If you’ve never designed a logo, I suggest watching experienced designer’s workflows and tutorials. If you don’t know what a workflow is, it’s a video of someone creating a design. It’s usually sped up and there are not instructions. These videos let you see how people work through projects. This way you can see all the different ways to approach a logo.
Rather than making a tutorial from scratch for you I am going to compile a bunch of resources that I used as a new designer. Adobe Illustrator has put out multiple logo tutorials of their own and I think they explain it better than I ever could. There are also tons of freelance designers that put up amazing tutorials on YouTube. If you are not getting a formal design education that’s okay! If I am being honest the internet has taught me more than my design teachers have.
This tutorial is helpful because in addition to the video they have written out each step. They include files of practice assets you can use to work right alongside them. I love Adobe’s tutorials and have used them to master many different techniques like patterns and color variations. I recommend going through their catalogue and see if there is anything that could help you.
This tutorial is also by Adobe, but it gets a little more specific with techniques you should know when making a logo. It covers tracing, grids, guides, shapes, drawing with curved lines, custom colors, and creating variations of your design. Logos are very technical and need to be meticulously thought out. This tutorial gives you the tools to achieve that.
Mastering Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator by Envato Tuts+
This video may seem daunting because it’s an hour and a half long, but trust me it is packed with great information. This tutorial is by the company Envato Tuts+ which is an online learning platform for creatives. In the first half of the video instructor Dan White shares the essential tools, tips and techniques you’ll need when creating in Illustrator. The second half of the video he will be using these tools and tips to create a logo. This is a well-rounded tutorial and I highly recommend checking it out. Dan White has a lot of other great tutorials so be sure to look into his channel.
This blog is much different than the other resources I’ve listed. In this blog by 99designs author Andrea Stan, she goes in depth on her 10-step creative process. Mastering Illustrator and being able to create a logo on it is very important but so is the process leading up to it. Her process is as follows:
1. Start with the creative brief 2. Find your keywords 3. Sketch your ideas 4. Refine your work 5. Get client feedback 6. Digitize your sketch 7. Add text 8. Add color 9. Present your logo 10. Export final files
Make sure to look up the solutions to your design problems before giving up. There are so many free resources for you online. Take the time to educate yourself and become the best designer you can be.
Creating a logo can be extremely daunting. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and not know where to begin. Just like most design projects you should start with research. If you’ve read yesterday’s blog, you have a list of questions you can ask your client. After you get their input, go online and do a little research of your own. Keep in mind what your client wants, and find similar logos for inspiration. There are tons of websites you can look though or you could just go into Google Images.
Here are 10 logos to give you inspiration.
This logo for Perfect Pint is a perfect example of simplicity. It does of great job of communicating the brand though visuals. The use of negative space to make a check mark inside the pint glass is really creative.
Like the first logo this design for Delicious Dirt does an excellent job of using negative space. This technique will make people take a second look and inspect the design closely. If someone can say “hey that’s a cool logo!”, they are more likely to remember it.
Some of the best logos are the most literal logos. This company is called chat cat and the logo is a cat and a speech bubble. You can’t get more literal than that. This designer took it one step further and did a nice job of intertwining the two visuals together for a seamless finish.
If you remember from yesterday’s blog, you should try to use simple shapes in your logo. This design does just that with circles and half circles. You can tell right away what this logo is supposed to be. It’s a lime spaceship for the company Limeship. It can really be that simple.
Sometimes your name has nothing to do with what your company sells. If you just saw the name Iron Duck you probably wouldn’t think “ah yes, I bet they make clothes” …. A logo is a quick way to show your audience what you’re all about. This logo represents what they sell and their name by depicting a clothing hanger that looks like a duck.
Logos allow for so much creativity. One way to approach it is combining text and visuals which is what Guitar Studio did. This can be tricky because you still need it to legible. Having the guitar neck be the I and the base be the S worked perfectly for this company. It is so straightforward with a touch of flair.
