In this tutorial I hope to illustrate some of the process of logo design using Adobe Illustrator. However, I must stress, this is not so much a tutorial on the use of Adobe Illustrator as it is a way to show you one method of the "process" of refining an image to a corporate identity (logo) or stylized illustration.The basic process here could be applied to any application.
It should be noted that the example provided here was done mostly for this tutorial and I have bypassed a few of the earlier stages of logo design and concepting such as thumbnail sketching, etc.
The logo is for a company called stone gecko, so I thought an illustration of a chameleon/gecko type animal would be good. Part of the concept originanlly was to make the gecko"s lines apear blocky or stone like, but the process began to go out of the scope of this tutorial so I opted for a more simplified approach.
This tutorial assumes you have at least a basic working knowledge of Illustrator, for example you should know how to select objects and change their outlines and fills. Being comfortable with the pen tool is also a big plus.
All you need tobegin is an image to use for the reference like the one I have below of the gecko.
Now on to the tutorial!
Step 1 - Place the Original Photo as a template.
With a new document open (8.5"x11" artboard should suffice), you will want to place the image that you will redraw as a template.
File->Place->image name->check template box
This will place the image on its own locked layer with its opacity at 50%.
A new layer will also be created above this one automatically.
The image should appear faded out as the one tothe left is.
Step 2 - Rename layer 1
Double click on layer one and in the dialogue box rename it Line art, this is where you will begin drawing the main outline of the gecko.
Step 3 - Begin tracing using the pen tool.
Select the pen tool in the tool bar, or press "p" on your keyboard. Using the pen tool in Illustrator takes some getting used to, as youare now drawing by adding points or "anchors" and shaping the lines with the handles that appear after a two anchors have been connected.
Illustration of anchor (left)
The next two screen shots show the progression of the outline drawing.
Note: we are only drawing an outline around the main body, I will put the legs and toes on a seperate layer.
Step 4 - Add a layer for the legs.
Click on the new layer icon (indicated above) and add a new layer, name it legs.
I like to simplify things and using seperate layers can sometimes aid in this.
Step 5 - Draw the legs.
Tip: Lock the layers below your working layer this will prevent you from accidentally selecting objects or anchors other than the ones you want.
Now lets fill the objects and see how the little guy is shaping up.
Step 6 - Clean up some lines and make some adjustments.
After adding a few more toes to the front foot and using the Direct Select tool (press "a") to clean up and change some of the lines, I now have the version below (it may be hard to tell the difference at this size, but believe me there is).
The direct select tool is used by hovering it over an anchor point, clicking on it then adjusting the curves with the handles.
You will notice all my underlying layers are locked indicated by the little lock icon.
Step 7 - Add the cut-out layer.
Okay this is where the magic begins. We are going to use a method I call the cut-out. We are going to draw white shapes over top of the black base of the gecko and thus begin shaping our true outlines.
Add a new layer by clicking the new layer icon in the layers palette, and name it Cut-out.
Step 8 - Begin drawing the cut-out.
Using the same method to draw the lineart we now want to do the same on the cut-out layer, but with white "ink". Select the outline and make it white by making sure the outline icon is forward and then select white in the swatches palette.
After you have drawn in some shapes, fill the shapes with white.
Still have some more shapes to add and some tweeking, but the illustration is really starting to take shape.
Okay after adding some more white shapes, an eye, a line to help define the spine, and a few more minor touch ups we have the final illustration!
All that is needed now is to unlock the layers and select all the objects together (press "v" which brings up the select tool and then grab all the objects),now we can trim the white from the black.
Important: Make sure all your layers are fills,and not just strokes as stroke colors are deleted during the trim process and in some cases may cause undesireable effects.
To trim, lets bring up the pathfinder tool box9assuming its not already shown): Hit shift +F9 or go window -> show pathfinder.
You should see something like palette to the left, Click on the trim icon shown.
After the trim has been performed, you will need to "ungroup" all the objects to remove the white objects, so press shift+ctrl+g and then remove the white shapes by selecting them and then deleting them.
Finally I added some text and rotated the lizard for the final logo below.