Inkscape VS GIMP: Always Choose Inkscape for Logo Design

Inkscape VS GIMP: Always Choose Inkscape for Logo Design 1024 602 Nick Saporito

Many times I’ve been asked to create tutorials demonstrating how to design a logo in GIMP. Theoretically, a logo could be designed in GIMP, and I have demonstrated how to do so, but you should really look elsewhere for logo design. Using GIMP to design a logo is like using a fork to cut a steak — there’s better tools for the job. And when it comes to logo design, Inkscape is the better tool. In this post I’ll be going over an Inkscape vs GIMP comparison and breaking down the main differences between the two applications and when it’s appropriate to use each.

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In order to understand why logos should be designed in Inkscape rather than GIMP, we first need a basic understanding of the fundamental difference between the two applications.

Inkscape vs GIMP

Comparing Inkscape vs GIMP is like comparing an apple to an orange — they both classify as a fruit, but they’re different kinds of fruits. Likewise, Inkscape and GIMP both classify as design applications, but they serve different purposes.

Raster Graphics

Inkscape raster example

GIMP is a raster graphics editor, much like Adobe Photoshop. Raster graphics are graphics that are made entirely of individual colored boxes known as pixels. This includes photographs and the overwhelming majority of web and application-based graphics you’ll see on a digital display, like a monitor or smartphone screen. Graphics that are made entirely of individual pixels are static and set as a specific size. If you take a photo that is sized at 1,280 x 720 pixels, that would mean the photo is essentially an arrangement of 921,600 individual colored pixels, sort of like a collage.

Raster graphics applications are great for altering photos, painting and drawing. GIMP would be the ideal program for designing posters, headers and album art. Here’s an example of what can be done with a raster graphics editor like GIMP…

Vector Graphics

Vector example

Inkscape is a vector graphics application, much like Adobe Illustrator. Vector graphics — unlike raster graphics — are not made of pixels; they’re made of mathematical formulas that dictate all of the properties of the graphic on an X and Y axis, and these formulas are far more dynamic than a series of colored boxes. They can be scaled infinitely without quality loss, and they retain far more information about the graphic, which allows you to edit it later on if need be.

Vector graphics applications are great for creating logos, icons for apps and websites, and cartoon illustrations. Here’s an example of what can be done with a vector graphics editor like Inkscape…

Why Logos Should Be Vector

Since raster graphics are stuck at a predetermined size, it’s generally not a good idea to design logos in a raster format because a logo needs to be used on a variety different mediums and at different sizes. If you design a logo to be 1,920 x 1,920 pixels in size, what happens when you want to have it printed on a billboard and the print shop informs you that they’ll need a copy of the logo at 5x the size it already is? If you scale the logo up to that size, it’s going to look awfully pixelated. This is why we need a more dynamic format for our logos, which is what Inkscape provides. If we had a vector Inkscape file for our logo, we could simply open it and scale the logo up to the size that the print shop is requesting, then render it to a raster format like PNG or JPG.

Raster graphics editors like GIMP and Photoshop are best used for editing and manipulating photos as well as designing print items that call for a specific size, like business cards and brochures. But if you were to design a logo in a raster format, you’d be placing crippling limitations on how the logo can be used. Vector formats are limitless though. Not only can they be scaled infinitely without quality loss, but true-vector formats also retain more information about a graphic (like node points,) meaning your logo can be edited and updated on a whim and without any loss of quality. Simply put, a logo that is designed in vector format will always be capable of being used in any imaginable way a logo could possibly be used.

But Won’t I Need Raster Copies Of My Logo?

Yes, you absolutely will. In fact, the logo you see at the top of this website is in a raster format (PNG). However, since I designed the logo using vectors, I was able to use the vector Inkscape file to render a PNG at the precise size I needed it to be. If I would’ve originally designed the logo with GIMP, I would’ve had to re-create it all over again in order to fit the specific size I needed it to be for this site. Either that or I would’ve had to distort it to make it fit.

You will always need raster copies of your logo, but that doesn’t mean that it should be created in a raster format. Having an exclusively raster logo with no vector file for it is like having a website that you can’t edit or update.

Is It Ever OK To Create Logos with Gimp?