Replacing a letter with an image is a common technique in logo design. If you can step back and find a visual that represents your company and can double as a letter in your name go for it. PaperClip does a fantastic job of this. They also have a responsive logo that can be flexed in where it fits best. Remember it’s important to be able to tweak your logo and have multiple versions for all possible uses.
Apple has one of the most recognizable logos there is because it is simple and is what it means. The company is called apple and their logo is a very basic silhouette of an apple. Sometimes logos call to be a little more extravagant and it works for them. But sometimes all you need is a simple shape.
This is by far one of my favorite logos. Most logos shy away from texture but for this company it’s an advantage. Mimicking the name wine traveler and showing a globe made of a wine ring is genius. This logo stands out because of the watercolor technique. If you can find a way to incorporate a design technique like this, test it out! Remember not to make it super complicated or flashy because at its core a logo should be simple and straight forward.
A logo needs to relate to your brand as well as its audience. This logo for Poker hills does that. There is a hill made of poker cards to stand for the name, but it also could look like someone peaking at their hand while playing poker. Little innuendoes that your customer can recognize is a great way to get their attention.
These are just a few examples of great logos. Take the time to look around and get inspiration from other brands out there. Try starting with competitors of the company you’re working with but remember to be unique.
Before you try and tackle a logo design, it’s important to have a solid background and a lot of research under your belt. This means you need to ask the client an absurd amount of questions . You will also have to do some internet digging to get as much information and inspiration as you can.
Doing research and learning everything about your client should to be the first step in your logo design process. From here you can hopefully bring the clients visions to life and build a strong relationship with them. If you’re freelancing for them this could be a great way to get your foot in the door and hopefully get more design jobs.
These questions cover a lot of bases. By asking some from each section you will gain insight on the company background, their target audience, branding and goals. This should give you enough to create a great functional logo.
Here are 50 questions to consider asking your client prior to designing their logo.
About the Company
What is your company/product/service called and how is it spelled?
How old is the company?
Can you describe your business?
Can you List 3-5 adjectives that describe your company? (sometimes asking to list 3-5 adjectives their company is not is also helpful)
What was the motivation behind starting the company?
If you had to describe your business in one word, what would it be and why?
Who are your competitors?
What makes you different from your competitors?
How do your competitors’ brand themselves?
How big is your company? (in respect to how many employees as well as revenue)
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
Where do you see your company in 5 years? 10 years? 30 years’ time?
About the Target Audience
Who is the target audience?
What age are they?
Are they mainly male or female?
Where do most of your audience live?
What are their values and beliefs? (go more into psychographics)
Why do they need you?
What is the target audiences pain point? (what the problem they are having that your company can solve)
What are your targets interests?
How would a customer describe your brand?
How do most of your customers find out about your company?
What channels do you use to communicate with your target audience?
About the Branding
What are the values and/or mission statement of your company?
What is the current logo?
What do you like and dislike about the current logo?
Why are you looking to change the logo? What do you want the new logo to accomplish?
Do you have a slogan? Does it need to be included in the logo?
What words describe how you feel when you look at your current logo and branding?
What three attributes would you like your target audience to think of when they look at your new branding?
Which of these words is a better fit for your brand? Old school or modern?
Which of these words is a better fit for your brand? Friendly or corporate?
Which of these words is a better fit for your brand? High end or cost-effective?
Why does your current branding use? (color palette, typeface, graphic examples)
What colors or color palettes do you like and why? (might need to give them examples)
Where will the logo be mainly used? Print, web, etc.?
In your opinion, what defines a successful logo?
Is there anything from the current logo you’d like to keep and why?
Are there any restrictions to consider when designing the new logo?
Is there anything that must be included, like existing brand elements, words or icons?
What logos from other companies do you like and why?
Are there any logos that you particularly dislike and why?
Budget, Timeline & Logistics
Do you have a budget?
Do you have a deadline?
How many concepts would you like to see?
Who will be the decision-makers and approve the new logo? (Stress to the client that the fewer decision-makers, the better!)
Will there be anyone else involved in this project? Any third-party sub-contractors or other agencies/freelancers?
Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t already covered?
