One of the most common questions that we come across on several graphic design forums is, “how to design a logo in illustrator?”
It’s a pretty well-known fact that when it comes to creating a custom logo design, the illustrator tool is highly preferred by several professional designers.
The importance of having a professionally designed logo is known to every business owner (check out this article if you don’t know it yet).
A logo is the face of a business that is used in almost every single type of marketing placement, both, digital and traditional.
And, therefore, it is crucial that every logo is unique in its creation in order to not only be distinguishable from the competition but, also to have a solid brand identity.
So, if you are new to the field of graphic designing, or still looking to make your way in, or simply looking for ways to become a logo design expert, here we tell you how to design a logo in Illustrator in just 8 simple steps.
Of course! When you don’t know what dish you have to make, you won’t be able to pick the right ingredients. When you don’t know where you have to reach, you won’t be able to take the right route.
Similarly, when you don’t know what you have to design a logo for, you won’t be able to use the correct elements in the first place.
Getting a detailed brief and understanding the end objective behind the logo design is the very first thing that you’d need as a professional designer.
A client brief will tell you everything about the brand. Who they are? What they do? Who they cater to? What’s their ideology? Etc.
All this information is crucial in creating a unique logo design that resonates perfectly with the business.
For example, if you create a logo using some extinct animal figures for a business setup that is into fashion designing, then that’s just not going to work at all. Will it now?
So, it is important that you not only get a detailed brief from the client but, also understand it very well.
Check out this article to understand theimportant questions you should ask a client for the brief.
Now, once you receive the design brief from the client, it’s time to list down relevant industry keywords.
Point down as many keywords as possible that you believe relate to the brand and can represent the products and services offered by it.
You should not restrict yourself from thinking creatively in this process. This step is exclusively for you to take care of, and no one else needs to look at that list of keywords.
So be as wide as you can in your thinking to come up with a keyword that would relate directly or indirectly with the brand.
Right! So, you have the brief from the client and a wide list of relevant keywords. It’s time now to get old school and pick up your sketching kit.
Don’t bother being neat and tidy about your sketch in this step, as this is your first draft of outlining the logo design.
Make several different sketches on the paper while keeping in mind the client brief and the keywords that you had listed down.
When you feel that your creative juices have dried down and you have run of creative ideas to sketch them on the paper, stop there and leave all the sketches as they are.
Sometimes, you need to give your mind some time off in order to catch any mistake or attention to details.
As clear from the headline, this step involves a critical approach from you. Go through all the sketches you made and look for mistakes.
Keep the ones you feel are closer to the client’s and your expectations and look for ways to refine them.
There is a very high possibility that more than half of your sketches would end up in the trash bin but, that’s alright.
The practice followed in the last step is a great way to design a logo that matches everyone’s expectations.
When you keep improving the remaining ones, you’ll manage to come up with a fresh and unique logo design that is the closest to the brief provided to you by the client.
Now, that you have your first clear sketch, it’s time to share it with the client and ask for their feedback.
This step is important because you don’t want to be overconfident with your choice and digitize it right away only to be rejected by the client later.
One of the mostimportant rules of designing a logo is to keep clear communication with the client at all times.
Pick 2-3 sketches which you believe are the best and closest to what the client may be expecting and share it with them.
Make sure you provide all the explanation behind coming up with these sketches to the client so that it becomes clear for them to review.
It is important to understand that a client may not see the sketches from a professional’s point of view. So, as a professional designer it is your duty to make them understand why the elements you used are important for the design.
Check out this article that provides some very helpfultips for designers to improve communication with clients.
When you get approval from the client for the sketch, out of the set that you shared, it’s time to give it a professional look by designing it digitally. This is going to be a long step (as this is the main reason you’re reading this article), so pay close attention.
Now, when you are planning to design a logo in Illustrator, there are largely two ways that you can go about doing it.
The first way is by tracing the design after drawing it on paper (precisely and professionally this time) or in Photoshop.