I’m not the graphic design police. It’s not my position to tell you what you can and cannot do. If GIMP is what you feel most comfortable with and you plan to use your logo in a very limited context — only your website, app or social media profile/posts — then go right ahead. However, I would advise creating it at an incredibly large size, like at least 3,840 pixels high or wide (the bigger the better though!) The reason for this is so that you will always have a large copy handy in the rare occasion that you may actually need it. It’s much easier to scale a logo down than it is to scale it up.

And this probably goes without saying, but I would also recommend saving a copy of it with the XCF extension, which is the GIMP-native editable format that will allow you to go back into the design with all of the layers and elements intact in case you ever need to make some alterations.

The Takeaway

Inkscape and GIMP are both incredibly useful design tools that serve very different purposes. Instead of viewing them them through the lens of either-or, acknowledge them as must-have assets for anyone looking to get design work done with open source software. Like an apple and an orange, one isn’t better than the other. You don’t have to choose one over the other, and you’d be disadvantage if you were to do so.

Become A Master of Inkscape!

Want to learn more about how Inkscape works? Check out the Inkscape Master Class – a comprehensive series of over 50 videos where I go over every tool, feature and function in Inkscape and explain what it is, how it works, and why it’s useful.

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Need a professional logo but have a limited budget? Or are you a designer looking to add to your inventory of design elements? Check out my bundle of 150+ high quality logo templates, all designed by Yours Truly.

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Nick Saporito

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design. A full portfolio and information regarding services offered can be found at LogosByNick.com.

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9 comments
  • John

    Another great post, not too sure about similarly apple and oranges I think Inkscape is more the base tool to produce the ingredients like fruit and Gimp is just one of the many tools for a chef to put the receipt together for the finished meal,
    Your video tutorial of putting a logo on a mock-up tee shirt in Gimp to give you a finished pictures

    Vectors have been around since computers as we know them ,I remember my first ever 48k
    pc machine when you had to use basic language to code a square,block , circle to appear on the screen. Then code in series of loop sequences to make move across the screen in the oldest game to bounce if off the top and side of the screen and back again trying to hit with another block (bat)

    As you rightly say inscape’s images are made up of code (libraries) together with code for colours this allows computers read code to recreate the stored shapes to reproduce the image at any size .Raster are 2D images and photos these are what we see, made from a file of coloured pixels ( red green blue ) and the relationships between them .

    All your stuff is fantastic and easy to follow

  • Marcha

    Pixeluvo, which is available for Linux and Windows, is a better Photoshop alternative than Gimp. It isn”t free, but the cost is low and it doesn”t have Gimp”s appallingly clunky, illogical way of working. It also has a sane interface, unlike Gimp. I”ve used Gimp a lot and while it has some good points it is not a Photoshop alternative. There is a fairly straightforward way to use Photoshop on Linux using PlayOnLinux. I used it and Photoshop worked fine, though not as well as on Windows. If you”re serious about photo editing there really is no Linux alternative to Photoshop and dual boot is the best option. I”ve used Linux and Photoshop on Windows since 2001, so my comment is based on practical experience. I”d drop Windows immediately if there really was a genuine alternative to Photoshop for Linux, either free or paid for. But there isn”t.

  • Marcha

    Pixeluvo, which is available for Linux and Windows, is a better Photoshop alternative than Gimp. It isn”t free, but the cost is low and it doesn”t have Gimp”s appallingly clunky, illogical way of working. It also has a sane interface, unlike Gimp. I”ve used Gimp a lot and while it has some good points it is not a Photoshop alternative. There is a fairly straightforward way to use Photoshop on Linux using PlayOnLinux. I used it and Photoshop worked fine, though not as well as on Windows. If you”re serious about photo editing there really is no Linux alternative to Photoshop and dual boot is the best option. I”ve used Linux and Photoshop on Windows since 2001, so my comment is based on practical experience. I”d drop Windows immediately if there really was a genuine alternative to Photoshop for Linux, either free or paid for. But there isn”t.

  • Oswald

    I like your cover photo. You should make a tutorial on how to create a mountain landscape like that. I can’t see how that’s even possible on inkscape. How do you do it?

  • Oswald

    I like your cover photo. You should make a tutorial on how to create a mountain landscape like that. I can’t see how that’s even possible on inkscape. How do you do it?

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