Making a logo

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.

Mr. Pumpkin

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.

Antiquated shipping

This tutorial will be continued soon.