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Design

How to Create a Nautical-Themed Logo in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the following steps you will learn how to create a nautical vector logo in Adobe Illustrator. For starters you will learn how to set up a simple grid and how to create your own pattern brush. Next, you will learn how to create series of concentric circles and how to easily bring them to the center of the artboard. 

Moving on, you will learn how to apply and adjust text on a path and how to use opacity masks. Using some neat Transform effects, you will learn how to speed up your work and how to simplify the number of shapes in your document. Finally, you will learn some basic blending techniques and how to add an image for your background.

For more inspiration on how to adjust or improve your final text effect, you can find plenty of resources at GraphicRiver.

1. How to Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a New Document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 850 in the Width and Height boxes, and then click that Advanced button. Select RGB for the Color Mode, set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click Create Document.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, and enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid—it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut.

You can learn more about Illustrator's grid system in this short tutorial from Andrei Stefan: Understanding Adobe Illustrator's Grid System.

You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Don't forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

setup grid

2. How to Create the Background and Save a Pattern Brush

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your toolbar. Remove the color from the Stroke and then select the Fill and set its color to R=43 G=59 B=84.

Move to your artboard and simply create an 860 px square. Make sure that it covers your entire artboard and then move to the Layers panel (Window > Layers). Expand the existing layer and simply Lock that shape to make sure that you don't accidentally select/move it.

create a square

Step 2

Return to your toolbar and replace the existing Fill color with white. Make sure that the Rectangle Tool (M) is still active and create a 15 x 10 px shape. Focus on the bottom side of this new rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points and simply drag them 10 px to the right.

Make sure that this white shape stays selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5 px radius and click OK. Open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and click on New Brush. Check the Pattern Brush box and click OK to open the Pattern Brush Options window. Enter all the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button to create your own pattern brush.

pattern brush options

3. How to Create Three Concentric Circles

Step 1

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 320 px circle. Make sure that it stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Be sure that there's no color set for the Fill and then select the Stroke and apply your Pattern Brush from the Brushes panel.

Next, you need to center your circle. Open the Align panel (Window > Align) and select Align to Artboard. If you don't have access to the Align to menu, open the fly-out menu from your Align panel and go to Show Options. Now, make sure that your circle is still selected and then simply click the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons. This will immediately move your circle to the center of the artboard.

align to artboard

Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 300 px circle and center it. Select this new shape and focus on the Appearance panel.

Make sure that there's no color set for the Fill and then select the Stroke. Set its color to white (R=255 G=255 B=255) and then click that Stroke piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Set the Weight to 5 px and check the Align Stroke to Inside button.

stroke the circle

Step 3

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 280 px circle and center it. Select this new shape and focus on the Appearance panel.

Make sure that there's no color set for the Fill and then select the Stroke. Set its color to white (R=255 G=255 B=255), increase the Weight to 30 px and don't forget to check that Align Stroke to Inside button.

add a circle

4. How to Add Text and Mask Shapes

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 240 px circle, Fill it with a random color and center it. Make sure that this new shape stays selected, pick the Type on a Path Tool, and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character).

Select the Rockwell Extra Bold font, and set the size to 15 px and the tracking to 500. Simply click on the edge of your selected circle and add your text. Set its color to black (R=0 G=0 B=0) and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Use that center bracket to drag the text about as shown in the second image.

type on path

Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 260 px circle, Fill it with a random color, and center it. Make sure that this new shape stays selected and reselect the Type on a Path Tool.

Return to the Character panel and increase the font size to 16 px. Again, click on the edge of your selected circle and add your piece of text. Make sure that the color is set to black (R=0 G=0 B=0) and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Move that center bracket on the inside of your circle, which will also bring your text on the inside. Drag the text about as shown in the second image.

type on path 2

Step 3

Select both pieces of text and Group them (Control-G). Select this group along with that 280 px circle, open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency), and click the Make Mask button. Uncheck that Clip box and things will look like in the third image.

make a mask

Step 4

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 210 px circle and center it. Select this new shape and focus on the Appearance panel.

Make sure that there's no color set for the Fill, and then select the Stroke. Set its color to white, increase the Weight to 5 px, and don't forget to check that Align Stroke to Inside button.

add a circle

5. How to Create the Star

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 80 px square, make it black, and center it. Make sure that this new shape stays selected and go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select the four anchor points highlighted in the first image. Switch to the Scale Tool (S) and simply drag the selected anchor points 25 px towards the inside, as shown in the second image.

