The Logo Brainstorm Book: An Exclusive Sneak Peek

With Jim Krause’s new book, The Logo Brainstorm Book, set to release soon, we decided to give you a taste of some of the awesome lessons and examples you’ll find inside. So here’s an excerpt from Chapter 2: Symbols, which delves into the process of transforming a simple shape (in this case a wing or a bicycle) into a myriad of logo elements:


Check out Jim Krause’s new HOW Design University course, How to Design a Logo: From Brainstorm to Finish!


Personality traits

Just as appearance and personality play major roles in terms of how a person is judged, these same factors go a long way in establishing how a logo is perceived.

How should your icon’s conveyances of aesthetic quality and thematic personality be delivered to its target audience? Will it be through the simplicity of the icon’s presentation? Through ornamentation and adornment? Through a casual, playful, serious or retro style of rendering? Will it be through a look that is extroverted and in-your-face or will it be through subdued implications of charisma?

Take a look at the icons on this spread. See anything that gives you ideas about how to best establish the graphic demeanor of the logo you’re developing?

Design your own logo

[A] A book with wings, depicted through lines and color. [B] Linked, locked and tilted—a symbol that generates a sense of unity and action. [C] Wings… or are they hands? An uplifting design with human conveyances. [D] Abstract and expressive: a decorative icon made from stacked and re-proportioned repetitions of a single tapered curve. [E] Strong yet delicate, bold yet decorative: a star-studded pair of wide-spread wings with a multifaceted visual personality. [F] A modern interpretation of a phoenix and its fiery wings make for an eye-catching symbol of renewal and vitality. [G] Curving, paper-like wings lift this pencil from the page. [H] A delicately drawn wing springs from a forward-gesturing treble clef. The tinted square behind the clef lends a note of structure to the otherwise free-form design while directing attention to the icon’s focal point. [I] How about creating a custom-made monogram by replacing part of a letter with a visual component? [J] The look of this five-string banjo is made mythical by bracketing it between a pair of angelic wings and placing it over a starburst backdrop.

Digital makeovers

Wing emblemsThe wing theme from the previous page continues on this spread, only here, one set of wings has been used to demonstrate a number of digital makeovers. Treatments and effects from both Illustrator and Photoshop were applied to the pair of wings shown here in order to produce the outcomes below.

Unfamiliar with the treatments and effects offered through Illustrator and Photoshop? There’s no better way to become acquainted with them than through hands-on experience: Locate a favorite illustration or photo on your hard drive, open it in Illustrator or Photoshop and start exploring the capabilities of the programs’ filters, effects and transformation tools. Do this regularly—for work and for play—and it won’t be long before you have a solid idea of which tools can be used to produce what kinds of results.

Logo Design Ideas

Illustrator and Photoshop notes: [A] The SYMBOL SPRAYER tool has been used to fill this design with visual texture. (Illustrator) [B] The dappled fill inside these wings was created with the Difference Clouds filter. The design’s edges were softened with blur tools. (Photoshop) [C] An illustrated pattern of colors was copied into this design using the Paste Into command. (Photoshop or Illustrator) [D] The Blur > Zoom filter has been applied to this set of wings. An unaltered copy of the original design was then pasted in front, colored white and made translucent. (Photoshop or Illustrator) [E] Transformation controls were used to create this re-proportioned incarnation of the design. (Photoshop or Illustrator) [F] The interior of these wings has been given a new look with the Chrome filter. The Outer Glow effect was used to add an orange glow around the design. (Photoshop or Illustrator) [G] This set of wings has been radically reshaped using the settings offered through the Pucker & Bloat filter. (Photoshop or Illustrator) [H] The Difference Clouds effect was applied to these wings and the Halftone Filter effect was aimed at the result. The orange fade around the design was added using the Outer Glow effect. (Photoshop or Illustrator) [I] A set of white wings has been placed in front of an intricate and toothy border. The border was created by applying the Zig Zag filter to the original design. (Photoshop or Illustrator) [J] The Grain filter was applied to the wings from sample [B] to produce this outcome. (Photoshop or Illustrator)

Subtle dimension

Wing emblemThe wing theme of the last two spreads concludes here with a series of dimension-conveying explorations. The effects demonstrated on the opposite page are understated—along the lines of what might be employed to subtly enhance a corporate logo or whenever low-key implications of depth are being sought.

