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Logo Design 101 - Part 2 - Transferring Your Ideas to the Computer

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Now that you have brainstormed your logo ideas, it's time to learn how to get those ideas recreated digitally on your computer.

Please note that in order for you to commence with this stage of the logo design process, you need to have at least one solid idea down on paper. A rough sketch and an idea of what the final product should look like. This is part 2 of the Logo Design 101 mini-series, if you don't have a solid concept yet or missed the first post entirely, please go back and read Logo Design 101 - Part 1 - Brainstorming.

Get hold of a Vector Program

Now that you have a rough sketch of your ideal logo, you need to recreate it digitally. To do this, we use programs called vector programs. These programs are used to create vector images. Vector images are infinitely scalable so once you have recreated your logo as a vector image you will be able to make it as big or as small as you need to for various purposes, without losing any quality.

Designers use vector programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Freehand.

The above two programs are both commercial versions and don't really come cheap. Freehand does, however, offer a 30 day free trial, which should give you plenty time in which to design your logo.
If you would like to go for a completely free Vector program, you can download Inkscape. I'm sure that any of the three programs would suffice for general logo design.

As stated in my last post, logo design isn't easy, and if you're wanting to design your own logo, you are going to need to take the time to learn the ins and outs of the vector program which you download. It will be a bit of a learning curve, but there are loads of tutorials available on the Internet if the program's built in Help facility isn't, well, helpful.

I guarantee that taking the time to create your logo properly using a Vector program is going to yield far better results than a using MS Paint!

Black and white/greyscale first

In my previous post I wrote that a logo needs to work in black and white before you even start working in colour.

Play around with black and white or greyscale versions of your logo first. Try different variations of your rough, sketched logo. You may find that, once it's recreated neatly as a vector image, you need to tweak it a bit in order to make it perfect. This is all part of the process.

Moving on to colour

Once you have a version of your logo in black and white, it's time to start adding colour. By now you should have decided on your colour scheme, so go ahead and start adding colour using the program.

One thing to note is that there are two different types of colour: CMYK colouring and pantone colouring. CMYK is the most common colouring scheme and is used mostly by smaller printers. The different colours of your logo are recreated by mixing cyan, magenta, yellow and black to try and produce the right colours. There is often variation in the colours printed using CMYK colouring, so it might not be the best option for consistency.

Pantone colouring, on the other hand, is perfect if you're looking for a consistent tone for all your logo prints. It is supported by most of the established and larger printing companies. Pantone colours are a set of internationally recognised colours which will always print the same way.
Although it's generally slightly more expensive, I would always recommend pantone colouring. Whichever you choose, you can use either one in your chosen Vector program.


Once you have got the symbol reproduced digitally, you need to add your business name to it in order to complete the logo.

Finding the right font for your logo is imperative.
Really good designers tend to shy away from using generic fonts with their logo designs. Thus, if you want your logo to be one of great quality and design, I suggest you take the time to "develop" a typeface specifically for your business/branding. Here you have two options:

1. Customize a ready made font to suit your business

This is the "easy" way out. If you have found a font that you think fits with your logo and business, then you can download that font and customize it to be a perfect fit.

2. Create your very own font

This is most certainly not easy, but in some instances is the only way to attain the perfect typeface to fit your logo. What you can be sure of is that that typeface will always be unique to your business. Having your own awesome looking font to complete your logo definitely gives you a deeper feeling of satisfaction, despite the hard work involved.

In both instances, you will use the very same Vector program you downloaded to draw up your symbol. You will need to think about the descriptive words you brainstormed. Use these words to adapt/create your font. If you're stuck, try doing a search for fonts that fit your description - note the trends and try to implement them in your font.

Because this is a Logo Design post and not a Typography post, there isn't much room to discuss the lengthy process of creating a typeface. However, for completeness' sake, I'm going to link you to some tutorials for creating a new typeface:

Having a unique typeface is great, but in all honesty, it will probably take an inexperienced designer, as you may be, a whole heap of time which you probably just don't have. If you have your heart set on creating your own logo, then my suggestion as a fellow business owner (rather than a designer) is to simply do a long hard search for a font that comes as close as possible to one that fits perfectly with your logo and business. You may need to pay for it, but hey, a good typeface is probably worth every cent.


Chances are this part of the logo design process is going to take you the longest period of time, simply because of the amount of learning involved (Vector programs, Typography creation tuturials). I did warn you that the logo design process is a long and, often, difficult one.

Just stick to your guns with this part. It will take some determination and a weekend or two of your time, but there's no point in giving up now! If you're struggling, feel free to drop me a mail or PM with any questions you may have, I would be happy to help.

Next week, in Part 3 of the Logo Design 101 mini-series, we're going to deal with the final stage of the process, Finalising your logo. Once you have gotten through part 2, part 3 will be a cakewalk! The great thing about it is that you will finally be able to see all your hard work come to fruition, so stick around!

Happy designing!

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  1. IanF's Avatar
    Just some pointers from a printer.
    Our main design programme is Coreldraw and it is more reasonably priced than Adobe. Most of the smaller printers use this as it is an all in one solution for us.
    Then for colours we refer to them as process colours (CMYK) for full colour printing and spot colours (pantone). You can get consistent colours from full colour process printing it is just more expensive as your printing will be run on it's own and have a longer setup time to dial in the correct colours. A lot of full colour printing on litho presses is gang run where up 48 different full colour business cards are run on 1 sheet. Then 500 sheets printed and cut to the individual cards. On these runs the colour will vary slightly as you set your ink for the total run.
    Spot colours are slowly being replaced by full colour runs on both gang runs and digital printers as colour control systems are being improved all the time and it is much cheaper to print short runs on a digital printer.
  2. Mark Atkinson's Avatar
    Thanks Ian.

    Nice to have the printer's point of view too.

    Although you may prefer Coreldraw, designers tend to follow Adobe like a religion. The debate is endless, but you're right, it is more expensive. That is why I linked to Inkscape for people who don't have access to Adobe Illustrator.

    Thanks for the clarification on all the colour information. It's quite interesting how a printer and a designer's views can differ on things that they deal with every day.
  3. Sparks's Avatar
    Hi, for my small scale printing I don't bother with changing the default. I am by no means a proffesional but, I also prefer Adobe CS4, soon to be upgraded. I rarely use my Coreldraw X5.
    Thank you for the very interesting & enlighting blog.
  4. Mark Atkinson's Avatar
    Hi Sparks, thank you for your comment and kind words. I think Adobe is the designer's choice for the most part (We upgraded to CS5 almost as soon as it was released) but there are almost always alternatives to any program. I'm not even sure how Coreldraw differs because we have never, to my knowledge, used it for any of our work.

    You say you run a printing business? I was sure I read on the forum that you were an electrician of sorts?

    Thanks again.
  5. Sparks's Avatar
    Only just getting to your blog now again for the first time. I am an electrical contractor with a keen interest in 3D, photography and CADoodling. I am not artistic but wish I was, with the result that I am forever trying things out to keep out of mischief when I have spare time. I enjoy doing 3D modeling and just for the hell of it will sit and do a technical drawing of whatever pops into my mind then make a 3D model of it. I am by no means good enough at it to market it but I do enjoy doing it. A few friends are happy with the results of their requests but that is as far as I go in public. I do however use it to make visual presentations for my quotes though. Just to make sure that the client knows what he will end up with before I start. It helps prevent ending up with an unhappy client.


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