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Creating a Coffee House Logo - From Theory to Vector in Adobe Illustrator

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This post is part of a series called Caffeine Fuelled Vector.
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This post is part of a series called How to Create a Logo.
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With this tutorial I will provide tips to think about when creating a logo. Also I'll cover some basic manipulation of the Star Tool as well as how to adjust type on a path to create a vintage inspired logo for a coffee house.



Working With Ideas & Clients

When creating a logo before we even start the sketching process we need to speak with our client and gather some information. I'm of the mentality that the more information you have about a clients business or product the better prepared you will be when designing a logo to help convey that product to the world.

There are a lot of great articles on the Internet that suggest questions to ask your client as well as how to charge for your talent and time so I won't go into too much detail regarding this. Just be aware that you are designing for the client and their brand. You need to respect their wishes and decisions but you also need to know when to stand your ground and sell your design. After all, they contacted you to design for them, they respect your opinion as an artist, you just need to be able to show them why they trust you.

When it comes to sketching it's always important to provide options. Depending on your work flow this can be anything from a handful to a vast variety. Personally I like to provide a client with about 10 different options to start off with initially. I'll then contact the client with these options and ask them to select two or three and explain why it is they like them and to provide as much feedback as possible as to the direction they would like these to go. Usually you can tell right off the bat which version they like more and from there you can start to fines the design. I'll take these two options and expand on them based on their feedback and provide a handful of variations, no more than two or so of each.

It's at this juncture where you need to start selling yourself. As a designer you may feel you know what is best and if a design you really love is rejected it's hard not to take it personally. Unfortunately there is no cure for this and it usually happens at least once during every project you will encounter. You need to be prepared for it and be mature enough and confident enough in your skills to shake it off and keep moving forward. Take the clients suggestions into consideration, if they are simply ludicrous explain it to them in the most humane way possible. Remember that design work is a repeat customer and word of mouth business, don't be condescending or snarky. This can irrevocably hurt your reputation and cost you business in the the long run.


Sketching Your Designs

With the above information in mind, let's meet our client.

For this tutorial we're going to be using a fictitious coffee shop entitled "Vector Coffee". Since we're on Vectortuts+ we'll assume it's owned by the company Envato. With this information and a bit of research we can deduce that they like a clean, crisp, vintage/modern design aesthetic. Looking around the site they like a nice flat motif to their company design. We can see that this design aesthetic extends to all aspects of their digital presence. This indicates that they have a company brand already in place and we should be respectful of this.

While sketching keep in mind the brand colors, fonts, and any shapes they may consider to be part of their brand. This is information you should have ascertained from your questions to the client before the start of the project. Also try to picture the logo in use, either on the web or in print. Understand that gradients and a vast array of colors and shapes may look great on the web or in Adobe Illustrator, it doesn't translate to print all that well and can end up being too expensive to produce. Try to keep your color palette to a minimum and imagine how the logo might look on various backgrounds or colors. Visibility and legibility is the key to a great design. Text or shapes that are small on the computer may be completely lost when printed on an envelope or letter head. A good rule of thumb is to picture your logo is printed on an image a little bigger than the size of a quarter. If you shrink your image to fit this size and the details that make your logo what it is are lost, it's a bad design and you should rethink your options.

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For this logo I wanted to try and find a way to convey Vector with Coffee. I explored a few options involving a coffee cup, a coffee bean, and even a drop of coffee and tried to combine it with common vector objects like path points and the pen tool. I'm finally settling on a classic stamp motif with scalloped edges and text. After discussing it with the client they liked this option best but wanted something to help spruce it up a bit. I've also created a mark that can be used in conjunction with the stamp shape or as a stand alone object that resembles a drop of coffee but mirrors the nib of a fountain pen which is the icon for the Pen Tool across just about all vector programs. For the color palette I'm going to stick with a rich red color which is indicative of heat helping to sell the fact that it's hot coffee. I'm choosing a nice golden yellow which also has a warming effect but also provides a sense of joy and happiness. And finally a nice rich muted brown which is, well, the color of coffee.

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1. Create a New Document

With our sketch in place we begin the most important part of our logo process. Vector recreation. Having only a raster copy of your logo is simply unacceptable in this resolution independent world and if you only providing a raster only version to a client is a sign of poor quality as a designer.

So now that we have our logo selection from the client let's start off by opening Illustrator and creating a document using the options outlined in the image below.

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2. Create Your Wavy Star Shape

Step 1

With our document created let's begin crafting our logo. I won't be importing the chosen sketch as it was just a rough outline of what I actually want to accomplish and have a pretty good idea of how to recreate it in illustrator without tracing my original sketch. If however you wish to import your sketch please feel free to do so.

To start off please select the Star Tool located under the Rectangle Tool in our toolbar. You will need to click and hold for a beat or two in order for the fly out window to appear with the sub tools. Once enabled click on your art board and enter the settings seen below. When the shape is created adjust the Height and Width of the star using the Transform panel (Window > Transform) to 448 x 448px. Then rotate the star 90 degrees counter clockwise so one of the star points is facing directly up.

