Color theory is both the science and art of color. It explains how humans perceive color; how colors mix, match or clash; the subliminal (and often cultural) messages colors communicate; and the methods used to replicate color. Learn more about color theory here.
Composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art. Read more about it here.
“Church, Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, 1941” by Ansel Adams in 1941, with a visible grid
B. Design mistakes to avoid
Avoid these common design mistakes that will make any design look unprofessional.
1. Poorly executed gradients
It’s a common mistake to overuse gradients when learning how to use vector graphic programs, but it’s important to know that extremely eye catching gradients are less popular due to the influence of flat design, If you do use gradients, make sure they are well-executed and relevant to your design.
Effects in Microsoft Word like dramatic drop shadows and bevel and emboss were very popular in the 90’s. Today they look amateurish and outdated.
Read more about how branding aesthetics have changed here.
Google’s 2015 and 1998 logo
3. Raster images in logos
Raster images like photographs should never be used in logos. Logos need to created with vectors so they can be scaled to the size of a billboard or flexible across different mediums. It’s fine if your design is inspired by your own photo, but it’s not considered professional to use it as is in your logo.
Read more about when to use vector or raster images here.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with your client’s business, do your research into your client’s industry. Don’t be afraid to Google search to identify the common logo concepts in the industry, and figure out what to avoid to make sure your logo stands out from the rest and that it isn’t too similar to an existing design.
ludibes stays away from the typical ‘mindful’ (head, yoga, lotus) and ‘mountain’ designs by creating a subtle hint of mountains and a big sun in his simple and modern design.
Sometimes being original isn’t necessarily in the idea, but in the way you execute it. Think of it as a different take on what the business is about. How can you make that V-man unique when you’re designing for a customer service company?
shaka88 shows us another alternative to the V-man design that also means connectivity and people.
Sketching out your ideas and working with your hand is arguably the best way to generate fresh, new ideas. Nothing beats going back to basics and letting your imagination run wild.
Even if you don’t produce anything worth developing later on, sketching can otherwise help with unblocking your creativity. So grab that sketchbook and pencil, head outside and draw to your heart’s content!
In the example below, GOOSEBUMPS shows alternative sketches of his design.
Set yourself a challenge: come up with at least 10 different ideas for the logo design, and refine the ones you’re attached to. To achieve this, you need to have the brainstorming brain – let’s talk about these in more detail.
These are creative techniques to help find the solutions to a specific problem (in this case, designing the logo for your client’s business) by gathering a list of ideas. There are a few brainstorming techniques utilised by designers today:
Mind mapping is a hierarchical diagram to visually organize information that shows relationships among pieces of the whole. It is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words and parts of words are added.
Thumbnail sketches are quick, abbreviated drawings to get ideas out quickly.
Layout creation is the arrangement of visual elements on a page
Doodling / free writing is the simple act of writing or drawing whatever comes to mind to help free the creative block. Even if none of the ideas are usable, the process usually helps you get on your way to actually creating something worth presenting to the client.
Oftentimes, you will be tempted to develop all of the great ideas you have. Here’s the hard fact: not all of them will work. So you need to be highly critical with yourself and pick your top ideas only before you develop them.
If that’s hard for you, think of it this way: you want to make it easier for your client. And bombarding them with all your concepts will guarantee to make them overwhelmed.
So take a step back and pick critically which ones to develop into the final logo design.
In the gif above, lemoor shows how he develops the design he’s picked into a final one.
Now that you have picked the top idea, go forth and finalise the design! Touch up on your sketches before digitizing and refining them.
You think your work is done once you’ve saved that design? Sometimes testing it out is crucial. Have yourself or your friends compare it with the standard logo for your client’s industry, and see how your design measures up. Does it get lost in the other designs or does it actually stand out?
You should also run your final design through google images search to make sure the form isn’t too similar to an existing design.