A YEAR TO IMPROVE MY LOGO DESIGN PROCESS

Comparing the processes of projects a year apart.

Last July, 2015, I set out on an undertaking I dubbed 50 States 50 Brands. It’s a project aimed to help me improve my logo design process and build my portfolio with work I want to do.

The first state I chose was Texas. The result of the project came out fairly well, but I realized that I hadn’t clearly established my process. Fast forward a year later, I have completed another seven logos for 50 States 50 Brands. The most recent logo was Carter’s Moonshine in Virginia.

Through these eight projects you can guess I have learned a lot and you’d be right, but the biggest reward from this practice is clearly solidifying my process.

Let me break it down for you:

TEXAS BRANDING RESEARCH

CARTER’S MOONSHINE

Thumbnailing

Since last year, my thumbnailing stage hasn’t changed much. I still rough out ideas around the same size and I still fill up at least a couple of pages in my sketchbook. The one part that may be different is the amount of time I spend thumbnailing. I now spend closer to a week sketching out ideas and brainstorming on the project before moving on to the next stage.

TEXAS BRANDING RESEARCH

CARTER’S MOONSHINE

Initial sketch

I found it interesting that I still draw the initial sketches roughly the same size. What is different now is where I draw the rough sketches.

For the Texas Branding Research logo, I sketched the larger scale drawing in my sketchbook where I was able to use the dot grid as guide to make sure my lines were straight and I could make sure the logo was balanced.

Now, I have made my own grid paper that I use to draw my initial drawing on. There are two main reason why I started to do this:

  1. I can customize the grid to the size I need with specific lines darker depending on the logo I’m about to draw.
  2. It is much easier to tape down to my table so I can trace and refine in the next step.

Download the Grid Templates

TEXAS BRANDING RESEARCH

CARTER’S MOONSHINE

Refinement

The revising stage is one of the most obvious changes I have made to my process. I spend much more time refining my logos now before moving on to the vectoring stage. Not only that, the way I refine my logos is very different.

With the Texas Branding Research logo, I mainly edited the one drawing in my sketchbook erasing anything I didn’t like and drawing it back in. Once finished, I traced a clean version to scan. This approach also inspired me to write the post Your Eraser is not an Undo Button. Since then, I have learned to use tracing paper as a means to refine my logos.

Tracing paper is an amazing asset when it comes to refinement as it allows me easily move the paper around while tracing and fixing the design. I easily go through 10 sheets of tracing paper for each project as I make minute tweaks and adjustments until I have a version that is worth turning into a vector format.

TEXAS BRANDING RESEARCH

CARTER’S MOONSHINE

Vectoring

Vectoring is one of those processes that the only way you’re going to improve is by doing it. With each project, I have gotten more and more comfortable tracing my drawings and I have learned to become more efficient placing my handles and sticking with mostly horizontal and vertical bezier handles.

I definitely work quicker now as I have improve my eye for where to place each anchor point, but there’s plenty room to become more efficient as I work on more projects in the future.

TEXAS BRANDING RESEARCH

CARTER’S MOONSHINE

Vector Revising

Quite similar to the earlier revising stage, I have made some changes to this part of the process as well. I now spend close to a week revising the vectored logo instead of a few days. I dedicate this time to allow myself to make revisions, get away from the work for a day or two, then return with fresh eyes.

Compared to just hammering out the project in a few days, this new process gives me the ability to avoid exhausting myself. My brain has time to process the project while I’m away from the computer. When I come back, I can see things I would have otherwise overlooked.

TEXAS BRANDING RESEARCH

CARTER’S MOONSHINE

Final Logo

It’s a little difficult to compare one project to another considering they have different target audiences and represent different brands. One thing that I know for sure is that with this more refined process and the experience I continue to gain, each project is in some way better than the last.

After analyzing the Texas Branding Research logo, I notice areas that I could improve, but I also notice some areas with the Carter’s Moonshine logo as well. That’s what comes from the experience of doing more and more projects. With each project, you understand a bit more, you start to see things you otherwise wouldn’t, and you tweak your process just slightly to improve your efficiency.

Overview

After a year of logo design projects, the most noticeable changes to my process are to the revising stages.

I have found that providing myself with more time and giving myself a chance to step away from the project helps me avoid getting exhausted and in return, create a much better logo in the end.

Although the refinement stages have seen significant improvement, each stage of my process has been refined and I am much more efficient at designing a logo. I know as I continue to create more logos, I will continue to improve my logo design process. And as I gain more experience, each logo I create will be better than the last.

Are you interested in refining your logo design process?

Is your process different than mine?

Let me know!

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