on your screen.

    This is doubly troubling since you could only save in compressed image format. Therefore, you can’t (easily) open it in Quark, Corel, or InDesign to convert to CMYK prior to printing (to see what your result will look like and make any necessary changes prior to sending it out for printing). Your other option would be to buy a sufficiently high end color laser printer and do your own printing. Having been a small business owner this is sometimes a viable option, though not very cost efficient since you quickly spend money on various paper stocks and ink cartridges.

    To finish, I entered in the hexadecimal number for red (#FF0000) and clicked the Apply button. Nothing happened. On closer inspection, I saw that the original pinkish border has lightened substantially and that only a very tiny section of the object changed to red. The entire object was still orange. [See Three and Orb images]

    I then selected the orb and attempted to change it to green. The only piece of the orb that changed to some color of green was the very top of the gradient. Hope you like orange.

    I finished this simple design without attempting very many other modifications. After about two minutes, I was able to come up with a suitably professional design using the default objects given with the demo. Now, let’s move on to the full version, Logo Design Studio Pro, to test out the effects, resources, and compression algorithms. [See image: Final Demo Logo]

    The Full Version

    The installation of Logo Design Studio Pro went quite smoothly and then I opened the interface to begin my design. Let’s see how well the effects work and also how the compression algorithms acted.

    I created a simple design first using Logo Design Studio Pro and then using Adobe Photoshop. In order to use comparable objects and layers, I created a simple right arrow with a twenty-five pixel emboss and a three pixel shadow. Once I finished the design, I saved the image in JPG, BMP, and TIF formats to compare the compression ratios by looking at the file size.

    I began with a simple right arrow design on the left. I noticed was that the color scheme could be changed on this arrow. Unfortunately, the same was not true for many of the other objects that were included in the full version of Logo Design Studio Pro. The second thing I noticed was that there were many objects that returned an error message saying they couldn't be found. [See image: Missing Objects]

    I clicked on the Effects menu and went to Add an Emboss Effect to the object. I entered the number 25 into the horizontal distance input field and clicked to apply but nothing happened. Next, I clicked on the slider bar and again nothing happened. Finally, when I clicked and dragged on the slider indicator, the value changed and the object got a poor emboss style which was merely a color overlay.

    Next, I added the shadow style to the arrow. I had the same problems entering manual numbers in this input box. Each time I clicked on the apply button, the value was again returned to zero. Having learned the trick on the last menu, I moved the slider to three and clicked apply. [See image: Logo Design Studio Emboss]

    I was stunned at the visual effect that happened as the entire color scheme of the arrow was changed and a shadow style that I’d never seen before was applied. This rendition of the shadow effect apparently duplicates the image and then casts a negative filter against it. This caused a somewhat strange distortion that was unexpected. [See image: Arrow with Emboss and Shadow]

    I was then ready to export images into three popular formats. From the menu, I selected the export option and then selected for print considering that this should be the highest output possible for the image. I was promptly shown a dialog box that allowed me to select a format. For the first test I selected JPG.

    I was then presented with a dialog box that allowed me to select the image quality. Thiswas the only option I was given when trying to save to JPG. I selected the maximum and then moved on to the next screen by clicking next. At the next screen, I was given the option to apply 300 DPI to the image which was the correct DPI for print.

    I became a bit curious in looking at the other options, so I selected the option to choose from predefined width and height, expecting that I would be presented with some common paper sizes and layouts. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Much like the single color scheme that you were allowed to have, there were only screen resolutions to choose from in the selection list. I thought we were in the print options? [See image: No Paper Options]

    I continued on and finished saving the format as well as the other two. After several minutes designing the same object in Adobe Photoshop, I exported to the exact same three image formats from Photoshop using the highest output options available for each. My end result was that I had two image files in JPG with a 100% resolution selection, two 32 bit BMP files, and two TIF files with default settings. You can see from the two images below the difference in both size and the quality of image. [See Comparison and File Sizes images]

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    Product Features

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    There are many default design objects included with Logo Design Studio Pro that allow for varied creativity.

    What's Not: 

    The vaunted features on the Logo Design Studio Pro website failed to meet up with the actual included features. The advanced feature sets were far from advanced while the standard features worked poorly.

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    Price to Value

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    The entry price, even for the Pro version, is affordable by every business owner and part-time designer.

    What's Not: 
    The low entry price tied with the marketing will disappoint many customers when they send their files to the printer.
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    Application Quality

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    The core functions of exporting and importing work well in Logo Design Studio Pro.

    What's Not: 
    It doesn’t seem like anybody tested Logo Design Studio Pro, other than the developers, before it went out the door.
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    User Interface

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 

    The only thing that stopped the five out of five on this rating was the fact that I couldn't resize the main screen. Other than that, Logo Design Studio Pro was easy to understand and use in its layout.



    What's Not: 
    Logo Design Studio Pro's main screen can't be manipulated. It's missing many of the standard Windows type shortcuts and the keying is a poor design that is really quite below today's standards.
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    Image Effects

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    Unlike many other graphic programs, you won't get lost in your effects menus.

    What's Not: 
    Poor rendering and image manipulation. The emboss and shadow features, which are the most common for images, perform worse than various word processors.
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    Images

    HTML Exposed Code Nag ScreenMain WindowDemo ImagesThreeOrbFinal Demo LogoMissing ObjectsLogo Design Studio EmbossArrow with Emboss and ShadowNo Paper OptionsImage ComparisonFile Sizes
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    Suggested Features

    CMYK compatibility and color palette. True print options
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    Conclusion

    I was thoroughly disappointed with Logo Design Studio Pro both from what it delivered and how it was designed. Logo Design Studio Pro gave me a feeling that it was nothing more than an afterthought. There is a noted lack of quality-control checking that was done prior to releasing the software both in the trial version and the retail offering. Additionally, the lack of options in color schemes and image output optimization features leaves you few choices and non-optimized files.

    Having said all that, this is not software I would recommend to you, my dear reader, or one of my clients. Logo Design Studio Pro is reminiscent of many cheap applications that are targeted to the small business owner that fail to perform up to expectations. The problem with Logo Design Studio Pro, and others of its ilk, is not the fact that you spend a ton of money to purchase the software but all the time that you’ll inevitably waste only to find out that much of your work will have to be redone prior to sending it out for a large print job.

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    Related Products

    Adobe Photoshop, Quark Express, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator