Going into Unit Two, I knew that our primary focus would be Adobe Illustrator. Personally, I had mixed emotions about this program. I was fortunate enough to learn how to use the Illustrator in my undergrad studies, however, it has been over ten years since then, and it genuinely felt like I was learning the entire program from scratch, all over again. Additionally, the version of Illustrator that I own is rather dated, and I found myself having to create unique and obscure means of accomplishing certain effects that the current version of Illustrator easily utilizes with a preset tool. BUT, I refuse to whine or use that reason as some sort of excuse for defeat, so I proudly accepted the challenge and jumped into the assignment head first.
I began the draft logo assignment by thinking about what, exactly, I wanted my logo to represent. I decided on creating a logo to showcase my overall topic for the semester; “A Cause to Create.” It’s an idea that I feel extremely passionate about and I hope to, someday, make this project a reality.
After deciding on a concept for my logo to represent, my next step was to start sketching…

I find sketching to be a great tool for brainstorming, and I thoroughly enjoy the process. To begin, I started creating rough sketches of what I considered to be universal symbols of my logos’ themes. I wrote down a few “base” words and terms that I felt accurately portrayed or described my topic. Since the objective of “A Cause to Create” is to utilize art as a tool to help people, I wrote down words like; community, charity and art. Next, I listed the objects that I felt most clearly portrayed and visually symbolized those concepts. The visual symbols I came up with included things like; open-palm hands, heart shapes, colors, people in groups and art-tools like paint brush and palettes.
I also did a Google search of existing logo designs and stock images like charity, artists, community and helping, in order to cross reference the image ideas and symbolism that I came up with whilst brainstorming. During my Google image search, I noticed a few repeating similarities in the design elements of related logos. When it came to logos that represented Charities and Non-profits, they seemed to primarily utilize simple shapes and smooth, clean lines. Additionally, when it came to the font that was incorporated, a Sans-Serif style like Helvetica was almost always selected. Taking into consideration that design is never random, I suspect that those particular traits and characteristics were chosen to portray a welcoming sense of approachability. The clean lines of both the design and font are un-intimidating and less complex. Traits that would be ideal for a non-profit organization or charity logo. I made sure to try and incorporate similar characteristics in my design.

After using a Sharpie and some highlighters to sketch out some rough ideas, I decided on a basic design concept. A classic paint brush with the bristles portrayed as long, multicolored hands. I chose the paint brush to symbolize art and the various colored hands to symbolize the idea of community, diversity and helping.

*Credit: Images acquired by Google image search for “Clip Art of Hands“.
(Watermark intentionally left visible for copyright purposes)

To begin my logo, I started by creating the “metal” part of the paint brush. To do this, I selected the rectangle tool, drew a long horizontal shape, set the fill to a medium grey and the stroke to a 0.75 with a slightly darker grey. Next, to make the handle, I chose the ellipse tool and drew a tall narrow oval to intersect perpendicularly with the bottom center of the grey rectangle, and set the color to a medium tan with zero stroke. To create the triangle, that would serve as the wider wood part of the handle, I used the polygon tool, drew the shape, and deleted two of the five anchors by selecting them with the direct select arrow and hitting delete. I moved the triangle into the left corner of the ellipse/rectangle intersection, and applied the add anchors tool to position several additional anchors along the diagonal edge of the triangle. To transform the diagonal edge of the triangle into a smooth concave curve, I direct selected each anchor and shifted it into the desired shape. To achieve an exact symmetrical duplicate of the triangle shape on the other side of the ellipse, I selected the triangle and applied object-arrange-reflect. I then selected the ellipse and two triangles and grouped them together to make it easier to move them around on the page.
To make the metal part of the paint brush look more realistic, I used the rounded rectangle tool, changed the corner radius to “3pxls” and drew two small rectangles to place inside the larger original shape. To create a more metallic look, I gave them each a radial gradient and selected a medium grey for the center and a dark grey for the outside, then lowered the opacity for a smoother blend.
For the text, I wanted something interesting, but also simple and un-intimidating, so I decided on “PT Sans.” I changed the font to Bold, and placed it along the “metal” part of the paint brush where the actual brush brand name would typically be located.
To create the many colorful hands, I used a few variations of the shape tool. For the arms I used the rounded rectangle tool, and for the hands I used six ellipse shapes; A large round ellipse for the palm, and five small narrow ellipses for the fingers. I then added additional anchors to the fingers to adjust and customize each of their shapes. This allowed me to easily transform the small narrow ellipses into five fingers, as well as create a more realistic palm for the hand shape. After creating one hand that I felt satisfied with, I used the copy-paste commands to clone them. I also added even more anchors to the cloned hands so that I could make subtle adjustments to differentiate the hands from one another so they would appear slightly different.
After positioning the arms and hands by selecting a variation of “move forward” and “move backwards” commands, I changed each to a bright color and followed a rainbow color palette from left to right. I selected each individual arm and applied a linear-gradient using the original hand color and a slightly darker version of the hand color for the gradient spectrum. I then adjusted the angle position of the gradient to -105 so the bottom of the arm coming out of the paint brush would be the darker shade. The gradient effect is subtle, but it creates a lovely extra dimension to the overall design.

