Friday, 15 July 2011

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Back when I began my ventures on computers in 98 on AOL, I was one of the many mesmerized by the world of AOL "proggies". I began to code my own with VB and I remember one of the things I loved to focus on personally, was the whole intro art. I saw a few, I can't remember the names now, but their amazing fire effects with their lightening bolts blew my mind away. Thus began my journey of design.

I've designed for approximately 9 years now and I've learned a lot. It has also helped me make money online. From mainstream corporate professional design, to fun gaming design, to adult design. The accumulative experience of all these avenues have really helped further my abilities when I confront each new project.

In this tutorial, I will start and finish a logo while documenting the entire process. I encourage you to open up photoshop and follow every step, it will help you learn a lot more than just reading it.

I've used the technique I will be teaching to develop a lot of logos. Here are just a few: 

1. Setting up your Document in Photoshop
  • Once you have photoshop open, go to File -> New. Then specify the name of the logo, and a width of 600 and a height of 500.
  • Then click "OK" (Refer to the screenshot below).

After you click "OK" Your setup should look like this:

(I'm on a 1600x1200 resolution.) For the menus on the left, I have the layers view, and the Characters in view.)
2. Experiment with Font Selections

As a starting point, I always experiment with a font that I think will work well with the logo. You have to develop an eye for what font will or will not work, with the specifics of the project in mind. Since for bluelaguna we're trying to focus on a serious yet gamer'ish feel, a serious font selection might be the best bet. Having yourself an arsenal of fonts is very important. I have several thousand myself.

  • Select the Text Tool on the left menu: (As shown on the image to the right)
  • Adjust the settings on the Text Properties at the top to match these settings:

  •  In the character window to the right, set AV to -60 as shown below: (This simply shortens the space between each separate character, I like starting out with this setting, I don't know why :)

  • Type "BLUE LAGUNA" in the document space (First, be sure that the background is white, you can use the fill tool for this. And I've decided to go with all caps to start out with, since all caps is generally deemed more serious).

With the type tool selected, and layer 1 selected, select the font list menu (where it says Arial):


 You can do this next section in either three ways.

- Hit the "Down" arrow to change the font view of "BLUE LAGUNA".

- Hit the Down Arrow of the Font List to see the list of available fonts with a tiny preview of the font.

- Download a font viewing program.

I personally just use the first method, although I sometimes use a font viewing program. Our goal here is to find fonts that might work with the logo.

Once you come across a font that looks like it could work, you should Duplicate the layer in the Layers Window to the right, and then hide the previous layer (The layer you right clicked and selected "Duplicate" from. This way, you've saved that font selection (the hidden layer), and you have a new layer to find more fonts from):

3. Good and Bad Font Selections

Since our goal with this particular logo is to be serious, we need serious looking fonts. It simply takes time to develop an eye for what is serious and what isn't. 

Here are a few examples of bad font selections for this project:

The first logo (the top), has a very laid back, fun / unprofessional tone to it.

The second logo is simply "goofy" looking, and it's generally always bad to select a logo that has an inherent shadow.

The third logo is way too "ragged" with its frills all over the place, definitely a no go.

Calligraphy logos are generally outdated, especially ones with weird "drops" coming from them.

The last logo you can hardly even read. Remember, a logo should be easily readable.

Here are a few examples of good font selections for this project:

All of these logos with the exception of 4 and 6 are pretty much similar. 

#1, 2, 3 & 5 are all very simplistic and serious in appearance.

Logo 4 still appears "serious" even though it is significantly different from the rest. I chose this just in case I want to experiment with piecing together fonts for the word "Blue" and "Laguna".

Logo 6 is a very bold / italicized logo that says nothing but serious.

4. Finalizing a Font Selection

Once you have some possible font selections, each in their own layer, you further analyze them and see which works. With logos that have more than one word, most of the time it is good to separate the appearance of the words from each other. Since this particular project has two words, "Blue" and "Laguna", we're going to want to separate them by possibly choosing two different fonts. You can also separate words from each other by keeping the same font, but changing the color. So I'm going to experiment with the 6 good font selections above.

This is what I've come up with:

Although I didn't use one of the 6 fonts I selected initially for the word "blue", I simply used an unboldened version of "LAGUNA", which keeps a consistent feel but also allows for separation of the two words.

5. Adding in a symbol

Sometimes logos work well with only the use of fonts, but most times adding in a relevant symbol of some sort will really make a logo stand out. When I say "symbol", I mean any part of the logo which isn't actual text. So let's start with the first font selection from above:

Now here is where having an eye for design and experience is a really big help. We need to begin contemplating ideas of what exactly we can add to this logo to make it awesome. So, the first thing I do is just sit there and stare at the font selection and think of what exactly the product/service/site is all about. Well, BlueLaguna.Net is about gaming, more specifically speaking, it's a site that offers RPG media (Role Playing Game) media. Therefore, we have two things to work with: RPG and Media. What exactly can we associate with both RPG and Media? Well, we don't necessarily have to convey both RPG and Media through the logo (if you try to get too complex, the logo will become cluttered). We can choose one or the other if we want. I think it'd be most logical to focus on the whole RPG aspect, as you can find media all over the place and it isn't an entirely unique concept. 