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Step 2

With our star shape selected go to the Align panel (Window > Align) and choose to Align to Artboard then select Vertical Align Centre and also Horizontal Align Centre, these are the second icons in from either side on the top row in the Align window.

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Step 3

Now that it's centered correctly, open your Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) and add a nice rich brown color (taken from our client branding information). Also, select the Effects button at the bottom of the Appearance Panel and choose Stylize > Round Corners… then enter the information outlined below.

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Step 4

Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and click on your art board. Now create a perfect circle that is 406 x 406px then center it to the art board as outlined below.

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Step 5

Switch to your Selection Tool (V) and Shift-Click both the circle and the wavy star to select them both simultaneously. Now open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and select the second icon in from the left called Minus Front and with that the star shape is complete.

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3. Create the Outer Rings for the Logo

Step 1

With the Ellipse Tools (L) selected again click on your art board and create a perfect circle that is 400 x 400px then center it to the art board as outlined below.

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Step 2

Open your Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) and remove the fill color then add a Stroke Weight that is 5px that is aligned to the Inside and give it a nice yellow color (taken from our client branding information).

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Step 3

Now go up to Object > Expand Appearance to expand the stroke to a shape. When resizing logos for print and the web strokes can often times change size depending on your settings. To circumvent any possible adjustments we expand the stroke to a shape. This way your logo stays exactly as intended.

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Step 4

Let's create one more ring much farther in to balance out the text that will come later on. Once again select the Ellipse Tool (L) and click on your art board and create a perfect circle that is 190 x 190px then center it to the art board as outlined below.

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Step 5

Open your Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) and remove the fill color then add a Stroke Weight that is 6px aligned to the Outside and give it a nice red color (taken from our client branding information).

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Step 6

And finally, go up to Object > Expand Appearance to expand the stroke to a shape.

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4. Create the Coffee Drop Shape

Step 1

To help with some of the details in this object let's work larger than we intend the final mark to be. In your Layers panel (Window > Layers) turn off the visibility layer with our completed objects so far by clicking the eye icon next to the layer name. By default this should be named "Layer 1". Now create a new layer so you should have two in total, the new layer being on top and still visible.

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Step 2

Once again select the Ellipse Tool (L) and click on your art board to create a perfect circle that is 300 x 300px then center it to the art board as outlined below.

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Step 3

With the Ellipse Tool (L) still selected, click on your art board to create another perfect circle that is 70 x 70px then center it to the art board as well. Let's also give this another color so it's easier to see and will help our blend in a later step.

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Step 4

Now, Right-Click on the new smaller circle and select Transform > Move… (Shift-Command-M) and enter the settings as seen below.

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Step 5

Switch to your Selection Tool (V) and Shift-Click both circles to select them both simultaneously. Navigate to Object > Blend > Blend Options… and ensure that "Smooth Color" is enabled for spacing and selection okay. Now create the blend by visiting Object > Blend > Make (Command-Alt-B).

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Step 6

Now go up to Object > Expand Appearance to expand the circles. This will make many, many, many new circles, each layered on top of the other to create that blend we had previously.

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Step 7

Open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and select the first icon in from the left called Unite to merge all of these shapes together.

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Step 8

This unfortunately makes a lot of unnecessary anchor points that we will need to remove. To do so, zoom in to the shape a bit then enable your Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag a selection over the unwanted anchor points. Keep in mind that we need the top and bottom most anchor points from either size of the droplet shape intact. Once selected delete them by pressing the Backspace key. Now go to Path > Join (Command-J) and close the open ended paths. You will need to do this twice.

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Step 9

Let's embellish this new droplet shape and superimpose a pen nib reservoir over it. With the Ellipse Tool (L), click on your art board. Now create a perfect circle that is 60 x 60px then center it to the art board as outlined below. The color doesn't matter but so you can see what I'm doing I'll color it white.

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Step 10

Enable the Rectangle Tool (L) and click on your art board. Now create a elongated rectangle that is 10px wide and tall enough to overlap the top most part of the droplet shape then center it to the art board as outlined below.

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Step 11

Switch to your Selection Tool (V) and Shift-Click both the circle and the rectangle to select them both simultaneously. Now open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and select the first icon in from the left called Unite to merge all of these shapes together.

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Step 12

Now Shift-Click both the droplet and the rectangle/circle combined shape to select them both simultaneously then in the the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) select the second icon in from the left called Minus Front to subtract the pen nib shape from the droplet.

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Step 13

Navigate to the Transform panel (Window > Transform) and click the chain link icon to the right of the width and height dialog boxes to constrain the width and height for resizing. Now in the Width option adjust the size to 90px then align it to the center of the art board once again.

