I have created many different styles of logo design over the years, ranging from simple shape, single color designs to more elaborate Web 2.0 style logos. As an artist, I prefer the designs I’ve created that involve more of a creative flair, but as a designer, I understand that not every client will like the more complicated designs, opting instead for something of a more simple nature.
Recently I created a logo for a client that fell in this category. I was really proud of the design I came up with, yet the design failed to strike a chord with the client. That, of course, is the nature of the design industry. Not everybody is going to like what you create.
However, rather than consign my design to the recycle bin, I have decided to rehash the concept using a fictional name so I can share with you the steps I took to create it. Whether you like the design or not is a matter for you to decide but regardless of opinion, I hope you can gain something and maybe learn a thing or two from my own methodology.
The following is a step by step tutorial on how I created the above logo design. Tips learned in this tutorial can be applied to other designs with a Web 2.0 style.
In this first step, we need to create the base shape of the planet.
Using a medium gray, create a circle while holding down the Shift key to create a perfect circle. Then rasterize the layer.
Next, we need to indicate the Earth’s land mass. I have used a free vector map available from VectorWorldMap.com.
I have removed all the white background and used the background eraser tool to remove excess white from the internal land mass areas. Once this was done, I gave the whole layer a vivid green colour overlay by double clicking the map layer in the layers box and adding it as an effect. This is to ensure crisp clean edges. This colour overlay needs to be flattened into a single layer. I find the easiest way to do that is by creating a new layer, selecting both the empty layer and the map layer in the layers box, then merging the two layers.
The image then needs to be placed centrally to the page and the base circle. For this part, we aren’t trying to create an exact replica of the planet. We just want it to look vaguely like the Earth.
We now need to give the land mass a more spherical quality. This is easy to do.
Making sure the land mass layer is selected, go to Filter, Distort, then Spherize. In the dialogue box, ensure the percentage is whacked up to 100% for full effect. You may find that one attempt is not enough to give the land mass the needed effect. I used the spherize filter effect twice for a more rounded look.
Tip: The spherize filter works from the center of the page you are working on. This means for an even spherical effect, you need to make sure the layer you want is roughly center to the page, otherwise your layer will look lopsided, like it’s a chunk from the outside edge of a sphere rather than being a sphere itself.
At this point, we need to re-size the land to make a vaguely realistic fit on the base circle. You don’t need to try and get all the map to fit, as in real life you wouldn’t be able to see land mass on the opposite side of the planet. Just try to obtain a fit that lends to the spherical look of the planet.
Next, we need to remove any excess land from around the base circle.
To do this, select the circle layer and using the magic wand tool, select the area outside the base circle. Then select the map layer and press delete. This removes everything on the map layer that doesn’t fit within the boundaries of the circle selection. Remember to right click and deselect.
Now we start work on giving our image more earth like color.
Select the base circle and duplicate the layer. You need to fill with a vivid blue color. Both the green map layer, and the blue ocean layer, need to be changed to overlays for the next step. Do this by selecting the layer, then selecting the drop down menu above, where it says Normal, and change them both to Overlay. As you can see, because of the medium grey base circle, the colors have been muted to a level more acceptable for my design.
Now we start adding a 3D effect to our planet.
Select the grey base circle once again, and duplicate it. Double click the new grey circle in the Layers box and give it a black and white gradient overlay. We need to reduce the transparency of the overlay a little so the gradient isn’t completely black and white. We also need to change the angle of the gradient. This is dependent on where you want the light to come from. I chose a 60 degree angle. I always work with my light source coming from upper right but you may feel more comfortable with another angle. This gradient effect needs to be flattened using the method described in Step 2.
Next, we need to give more shading and highlighting to create a truly spherical effect.
Selecting the newly flattened gradient circle, we need to use the burn tool to darken the gradient in a more rounded way. Ensure that you have a large size and soft edged brush. In the Burn tool dialogue box, you need to select midtones and have the exposure on about 20% – 25%. Make sure to burn slightly around the entire edge of the circle aswell and blend down in a curving motion.
You may find once you’ve finished that the shading isn’t quite as perfectly smooth as we’d like. To ensure a smoother look, use the magic wand tool to select the outside area of the circle. Right-click and invert the selection. Then go to Filter, Blur and Gaussian blur and knock the blur radius up to around 60%. You may decide more or less, depending on how good your shading looks to start with. Selecting the circle before blurring ensures that no blur escapes the confines of the circle we’ve created and keeps the crisp edge.
To add more of a shine to the Earth, create a white circle in the area where you need the most light and you need the most shine. Rasterize it and give that a Gaussian blur of a slightly lesser amount than you did the grey circle. Make sure none of the shine blur has escaped the edges of the circle.
We now have our finished planet.
Tip: At this point, I would put all the layers making up the planet into their own group folder. Not only does this keep your layers box tidy but it ensures you don’t accidentally move one of the layers whilst performing other tasks, or moving and resizing the planet.
Now we move on to adding the letter that will eventually envelope the planet we’ve created.
Create a capital letter Z using a relatively simple and unadorned font. Size it to fit the planet, then rasterize it so we can work with it. You will need to duplicate this letter layer.
Using the Polygonal Lasso tool, we need to separate the Z into separate horizontal and diagonal parts. Selecting one of Z layers, use the lasso tool to select the diagonal length of the Z, and then delete it. Be careful not remove any of the horizontal bars of the Z.
Select the next Z layer and do the same again, this time removing the horizontal and keeping the diagonal. Make sure to select enough of the diagonal so that it can overlap behind the horizontal bars. This is to make sure you don’t end up with a very tiny gap between the different parts of the letter.
Again, we need to make use of the Spherize filter on each of the component parts of our letter Z.
The horizontal bars need to on the top and given a spherize of 100%. The lower, diagonal bar, needs to be given -100%. This creates a reverse effect.
Now we need to give the same shiny 3d effect to our Z and make it wrap around the planet.
To do this, use the Burn tool in the same way we used it to create shading on the planet. Shade the areas on the diagonal very dark, as that will be behind the planet. Use your eye to apply the correct shading to the horizontal bars, always keeping in mind where your light source is.
To create the super shiny effect, create two white ellipses where the shine needs to be and give them a Gaussian Blur as you did with the shine on the planet. The shine nearest the light source will need less blur than the shine further away. You will then need to use the magic wand tool to select the outside areas of the horizontal bars and delete the excess of the blurs once you’re done.
As the typical home of our planet is in space, I thought it best to present the design on a black background. I also felt that the planet needed a little atmosphere, so that’s what I gave it. This was achieved easily by duplicating the blue ocean layer, taking it off overlay and giving it a Gaussian blur. Make sure that this blue blur is below all the planet layers, but above the diagonal of the Z.
Now we have our finished earth and capital Z, all that is needed is a little simple text.
Due to the amount of editing that has happened to our wrap around Z, I couldn’t find the perfect font to the tie in the Z to the name I made up. To bypass this, I selected the layers used to create the Z, duplicated them and merged them, then gave this new Z a colour overlay selecting a grey from the lighter part of our main Z. I then used a futuristic but simple font to finish off the name.
And there we have it. Our finished design.
Tip: As this design is made up of separate rasterized layers rather than being full of photoshop effects, we can open this design in illustrator, changing the layers to objects, and create an .eps or .ai file if the client requests it.
I’d like to say that this is still one of my favorite creations so far, yet this kind of design doesn’t appeal to everyone. However, Web 2.0 style logo design is becoming more and more prominent, especially now many businesses are strictly web-based.
I hope you can learn at least one new tip or method from my design tutorial. If you do then my lost planet design was worth the effort.