Mention that if they like your logo work you can offer to create them a new brand style guide (great way to get more freelance work and build an even stronger relationship)
We all know what a logo is but it’s harder to define what makes a logo good. In the world of design, it’s easy to do everything in your own taste. While this is perfect for your personal brand when you work with a client it’s important to think objectively. Leave your opinions at the door and step into the shoes of your brand as well as their customers.
Here are 4 factors to keep in mind while designing a logo.
A good logo is relevant to the brand and matches their personality. It’s important to fully understand the company before designing their logo. A company like Nike evokes confidence and strength while a company like Coca-Cola evokes happiness and excitement. I suggest researching the brand and creating a list of personality traits or feelings you get when interacting with them. A way to do this is to ask your client about their company and its personality. Tomorrow I will be posting the second installment of this logo series. It will include 50 questions to ask your client including company and branding questions, be sure to read that as well.
One direction you can go in is to be very direct with the logo and include images or shapes that allude to the product or service the company provides. For example, if the company sells or repairs cars you could include tires, headlights, tools etc. Don’t be afraid to get literal. This is one of the easiest ways to let your target audience know what you are all about up front.
It’s important to be unique and have your logo stand out from the competition. You don’t want to fall in with all the noise. Try to avoid trending designs that are in the topic of the brand you are working with. The company should have a unique brand story you can pull elements from. Take this sushi restaurant for example. The name is Sushi Street and instead of going with generic images of sushi because that is incredibly common for these types of restaurants, cucuque design made a streetlight. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of your design, just make sure it fits the brand and makes sense.
Logos are used on all kinds of platforms which can be displayed on all kinds of devices. You could have a small version in the corner of an app or a huge version on a billboard. You should plan multiple sizes and layouts for your logo to fit each scenario. This is called a responsive logo. Matt Ellis from 99designs.com describes them as, “shape-shifting logos that change in size, complexity or even color to accommodate and adapt to wherever they are placed”. A perfect example of this is Walt Disney. They have 4 separate logos that can be used in any space needed. If you only have one large, detailed logo when you need to place it on a small advertisement or on a website you will loose readability and respect from the audience.
Memorability is probably the most important function of a logo you need to consider. Sometimes the easiest way to be memorable is to be simplistic. The less there is to take in the higher chance the viewer will remember it. Try using simple shapes and if you’re going to use a styling technique like a gradient, make sure it’s simple and only use one. Nike is a perfect example of a memorable logo because everyone and their grandmother thinks of Nike when they see their swoosh. If people can’t remember your logo that means they probably won’t remember what your company does, and you’ve failed to market correctly.
A logo is a staple in any business and it’s important to make it strong. If you ever find yourself designing one make sure to keep it relevant, unique, adaptable and memorable.
If you’re anything like me you’re probably a little lazy. Sometimes I can come up with cool design concepts in my head, but knowing how much work it will be makes me not want to start. I have been working on this bad habit for awhile but sometimes it okay to be lazy. We all deserve a break every once and awhile. The nice thing about Illustrator is that is has a lot of tools that do most of the work for you. The image trace tool is great for turning images into vector art and gives your design that digital feel.
Check out this quick tutorial I made for you on how to use the image trace tool.
The opportunities with image tracing are endless. Have fun with it and test out all the options it provides. You can make some creative designs with minimal effort.
Here is the final product of my cat, Murray. Im super excited to see what you guys come up with, please send me your designs! 🙂
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been an insane year. Many of its events will continue to shape this country for years to come. From the Covid-19 pandemic to the Black Lives Matter movement, artists around the country have used their skills to speak out and educate their audiences. Art is a powerful form of expression and can be used as a tool to advocate things like equality and world peace.
Its times like these when it’s extra exciting to be a graphic designer. Designs can be heavily influenced by current events so the more that’s happening the more material you have to work with. I’m not saying that I’m glad the pandemic happened or that George Floyd was killed, in fact it’s quite the opposite. This year has been so hard and I’ve been so frustrated and heartbroken over how divided this country has become. No one can change the past but we need to learn from the past as to not repeat it. A thing this country doesn’t seem to understand. Many aspects of 2020 were horrible, but it shed the light on issues that need to be resolved. As a designer you have the power to make your voice heard and display your thoughts and feelings in a beautiful way.