In general, this method is considered to be slightly easier than the other (that we’ll discuss in a while), however, we found no such significant difficulty difference.
Anyway, so, in this first method, all you need to do is draw your approved sketch design – either in Photoshop or hand-drawn on a piece of paper – with utmost precision; this is not a sketch you are drawing anymore.
Check out this article to know how to digitize your sketch in Photoshop.
Once, you are satisfied with your drawing, open the Illustrator tool, and create a new CMYK document. Import your image by clicking on “File” then “Place”; or simply drag and drop it onto the artboard.
Now, select the image and click on the “Image Trace” option provided in the toolbar on the top of the screen. From the drop-down menu, choose the option you prefer the most.
Typically, it’s the “Silhouettes” option which traces logo sketches the best but, you can always experiment with the other options too!
The “Threshold” slider will allow you to choose to make your logo design lighter (when you move it left) or darker/bolder (when you move it right).
Once you are satisfied with the design, select the image, and click “Expand” on the toolbar at the top of the screen. You, now, have all the elements of your logo as individual vector shapes. Feel free to move the elements around and reposition them until you’re happy with the result.
The second way to design a logo in Illustrator is by drawing it directly using the Illustrator’s Pen tool.
In this method, you directly import the approved sketch onto the Illustrator artboard and trace it using the Pen tool.
Lock the first layer of the artboard which has your sketch design, reduce its opacity, and add a new layer on top of it.
Now, select the “Pen” tool and start tracing your sketch on the new layer.
Considering that you are new to Illustrator (that’s why you are reading this blog; isn’t it?!) it is important to remember that the Illustrator Pen doesn’t exactly work like a regular pen that you know.
Instead of drawing, it’ll allow you to plot anchor points in the direction of the path you are following with the Pen.
Try and use a fewer number of anchor points, so much so that the tracing is just enough to control the shape.
A good way to do this is by putting the anchor points where the traced element would touch the path.
Once the tracing is complete, refine it using the same methods as applied in the first option to get your final logo design.
So, now that you have your logo design ready, it’s time to fill in colors and add text to it (in case there’s a tag line that goes with the logo).
Now, typeface and colors are two of the most important elements in graphic design and, so, it is important that you pick them strategically.
You need to understand thepsychology behind the colors that you choose for the logo design and pick the palette that resonates with the essence and theme of the brand.
In Illustrator, start with selecting the elements that need color. Then, click the “Shape Builder” tool and hover over the spaces that need color.
If it’s a closed path that can turn into a shape, you’ll see a light grey fill color.
Once you have every shape created, you can start playing with colors!
Similarly, when picking the font, make sure you are choosing the style that does not overshadow the main logo design.
Now, there’s no fixed rule of placing the text in the logo but, usually, it is put under the main logo.
In the Illustrator artboard, begin with creating a line or shape that will provide the path for the slogan or the text.
Next, click the “Type” on a “Path” tool and click the line itself. Then, start typing!
Center the text and expand it to make it fit however you’d like.
Finally, it’s time for delivery!
And, if you thought that all the important work is over in the last step, you’re very wrong.
Sharing the final designs in the right file format is as important as creating the entire logo design in the first place.
You need to ensure that you are sharing the logo design in every file format they would need for their use. This may include horizontal and vertical versions, full-color, black-and-white, black only, and white only versions of each.
Typically, you may need to export the logo design in 7 file formats:
Having both CMYK and RGB versions is important for print and digital use. Of course, you can always check with your client in the very beginning for the specific file type they want the logo designs in.
Check out this article on the difference between digital and print design to understand the importance of CMYK and RGD color variations.
We hope this extensive graphic design tutorial on how to design a logo in illustrator was helpful in making you learn the basics of logo designing.
Remember, knowing how to design a logo and making one professionally are two different things.
So, if you are a business owner, instead, and interested in getting a custom logo design made for your brand without getting your hands dirty, we are here to help.
Simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our design experts will be in touch.