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 150 px square, make it white, and center it. Make sure that this new shape stays selected and go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select the four anchor points highlighted in the third image. Switch to the Scale Tool (S) and simply drag the selected anchor points 60 px towards the inside, as shown in the second image.

use the scale tool

Step 2

Select your white star and make a Copy in Front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy along with your black star, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), and click the Minus Front button. Turn the resulting shapes into a compound path (Control-8) and set the Fill color to white.

Reselect that white star and simply hit Shift-X to quickly inverse the Fill and Stroke attributes. Select the stroke, increase the Weight to 5 px, and don't forget to check that Align Stroke to Inside button.

minus front the star

Step 3

Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a simple triangle as shown in the following image. Make it white and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Make sure that you check the bottom right reference point, set the Angle to 90 degrees, enter 3 in the Copies box, and then click that OK button.

transform effect

Step 4

Focus on the top corner of your star shape and pick the Rectangle Tool (M). Create a 10 px square, make it white, and place it as shown in the first image.

Focus on the bottom side of this tiny shape and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points and go to Object > Path > Average. Check the Both box and then click OK. This will simply turn your little square into a triangle.

turn a square into a triangle

Step 5

Make sure that your tiny triangle stays selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider to 190 px, check the Reflect Y box, and enter 1 in the Copies box. Click that OK button and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Set the Angle to 90 degrees, enter 1 in the Copies box, and then click that OK button.

transform the triangle

Step 6

Select all the shapes that make up your logo and Group them (Control-G).

group the shapes

6. How to Mask a Group of Shapes

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 90 x 50 px shape. Make it black and place it exactly as shown in the first image. Focus on the right side of this new rectangle and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor point and drag it 10 px up, and then select the bottom anchor point and drag it 10 px down.

Make a Copy of this black shape, Flip it horizontally, and place it exactly as shown in the third image.

add black shapes

Step 2

Keep focusing on your two black shapes. Select the left one and go to Effect > Warp > Fish. Check the Horizontal box, drag the Bend slider to 5%, and click that OK button. Select the other black shape and go again to Effect > Warp > Fish. Check the Horizontal box, drag the Bend slider to -5%, and click that OK button. Once you're done, reselect both black shapes and Group them (Control-G).

warp fish effect

Step 3

Select both your groups and go to the Transparency panel. Click that Make Mask button and don't forget to Uncheck the Clip box.

create an opacity mask

7. How to Create the Ribbons

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 90 x 50 px shape. Make it white and place it as shown in the first image.

Focus on the right side of this new rectangle, pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), and simply add a new anchor point as shown in the first image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the new anchor point, and drag it 20 px to the left.

Make a Copy of this white shape, Flip it horizontally, and place it as shown in the third image.

add anchor point

Step 2

Pick the Type Tool (T) and select the Pacifico font from the Character panel. Set the Size to 20 px and the tracking to 500, and then add the "19" piece of text. Make it black and place it as shown in the first image.

Select this new piece of text along with the white shape that lies behind it and Group them (Control-G). Make sure that this new group stays selected and go to Effect > Warp > Fish. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

warp the ribbon

Step 3

Keep focusing on the group made in the previous step. Select the text and the shape inside this group, go to the Transparency panel, and click that Make Mask button. Don't forget to uncheck that Clip box, and things should look like in the second image.

make a mask for the text

Step 4

Reselect the Type Tool (T) and add the "38" piece of text. Make it black and place it as shown in the first image.

Select this new piece of text along with the white shape that lies behind it, and Group them (Control-G). Make sure that this new group stays selected, and go to Effect > Warp > Fish. Enter the attributes shown in the following image, and then click that OK button.

warp the new group

Step 5

Keep focusing on the group made in the previous step. Select the text and the shape inside this group, go to the Transparency panel, and click that Make Mask button. Don't forget to uncheck that Clip box, and things should look like in the second image.

make a mask for the text 2

8. How to Add an Image for Your Background

Step 1

Return to the Layers panel and unlock that blue square. Select it and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Select the Fill, lower its Opacity to 50%, and change the Blending Mode to Color.

blend mode for the background

Step 2

Download this free image and drag it inside your document. Resize it, send it to the back using the Shift-Control-[ keyboard shortcut, and place it roughly as shown in the following image.

add water image

Step 3

Reselect your blue square, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button. Select this new Fill, set the color to R=39 G=170 B=225, lower its Opacity to 50%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

add new fill

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects. Check out this tutorial from Yulia Sokolova if you're interested in learning more techniques that can be used to create vector logos: Create a Retro Logotype on a Blurred Background in Adobe Illustrator.

Feel free to adjust the final design and make it your own. You can find some great sources of inspiration at GraphicRiver, with interesting solutions to improve your design.

Nautical Themed Vector Logo Adobe Illustrator Tutorial
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