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How to Create a Modern Single-Letter Logo in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial we're going to go over the process of creating a simple logo with the shape of the letter P, which can be used for business, products, shops, transportation, or anywhere. We will be working with basic geometric forms to create our logo in Adobe Illustrator, making the process of drawing easier and fun. Let's start!

If you're looking to purchase a logo, you can choose from a selection over on GraphicRiver

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

Press Control-N to make a New Document. Set the Units to Pixels, and enter 800 x 600 respectively for the width and height of the document. Then in the Advanced options, select RGB, Screen (72 ppi), and make sure to activate the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box before clicking OK.

Activate the Grid (View > Show Grid) and Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You'll need a grid every 50 px, so simply press Control-K to go to Preferences, and in Guides & Grid set Gridline every to 50 and Subdivisions to 4. Don't worry, the grid will help you work in an easy way, and it can also be enabled or disabled by pressing the keyboard shortcut Control-".

You can activate the Info panel (Window > Info) in order to have a preview of the size and position of your shapes. Remember to set the measuring unit to Pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. This will greatly increase the speed of your work.

Set a New Document with Align New Objects to Pixel Grid and set Gridline every 50 px and 4 Subdivisions

2. How to Create the Basic Shapes

Step 1

Take the Ellipse Tool (L) in the toolbar. Remove the fill color and then select the stroke and set the color to Black in the Swatches panel.

In the center of the canvas, simply create an ellipse with the Ellipse Tool (L) of 200 x 200 px— the grid and Snap to Grid feature will make this easier. Now draw a new ellipse of 25 x 25 px from the center of the previous ellipse.

Select both ellipses and duplicate them (go to Edit > Copy and then Edit > Paste in Front) and drag the two ellipses down with the Selection Tool (V) until they form a sort of eight.

Two ellipses of 200 x 200 px forming sort of an eight

Step 2

Create two ellipses of 50 x 50 px and align them horizontally to each ellipse, positioned on the left side as shown in the first image. Take the Line Segment Tool (\) and draw vertical lines between the ellipses. Finally, draw two straight lines of 100 px down, starting from the edges of the ellipses, and close the space between the two parallel lines with another stroke.

Drawing straight lines between the logo structure

Step 3

Select all shapes with the Selection Tool (V), and then take the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), filling it with any color in the Swatches panel, with no stroke (then apply gradient fills, so the fill doesn't matter anymore).

Drag it until a drawing ring is formed surrounding the shapes, and then add the inner ring and the final projection of the letter "P".

Add shapes with Shape Builder Tool to form the letter P

Step 4

With the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the lower left node of the projection of the "P" and create an arc until it touches the other node. Select the bottom two nodes (hold Shift to select multiple nodes) and move them up once with the keys on your keyboard. Remove the outline of the merged shapes and only leave the fills that were applied.

Delete all the other shapes. I advise you first to cut the shapes (Control-X), remove the remaining ones, and then paste again in the same place (Control-F), so you don't risk deleting any more.

Rounding lower corner and move up once the nodes with Direct Selection Tool

3. How to Fill Gradients and Create Angled Edges

Step 1

Draw a horizontal gradient with the Gradient Tool (G) in each of the forms of the logo, using as fill colors A (R: 246, G: 237, B: 69) and B (R: 163, G: 189, B: 49).

Applying Gradients in the shapes of logo to generate an 3D appearance

Step 2

Turn off the Grid (Control-") and disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). This will allow you to move the shapes freely.

Set a value of 0.5 px in the Keyboard Increment box (Edit > Preferences > General).

Setting a Keyboard Increment of 05 px in the Preferences and enable Grid and Snap to Grid

Step 3

Select the internal shape of the letter "P" and duplicate it (press Control-C followed by Control-F) and set a fill color of red in the Swatches panel. Duplicate again (Control-F) applying the color blue in the Swatches panel, and move it twice to the right with the arrow key on your keyboard.

Select both shapes (red and blue) and select Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel. If you can't find the panel, go to Window > Pathfinder.

Set a Minus Front in the inner ring of P to add the bezels

Step 4

Ungroup the shapes (Shift-Control-G) and set the fill color #ffffff with Overlay Blending Mode in the Appearance panel. The result will be to get a brighter edge for the opening of our logo.

Set a Overlay in Blending Moves with White fill color

Step 5

Select the outer ring of the "P" and duplicate it (Control-C followed by Control-F) and fill it with red. Duplicate it again and fill it with blue. Move it up twice.

Select both shapes and apply Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel. Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) and remove the shape above, just leaving the lower arch that interests us for chamfering.

Drawing a bezel in the lower of the outer ring letter P

Step 6

Set the fill to #ffffff and choose Overlay Blending Mode in the Appearance panel.

