Logo Design Basics: Using Adobe Illustrator for Beginners

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Logo Design Basics: Using Adobe Illustrator for Beginners

Are you new to logo design and looking to create professional, digital logos for your Etsy or Shopify Stores? Maybe you are looking to convert and refine that Midjourney generated logo design into something you can use? Look no further than Adobe Illustrator! In this article, I'll go over the basics of logo design using Adobe Illustrator.

The Importance of Adobe Illustrator in Logo Design

When it comes to creating logos, Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard tool of the trade. Illustrator is a vector graphic design tool, meaning that it uses mathematical equations to create precise and scalable designs. This makes it the perfect tool for creating logos that need to be resized and adapted for various applications without losing quality.

Illustrator Basic Knowledge for Logo Design

Vector Vs Raster [Pixel Graphics]

One of the primary advantages of Illustrator is that it creates vector graphics, as opposed to raster graphics (Midjourney and other text to image generators provide raster images). Vector graphics are created using paths and points, while raster graphics are made up of individual pixels. This means that vector graphics can be resized without losing quality, while raster graphics can become pixelated or blurry when scaled up.

What Illustrator Format is Best for Exporting a Logo?

When saving your logo in Illustrator, it's important to choose the right file format. The best format for a logo is typically an EPS file, which is a vector-based file format that can be opened and edited in most graphic design software. The best format for a logo in Illustrator is a vector format like AI or EPS. These formats allow for scalable vector graphics that can be resized without losing quality. Raster formats like PNG and JPEG should also be saved for use in specific situations, like web graphics or printing.

Exploring Different Types of Logos

Before diving into the design process, it's important to understand the different types of logos you can create. Here are four common types of logos:

Wordmark Logos

These designs are made up entirely of text, usually the company or brand name. They might seem simple, but they can be incredibly effective in getting your brand's message across. The focus is solely on the text, making it easy to remember and recognize. It's a great way to create a straightforward yet impactful design that sticks with people long after they've seen it.

Textual Iconic Logos

These are logos that mix both text and symbols or icons to create a unique design. They're a little more complex than your basic wordmark logo, but they can still be incredibly effective in getting a brand's message across. The combination of text and symbols can add another layer of meaning to the design, making it even more impactful. So if you're looking for a logo that's a little more complex but still packs a punch, a textual iconic logo might be just what you need!

Combined Logos

These designs are a cool mashup of different elements, like text and symbols or icons, which come together to create something totally unique. So, what exactly is a combined logo made up of? Typically, it's a mix of a wordmark or lettermark with a pictorial mark, abstract mark, or even a mascot. The best part about combined logos? They're super versatile and can be used in a bunch of different ways. So, if you're looking for a design that can work in a variety of applications, a combined logo might just be the way to go!

Iconic Logos

These designs are made up of just a symbol or icon, without any accompanying text. They can be incredibly powerful and are great at quickly conveying a brand's message. The simplicity of the design can sometimes make it even more memorable, and it's a great way to create a recognizable logo that stands out from the rest. So if you're looking for a logo that's bold and memorable, an iconic logo might be just what you need!

The Design Process

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of logos, let's dive into the design process.

Start With a Creative Brief

Before you begin designing, it's important to understand your needs and vision for the brand. A creative brief is a document that outlines the goals, target audience, and other important information about your brand and business. This will help guide your design process and ensure that your final logo meets your needs.

Find Your Keywords

Once you have a creative brief, it's time to start brainstorming keywords that will guide your design. These keywords should reflect the brand and message and will help you create a logo that effectively communicates the message.

Sketch Out Your Ideas

Now it's time to start sketching! Use your keywords and creative brief to come up with multiple design concepts. Don't be afraid to experiment and try different ideas. Keep it loose at this stage, no idea is wrong here just get the ideas out visually. You can use paper and pencil, iPad and apple pencil, computer and tablet which ever helps you get your ideas pinned down the quickest.

Refine Your Ideas and Designs

Now that you've got some sketches down for your logo, it's time to level up your designs by refining them. Focus on your strongest concepts and give those details some fine-tuning. This is your chance to make your design pop and really stand out in a crowd. Don't be afraid to experiment and play around with different elements until you find the perfect balance that works for you. With a little bit of tweaking and refinement, you'll have a logo that's ready to take on the world!

Using Inspirational Graphics

Using inspirational graphics can help spark creativity and provide ideas for logo design. Look for graphics that fit the overall style and message of the brand. You can find inspiration in anything from nature to architecture to fashion. I find a great place to start is Pinterest, it is an image based search engine after all! Remember this is for inspiration not the final design I recommend reading the book - Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. Keep an open mind and you never know what might inspire you!

Utilize Mood Boards

If you're looking for a way to organize your logo design ideas and inspiration, mood boards are a great tool to use! Simply gather up all of your sketches, inspiration, keywords, and design brief in one place. Seeing all of the elements together can help you to decide on a direction for your design and make connections between your ideas. A mood board is also a fantastic way to visually represent your ideas and showcase your design process. So go ahead and create a mood board - it may just help take your logo design to the next level!

Collaborate with AI Tools

Collaboration and experimentation are key when it comes to logo design, so don't be afraid to use the resources available to you. AI tools like Midjourney can be incredibly helpful in taking your sketches and design brief and combining them using image and text prompts. You can also try using the /blend prompt to see what two of your favorite ideas might look like blended together. By taking advantage of these tools, you might just discover a new perspective that leads to your best design yet. So go ahead, let your creativity run wild!

Digitize Your Sketch

After sketching, refining and combining your design ideas, it's time to digitize and vectorize your sketch using Adobe Illustrator. This is where the power of vector graphics comes into play with it's versatility and infinite resizing capabilities.

If you are working from raster images, then the image trace tool in Adobe Illustrator is going to be your best friend. Get familiar with the settings and what would work best with your images, you may still need to go in an manually adjust the logo - especially if your logo has gradient elements - but it will give you a good starting point.

If you are going for wordmark or iconic logo design, fonts, shapes and the pen tool are your new besties. Get comfortable with how to best use the the pen and shapes tools in combination - practice is key here.

The best way to use the pen tool in my opinion is with a tablet whether that is the Wacom Intuos or the iPad with Astropad and Apple Pencil I compare in that article or another tablet of your own research, which ever you choose they are seriously worth the investment.

Adding Text, Finding Fonts

Once you have digitized your sketch, it's time to add the text [if applicable, see logo types above]. When adding text to a logo, it's important to choose a font that is legible and fits the style of the logo. Make sure the text is easy to read and doesn't overpower the visual elements of the logo. Logo's are used in a variety of sizes and formats so zoom out, step back and squint to see if your logo and text can be read at a glance.

Add and Define Brand Colors

Now that you have your design and text elements in place, it's time to add color - or not. When choosing colors for your logo, consider the psychology of color and how different colors can convey different emotions and meanings. Good resources to get you started are The Secret Language Of Color and Color : A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors

Make sure to choose colors that fit the brand and the overall style of the logo. Check back in with your mood board you created, use a few of your inspiration images and create some color palettes with them on websites like color.adobe.com.

Preview and Save Your Logo

Before you call it done, make sure to preview it in different sizes and formats to ensure that it looks good in all situations. Save your logo in multiple formats, including vector formats like AI and EPS, as well as raster formats like PNG and JPEG. Be sure to name them accurately so that you can easily find them when you need them... may or may not be speaking from experience or anything here...

Finally What Makes a Great Logo Design?

A great logo design should be simple, memorable, versatile, timeless, and appropriate for the brand. It should convey the essence of the brand and be recognizable in any situation.

Happy Designing