Here are 3 major topics that have consumed the media and graphic design in 2020.
1. Black Lives Matter
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement the internet was flooded with works of art that represented it. My social media pages were monopolized by the movement and I know many others were as well. The BLM movement had one thing the Civil Rights movement of the 60s did not, internet. Social media coupled with digital design has the power to give movements like this traction and reach a larger audience. In my opinion, Art leaves a much greater impact on people than words. Many of the pieces I’ve seen over the past few months have moved me to tears. It stirred up enough emotion in me that I donated to multiple bail funds and participate in protests around Wisconsin. As Designers we have the power to make a difference and educate others.
2. The Covid-19 Pandemic
Back in March when the country started to realize this disease is something we need to worry about brands took advantage and ran campaigns centered around Covid. They had messaging like “we are all in this together” and started showing people wearing masks. Some companies, like Hotels.com, even added humor which was desperately needed during this time. Obviously this isn’t directly related to graphic design but branding and advertising campaigns are in the same realm and you should be paying attention. Just like the BLM movement instagram artists did their part as well to help educate people and help stop the spread.
3. The Election (Bye Don)
This election received the most votes ever! (Even though Trump claims they are illegal) This is probably because of how much campaigning was done by the candidates, political organizations, and normal people like you and me. I follow a lot of talented graphic designers on Instagram and during the months leading up to Nov. 3rd many of them had made designs advocating for their candidate of choice, informing people how they can register and asking people to get out and vote on election day.
Even if you don’t have a large platform like some designers or brands, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference. If you are passionate about a topic, use that to fuel your creativity. Designs with a strong message behind them often grab peoples attention. If you don’t know what to make next, try to dig deep and design something for a cause.
Graphic design styles are constantly changing, and as a designer it’s your job to stay on top of the trends. A big part of being a great designer is being innovative and creating something the world has never seen before, or tastefully repeating an old trend. To do this, you need to look at new trends and what old trends are coming back around.
I have put together a list of 10 trends I have seen become popular during 2020.
1. Bold Type
Typography is one of the oldest elements of design; bold type is not a new trend by any means. 75 years ago, newspapers used large headlines that took up half the front page. This technique is proven to be useful in grabbing attention of audiences, so this trend has been making its way back in style.
Typography is a way to speak to your audience through literal language but allows you to appeal to them visually.
When it comes to design less is more. In 2020 we see a lot of ads and branding with minimum amount of copy but the copy that is there is bold.
There has been a surge in 3D and isometric designs this year. Unlike bold type this style is brand new. These designs are “a natural evolution out of flat design that retained its simplicity, but also added some new depth” according to 99designs.com. This style can include embossed or raised techniques and gives depth to an illustration.
I can say for myself whenever I see a design like the examples shown below, I’m blown away.
Technology advances more and more and designers harness that power to create stunning work.
3. Tailor Made Illustration
Tailor made illustrations have made their way into a lot of companies branding. As you can see Uber has a monochrome geometric style. While the brand MailChimp has more of an organic hand drawn style.
It’s important to note that this is across all their branding and has become their identities.
The style of an illustration can tell a story and evoke certain emotions from the audience. For instance, when I look at Uber ads, I think of them as sleek, technological and modern. When I look at Mailchimps illustration, I see them as down to earth, carefree and I get a feeling of nostalgia from illustrations in children’s books I’ve read.
I recommend you take a look at what brands are doing and start comparing their graphic styles.
Monochrome is when most of the design has the same color used in different tones. Color is one of the core elements of design. Just like the style of an illustration, color can evoke emotions and hold symbolism. I have noticed over the last few years monochrome designs have become very popular.
Monochrome is showing up in package design, commercials, and print. Even monochrome clothing has been trending. This style gives the eye a break to the normal color overload designs usually hold.
