Today’s lesson in one of my graphic design classes covered moving from mind maps, notes, and sketches to Adobe Illustrator when creating a logo.
This particular class is preparing for their final portfolio review at the end of the semester, where they’ll be interviewing with 3 local design or marketing professionals each to review their work and talk about their future as designers. Part of their preparation for this involves creating a personal brand for themselves, from logo through to business cards, resumes, and a print portfolio.
I’ve been demonstrating what steps to take using my own name, and thought I’d share with the wider world at large.
Logo Design Demo
Practical Logo Design
Symbolize and summarize.—Saul Bass
A logo does not have multiple pages, photographs, or even a physical presence. It is purely graphic in nature, and it demands an amount of flexibility in application that almost no other design project requires. As such, a designer’s technical approach to creating a logo is necessarily unique.
Keep it simple.
Complexity certainly has its place in design. But a logo must be instantaneously recognizable; as such, a successful logo is necessarily simple. Avoid complex shapes or patterns. Rather, focus on the interplay of negative and positive space in simple shapes and letters. Along the same lines, make sure that a logo design is easily viewable at small sizes. Thin strokes or letters and complex relationships become muddy when small. Every millimeter of space counts.
Shape before color before form.
The shape of a logo is the primary point of recognition for viewers. Don’t rely on color or content alone. Memorable logos almost always work as a simple one-color graphic. Adding color and complexity enhance the experience rather than defining it.
Think about application.
Logos that are extremely horizontal or extremely vertical can prove incredibly difficult to work with on a practical level. Aim to create a mark that can be used everywhere. The golden ratio works well when laying out a logo. Square-shaped logos are very versatile, as well. Creating a modular logo can be a very successful approach. This typically looks like having a separate logotype and icon that can be rearranged to fit the need of a project.
Don’t touch Photoshop.
Whether it is being created for a web start-up or a large international corporation, always create a logo as a vector image. It must be able to work on a business card and a billboard, an enamel pin and a vehicle graphic, a web ad and a TV spot. Raster images cannot be infinitely scaled; therefore, they’re limited in their practical use. Vector images, however, can be scaled to any size to meet any need.
Use your canvas.
Don’t jump into your artboard to work on your ideas. Develop your ideas in your canvas, the area outside your artboard. Removing that visual boundary line can help unleash your creativity (it quite literally helps you think outside the box!). Use your canvas to house inspiration, type notes, work on half-formulated ideas, or even create a dizzying number of iterations.
Keep your strokes and type.
A final logo will likely not include strokes or active fonts. Such things ought to be expanded and converted to outlines by final production, so the image is simple and ready to use. But keep the original drawing in a separate file or layer, or even on your canvas. Whether you or your client make a change down the road, or you need to refer to how you achieved a certain effect, or you don’t remember what typeface you used since you customized the letterforms — having access to your original working file is invaluable and has the potential to make your life in the future far less stressful than it otherwise might be.