In the last post I started the overview of Adobe Illustrator and I began to go over the tools. Illustrator has several significant and useful tools. In my own opinion,their split into two categories. I have split them into basic tools and the advanced tools. There are several great tools in the advanced category but I’m only going to go over a few of the key tools that I use. I am sure the others have their place and are great, but quite simply I don’t use all the tools available to me. I have a select group of tools that I find to very helpful in creating more advanced art. So, let’s look at those tools and dig into them.
- Free Transform This is a decent tool. This tool has four different aspects to it. The main aspect of it that I use is the Free Distort. This allows you to adjust/distort a shape from its natural form to a distorted corm. It does not skew the form per se, it simply re adjust and realigns the the shape. As you can see from the image
to the left, the square has been distorted to another shape. When using this tool, start with a square,circle or triangle and use this tool to transform the base shape into the shape you need for your artwork. I find that to be the best use of this tool.
- Width Tool This is not a tool that I use often, but it can be handy. The previous tool simply adjust the image, this tool will skew it with the many options available to you. As you can see from the tool sub options in the image to the left, there are quite a few ways to customize your image. The Warp Tool pushes in on the corners of your shape. The Twirl Tool twirls the corner of the shape into a spiral.The Pucker Tool, puckers up the corners of the original shape. So on and so forth in this manner go the tools. This is a great tool for adding in just a little extra touch to your shape.
- Mesh Tool This is an absolutely fantastic tool. It is one of my favorites. This tool allows you to add in highlights and shadows to create a more 3D looking image. Take the circle image below. I created the circle with the shape tool. I made it black by clicking the black color swab on the print color pallet. Without changing the color I clicked on the Mesh Tool. I clicked 5 times to create 5 vertical lines which will act as a perimeter for the soon to be added highlight. I clicked twice to create two horizontal line perimeters. I clicked off of the Mesh Tool and selected white from the color pallet. Now, when I clicked on the edge of the circle there is a white highlight that has been created. I clicked on the third vertical line and created another highlight. You can see how the Mesh Tool does a great job of creating highlights on a other wise flat image. This is a great way to create the illusion of depth in your designs.
- Gradient Tool This allows you to create images that look shaded
with perfect blending. I started with a circle as my base shape. I then clicked on the Gradient Tool. I double clicked on the circle and the Gradient Tool does the rest in filling in the blank circle with a nice gradient. There are nodes that you can pull to customize how much or in what way the gradient is applied.
- Symbol Sprayer Tool The symbol is a predesigned piece of art. There are several libraries of them and you can select symbols of all manner, shapes and sizes. To select these pre designed pieces of art, you need to go to Window, Symbol Libraries, then choose the library of your preference, and then choose the right symbol for you. Symbols are nice, because the work has already been done for you! You simply just need to select the symbol and then use the spray can to spray it on the sheet. But be careful because the Symbol Sprayer Tool, will keep adding in images as long you hold down on the mouse. As long as you keep spraying it will keep adding in symbols. If you just want one symbol, simply click once using the tool and the symbol will appear.
Creating A Logo
Now that you have learned the key tools, I’m going to begin the process of teaching you the basics by going over how you might construct a logo design for a church. In this section I’ll create a pretend logo for a new church. It’s time now to start thinking about principals of design; things like line, shape, color, texture, etc. I’m not going to cover all those in this blog. This blog is how to create a logo in Adobe Illustrator. There are other post and future post that will discuss those matters. But as you set out on your logo design you need to always be thinking about such things. Even if you have a pencil sketch and you just need to recreate that sketch, its imperative to be thinking about the design principals.
When creating a logo think about simplicity. This is not a detailed piece of art. This is not a grand oil painting. This is a simple, but memorable, visual image that shares who and what the church is. It will be contrived of use of line, shape, space and color. Break it down into these three areas and it will make the design process easier for you. With that in mind I’m going to place up a finished logo design and explain why I chose this design. Then we will re create it in Adobe Illustrator.
Designing a Logo
I’m going to have another blog on what makes a great logo and why, but for today we just need to know how to design a logo in Illustrator. Let’s take a look at one of everyones favorite logos, Starbucks.
Starbucks logo is simple, bold, and unique. It’s simple because it is basically made up of line work, repetition, and negative space to create the Siren in the middle. The siren is the mermaid character in the middle. There are no highlights, no shadows, no 3D molding. It’s very simple. It’s bold because of its simple use of one color and negative space which really make the logo pop. It gives the image real punch! The image is really neat too. It’s unique to the brand of Starbucks and it gives the mega coffee shop a rare, and special feel. If you did not know what Starbucks was, and if it were placed in a line of other coffee shop logos; would you not feel compelled to look at it? These characteristics make it a good piece of art and Starbucks branding makes it a great logo. It’s a brilliant design that uses the simplest things to make a working, fantastic logo. Now let’s look at at great church logo and break it down.
This is the logo for my church, Victory Orlando. The logo is simple, bold, and unique. It’s simple because it is made up of line work, and negative space. It’s sharp, clean and to the point. Yet it is bold because it is designed in black and white. This stark contrast gives it punch. That much black gives it weightiness. The weightiness is good in this case. The church feels safe, grounded, and down the earth. But the lines break it up so that it is not so heavy. The lines also point upward, suggesting that the church will be positive, uplifting and direct you toward God. Its unique as well. The logo could simply be the name of the church, but it’s not. The logo is clearly a V without being a V. The logo stands on its own feet without the assistance of a name attached to it. As the name of the church grows in fame and the reputation precedes it, then this strong logo will stand on its own. Let’s now take some time to see how this powerful, but simple logo can be created in Adobe Illustrator.
Building the Victory Orlando Logo
Start with the Polygon Tool. Click on the Square tool and under that is the Polygon Tool. Select it. Then double click any where on the page, which opens a window where you can adjust the amount of sides. Click down until you have selected 3 sides. Now you will have a triangle on your page.
Now rotate the triangle in the proper direction to create our V. Hover the mouse over the corner of your triangle. Your mouse will change to a rotate symbol. You can rotate the image to your hearts content. Color the image black, by choosing the black swash on the color pallet.
Now select the Scissors Tool which is under the Eraser Tool. This is a great tool that I did not cover earlier. Select, on your triangle where you want to make your cut. Then select the adjacent side and click. Now you have a cut, and when you select the cut piece you can delete it. Now you should have a shape like the V in the logo.
You may need to use your Direct Selection Tool to make minor adjustments as you see fit. Now it is time to create the white rectangle that goes across the logo. I used my Square Tool to create a thin, white rectangle. I rote it so as to tilt it to make the proper shape.
Now, we’re starting to get a logo that resembles the original. The next question is, how to get the little arrow shape that sets next to the tilted rectangle. You can’t cut it out, but we can draw it in. For this shape use the Pen Tool. Draw in the shape you desire, and select white from your swatches as your fill color.
Here you can see that we nearly have a finished image that looks very close to the original one. Now you can use the Direct Selection Tool to fine tune the image and get it to the desired height, angle and width.
I think this is a good logo to practice on because it teaches you to use some key tools and it will help you perfect your craft. Find a logo that you like and try to recreate it. This is a great way to practice your Illustrator skills. I’m going to be blogging more on logos and what will make them great. Stay tuned to read up on good and bad logo design.