Designing a logo has enough work and effort without having to worry about its presentation. There are many things to know and remember about designing a logo with a design program, but to me, no program can compare to Illustrator. I suppose any vector based program would be best, but Illustrator is the bee’s knees. While the excitement of getting your creation done can be fun and well… exciting, I have 10 tips that you should always think about when working on and finalizing your work in Illustrator. In case you’re wondering, I’m currently using CS4 on a Mac.
1. Make sure that all text is in outlines. You can do that by going to Type > Create Outlines, or you can use the shortcut Command+Shift+O (Ctrl+Shift+O on PC).
2. Expand and merge paths. Stroke weights can change depending on user settings, so it’s a good idea to expand them and then merge them so they form a nice shape. There are a few ways this can be done depending on if you’re working with a brush stroke or the pen stroke. For the brush stroke go to Object > Expand Appearance to expand the stroke, then open the pathfinder window by going to Window > Pathfinder (Shift+Option+F9). Inside the window you see some fun little icons. If you hover over them you can see what they are. You’ll want to hit the one that says merge. For pen tool paths, you only need to go to Object > Expand and make sure that Fill and Stroke is selected.
3. Clean up your mess. All the expanding and merging brush strokes can cause invisible shapes to form in the negative space which group with your colors. Plus with everything you’ve already done, you never know. It’s easy peasy. Just go to Object > Path > Clean Up. I usually leave everything selected, then hit okay. If something was cleaned, you won’t see a message, but if there was nothing to clean, you get something that says “no cleanup was necessary.”
4. Merge 1 color logos. This keeps things really easy. One click is all it will take to change a logo from black to white. Don’t forget to do the clean up.
5. Simplify man. After a lot of merging and expanding, you’ll probably see a lot of anchor points. This is easy to remedy. Just go to Object > Path > Simplify and adjust the settings accordingly. You’ll see how many points there are before and after the change in the dialog box. The less points there are, the better.
6. Gradients are cool, but make flat color logos too. It’s always a good idea to have simple logos along with gradients ones.
7. Group like colors. Grouping like colors makes color changing a breeze.
8. Save as an eps. This guarantees the client will be able to open it. It’s also a good idea to try and save your design as at least a CS1. I would even try to go back as far as Illustrator 8 unless you know the buyer will be using otherwise.
9. Know your convenient keyboard shortcuts. I took the liberty to learn all the shortcuts for things I did often in Illustrator so designing a logo would be as painless as possible. Some of my most commonly used shortcuts are:
• First thing I do is hit A then P for the direct select and pen tool. That way when I want to adjust an anchor point during pen tool use, when I hold down command (Ctrl on PC) I will have the direct select arrow. The same goes for if you want the normal selection tool. It will default to what you had last.
• When I use the pen tool I almost always have a finger on the option key (Alt on PC). It gives you the convert anchor point tool. This is by far my most used little shortcut.
• With text I always use the create outlines shortcut, (Mac) Command+Shift+O (PC) Ctrl+Shift+O.
• Command+R (Ctrl+R for PC) opens up the ruler, and if you Control+click (I don’t know this one for PC, sorry) the ruler, you can change the measurements.
10. Keep the client in mind. This can seem like a “well duh” sort of thing, but try going into this assuming the client doesn’t know how to use the software. Make things as easy as possible for them to do. Like I said, group like colors, merge together the 1 color logos so it’s a 1-click color change, etc. It makes things easy on everyone.
These are just some things I do, and it’s not the only way to do them. I think this might inspire a lot of you to figure out your own way to make work a lot easier on you and anyone who uses your files.