In this tutorial, we are going to go through some of the basic features of Illustrator and use them to create 3 logos following 3 different approaches. You will learn to:
- Set up an artboard
- Set up Guides, Rulers and Layers
- Place and manipulate images to use as guides
- Use the basic tools from the toolbar: Selection, Direct Selection, Shape and Pen Tool.
- Use essential shortcuts
- Use text as shapes
- Export images
Saving your work
How to select the best saving option:
- First of all: Create a folder where your .ai document will live.
- Create a folder for your assets and a folder for your .png or .jpg files
Using Save as you will be able to save in the following formats:
- AI: Always save a copy in this format!
- PDF: for distribution. It is a ready to print format.
- SVG: when you want to export vector files only.
Using Export > Export as you will be able to save in the following formats:
- JPEG: for online use. This is a lossy format (looses information with each edit)
- PNG: for online use when you want to retain transparency. This is also a print ready format.
Setting up the artboard
- First, recognize if your project is for print or screen use. You set up those options under “Advanced Options”
- If your project is for screen use, select 72 ppi and the colour mode RGB.
- If your project is for print use, select 300 ppi and the colour mode CMYK.
- About the dimensions, let’s do tabloid size, that is 11 x 17 inches.
- Set the bleed to .125
- Click create
You can always change the quality, colour mode, or the artboard size later.
Please note I am working on the Essentials Classic look. In you workspace you will find:
- Menu bar (top) where you access a variety of commands, adjustments, settings, and panels.
- Tool panel (left) contains the tools. Similar tools are grouped together and you can access them by clicking and holding the icon.
- Panels (right) that includes Properties and Layers. The full list of panels live under the Window menu.
- Document window (middle) displays the artboard. You can have multiple tabs open.
- A – to select the Direct Selection tool
- V – to select the Selection tool
- Cmnd + Z to undo
- Cmnd + C to copy
- Cmnd + V to paste
Setting the Document Window
We are going to add rulers and guides to help us with the proportions of our designs. Be sure you have the Selection Tool selected (v):
- Go to Panels > Properties > Rulers & Grids > click on the Rulers icon and the Grid icon to activate them. Click again to hide them.
- Go to Panels > Layers > click on the New Layer icon > rename the layer: Guides
- Note that you are able to view / hide layers by clicking the eye icon on the layer bar.
- Note that you are able to lock / unlock layers by clicking the lock icon on the layer bar.
Let’s set a the guide layer using the Rectangle tool
- We are gonna be working on the Guides layer, so have it selected, unlocked and visible
- We are only going to work with outlines, so set the fill to None
- Let’s create 3 2×2 boxes and 3 1×1 boxes
- Organize the boxes using the Align window on the Properties panel
- When finished, Lock the Guides layer
Logo Number 1
The first logo will be done using only shapes. Be sure you are not working on the Guides layer, that should be closed.
- Use the Ellipse tool and create 3 circles
- We are going to modify the ellipse by selecting them with the Selection tool and dragging its corners
- Use the Direct Selection tool to select two corners of one of the ellipse and then convert its anchor points to corners. Modify its dimensions with the Selection tool
- Select the two ellipses that form the body of the pear and unify them by using the Unite icon under the pathfinder panel.
- If you can’t find the pathfinder, go to window > Pathfinder
- Create a small circle, place it over a corner of our pear body
- Select the body of the pear and the circle
- Select the Minus Front icon under the pathfinder window
- Group all the shapes of our logo with cmnd + g
- Make the stroke none and the filling the colour your want
- Make our Guide Layer visible and place the new logo inside on of the boxes
- Copy the logo with cmnd+c and cmnd+v, resize using the corners and pressing shift to keep proportions and place on the smaller box.
Logo Number 2
For this logo we are going to use the pen tool and use a sketch as a guide.
- To bring an image to the composition go to File > Place
- Scale the image to your liking
- Change its opacity to 50% and lock it by going to Object > lock > selection
- Be sure to be working on the unlocked layer (not the Guides layer)
- Use the Pen tool to trace the image. You will create separate objects by creating closed paths.
- To create a straight line you will go to the next point
- To create a curve you need to drag the mouse after the click.
- You can move the individual shapes away from your guide if it is distracting. Just be sure you have pressed V (selection tool)
- You can always correct an anchor point using A (direct selection tool)
- You can always go back using cmnd+z
Since this burger has two patties and another middle bun, we can duplicate the ones we already have:
- Select the bun and patty
- Go to Object > Transform > Reflect
- Select Horizontal and Copy
- Modify the bottom bun with the Direct Selection tool
Now you can colour the burger to your liking using only the filling tool
- Chance the order of the layers by using right click over the selected layer > Arrange
- Add details using the Shape tools
- When done, go to Object > Unlock All and delete the sketch
- Group all the burger pieces using Cmnd + g
Now we are going to add some text.
- Let’s use the Text Tool to write: VEGGAN
- Let’s use it again to write: PATTIES
- Select both words and set a size and a font
- Align the words with the burger logo
- Go to Make Envelope in the Type panel, select arc and select a look
- Group all the elements together
- Size it to the guides
Logo Number 3
Now we are going to trace a drawing and use it as a logo
- Bring the image to the composition going to File > Place
- With the image selected, click Image Trace
- Expand the image
- Ungroup it by right click > Ungroup
Now you can edit the different parts of our vector image independently
- Colour, erase parts you won’t need, move parts
We are going to add some text to our design
- I added the title “Good Girl”
- You can transform the text into objects by Right Click > Create Outlines
- You can ungroup the different letters by Right Click > Ungroup
- Modify the distance, size and alignment of the letters separately
- Group the letters again (Cmnd + G) and use cmnd+C to copy and cmnd+F to paste in the same place
- Be sure of having a stroke of none and move to the right
- Select the words on the back and expand them by going to Object > Expand
- Group our new logo and size it to the guides