So let's do some research on Role Playing Games. We need to figure out a symbol which can really represent RPG. The current BlueLaguna.Net features a 3d female, perhaps that has something to do with RPG? Well, let me do a search on for "RPG". The results turn back a few different female characters, Hmm! The first few results, keeping in mind the 3d female character on the current header of, seem to suggest that depicting a female in the logo might be the best bet. It also seems that weaponry / mystical environments are associated with RPG as well.

Now that I know what I can associate with RPG, I can come up with some possible ideas for a symbol. I think maybe featuring a face of one of these RPG'ish females with maybe a hint of mysticism.

The Pen Tool is your Friend

The most important tool when it comes to logo design is the pen tool. If there is one tool to thoroughly understand, it should be the pen tool. The pen tool allows you to create any shape(s) you want, and maintain vector format (which is very important if you ever want to size your logo up n' down (for professional print or whatever.)
It's always good to draw your logo by hand without copying over a picture (vector tracing), but if you aren't very talented and don't have much experience, it might be your only option. So for the sake of making the biggest impact on this tutorial, I will teach you all an awesome technique for creating great looking symbols for you logos.

Finding a suitable picture

If you're going to trace, I always suggest using a site like to find the image and pay for it. This way you won't be using copyrighted images to trace over. Or taking your own picture to trace over. Unfortunately though, istockphoto has nothing with RPG or "anime". So I just went on and found a picture which I think is suitable, here it is:

When I came across this picture, I got the idea that I can vector trace over her face and hair to create what I want, and then integrate it along with the font selection in some unique way.

So once you've found the picture you want to trace (if not the same one), save it to your hard drive, open it up in photoshop, CTRL-A, CTRL-C to select it and copy it, and go back to your main logo document and CTRL-V.
Now you've imported this picture into your logo document. Once you've imported it, with her layer selected, you can cut off the bottom half of her body. (Select the first tool in the upper left corner of the tools menu, Rectangular Marquee Tool), select the bottom half of her body and hit the delete key. Your screen should look something like this by now (You can hide the text layers behind it).

Vector Tracing

Now select the magnifying glass in the tools menu and select around the girl, it will look like this zoomed up to about 400%:

Now select the pen tool in the tools menu:


Make sure that the foreground color (the black square at the bottom of the pic to the upper right ---^) is the same dark blue color of the text we specified.

In the layers window to the right, select the little round circular > icon on the upper right corner of the window, and click on "Create New Layer" in the window that comes up. Hit "OK" and then in the layers window, with the new layer selected, change the Opacity to 0%. We do this because once we start tracing over the image, we don't want the dark blue color hiding the picture of the girl below.

And with the pen tool selected, click a point somewhere on the outline of the hair (at the top), and then click to make another point somewhere on the hairline where the line will begin to form. You can hold down and "direction" the angle of the line to create a certain type of curve. It takes awhile to get the hang of, but it's very easy once you get the hang of it. After plotting points of an entire section of hair, yours should look similar to this: (Note: I've lightened the opacity of the girl to illustrate what your lines should look like so far)

It's not perfect, but for now it's a good start. 

Now I'm simply going to continue creating more shapes, like the facial features. After 15-20 minutes or so of creating the different facial features and the face itself, here is what I have come up with:

As you can see, I specified a different color for the face (light blue). And by now I have around 15 different layers. There's a separate layer for the top portion of each eye, the bottom portion of each eye, the middle, and the small glare. There's also a layer for the face background, and the ear. 

So let us continue and add some shading...

 After about 20 more minutes of shading, this is what I've come up with: 
There are a total of 3 different layers for the hair. It's somewhat of a tedious process to do hair shading simply because there's a lot of strands of hair! But you have to just condense them and get the general idea of the shading and it will work out well. 

Then I did some light shading work on the face and the neck.

Now I consider the actual draft of the symbol complete. Let's make our initial text layer visible and see what we can do to integrate the symbol with the text.

First, you will want to select the very last to the very first vector layer that you created (you'll have a couple dozen or more), hold down the shift so you can select them all. Then in the layers window click the little circular round button and select "New Group From Layers". This will put all of the layers of the girl, into one easily manageable layer group. This way, you can move around the one group and it will keep all of their positions together so it won't break up her face.

Now this actually doesn't look too bad, in and of itself. But the proportion of the anime head is too big, in relation to BLUELAGUNA. So we will want to scale down the head. Let's try moving it over to the left, and adding the slogan + the ".net" text. This is what it looks like:

Now it looks pretty damn good eh? The only other thing I did, was with the pen tool, I added a white shape over the "B" in "BLUE" so that the face doesn't collide with the B. 

Unfortunately I messed up and didn't design this over the dark blue'ish background that the has. So I'm going to change the colors of the logo to fit a background of an appropriate header for the site.


As you can see, simply changing colors around can really change the look and feel of a logo. I'd consider this logo a winner.

6. Conclusion

I can pretty much guarantee you that if you're a first time user of the pen tool or photoshop for that matter, it won't turn out so pretty like mine did. It takes some time and patience to really get the hang of it. It's all about getting a little creative and working at it for awhile.

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