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A Different View on Logo Design Process

Posted on Feb 07, 2009 By Deron Sizemore in Logo Design | 10

Graham Smith from ImJustCreative has published a great article on his logo design process that is probably quite different from what you’re used to reading on the majority of other design blogs. The reason I enjoyed this article is because I’ve always been one to jump straight into Illustrator to start putting ideas together for a new logo. It’s not that I can’t sketch, because I can and actually enjoy sketching, but I generally only sketch to remember ideas if I’m without an internet connection.

From the Article:

Jumping straight onto the computer works for me, and more importantly, my clients. Business is booming, so I think that people need to relax a bit about sketching being the ‘only’ way. It is questionable to say this with so much certainty when new budding logo designers might be in the same mindset as myself. Yet they will take on board what ‘the majority of experts are saying, which is not to go straight to the computer’.

No Sketching for Me

As I said above, I enjoy sketching every once in a while, but I hardly ever sketch design ideas unless I’m without internet connectivity and need to remember an idea. I can’t explain it, but when I’ve attempted to sketch ideas in the past, I never make much progress. I always seem to sketch slightly different variations of the same design, never coming up with something original from the initial concept. Jumping straight into Illustrator is different for me. Ideas seem to come more easily when I’m in Illustrator. I think it comes down to being able to view multiple color and font variations quickly and all at once which is more difficult for me to do in a sketch.

Do What Works for You

What it all comes down too is doing what works for you. I’ve learned that with design, there’s really not a right or wrong way to do something, there’s only your way. If that involves sketching out your design first, go with it. If your way involves skipping the sketching phase and that’s been successful for you, go with that. As Graham said, his business is booming, so why would he try to fix what obviously isn’t broken?

What is Your Design Process?

I’m curious to hear what your design process is? Are you a fan or sketching out designs first before moving to Illustrator or your application of choice? Or are you more like Graham and I?

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KelliFebruary 7, 2009

That’s pretty much how I roll for individual graphics and logos, as well. I do sketch layouts quite often, so I can get an idea of how to organize them. I have a binder with 12 “report cover” pages in it that have blank paper inside, so I can use the covers as dry-erase sheets and sketch layouts in there. That way I can quickly and easily make changes (it saves paper, too).


Adam MartinFebruary 7, 2009

I always start out my logo design process by doing some research in the field of the company or individual I’ll be designing for. I then enjoy going to the sketchbook and getting out my raw ideas on paper. It gives me opportunity to get away from the distractions of the internet and think about the layout of the logo or symbol, without thinking about typeface or color yet. Next I experiment with the name of the company by typing it out in many (sometimes up to 100) typefaces to see which one works best and says what it needs to say.

I agree with Deron in saying “do what works for you”, however, if I were teaching a class, I’d like to see my students ideas on paper first before allowing them to progress towards using the tools. Simply because some logos require illustrated symbols that are too complicated to be planned out in depth without some form of thinking in the sketchbook first. For me, the design should already be planned out before moving to the computer to execute it.

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Deron SizemoreFebruary 8, 2009

Kelli: Thanks for stopping by! That’s actually a very good idea, the dry-erase sheets. Do you ever get any smudging with those sheets?

Adam: Sounds like you’ve got a good process down, Adam. For the logos that require more complicated symbols, are you going into great detail in your sketches for those or just basic shapes/planning? At first, I’ll generally just have some basic shapes in Illustrator to try to gather ideas. I won’t really try to perfect it until further down the design process.


Adam MartinFebruary 8, 2009

I typically will not go into major detail. I like the to get the general concept of the symbol together and whatever variations I can come up with. Then I will typically scan it/them into the computer and refine in Illustrator with the pen tool.


KeliFebruary 8, 2009

I haven’t had any problem with smudging. The sheets I use have a bit of a texture, so maybe that helps.

I learned the same way Adam would teach it, and i do think it’s important to know and understand the process, so you can utilize it when you need to. There are certainly times where it does make things a lot easier and lend better results.

Even when I do things digitally, without the paper sketching, I’m not creating finished logo after finished logo and hoping to land on the right one, I’m just doing the “sketches” on the computer. For me, this is probably just as much (or more) about seeing what I’m doing than it is the creative process. Easier to sketch digitally where I can zoom in on things and look at it on the big monitor. I’m not your “typical” designer in that regard, though… kind of doubt that many people who work in the design industry are actually legally blind, LOL.

So that’s probably why I’m so quick to dive in to doing things digitally, although I suppose I could sketch really big!

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Deron SizemoreFebruary 12, 2009

@Kelli - Yeah you’re right. I don’t usually sketch either, but like you said, I’m doing my sketching on the computer rather than on paper. Just seems that my creative juices get flowing quicker that way.

I didn’t realize you were legally blind. I bet that makes things difficult at times?


KelliFebruary 12, 2009

More so than it used to. I mean, I’ve always been legally blind, but after all of the glaucoma stuff last spring, eye strain is more of a problem than it used to be.

Mostly, I just zoom in a lot. :)

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Deron SizemoreFebruary 13, 2009

@Kelli - Well, based on the work that you do, I never would have guessed it. ;)

I guess that explains why LogoGala was broken for you at first. Maybe I should have put more thought into the layout.


Euan MacKenzieFebruary 17, 2009

for me it depends. There are some projects that require pages of sketches to come close to a final idea and others where i instantly come up with an idea that only requires to be drawn out digitally.

I enjoy sketching and i feel that it allows for more creativity so even if i have a final idea in my head, i will always try sketching alternatives to add creativity to the logo.

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Deron SizemoreFebruary 17, 2009

@Euan - All good points. It’s so interesting to hear what others do in their design process. That’s one of the things I love about design is that there’s generally no two people with exactly the same process.

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