Creating a Logo
This is a tutorial which has been modified for the purpose of the class room. The original tutoral was developed by Erik Ford and can be found at the following address:
This tutorial uses the Illustrator pen tool to trace objects. If you are unfamiliar with this tool these videos may help.
Pen Tool Video Tutorial – Creating Paths
Pen Tool Video Tutorial – Outline an object
The tutorial walks you through some of the steps of creating a logo, with a custom silhouette logo mark, for a fictitious steak house restaurant named “Lone Star Steaks”. When designing logos it is always important to start with a pen and paper. Below are some sketched concepts and the one below is what the tutorial is based on. As you can tell, it is a pretty crude rendering. But this is only intended to give me points of references for the idea.
Trace a picture of a “longhorn” using the Pen and Pathfinder Tools and we are going to slightly customize the free font, Saddlebag, for the type treatment. I could choose to trace my free hand sketch, but am opting to trace a photograph. Here is what you will need to complete this tutorial.
Step 1: Set up your document
I like to work with a large canvas when creating a logo, so I will start off with a RGB document that is 11 inches wide x 8.5 inches tall. I will also drag out two guides, center and then lock them on the Artboard. Optionally, you can turn on the rulers but they will not be necessary for this tutorial.
Next, I will place the above longhorn image, from istockphoto.com, onto my Artboard as the perfect basis for my trace. (Note: If this was a project I was working on for an actual client, I would legally purchase the rights to a high resolution copy of this image. The higher the resolution, the easier it will be for you to trace the object. This tutorial is not implicitly condoning theft. )
From the File menu, choose Place… and navigate to where you saved the comp image and click Place. This will place the image in the center of your Artboard in Layer 1. Select the image and center the head of the longhorn with the guides. Double click Layer 1 to bring up the Layer Options palette window and select Lock and Dim Images to: 50%. Finally, create a new layer above Layer 1 and name it “Logo”. This is the layer you will be creating your logo in. Your document should look like this:
Step 2: Trace the image
You will probably have to repeat this step a few times to get it just right. If you run into any problems, simply undo your last steps and start over again. The Pen Tool takes hours of practice to master so, if you are new to the tool, don’t allow yourself to get easily frustrated.
We only need to trace half of the head of the longhorn. Before you start your trace, select the Zoom Tool from the Tools Palette and zoom all the way into the image. Now select your Pen Tool and set the Fill to none and the Stroke to Black with a weight of .25px. We are going to trace in stages and, at the end, use the Pathfinder Tool to create the desired shape.
- Remember that we only want to trace half of the head. With the Pen Tool selected, trace around the right of the head only beginning and ending the trace at the center guide.
- For the right ear, select the Ellipse Tool and draw an oval over the ear. You may need to reposition the oval to fit nicely over the ear of the image.
- Finally, trace the horn with the Pen Tool.
- Select all three shapes. From your Pathfinder Palette Window, select Add To Shape Area and then Expand. You have now created half of the longhorn head.
- Select your new shape and click on the Reflect Tool from the Tools Palette. Make a reference point at the center of the guides. Holding down both Option and Shift simultaneously, rotate and create a duplicate of the shape to form the left portion of the head. Once again, select both shapes and click Add To Shape Area – Expand. The head is complete.
- Unlock Layer 1 and delete the photo. You no longer need it.
Step 3: Add type treatment
I have chosen to use the free font, Saddlebag, for this tutorial as it is closest to my hand drawn sketch and it will give my logo the overall Texas/Western theme I would like to achieve. Before we begin, make sure you lock the longhorn shape as we will be moving text around and want to keep the logo mark perfectly centered.
- Select Type Tool from the Tools Palette and click anywhere on the Artboard.
- Select “Saddlebag Black” from the Character drop down window and set the Font Size to 48pt.
- With your Caps Lock on, type “LONE STAR”.
- Select your newly typed text with your Selection Tool and align it to the center of the Artboard. Nudge the text so it sits below your logo mark. Make sure you leave enough room between the mark and your text. (Note: I have done some kerning between the characters and this is an optional step.) Deselect this text.
- Select the Type Tool again and click anywhere on the Artboard. Change the Font Size to 65pt and type “STEAKS”.
- Once again, align this text to the center of the Artboard and nudge it below “Lone Star”.
- Once you are pleased with your text placement, select both lines of texts individually and, from the Type menu option, select Create Outlines. (Note: This will change your type into vector artwork and it will no longer be editable text.)
- Select both lines of text and, from the Objects menu option, select Group.
Now your logo is beginning to take shape. We are going to add a “star” to the center of the longhorn mark to further play up the Texas and Western themes. Select the Star Tool from the Tools Palette and set the Fill color to white and the Stroke to none. From the center guide, hold Option and Shift simultaneously to create a perfectly centered 5 point star. Once you are satisfied with the placement of the star, select it and the longhorn shape and group them together. (Note: I have optionally created highlights for the ears that are not covered in, nor necessary for, this tutorial.)