How to make a logo in illustrator: 10 Tips and Tricks

Adobe Illustrator is the most used vector edition software by graphic designers all over the world. Illustrator was developed at first to create illustrations (no way!), but its awesome tools to deal with vectors, shapes, and text, turned Adobe Illustrator into a complete graphic designing tool. In Illustrator is possible to create from simple interface icons to complex illustrations. Today we’ll talk about how to make a logo in Illustrator and reveal several important tips & tricks.

It’s important to say: this is not a logo design tutorial. If you read our previous article about How does a designer makes a logo, you will see that designing a logo requires much more work before reaching the software step. Here we’ll show you some tools to use in Adobe Illustrator to design a logo, just like a professional designer does.

So let’s do it!

1. Try to use grids

Grid in Adobe Illustrator

Grids are a very important tool when you make a logo in Illustrator. It’s not mandatory, but very important. Using a grid in your artboard will help you to design your logo following some crucial design principles, like alignment, spacing, and proportion. But as I said, it’s not mandatory. I’ve seen very skilled professionals designing great logos without a grid. However, if you’re not so experienced in logo design, a grid can always be helpful.

2. Find your paths on Pathfinder

Pathfinder in Illustrator

The Pathfinder is a very useful tool when you need to draw some unusual shapes. By combining two or more overlapped shapes you can create a new shape which probably could be harder to draw by free hand.

If you master this tool you’ll find many ways to create a lot of different shapes that could be useful to create a logo. So take some time to try every option in the Pathfinder and see how do they work!

3. Lots of possibilities with the Shape Builder

This is one of the tools I like most in the process of making a logo in Adobe Illustrator. If you already experienced in working with grids, and also like to merge shapes to create another uncommon shape, you’ll probably love this too. Shape Builder is basically a tool in which you can “draw” a line over the shapes making them merge with each other, creating another different shape. This can be very useful if you’re like me, someone that doesn’t have much skill drawing by free hand, so with the Shape Builder you can design very interesting shapes.

To use the Shape Builder, first, select all the shapes you want to combine, and after that, select the Shape Builder in Illustrator’s toolbar (or use shortcut Ctrl/Cmd + M), then just draw a line over the shapes you want to merge them together.

Shape Builder in Illustrator

4. Making good color palettes

Creating great color palettes is almost an exact science. I will not go deep into color combinations methods, chromatic circles or Hue/Saturation/Lightness calculations. I’ll only give you a few shortcuts! Adobe Illustrator can help you with three ways to choose your color palette.

If you already have the main color in mind, but don’t know how to make a good color combination, you can open the Color Guide panel (Ctrl/Cmd+F3) and use one of its combinations. By clicking on the drop-down on the top, you can see several combinations based on the chromatic circle.

There’s also a button in the bottom left corner of this panel where you can open a panel of swatches organized by themes and color books (like Pantone).

Another more advanced way is to create your own palettes using Adobe Color Themes (Menu Window > Color Themes). In this panel, you can create palettes using the chromatic wheel and explore palettes made by other users.

Adobe Color

Source: Adobe Color

5. Master the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator!

The pen tool is powerful to make a logo in Illustrator. Even if you’re not much skilled with freehand drawing, you can draw advanced shapes using the pen tool. But look, I’m not saying it is easy! It requires a lot of practicing and skill improvement. With some patience, you’ll master this powerful tool. And here’s a quick tip to increase your pen tool skill: play The Bézier Game!


6. Turn typography’s into shapes

This is a very simple one. Select a text layer and hit Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+O to outline the text, or in other words, turn characters into shapes. Now the characters are shapes, you can use the tools I said in previous tips to make other shapes based on characters! This is useful when you’re creating a monogram or initials logo.


7. Explore possibilities with Clipping Mask

This is awesome especially to work with colorful logos. With this tool, you can use the top layer of the selection as a mask for the layers below. These below layers can be anything, a static image, colorful mixed up shapes, some special gradient effect, anything. To use Clipping Mask, select your artwork (the top layer and the background), go to menu Object > Clipping Mask > Make. Or just hit Ctrl/Cmd+7

Clipping Mask

8. Expand strokes

When you design a logo in which there are outline strokes in the artwork, you have to expand it before finish your work. Why? When you define an outline stroke to the shape and resize this shape, the stroke will remain with the same size. So, imagine your shape has a 2 pixel stroke, when you resize to a bigger size, the stroke will still have 2 pixel and will be almost imperceptible. If you expand the stroke, it will turn into a filled shape, so when you resize it, it will follow the same proportion as it was designed. To expand an outlined shape, select it, then go to menu “Object > Expand…”, make sure that Stroke is selected, then hit OK.

Expanded Stroke in Illustrator

9. Curved text? Type on path!

I’ve seen several curved texts done badly because it was made with the Warp tool. But using the Warp tool will distort the text and it will look ugly. The best option here is to use the Type on Path tool, so the text will keep the original aspect, but following the respective path. To use it, first, you have to draw the path you wish the text to follow (you can use a shape too, like an ellipse), then, click and hold the Type tool on the toolbar, and select Type on a Path Tool. Click on the selected path to start typing and the text will automatically follow the line!

Type on Path

10. How to make a logo in Illustrator exploring other designer’s works

This is not actually an Illustrator tip, but it’s very helpful. Take a look at other designers works to see how do they use some tools. Explore the creative process available in Behance or take a look in several tutorials of logo creation available on YouTube. You’ll find there are so many ways to design a logo and so many methods, that if I was going to write about all of them here, this simple blog post would be an entire book!

But here are just some quick tips for those who want to increase their skill in how to make a logo Adobe Illustrator. Hope you’ll keep practicing and turn into a master logo designer soon!

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