Making a Logo

Illustrator - Making a Logo
This was a tutorial by:
Mihai Panu-Ionascu
(a truly inspirational vector artist)
I know this is supposed to be an Illustrator tutorial…and it is. But since it’s about logos – let’s talk a little about what makes a logo good. First of all a logo must be simple enough to remember. Nobody wants to frown and squeeze his or her brains out to figure what your logo means. It’s a small drawing that represents something not an IQ test. So you either need to make your drawing as sketchy as possible or as recognizable as possible. If you want a car in your logo – don’t draw the decals and name of manufacturer on the tires. It only needs to be recognizable as a car. There’s loads of specialized literature out there dealing with this. I’m only giving common sense advice. But for the love of God don’t use a globe or a crescent moon. Those two are for some strange reason the most used of all. Don't know why since they’re horrendous.
Anyway, back to our Illustrator tutorial. Let’s make a couple of logos that are nicer looking than any crescent or globe could ever hope to be. Right. We’ll fire up old Illustrator and get to it. We’ll be making 2 logos. One a little retro looking and another more “modern.”
The first one is for this imaginary company called “The Antiquated Shipping Society.” What we need for an antiquated shipping line is an antiquated ship. I searched Google for old boats and found some nice postcards of old French sardine fishing ships. So I traced one of those. My advice is to use the pen as much as possible and forget about the auto trace tool. Auto trace gives very bad results most of the times, offers very little control and besides, the more you use the pen tool the more experience you gain in making smooth fast lines.
Now that we have a ship… what’s the most corny, postcard-like instance in which you can see a sailship? Why against a huge orange sun of course. So I made a huge rising sun, a few reflections and a few waves … and we have a nice postcard like picture. The waves and reflections are just pen tool scribbles and the sun is a simple circle of which I cut a portion. Colors – global night blue and orange. What the logo now needs in order to become a logo is the name of our fictitious company.
Illustrator is famous for its text on a path ability, a feature that was unknown in Photoshop until lately. I’m not going to use that. I could have made it in Photoshop. What I’m going to use is a feature that Photoshop offers in a very rudimentary form. The envelope distort wrap! We’ll use that not because text on a path wouldn’t have worked just as fine but because it will make a nice entry for what we can do with the envelope distort and it sets the ground for the other logo we’ll be making.
So we’ll choose a nice, a bit dated-looking, all caps font to write down the name. Then we’ll distort it to fit the sun. One thing you need to know about the Envelope distort is that as opposed to the Photoshop option – you can actually edit the contents after you’ve applied it. That makes a world of difference doesn't it? We won’t need it for the first part but we will use it for the second logo just to show off.

Good - now that we have the text - on to the most important part... the envelope. Which is exactly what the name suggests – a container of sorts that envelops our objects. For this simper logo – we’ll use a default setting – one I said is also present in Photoshop. Click on the type object to select it – then go to Object – Envelope Distort – Make with Warp (Shortcut is Alt+Shift+Ctrl+W). We’ll go with the default “Arc” warp. We’ll only need to push the “ Bend” slider a bit to get it to match our “sun” curve.
All right – Now we have a logo. As I said in the beginning – it’s not something you couldn’t have done in Photoshop. With the notable exception of being vector – our logo could have been done just as easily in PS. However, it did set the beginning steps for the second part of my tutorial – which you’d find much more difficult in any raster application.
For the second logo we’ll be using more advanced features of the Envelope Distort. I am going to make a version of the TPS logo. I have all the elements I need – we’ll start distorting them in a moment. I roughly arranged all the elements in a rectangular shape. We’re not going to go outside this – logos are nice if you can fit them in a rectangle – works good for page headers and such.
The words “Team” and “Photoshop” are separate objects. We’ll take the bigger one first and distort it. Go to Object – Envelope Distort – Make with Warp – and choose the “Arc Upper” style and leave it with the default values but with a minus bend (– 20% bend / Horizontal). Remember to tick the “Preview” tab to see it live. We’re done with the envelope. Now – one thing about envelopes. The anchorpoints that appear are editable just like any other anchopoint. You can experiment by dragging them and such. You need to remember that they are editable paths.
Now it gets a little tricky. We don’t want our envelope to remain this boring.. We’ll make one end more pointed. For this we need to select the upper half of anchorpoints. Just pick the direct select tool (A) and click and drag (like you would with the Marquee tool in Photoshop) to select the upper half of anchorpoints like in my picture.
Now we’ll choose the Shear Tool (this little fellow - ) for a little magic. When you first click with the shear tool you decide where the relative center of the object you want to shear will be. So we’ll first click with it on the upper left corner (the first “P” of “Photoshop”) to establish a relative center there. Then we’ll click on the other “P” – the upper right corner and drag upwards. Keep Shift pressed while dragging in order to keep the upwards movement perfectly vertical. When you’re done you can stretch the word back some if you think the letters look too “tall.” To stretch it nicely you can use the Direct Select Tool to select the lower half of anchorpoints and drag them up with your mouse or by using the arrow keys.
OK, the lower half of our logo is done. We only need to do something similar for the upper half. It’s going to be much easier now. First we’ll block the “photoshop” envelope object to avoid selecting it by accident (click the lock box in the layers palette – right next to the visibility eye) and then we’ll select all the objects on the upper half and group them (Ctrl+G will do this nicely.) Then we’ll use the Envelope distort again. This time however we’ll use the “Arc Lower” style and leave the defaults alone as we need a positive value on the bend. You should come up with something like my pic.
Now (as if you didn’t guess already) we’ll do the same thing we did to the first envelope. Only we’ll do it to the lower half of anchorpoints. Pick the Direct Select tool, select the bottom half of the anchorpoints, choose the shear tool, click on the lower right corner to establish a relative center there, then drag downwards from the lower left corner until you get to a distance to the first “P” of “Photoshop” similar to the right side. As you can see – the upper half is now a little too tall… so we need to shrink it to fit nicely.
You know the drill – select all the upper anchorpoints and push them down until the right red shape is really pointed and the whole thing looks like a rectangle. However you’ll notice that the right end now has a couple of bits sticking out. No worries. Just select each of the anchorpoints with the direct select tool and push the appropriate handles until you get rid of the nasty protrusions like in my pic.
Which brings us to the triumphal end of our tutorial. We have a nice corny retro looking logo and a trendwhore-ish one. Remember we’re here at the teamps forum for any questions you may have regarding this tutorial – or any other Illustrator question.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this tutorial please post it in this thread
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