The final revising stage.

Once you have your initial vector tracing of your drawing, you’re going to notice there’s a few areas that you’ll want to adjust.

The goal of the vector refinement stage is to make the final adjustments of straightening lines and smoothing out curves to get to the final concept.

The nice thing at this stage is if you made most of your refinement was done during the analog stage, this step of the process should not take you a long time.

Your vector tracing is going to look different than your drawing

Typically, you’ll notice that your vector version does not look or feel the same as your drawing and this is mostly due to the difference in the medium you’re using.

Vector shapes are typically very smooth. You don’t have the rough edges like how graphite and ink are absorbed into the paper. The only rough edges are where the anchor points are placed.

This is just the native quality of vector shapes. The computer is using math to render the shapes you have just drawn, so your initial tracing won’t look nearly as organic as your drawing.

Save a Copy

Before you start revising your vector artwork, be sure to save a copy of your original tracing. You can do this either by copying the layer the tracing is on, or you could save a new Illustrator file.

Similarly to tracing paper, this is just a good way to backup your progress. You know you will always have the previous version either for reference or to use again if you find that your revision doesn’t come out as planned.

Work with a darker fill

Since you are no longer trying to trace your drawing, you should change the appearance of your vector drawing to something that will be easy to see and give you a better idea for what it will look like at the completed stage.

Don’t worry about picking the final color of the logo yet. You just need a dark fill that will easily contrast with the white background (Hint: I typically work with a dark gray or black).

Adjust to a grid

Unless you were very meticulous during the analog stage and drew out perfectly straight rule marks, you will probably find that the lines in your logo aren’t perfectly straight, or the alignment is slightly off compared to how you actually want it to.

Using a combination of your guide lines and the grid, you can easily straighten lines and perfect your anchor placement.

Texas Branding Research Logo Grid

Smoothing Curves

The final step to refining your vector drawing is adjusting the curves. Even before you adjusted to your grid, you might have noticed that some of the curves were not as smooth or even as you intended and this is why you save this step for last because the curves can easily get distorted when moving the anchor points.

Now, to get really smooth, even curves, make each bezier handle do half of the work.

If you have ever used the circle shape tool in Illustrator, you should understand what I am talking about. If you haven’t, take a look at the image below. You will see there are anchor points placed at the top-, bottom-, left-, and right-most points and their handles provide half of the curve while the next handle does the second half.

Of course, some curves are not as even as this, and it will require you to use your eye to figure out how to smooth it out. It might even help to print out your vector drawing and use a red pencil to help you smooth out those difficult curves.

So close you can taste it

By the time you have completed these steps, you should have a logo that is very close to being finished. You only have to add the final minute details to have a completed logo. I hope you’re as excited as I am because I’ll be covering adding the final touches in the next blog post.

Do you have trouble adjusting your curves using only horizontal and vertical bezier handles? Do you want to know more about adjusting to a grid. Fill out the form below and let me know.

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