How to make a logo, The mental process

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I will try my best to explain how you can reach a concept that will take the shape of a functional and charming logo. You must understand I won't tell you how to design logos like mine since that's impossible unless you are trying to copy them and next you will see why.

Please forgive me if I lost track of my ideas, it will be a bit difficult to explain something that has become natural to me after years of practice.


What's an idea and what's a concept


If we look for it in a dictionary, an idea is something as simple as a thought, a mental image, a word, an opinion; while a concept is a plan, an unified idea, a philosophy.

From my personal perspective as logo designer (try to image this), an idea is a lightbulb and a concept is a chandelier with many lightbulbs. Now let's try making a more complex concept. Let's say inside each lightbulb of the chandelier is a letter and together they spell "classic". If you make that into an image you have a logo, more or less.


1+1= Infinity


Now that you know an idea is a thought and that a concept is a group of a ideas with an objective, think of designing a logo as a math problem, you have that basic operation of 1+1 but the result is not 2 but Infinity. No matter how much you try, no one will build the same concept even if you have the same problem of 1+1, that's why I said that you won't be able to make logos like mine unless you try to copy them.

But wait! Does it mean that if I use negative space like you do, am I copying you? The answer is no and I will tell you why


Is tracing copying or saving time?


For anyone that is an artist the following point may be hard to understand since tracing is considered taboo but with all honesty I can tell you I won't hesitate a second to trace an image if that will save me hours of work.

For example, let's say I have to make a fox and I know that part of my conept is a slim delicate fox in a leaping pose. What will I do? First I try searching for an image that is as close as possible to what I need and then trace it. Is it copying? Yeah, but if it's so bad then why my logo won't look just like that image I traced? The answer is simple, it's because that pose is just an idea of my whole concept.

I will try to explain in more detail with other example. Let's say you get a free silhouette of a guy weaing a suit. Anyone can download that image for free. But then you erase the head of the guy and put a fishbowl instead and then fill the bowl with small fish that take the shape of a brain and add a text saying "group ideas". Does that mean your logo is worth less because you saved time using that silhoette you downloaded for free? Of course not, it's only a tiny part of your concept, a small part of the operation that gave origin to that logo.

A personal style


Ok, I just said tracing something to save time is ok and I'm not the first designer that uses negative space and certainly I won't be the last. Then, how can my work be different from the work of other designers? Again it's something related to the concept. I can be very particular about certain ideas that I replicate on most of my concepts, like simetry or using geometric shapes as constructions (Yeah, I'm obsesive with clean shapes) Also I don't make abstract or hyper realistic designs because I prefer minimalistic and literal designs. Your personality is reflected in this kinds of aspects that appear in each one of your works even when you try different styles.

What's a logo?


I told you what's an idea and what's a concept but now you must understand what's a logo and that's very simple. A logo it's a symbol or design that identifies a brand. The key word here is "identify". When you make a logo for yourself you must have a clear idea of what identifies you because it will be a key piece to make your concept. In my case, it's a fox.

From our previous example, a logo is the result of the operation while the "building an identity" is the main problem.

Building a logo


Ok! Now you are ready to start your concept and your operation should be more or less like this:

identity + style = Infinity

That's the simple version of course. Now let's see it from my perspective:

fox + white + empty space + geometric construction + simetric + orange = Infinity

And I can still add more ideas to my concept, some are of most importance for a logo to work properly like: working on big and small formats, working on different colors, working with gradients, working with single colors, working with different fonts, etc.


Conclusion


In resume, to make a creative logo you need to build a concept based on creative ideas and this often take a lot of tries, because changing a single idea from the operation may result on a completely different concept. Having a wide source of inspiration(ideas) and trying different problems is the best way to practice.

Observations


It's important to have a good judgment to know where is the limit between tracing to save time and making a plain copy of an existing concept. As a designer, people pay me to have ideas and part of being a proffesional is have the morality to create something new and not try to rip off people doing something like this:

www.creativebloq.com/logo-desi…

But there is also the other side of the coin. With so many creatives and acces to the same sources of inspiration, it's possible to reach the same answer without knowing, specially in cases where you have few ideas to build a concept with. I faced this situation many times when I took part on design contests and the clients were very specific on what they wanted.

If you have any questions please feel free to send me a note or make a comment. Thank you for reading.


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© 2016 - 2021 whitefoxdesigns
Comments23
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carlosvillodre97's avatar
Very well explained your theory and advice, Irian! Clap 
oshRED's avatar
Thanks for putting this together! I know totally nothing about logo design but these are definitely worth thinking about for every artist interested in creating a logo for their brand. :] Very clear and simple too! 
whitefoxdesigns's avatar
I'm glad it's clear! I was so worried only I would understand it. :XD:
oshRED's avatar
No way! c: Thanks again for putting it together. 
whitefoxdesigns's avatar
You are most welcome! Romano (Mustache Laughs) [V1] 
thintoons's avatar
Informative!! :)
whitefoxdesigns's avatar
RegalZeagle's avatar
Agree with everything said. Everyone has their own process. For my logos, it isn't easy to freehand at first in a program like Powerpoint, so I'll take a real picture of an animal or a silhouette to trace the basic shape, but other than that, every thing is original. Sometimes I freehand things, other times no. Depends on the complexity. I've seen other great designers use clipart as a base to trace off of and nobody complains. However it's a grey line.
I wouldn't recommend outright tracing every element of another logo though. Tbh I made that rookie mistake a few years ago, never will again =P
whitefoxdesigns's avatar
Many years ago someone accused me of tracing the work of other artist but then I showed them I actually traced a scene from dragon ball and it came with the same result. :XD:

Saddly some websites that sell pre made logos and vectors have made some people think it would be easy to make logos just merging elements and it became a problem in crowdSPRING because sometimes the designs that won the contests were made that way or were copies of other logos.
RegalZeagle's avatar
Yeah, I totally get that. I've experienced a similar situation before.
I especially hate it when "beginners" mash clipart together and expect everyone to say it's a great logo :P
whitefoxdesigns's avatar
Indeed. In the end is not about ability to draw or use photoshop, illustrator or other software. It's about ideas. People pay us to think what they can't because they aren't used to it or don't want to. Sometimes my initial designs help people realise what they really want after months of trying. 
Spazzel's avatar
This was so informative! This is so helpful for others trying to learn logo and design process! Love it! 
whitefoxdesigns's avatar
I'm glad you think so ^^
anxjess's avatar
This is very helpful! 
And I agree with the tracing thing. I trace a lot of my artwork if I don't sketch it traditionally first, but then I alter my traced sketch to make it into my style. In the end, it looks nothing at all like the traced image. 

So so in my opinion, referencing is a-ok in art. uwu
just as long as it ends up in your own style!
whitefoxdesigns's avatar
Indeed. After all most artists take refereces either from photos or live models. O:
LittyKittyStar's avatar
This is very helpful!! Thank you so much!! ;O;
whitefoxdesigns's avatar
It was my pleasure! ^^
Ahalteke's avatar
Insightful, interesting and informative.
Thank you so much for making this :)
whitefoxdesigns's avatar
I'm glad it was helpful though I expected more people would be interested on it. O:
Ahalteke's avatar
People will still come to this journal I think ^_^ I think people who read it just didn't comment haha
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