Personally, I love this trend and I hope it never goes away. Something about the differing tones of the same color is incredibly satisfying.
5. One-line Illustration
One-line illustrations have been popping up in prints and room décor. I have also seen it being used in branding as well. This is one of my favorite trends to come out of 2020 and I even have prints hanging in my bedroom that I have created in this style.
This technique shows the designer’s artistic talents. It takes a little more skill and creativity to make something beautiful and recognizable using only one pen stroke.
6. Paper Cut Out Collages
I think it is cool that designers are going back to styles a lot of us did as a kid and producing designs from literal arts and crafts. Nostalgia is a strong feeling and can make art extremely powerful. These collages take viewers back to a time when they made their own art.
The majority of paper cut out designs are seen in book covers, music art and personal art. The Megan Thee Stallion collage is a piece out of my music collection I made a few months back. I made it in Photoshop and drew inspiration from this Youtube Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrYjE2p0tU8
7. Hand Lettering with Big Personality
This trend is similar to bold typography, but the difference is the handwritten feel. Calligraphic writing has found its way center stage in 2020. These designs usually show feel-good quotes and informative information being presented with beautiful visuals.
Lettering that shows the context of the design, like the beast mode example below, have become extremely popular throughout the year. Capturing the tone or purpose of the copy and displaying it visually can be helpful in tying the whole look together.
Minimalism first became popular in the 50’s and 60’s but just like many trends it has come back in style. Minimalism is being used across all kinds of design. It’s in branding, like the company method. It’s used in décor and you can even see it in architecture.
I moved into a new house with my boyfriend a few months ago and when we were deciding what kind of vibe, we want to decorate out house with we decided on elements of mid-century modern. This style was from the 40’s to the 60’s and had a lot on minimalist wall décor. I made a ton of prints to hang on our walls and most of them were very basic geometric shapes and large blocks of color.
I have always been a fan of minimalism and I hope to see this trend stick around.
9. Asymmetrical Layouts
A lot of designers are turning to asymmetry to give their designs a level of mystery and intrigue. By doing this, the readers are more likely to inspect the design closely.
People are more likely to remember designs and their purpose after they have devoted significant attention to them.
In this technique, you can choose what part of the design will stick out more than others and, essentially force the viewer to look at things you want them to look at.
10. Street Art
In the past few years, designing has become such a digital thing that it’s cool to see more “hand drawn” looking designs. Everything is made on a computer these days, but designers have figured out how to give their pieces a “street art” feel to them. It’s like they made it with a spray can instead of a mouse and keyboard.
It gives off the feel of a cartoon or graffiti. Usually designs in this style are more rounded and fluffier than others. It’s not as geometric and rigid.
Trends come and go, but with each one comes a learning experience. This is why it is so important to stay on top of trends as a designer. But remember, just because something is trending you shouldn’t spend all of your time copying them. Don’t limit your creativity to what is popular. These trends should only guide you along your creative journey. Some trends work better for different design tasks and you should never go with a style just because you think it’s trendy.
I hope you learned a little from this blog and 2021 is right around the corner so be on the look out for a new set of trends.
Sometimes you have days where your brain says, “Nope not today! I think I’m gonna take a vacation,” and usually that happens at the worst possible time. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had a tight deadline on a design project, whether it was for school or an internship, and I had nothing left in the tank.
I am here to tell you it is okay and its normal. Just like writers get writers block, designers can get a creative block.
In this blog I am going to share with you some personal tips I use to refuel my creativity.
The first thing I do when I can’t seem to get any creativity flowing is walk away. I know this may seem counterproductive especially if you are on a deadline but trust me you need it. Sometimes you are sitting too close to the project and you are thinking too hard. It’s important to give your brain a break but try to have your problem in the back of your mind then your subconscious will start doing the work for you. And let’s be real who wouldn’t love the answer handed to you.
I like to get away by going on a walk, grabbing coffee because that also gives me the caffeine boost that I desperately need to grind out a project. Sometimes I still try to do something creative but unrelated to my design task. I like to paint or put on some tunes and dance it out. Everyone is different so you’ll need to find out what works best for you.