Applying a Overlay in the bezel of outer ring

4. How to Create the Highlights and Shadow

In this section we are going to create some highlights on the bottom of the letter P in order to create a brighter appearance, taking advantage of the spherical shape of the logo.

Step 1

Activate the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) and click on the canvas with the Ellipse Tool (L). In the pop-up, set the Width and Height to 50 px. Place the right ellipse in the lower inner curve of the "P". Set a red fill from the Swatches panel.

Disable Snap to Grid again (Shift-Control-"). Duplicate the ellipse (blue fill in the Swatches panel) and in the pop-up move it 10 px vertically down (Object > Transform > Move...).

Tow ellipses of 50 x 50 px Duplicates one and move down 10 px in vertical position

Step 2

Select both ellipses and set Minus Back in the Pathfinder panel. Create a linear gradient in the Gradient panel with two colors #ffffff, one at Location 0% and 50% Opacity and the other in Location 100% and 0% Opacity

Holding Shift and draw a line from low to high with the Gradient Tool (G).

Set a transparency with Gradient panel to add a highlights

Step 3

Duplicate this shape (Control-C followed by Control-F) and apply a red color from the Swatches panel. Duplicate it again (Control-F) and move it up once with the arrow key on your keyboard. 

Select both shapes and apply Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel.

Creating a bezel to that highlight with a Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel

Step 4

Create a linear gradient in the Gradient panel with color #ffffffone at Location 0% and Opacity 0% and another in Location 50% and Opacity 50% and finally Location 100% and Opacity 0%.

Use the Gradient Tool (G) to draw a straight horizontal line on the shape.

Set a linear gradient in that bezel on the highlight

Step 5

Now select the external shape of the "P" and Copy (Control-C) and Paste in Front (Control-F). Fill it with red. Duplicate (Control-F) and fill with blue.

Double-click on the Selection Tool (V) and in the pop-up box set the Horizontal position to -15 px, and press OK.

Select both shapes and apply Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel.

Duiplicating the outer ring of letter P to create a new highlight

Step 6

Ungroup the shape (Shift-Control-G) and delete the shape on the left. Now we're left with only what interests us in order to add a reflection on the right side of the "P".

Take the shape and apply the above transparent gradient fill with the Eyedropper Tool (I). Draw a straight line from top to bottom with the Gradient Tool (G) so that the transparency remains faded down.

Applying a new linear gradient in the new shape to the highlight

Step 7

Copy (Control-C) this shape and Paste in Front (Control-F), and fill it with red in the Swatches panel. Duplicate (Control-F) and fill it with blue from the Swatches panel.

Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move the node to the right once with the arrow keys on your keyboard. Select both shapes and apply Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel.

Creating a bezel to that highlight Duplicating the shapes and using Pathfinder panel

Step 8

Apply a gradient fill using the Eyedropper Tool (I). Draw a straight vertical line with the Gradient Tool (G).

Apply a linear gradient with Eyedropper Tool on the bezel

5. How to Create a Shadow

To finish off, we are going to create the shadow on the projection of the letter "P" and add a background.

Step 1

Select the lowest form of the "P" and the outer ring. Copy (Control-C) and Paste in Front (Control-F).

Now just select the outer ring, Copy (Control-C) and Paste in Front (Control-F), and double-click on the Selection Tool (V). In the pop-up box, move the Vertical position 15 px.

Selecting all shapes and creating a shape intersected to create a shadow

Step 2

Select all and duplicate, and with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) add the intersected shape. Remove all the other shapes.

With Shape Builder Tool adding a shape to draw a shadow in the projection of letter P

Step 3

Create a linear gradient in the Gradient panel with color A (R: 101, G: 117, B: 30) and B (R: 163, G: 189, B: 49) with Location at 0% and 100% respectively.

Draw an inclined line -57º from top to bottom with the Gradient Tool (G).

Applying a gradient linear with -57 angle to the shadow

Step 4

Click on the canvas with the Rectangle Tool (M), and in the pop-up box set the Width to 800 px and the Height to 600 px. Fill it with color #2b300dSend to Back (Object > Arrange > Send to Back).

Use the Align panel to center the rectangle on the canvas. If you do not find the Align panel, go to Window > Align.

Creating a rectangle of 800 x 600 px as background to the logo

Step 5

Select the whole logo and group (Control-G). Position it on the canvas with the Align panel.

Focusing the logo on the canvas with Align panel

Congratulations! You're Finished!

The logo is ready! Look what we achieved—such a great result. I had so much fun with this tutorial, and I hope you also enjoyed it.

I hope you learned new techniques, and for this to be useful for your future, the rest is a matter of practicing. Remember that practice makes perfect. 

Final result
Colour variations
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