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Step 14

Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and click on your art board. Now create a perfect circle that is 182 x 182px then center it to the art board as outlined below. Right-Click on the circle and select Arrange > Send to Back (Shift+Option+[), now switch to your Selection Tool (V) and Shift-Click both the circle and the droplet shape to select them both simultaneously. Now open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and select the second icon in from the left called Minus Front and adjust the color to our predetermined brown color

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5. The red box

Step 1

We'll turn back on our original layer with our other objects so we can see placement. Now select the Ellipse Tool (L) and click on your art board to create a perfect circle that is 460 x 460px then fill it with our red color and center it to the art board as outlined below.

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Step 2

Enable the Rectangle Tool (L) and click on your art board. Now create a elongated rectangle that is 125px high and wide enough to overlap to side of our circle then center it to the art board.

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Step 3

Now Shift-Click both the circle and the rectangle to select them both simultaneously. Open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and select the third icon in from the left called Intersect.

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Step 4

Open your Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) and select the Effects button at the bottom of the Appearance panel and choose Stylize > Round Corners… then enter the information outlined below. Now select the Effects button again and choose Warp > Bulge… and enter the settings below. Now go up to Object > Expand Appearance to expand the shape.

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Step 5

Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and click on your art board. Now create a perfect circle that is 195 x 195px then center it to the art board as outlined below.

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Step 6

Switch to your Selection Tool (V) and Shift-Click both the circle and the warped rectangle to select them both simultaneously. Now open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and select the second icon in from the left called Minus Front.

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Step 7

Switch to your Magic Wand Tool (V) and Click any red shape to select all shapes on the art board that are red. Open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and select the first icon in from the left called Unite to merge these red shapes together.

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6. Add the Text to the Logo

Step 1

Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and click on your art board. Now create a perfect circle that is 295 x 295px then center it to the art board as outlined below. Remove the fill and ensure there is no stroke as it is not needed for these next steps.

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Step 2

With the new transparent circle selected, enable the Type Tool (T) and while holding Alt on your keyboard click the top most anchor on the circle. Now change the font color to our brown and enter the text "VECTOR" using all caps with the font selected from the client. In this case we're using "Lubalin Graph" in demi weight which you can licence here. Make sure to Center Align the text using the Paragraph panel (Window > Type > Paragraph).

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Step 3

With the cursor still in play Double-Click the Type Tool in the toolbar and adjust the Effect and Align to path options as outlined below. Then switch to the Selection Tool (V) and grab the corner of the bounding box and rotate the text path so it is centered as seen below.

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Step 4

With the Selection Tool (V) still enabled please Copy (Command-C) the text path then Paste in Front (Command-F). Switch back to the Type Tool (T) and click on the text and change the text to read "COFFEE" and rotate the text path so it appears upside down. Now Double-Click the Type Tool in the toolbar and select the "Flip" option in the window that appears then hit OK.

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Step 5

Unfortunately some of our letters are touching and this is a big no-no so let's adjust the kerning between some of these letters. Click in the COFFEE text and move the cursor to sit between the two F's and adjust the kerning to 90. Do this again for in between the F and E, then once more between the two E's.

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Step 6

With our Selection Tool (V) select both text shapes and go up to Object > Expand to expand the text to shapes.

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Step 7

Now we'll add the embellishments on the side. With the Type Tool (T) click on your art board (not on any of the shapes) and type the word "TUTS" in our Lubalin font only this time in Bold instead of Demi, then adjust the size as outlined below.

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Step 8

Zoom in to your text and the Rectangle Tool (L) draw a rectangle above and below the text. We'll keep the rectangle as Wide as the text itself with a Height of 3px. I've also kept them about 4px away from the text itself.

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Step 9

Switch to your Selection Tool (V) and select both rectangles and the text then while holding Option on the keyboard Click-Drag the selection over in any direction to quickly duplicate it. Then adjust the text to read "PLUS" and if necessary adjust the Width of the rectangles to the same as the text.

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Step 10

Select the text for both sets and Expand (Object > Expand) them then Group (Command-G) the individual text and their upper and lower borders together. Don't group both text objects together, there should be two groups when you're done, one for "TUTS" and the other for "PLUS".

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Step 11

Select the "TUTS" group and align it to the middle of the art board then Right-Click and select Transform > Move… (Shift-Command-M) and enter the settings as seen below.

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Step 12

Now select the "PLUS" group and align it to the middle of the art board then Right-Click and select Transform > Move… (Shift-Command-M) and enter the settings as seen below.

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Step 13

With your Selection Tool (V) enabled select both text groups as well as the red bar shape then in the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) select the second icon in from the left called Minus Front.

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Great Work! Now You're Finished!

With that our Logo is complete! Be sure to consolidate your layers at this point. You may have shapes across a few different layers that are unnecessary at this point. Be aware that all the Minus objects we did in the Pathfinder basically rendered that section transparent. Meaning, that when you go to print the paper or images beneath will show through. If you wish you can add a white background to this logo to circumvent that, but this would be a decision left up to the client.

Once done, save a low quality version of your logo as a flat image and submit to your client for approval. Once approved you can provide the full AI file for their benefit and prepare high quality PNGs and JPEGs at their request.

Please be sure to check out our Vectortuts+ Logo and Design Session. This has some excellent tips by other designers throughout the years!

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