Now For Some Feedback….

Throughout the development and creation of my logo draft, I had a few moments where I second guessed certain aspects of my design and wanted a second opinion. I was eager to see the thoughts and feedback from my group, and was looking forward to the helpful insight, I knew, they would provide.
One crucial element of my logo that was mentioned was the font that was used for “A Cause to Create.” It was suggested that it may be too simple of a font, and that I should try experimenting with different lettering. This was a great suggestion from my group, and it resulted in the selection of a much more cohesive font; “Noteworthy BOLD” with an applied 0.25pt stroke. The new font was the perfect combination of an artistic & minimalistic lettering styles.
I also received feedback regarding the length of the various hands. It was suggested that they may work better if they are slightly closer together in length, instead of the green hand sticking out so prominently. This was easily fixed, and I completely agree that the logo works better with the hands at slightly closer lengths.

In addition to the helpful feedback and insight from my group, I was also able to evaluate and pin-point a few aspects of my logo that I felt could be improve on. One aspect that I felt was lacking in my logo was stronger visual dimension, particularly with the paint brush handle. To fix this, I Googled several images of basic paint brushes and referenced them throughout the revision of the brush handle. I selected subtle characteristics from each image that I felt could be applied successfully to my design, and incorporated them into my final logo.

In order to obtain a similar 3D effect that you can see in the reference photos, I decided that my paint brush handle needed to appear to be beveled along the edges. However, prior to creating the pseudo-bevel, I would have to merge the three shapes that made up the handle into one single shape. Without this step, I wouldn’t be able to apply a gradient to the handle as a “whole”, the gradient would, instead, apply itself to the three separate shapes that make up the handle, and trust me, it looks really strange.
To merge the three shapes, I made sure they were all selected, clicked the shape builder tool, then dragged the selection-line through all three to unify them together. Once I had the handle transformed into a single shape, I started on the bevel. To create this effect, I made an exact clone of the wooden handle by utilizing the copy-paste command. Next, I scaled down the “clone” by selecting the object and dragging the corner anchor inwards. I then placed the smaller handle on top of the original handle and made small adjustments with the anchors until it sat flush with the top metal part, but the sides still remained clearly visible as the bevel. To create the illusion of dimension, I applied a radial gradient to the bottom handle. I selected slightly lighter and darker shades of the original color to use as the gradient spectrum, and then positioned the gradient-slider to 70% to give the new bevel realistic highlights and depth.
Additionally, I created a small bevel to give dimension to the hole of the handle. Using the ellipse shape tool, I drew a small oval, applied a linear gradient using the same colors for the gradient spectrum, and positioned the angle of the gradient so the darkest area would appear at the bottom. I finished it off by creating and placing a flat white ellipse on top to complete the hole.

My favorite improvement to the final logo, is most certainly, the adjustments made to the metal part of the paint brush. I removed the radial gradient because the effect of a circular gradient on a rectangular object just didn’t make sense. Instead, I experimented with a gradient preset that I stumbled across called “Green, Yellow, Orange.” It consisted of a linear gradient with seven different “gradient sliders” that repeated the colors; green, yellow and orange in a pattern. I decided to keep the number of sliders, but replaced the colors with a variety of light grays, medium grays and dark grays. This allowed me to create bright shiny highlights that mimicked the reflective surface of metal, and brought the perfect layer of dimension to my logo.
For the final touch, I added three small metal rivets to the brush. It’s a minor detail that I noticed in actual photographs of paint brushes, and I had been hoping to incorporate it somehow into the logo. To create them I drew a simple circle-ellipse by holding down shift, and finished them off with the tiniest radial gradient to make them pop.

Developing this logo and re-learning Illustrator has been a challenging experience. I felt that I really pushed myself, technically and aesthetically, with Adobe Illustrator, and came away from the whole process feeling proud and happy with my final logo creation. It’s truly been one of the highlights of this semester, so far.


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