It only gets better from here.

Once you have completed the thumbnailing stage and know the direction you are going to go, it’s time draw a larger, more detailed version of the logo.


Grab a clean sheet of 20# bond paper – or regular computer paper – and a pencil or lead holder to start.

Using a single sheet of paper is going to be easier for you during the refinement stage and lead is more forgiving since you can erase and you can apply shading as needed.

Other tools you might need are an eraser, ruler, and a compass.

Working Larger

Don’t be afraid to take up a good amount of space on the paper. Your drawing should be roughly the size of your hand – or one that takes up about half of the area of a U.S. Letter-sized sheet of paper.

You can work bigger if you need the space for detail, but don’t go so big where you’re spending more time (and lead) covering the area than you are blocking out the details.

This Isn’t the Final Version

This is the defining stage. You’re scaling up from the thumbnail so now you can start blocking out the details, but don’t work on it like it’s your final draft. You don’t have to draw the perfect circle or have everything in the correct position yet if those details are going to hinder you from getting your ideas out.

Just like thumbnail sketches, you are trying to get your ideas out on paper. Only this time, you have the direction you want to go, but now you’re figuring out exactly how to get there.

Since this is the first draft of your logo, don’t expect it to come out perfectly. That’s completely ok. You’ll be refining the details in the next step of the process. What you want to do with this first iteration is get your ideas on paper that you couldn’t do with the thumbnail.

Start With a Skeleton

Have you ever tried to hand letter a sign for something like a garage sale only to find that you didn’t give yourself enough space at the end and you have to squish everything together? Yeah. Me too.

To make sure your drawing is balanced and avoid running out of space when you’re focusing on the details, start with a skeleton. In light pencil, draw simple shapes and lines that will represent the more complex shapes in your drawing.

Is there a tree? Use a line and a few triangles.
Is there a letter S? First draw the line that runs through the middle of the spine instead of trying to draw the full body.

Taking the time to draw the skeleton first will save you the headache of imbalance and running out of space even on your first rough draft.

50 States 50 Brands First Draft

Don’t Waste Too Much Time

From the thumbnail sketch, you should have a pretty clear idea of where you want to go with the design, and now it is a matter of scaling up and drawing it out. Usually this first iteration doesn’t take up more than a day or two.

As I mentioned before, this is the stage to work out the details, but don’t spend hours upon hours on drawing them out yet. This is only your first draft.

You’ll have plenty of time in the refining stage to get the design perfect as you experiment with and perfect the details. Maybe you end up using a serif typeface instead of the sans serif you used in this draft, or maybe you decide to go with a circle instead of a square. These are all things you don’t need to go over quite yet.

Just get that initial idea down, then move on.

Ready to Refine

Once you have a solid first draft and you have an idea of where everything goes (or maybe you don’t and that’s ok), it’s time to move on to the next exciting stage: refinement, which I will cover in the next post.

Need help with your first draft? Shoot me a message below.

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