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This article is from April 25, 2011, and is no longer current.

Extract Vector Logos from PDFs

The other day, I was in the process of extracting a vector logo from a PDF file, but Illustrator refused to launch because I already had more than a dozen programs open. Instead of restarting my computer, I decided to see if I could extract a vector logo from a PDF using only Acrobat. And the answer? Yes! You can get a crisp vector logo from a source PDF, and then insert it into a different PDF, all without using Illustrator. The only caveat is that you need Acrobat Professional (not Acrobat Standard).
While this article is about extracting a logo from a PDF, it’s also an exercise to get you thinking about using tools in different ways. Plus, you may work with people, such as administrative support staff, who are comfortable in Acrobat but at sea in Illustrator. Point them toward this article and the problem is solved.
Step 1
Find the PDF with the vector logo (see “Creative Ways to Track Down Vector Logos“) and open the PDF in Acrobat Professional.
Step 2
Go to Tools > Advanced Editing > TouchUp Object Tool. Select the logo. If the logo has a white background, you can probably just draw a marquee around the logo. If the logo has something behind it, you may need to select each part of the logo independently: Click, then shift+click on each of the remaining parts of the logo.

Step 3
Go to Copy (Ctrl/Cmd+C), then to File > Create PDF > From Blank Page.

Switch back to the TouchUp Object tool, then Paste (Ctrl/Cmd+V).
Step 4
Depending on how the original PDF was constructed, you may need to edit the colorspace for it to print properly. If you’re preparing a document for offset printing, you definitely need to check the colorspace. You can fix the color space one of two ways: TouchUp Properties or Convert Colors.
When you have an item selected in a PDF, you can get the properties of it by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+I. (See “How to Edit Font Properties Within a PDF Sticky Note“.) The TouchUp Properties dialog box is an easy way to change the colorspace of your selected items. In the “Convert To” drop down menu, choose the colorspace you want, and then click convert.

The second option for fixing the colorspace is the Convert Colors Dialog Box (Advanced > Print Production > Convert Colors).

Here, you have many more options for converting colorspaces. You can select the types of objects you want to convert, on which pages, etc. While it’s a handy tool, it’s a little overkill for this project. The TouchUp Properties dialog box will work just fine.

Step 5
The default blank page size in Acrobat is 8.5″ x 11″ (or a slightly different size depending upon which country you live in). If you will be placing the logo as an image in a page-layout program, the logo will more easily fit inside your frames (and not have excessive white space around the edges) if you crop it. Go to Tools > Advanced Editing > Crop Tool.

Step 6
Click and drag a rectangle around your logo, then hit the Enter/Return key to bring up the Crop Pages dialog. If necessary, adjust the fields in the dialog, then hit OK. Save the resulting PDF with a name you’ll recognize, and you’re done!


  • Anonymous says:

    If you have Adobe Illustrator, there’s an easier way to extract logos from vector PDF files.
    1) Open the PDF file in Illustrator, choosing a page that contains the vector logo.
    2) Switch to Wireframe view (Cmd+y).
    3) Using the Direct Selection tool (white arrow), select and delete everything except the logo.
    4) If you’re using CS5, reduce the size of the artboard so it’s just a little larger than the logo.
    5) Ta-da!

  • Terri Stone says:

    Normally, Kelly would have used Illustrator as you describe. She decided to try the Acrobat method one day when she had so many apps open that Illustrator couldn’t launch. She then shared this new Acrobat method on CreativePro as “an exercise to get you thinking about using tools in different ways”. And as she also mentions, you may want to pass on this trick to people who have Acrobat but not Illustrator, such as admin staff.

    Terri Stone
    Editor in chief, CreativePro.com

  • Anonymous says:

    Another useful technique that I often use is to install a Printer Driver for a high end PostScript printer (usually one of HPs models but it doesn’t really matter). I set it to print to ‘file’ and use it to create .EPS PostScript files that I can import into a drawing package (I use CorelDraw…). The beauty of this technique is that you don’t have to shell out for an expensive printer. I often use it to tranfer tables created in Microsoft Word — saves a lot of time…

  • Anonymous says:

    You’ve outed when of my best kept, most guarded secrets! (Okay I did share this with a few of my students…) Designers are FAMOUS for not giving anything away for free. I’ve used this method for years, now studious designers will use jpegs or other flattened reasters to prevent this technique from being useful… Aghk*

  • Anonymous says:

    This article could appear much more intellectual if the first 4 sentences were omitted. It seems odd that someone should be struggling with a software/hardware problem (that is most often user-related) and then go on to provide advice on how to use the computer thingy. I’d think much more of the article if the author simply stated that they did not have access to Illustrator.

    An alternate title to this topic might be “Extract Vector Art from PDF with Adobe Acrobat”. That would make more sense to readers and search engines.

  • Anonymous says:

    Some designers may find it simpler to use Adobe Illustrator to open PDF files containing desired vector artwork. The only problem arises with password-protected PDF files. (In which case, the PDF file may have to be printed to PostScript first.)

  • SheilaM says:

    Thanks. These instructions will help clients use logos from their own PDFs instead of fuzzy small jpgs from their web pages. Not every client has a designer available to send a layout person the correct files.

  • Anonymous says:

    I tried this, but I was not able to COPY the logo when I selected it from the PDF. I could select the individual parts, but CTRL C or even Edit, Copy (which was grayed out) were not available. :(

  • BobVK says:

    Step 3
    Go to Copy (Ctrl/Cmd+C), then to File > Create PDF > From Blank Page.
    Switch back to the TouchUp Object tool, then Paste (Ctrl/Cmd+V).

  • Anonymous says:

    1) Select logo image with “Touch up object” tool
    2) Right-click –> Select “Edit object(s)”
    3) Illustrator will open the selection as a PDF
    4) Do your Illustrator stuff and “Save as..”

    This is easier than just opening a PDF with Illustrator, as you don’t have to deal with grouping and clipping issues (usually).

    You can also save the opened PDF piece back into the original document — great for simple pre-press fixes!

    Note: This is also a real simple way to grab a single tiff/jpg image out of a PDF too. (It will open in Photoshop.)

  • Anonymous says:

    “This is even EASIER” tip is great! I normally open PDF in Illustrator then wade through clipping masks to drill down to objects I want. Lot of good tips come from Comments… these comments are result of good topic articles… Thanks to all!

  • Bernard Kontz says:

    I’m doing so in another yet weird manner. I open a project with the pdf editor (I use this one https://www.altosplitpdf.com/ yet Acrobat will do the same), separate the layer with the logo in it as a new file and then convert it to an image file. Don’t know, I think it’s quite convenient

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