One thing to keep in mind when applying any sort of visual effect to a symbol (dimensional or otherwise) is that stylistic treatments of this kind are subject to the whims of fad and fashion—just like the stylistic treatments that are applied to hair and clothing. What’s the best way to keep tabs on trends in the world of logo design (whether the trends are related to stylistic treatments, color combinations or methods of illustration)? By paying attention. Take note of the logos that appear at the fore of mainstream media, make a point of regularly looking through periodicals and books that feature the work of leading designers and mentally chart the rise and fall of the styles, trends and fads you observe.

Creative Logo Design

[A] The low-key dimensional conveyances of this symbol are derived from its subtle inner glow (applied in Illustrator and set to black) and a light gray drop shadow. [B] A colored highlight and a dark inner shadow have been applied to this design using Photoshop’s Bevel and Emboss effects. [C] Bevel and Emboss effects were also used to add a look of depth to the components of this icon. The wing was shaded using Gradient Map controls. [D] How about layering translucent and colored copies of a design? [E] Illustrator’s transformation controls were used to spin, skew and resize these wings to form a stacked arrangement. Drop shadows were added to bolster the dimensional look of the composition. [F] The glossy, protruding ellipse containing this icon was created using Photoshop’s Bevel and Emboss effects along with shading from a Gradient Map adjustment layer. [G] A static repetition of overlapping icons, each colored using Illustrator’s Gradient panel. [H] A small grey ellipse has been placed below this icon to lift it from the page. (It’s interesting to note how much impact this ellipse has on the presentation of the wing above it—cover the ellipse with a finger and note how the icon suddenly appears stuck to the page’s surface.)

Drawing from photographs

Using images to make vector graphicsJust because you’re not an illustrator doesn’t mean you can’t illustrate. The trick is to work within the skills you possess and to use aids when necessary.

Say, for instance, you have a bicycle company as a client, and the owners of the company want an image of one of their classic cruisers as part of their logo. Here’s an idea: Borrow one of the client’s bicycles, photograph it from several attractive perspectives, choose your favorite shot, import it into a program like Illustrator or Photoshop and trace its form loosely or precisely—depending on the look you are after. (FYI: There’s no need to feel guilty about taking a creative shortcut like this; card-carrying illustrators do it all the time.) Each of the illustrations below were created by using the photo in this column as a drawing template.

Logo design from vector tracing

[A] An icon created by importing the photo at left into Illustrator and loosely re-creating its components with shapes drawn with the PEN tool. [B] Here, further options have been explored: The bicycle from the first sample has been placed inside a square and different colors have been applied to each of the design’s negative spaces. [C] In this sample, the freely drawn bicycle from before has been recolored and placed beneath a precise linework rendering (created by closely following the contours of the photographed subject using Illustrator’s PEN tool). [D] What about transplanting an illustrated subject into a custom-drawn environment? [E] A silhouetted bike stands between the sun and a cast shadow. The shadow was created by applying a light tint to a copy of the bicycle and then stretching and skewing the tinted silhouette into position as a shadow. Once the shadow was in place, its form was blurred using the Gaussian Blur effect. [F] Photoshop’s Watercolor filter was used to create this faux-painted version of the scenic design featured in [D].

The Logo Brainstorm Book by Jim KrauseTo continue reading, pick up The Logo Brainstorm Book by Jim Krause. You’ll get 304 pages of incredible inspiration and instruction for both brainstorming new logo ideas as well as carrying them out. You’ve never seen a logo book like this before!

Or pick up an individual chapter from the book, more specific to what you need to learn, and available to download instantly! Download Using Symbols in Logo Design | Designing Monogram Logos | Designing Typographic Logos | Type + Symbols in Logo Design | Using Emblems in Logo Design | or Using Color in Logo Design.

Listen to author Jim Krause talk about The Logo Brainstorm Book during a virtual book signing.

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