Developing Your Logo – A Step-by-Step Logo Tutorial from Concept, Sketch, to Design
You may think that logo design is all about design ability. Not true. The most successful graphic designers are those that communicate with their clients and let them in on every stage of the design process. This logo tutorial covers the actual design process from sketch to finished design, but more importantly, it outlines the need for meetings with clients.
This Illustrator logo tutorial also covers the transformation of logo from sketch to digital file and uses an example of a logo I created for a humane society client to tell the story of the logo design process.
The Concept & Sketching Phase
Getting your ideas down on paper is critical to logo design. Jumping headlong into a logo design in Illustrator or other software without testing out your initial thoughts as sketches is not the smart way to work. Why you say? Because you need something to show your client. It doesn’t matter how rough your sketches are, a few pages of rough ideas is really the only way to discover what your client favors visually; it could be a certain design direction, a shape, or a way that the copy is stacked. At the very least, it eliminates what the client doesn’t like and gives you an opportunity to start a new round of sketches with a focus on something different.
After presenting the client with a few pages of logo sketches, the client can select a sketch that they particularly like. The next step is to create a neat sketch of the logo elements as a guide for turning into a digital logo.
Creating Your Logo in Illustrator
After scanning the logo and bringing it into Illustrator, the next stage is to recreate the image as a digital file:
1. Lock your original sketch layer (paper layer) and create a new layer (logo layer).
2. Using your pen tool and creating a clear path (no color or stroke color attached), draw your main logo element using your sketch as a guide.
3. Fill the selected path and neaten the shape with your path/smooth tool.
4. Repeat with any other elements of your design. In this case, I created custom lettering but if you have a font in mind, this would be a good opportunity to play around with some fonts from your menu.
5. At this point, you can hide or delete your sketch layer to reveal your working digital design.
The Digital Development Stage
Illustrator enables you to play with layouts, shapes, text, etc. With a basic design to work from, you should develop this design to give logo options to the client.
Create multiple layers with different design variants on. Experiment with shapes, fonts, colors and layouts to create viewing options. Much like the sketching stage, having multiple logo designs in their finished state gives you more to discuss with your client and allows you to find a design direction.
Discussion at this stage may mean you have to go back to the drawing board. Treat this as part of the process. Knowing EXACTLY what a client wants is often a lengthy process and may mean many revisions. As a designer, you have to steer the client in the right direction and explain the graphical decisions you’ve made. You’ll be surprised how a “meeting of minds” in a relaxed atmosphere can be persuasive for a designer when talking to a particularly opinionated client.
The Finished Design
A finished logo is deceptively simple to look at. The best logo designs are rarely those created immediately and without process and planning. When creating a logo for yourself or a client, spend time with the idea and allow it to evolve.
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