Good evening all! I hope everyone's had a decent week and staved off the existential dread. This here is the first of hopefully many posts running through and discussing my Process for doing things. It may be for individual photos, photography overall, or something entirely different.
Today's topic: creating a logo.
I aim to get a bit technical so you can gain a functional idea of what's been done, so fair warning - if you aren't familiar with Adobe software, a lot of this might go over your head. This will also be lengthy.
Before I really begin, here's a song to listen to.
I recently had the pleasure of making a logo for Front & Centre - Eddy and Gabi's radio show on SYN, to be used on their Facebook page. Just by the way, you should definitely check them out! Here's their Facebook page - or you can catch them on 90.7 SYN FM at 3pm on Thursdays.
Now, I'm not a professional graphic designer by any stretch of the imagination - though at one point in my life I even wanted to be one - but as a favour I'm always happy to mock up something simple.
Eddy's request was "just an F and a C, maybe in a box". Pretty straightforward and simple. For a bigger project I might start drafting ideas on paper, but as this was a simple request, I dove straight into Adobe Illustrator.
Why not use Photoshop? Well, for something like a logo what you generally want is clean geometry, right? Warning: awful explanation incoming. (scroll down a couple paragraphs for the TL;DR) So, Photoshop is great for complex, detailed images and in particular what's referred to as rasterised data. One way to think of it is that when you take a digital photo, it is what it is - a bunch of pixels, and each individual pixel represents a particular colour and they fill a certain set of dimensions, like 6000x4000 which is 24 megapixels. However when you zoom in on your image beyond its maximum size, you cannot create any more detail because what's there is just what's there.
Illustrator on the other hand almost exclusively controls vector data. Instead of dealing with pixels which are limited by resolution, it basically uses location information. It's kind of like if you took a bunch of points that are GPS pinpointed on a 2D surface and then joined them together with lines and curves. You can zoom in or zoom out, but that position doesn't change. A pixel would begin to appear bigger or smaller, and the space between the pixels would scale with them. Vectors don't change like that. While Photoshop does have limited vector functionality, Illustrator manipulates them on another level.
Anyway, TL;DR: Illustrator is great for vectors, and vectors are great for making clean shapes you can resize to any scale you like. Like with logos.
So, back to the logo. The initial request was simple enough. Basically I picked a font, changed the weight and size and typed "F" and "C". Wow! Given that this isn't a commercialised project I wasn't too concerned about typeface licensing.
I also boxed it. Exactly what was requested. You may or may not have noticed from my website that I dislike black and white and much prefer greys, as I find high contrast black and white to be quite harsh to look at. However in this case I opted for some colour. I gave it a light creamy yellow background with navy for the shapes and frame. A professional but friendly colour combination, I think. Smart casual, maybe?
This all took about 20 minutes, which was 5 minutes laying the letters, frame and colours, then 15 minutes of agonising over the positioning of everything. Perfectionism has its pros and cons.
One primary point of contention involved evenly distributing F and C visually rather than mathematically. It's easy enough to centre align groups of objects and so on in Illustrator using the Align tool window, but chances are they may not appear to be evenly distributed. This is basically a problem of positive and negative space, or the visual weight of your subjects in the frame. It's something to keep in mind whether you're handling a camera or painting a picture and something I'll probably reiterate in future posts discussing photographic processes (like with the rule of thirds). While both methods have their place and nor are they mutually exclusive, generally you'll want to focus on balancing visual weight rather than making your composition mathematically/geometrically accurate. There is also, of course, no right or wrong solution.
Of course I ended up having other ideas though. I decided I wanted to make something where the letters blended into the background, with some vague referencing to audio waveforms. The first result of this experimentation was this image.
It may be hard to see, but the background is made up of a uniform series of lines. The lines thicken where the letters are, then return to a thin weight away from them. This involved placing the letters where I wanted them first, converting to outlines, then some tedious path merging to create the letter-shaped lines. Of course, this means that the letters basically had to be in the right place before I began, because any movement would mean the lines of the letters didn't line up with the background. (I could of course move the letters in increments matching the background, but.. don't worry about that.)
In detail: overlaying the letter as a framing path and the lines as paths to be clipped, I merged them with the Pathfinder window. The reason I didn't just use the frame as a clipping path is because the lines wouldn't terminate at the edges of the letter path, and so I wouldn't be able to visibly apply rounded ends to them or a non-uniform stroke profile. Merging the paths meant I got to cut off the background lines where I needed them with minor clean-up. In hindsight, I could've just used the Direct Selection tool and held down shift to move the anchor points... ah.
Eddy ended up liking this idea quite a bit, and so I ran with it through multiple iterations. Eventually, he suggested adding an ampersand (&). Hello vocabulary.
Here I made an & to match the F and C, and tried superimposing it with a different line weight. I've also just noticed that I slightly misaligned it, soo.. haha.. good thing they didn't choose it.
The effect was kinda cool, but it lost points for legibility so they needed to be rearranged.
Much better. F&C - Front & Centre. Easy to read while still being visually interesting. Eddy and Gabi ended up liking this arrangement the most, and requested the colours be added back in.
The navy became the background, and I changed the cream yellow to more of a gold to help it out, as it appeared to basically be white otherwise. Navy and gold is a fairly classic colour combination in musical instruments so by a total accident I made a musically relevant feature. You could also say the lines look like the strings of a stringed instrument...
And there we have it. A simple logo. In all, it took maybe 2 to 3 hours of trial and error to achieve the result I intended, and I was stoked that they loved it. There were of course several other variations on what was shown, but these were the sort of "key" steps.
If you've stuck with me until the end of this, first off - thank you! You're insane, but in a good way! I hope that was even somewhat interesting to you. Future posts are more likely to cover my photo editing so if you're into that, you can look forward to something in that area.
By the way, I've enabled commenting down here so please feel free to leave a comment if you have any thoughts or questions! I'm more than happy to elaborate on anything here.