Get Someone’s Input
One of the best ways to solve a problem is brainstorming and bouncing ideas off a colleague. This tactic worked a lot better pre Covid and pre working from home, but it is still possible! Email a coworker or a classmate and run some ideas past them. Like I said before, sometimes we are too close to the project itself and we need a pair of fresh eyes. This person may notice things you have missed because you have been staring at the same design for two days straight.
Even if you don’t have a coworker or classmate to reach out to you can always ask a friend, roommate or family member. Be wary that they might not know much about design principles, but they could fit the demographic the design is meant for which is even better.
Try not to work alone if you can it’s much easier to accomplish something with multiple brains working as one.
Write It Down
This last one really isn’t a tip to get over a creative block, but it helps you hold onto ideas when you get them.
I always keep my phone near me and notepads throughout the house. I’m pretty sure I have ADHD and my thoughts can come at incredibly random times, and at the worst times. Ill wake up in the middle of the night with a cool print idea so I try and type it in my note’s app with my eyes half open. This tends to piss off my boyfriend because I’ll start mumbling random things but hey that’s the creative process baby!
Most of the time I will wake up to half written nonsense but every once and awhile I strike gold. I remember being in my Strategic Ad Campaigns class last semester and I did this all the time. I was the art director for a simulated ad agency, and we had to create a full campaign for the National Student Advertising Competition client, Adobe Experience Cloud. I was always thinking about that class while I was in it. This is when I first started leaving notebooks around the house to capture all my ideas.
The best way to brainstorm ideas is to dump everything out of your brain. Even if it’s kind of dumb it may spark an idea in a colleague that could change the game. Ideas are just jumping off points and can be refined down the line or turn into something else. So, my advice to you is to document all your ideas whenever you think of them. When you are in the middle of a brain fart, you can turn to your notes for ideas.
This tactic also helps you conceptualize your ideas. I struggle with transferring what I am thinking in my head to words that another human can understand. Just like mastering with different tools in design software. Practicing forming your thoughts so someone else can understand takes time as well.
I hope these three techniques can help you break through your next creative fog.
Leave a comment on this blog if you already do any of these or what has helped you overcome creative blocks in the past!
The orange infographic shows the keyboard shortcuts for Illustrator and the blue infographic shows the shortcuts for Photoshop. These are shown on Mac but if you are designing on Windows you will use control instead of command to do the orange/blue highlighted task. Adobe has downloadable cheat sheets at https://helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/using/default-keyboard-shortcuts.html . These shortcuts are in list form.
I have been using Adobe Creative Suite products like Illustrator and Photoshop for three years now and I am still learning new tricks every time I design. Software like Illustrator and Photoshop have so many ways to get the same result. There are many tools functions you can use it can be overwhelming. There are a few actions you will take no matter what design project you are trying to tackle. If you are just starting out it will be helpful to start learning the shortcuts for these tasks right away.
I wish I would have had a reference guide like this picture to help me when I first started. I didn’t even know some of the shortcuts existed and now I don’t go a day without using them. Austin based designer Stephanie Asmus said two things about shortcuts in her blog I agree with. “Shortcuts keep you in ‘The Zone’”. The quicker you can get the idea in your head onto your screen the easier your creative process will go. If you waste time looking for tools you are creative obstacles for yourself. The second thing Stephanie points out is “When you work faster, you make more.” If you are selling your designs or doing freelance work you are usually getting paid a flat price, not by the hour. So, the faster you work means more time to design which leads to more money and who doesn’t love more money!
Now if you are a new designer, I suggest start by memorizing a few important shortcuts that you will use most often. They are:
Windows:Ctrl + Z
Mac: Command + Z
2. Zoom In and Out
Windows: Ctrl + -/+
Mac: Command + -/+
(if you use a mouse hold the option key and use the mouse to scroll up and down to zoom in and out)
3. Selection Tool
4. Direct Selection Tool
5. Eyedropper tool
6. Pen tool
7. Group Items
Select the items you want to group and then use the following shortcut: