Illustrator tutorial: professional logo in 11 simple steps!

Hi y’all,

Welcome to the first Whale tutorial! Here I will explain how you can create the logo up here in Illustrator, we will discuss objects, working with paths and working with gradients in illustrator.

Wandering through pinterest I ran into this sexy ass logo and it immediately grabbed my attention. I love how it’s simple yet intricate. It was made by Nicolò Frontini for Booktribu. So full credit goes to him! I don’t know in what way he created it but let me show you how I would do it. But first let’s break down why this logo is dope as hell.

The shapes are extremely simple, it’s basically a capital B and a square. However 2 very clever elements make sure the humble B and square don’t feel boring:

The first one is the obviously missing back of the B. The negative space that is left behind immediately catches your attention because our expectation of what a B should look like is interrupted which causes our brain to take a second to register what’s going on instead of simply processing another visual we scroll by.

The second element is the very subtle gradient at the top and the bottom of the B that makes the logo “pop” by giving it a more layered feel without losing the soothing simplicity flat design brings. Best of both worlds!
Alright now for the tutorial itself! please keep in mind that this tutorial is intended for beginners.

Step 1: Fire up ye old Illustrator

– Clickety click on illustrator (I use illustrator CS6) and create a new document by going to file>new… or ctrl+n, nothing special here. For all you elitists out there: if you’re making this for the web make sure you select RGB as the color mode in the “advanced” drop down menu in the “new document” window. If you’re making it for print select CMYK. If you’re making it for shits and giggles just go for RGB.

Step 2: Think!

– Alright so before we start rocking it we’re going to have to think about some things here: how thick is the border of the square going to be? Well that is going to be determined by the thickness of the letter B. what are the dimensions of the square? Also determined by the B. What is going to determine the B? Circles.

The whole thing is pretty much three circles stacked on top of each other in a way. The circles have a total circumference of 75px, a thickness of 12.5 px and therefore the inside has a circumference of 50 px. Adding everything up and taking into account the circles overlap we come down to a total height of 200px. These will be the main numbers we’ll be dealing with here.

Notice how the bottom circle is slightly more to the front than the middle and notice how the top circle has its inner edge vertically aligned with the middle circles outer edge (blue line). Notice how the middle circles inner edge is vertically aligned with the horizontal bar of the B (purple line). The curvature for the gradient is basically an inner circle aligned with the left edge of the square (yellow).

This step is actually more important than most people realize, it will determine how smooth and clear the rest of the process will develop.

Step 3: Create them circles.

– Select the ellipse tool (L) and click anywhere on the canvas and the ellipse tool window will pop up out of nowhere, fill in the dimensions and hit enter.

– Now select the scale tool (S) and while holding alt click in the center of the circle and another window will pop up. Make sure the circles is increased by 150% since we want to end up with a 75px circle (50*1.5=75) and click copy, so don’t click OK! Also make sure there’s no fill and a simple black stroke for now.

– Select both of the circles and duplicate them by selecting the selection tool (V), selecting the two circles and dragging them while holding alt. Now repeat this step so you have three.

– Okay so these will be our main building blocks. At this point I personally like to go into outline view by hitting ctrl+Y or view>outline. You could’ve started working in outline view or not at all as well, whatever you prefer.

Step 4: Make the square

– Since we used our brain and planned the whole thing in step 2 we know exactly how to put everything together now. Start off by creating a vertical line by clicking anywhere on the canvas with the line tool (\) selected, in the dialogue box put in 200px at an angle of 270. Now duplicate the line by alt+dragging it with the selection tool like we did earlier. While dragging it use the green alignment guides that show up to make sure they are on the same height. Use the help box that appears to move it 12,5px to the left.

– Now select the line tool (\) again and do the exact same thing but when the dialogue box pops up after you click on the canvas instead of having an angle of 270 enter 0. Duplicate the horizontal line and move it down by 12,5px. Now duplicate the two horizontal lines and move them all the way down till they neatly intersect with the bottom of the vertical lines to create the bottom of the square. Do the same to the two vertical lines. Don’t worry about the circles in this step.

Step 5: Align the circles

– Now looking back at our blueprint we can see exactly how the circles need to be aligned. The top circle goes all the way against the top-left edges of the square.

– To perfectly align the middle circle we can first make a vertical line by clicking somewhere on the top line of the square and fill in 75px and an angle of 270 degrees. Click on the end of this new line and make the length something like 300px and the angle 180 degrees. You can use this new horizontal line to guide your middle circle until it hits the inside of the left of the square as it does in the image. After it’s aligned delete the two lines we made as a guide.

– Like the two guide lines we made we’re going to make a guide box now to help us align the bottom circle. Select the rectangle tool (M) and click on the canvas. Width 10px height 100px. And drag the box until it neatly fits against the inside of the square. Now guide the bottom circle until it intersects with the bottom bar of the square and the guide box we created. After this delete the box.

Step 6: The middle bar of the B

– To make the middle bar of the B click on the lowest point of the inner edge of the middle circle with the line tool (\) selected. Illustrator makes your cursor snap to an anchor point to signify this lowest point. In the dialogue box enter 25px at a 180 degrees. Now do the same for the highest point of the inner edge of the bottom circle. This time with 35 px at 180 degrees.

Step 7: Connecting the dots

– Now as you see in the final logo the middle and top circle are connected to create a nice flow, to do this select the line tool and connect the anchor points of the inner and outer edges of the top and middle circles respectively. Use the help box that appears to make sure the lines you create are 12,5px and completely horizontal (either 180 or 0 degrees depending on which direction you drag).

– Now go to the bottom circle and connect the bottom anchor points of the inner and outer edge of itself.

It’s kinda starting to take shape right? Now let’s start finishing it up.

Step 8: Deleting

– Now it’s time to start deleting stuff. Before we can start deleting we need to divide the paths into sections we want to cut out. To do this pick the selection tool (V) select everything we have, click on window>pathfinder (ctrl+shift+F9) to make the pathfinder box appear, here click on divide. After that you can click away the path finder box.

– This might get a bit tricky if you’re not as used to Illustrator as you are to Photoshop like me because of the way illustrator handles anchor points. Select the direct selection tool (A) which selects individual parts of an object instead of the entire thing. With this tool select parts of the logo we need to delete, let’s start of by the bottom left corner, just select the lines and hit delete.

– Go ahead and delete the entire bottom left side of the square highlighted in the image. Sometimes you need to hit delete a couple of times, sometimes you need to select parts twice, you’ll get the hang of it. If you make a mistake just ctrl+Z to undo and try again.

– Sometimes when you try to delete a section it automatically deletes another section that you didn’t want deleted. Don’t freak out you can simply add the line with the line tool and be a bit creative about it, just make sure you connect from anchor point to anchor point. For me it was the lines highlighted here that got deleted automatically every time I deleted the neighboring lines.

– Now go ahead and delete the rest that we don’t need in the logo, if you’re not sure what to delete you can use this image as a cheat sheet. (by the way, see how I fixed the lines I accidentally deleted?)

– One little thing before we start coloring: add two little lines in the highlighted places, you will see why later on. Make sure to connect the anchor points!

Step 9: Adding the “fold”

– As you can see in the blueprint now we just need the line that creates the fold effect on the top of the B. to do this we create another circle, select the ellipse tool (L) click on the canvas and create a 50×50 circle. Align as in the image. Add a little line from the bottom anchor point to the straight part of the curve.

– Now select everything using the selection tool (V), open up the pathfinder (CTRL+SHIFT+F9) and click divide again. Now delete the parts we don’t need, again you can use the cheat sheet with highlighted areas, pay special attention to the little part of the curve marked in the image.

Step 10: Coloring

– Almost done now! All that’s left is coloring. Select everything with the selection tool and divide in the pathfinder window again. Now it’s time to change to the preview mode again by pressing ctrl+Y. make sure there is no stroke. Select the fill and enter the hex color code #99C33A. Probably the inside will be green as well now. Just select the inside with the direct selection tool (A) and hit delete, you should have something like this now.

Step 11: Gradient

– Alrighty then final step. If you’re used to Photoshop like me this might seem a bit weird but bear with me. First of all make sure these two parts are separately selectable with the direct selection tool (A), if they’re not you made a mistake somewhere in step 9.

– If you’re gradient tab isn’t visible go to window>gradient (ctrl+F9). Next will be a couple of small steps in a row so I will show them in one image: double click on the left slider, click on the dropdown menu, make sure RGB is selected, enter the hex code #99C33A and hit enter.

– Now you created a gradient, drag the gradient swatch into the swatches library like in the image.

– Select the section that needs a gradient with the direct selection tool (A) then select the gradient swatch you just added to your swatch library, the section should now change into a gradient but not in the right manner, to get it right select the gradient tool (G) and drag within the section until you get the colors right, remember you can drag outside of the section as well as long as you have the section selected.

Done!

And we’re done, congratulations! Hopefully you enjoyed following this tutorial as much as I enjoyed making it. Again all credits go to Nicolò Frontini, this is just my take on the logo and not at all the only way to do it. If you have any questions or comments let me know!

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