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How to Create the Justice League Logo With Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, we are going to recreate logo of an upcoming movie, Justice League. In the movie, the logo was probably made using 3D software. But that won't stop us from recreating it using Photoshop and Illustrator. We will use Illustrator to draw the logo's shapes and then bring them into Photoshop to enhance its appearance. Let's get started.

Get inspired with more amazing logos from GraphicRiver.

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used in this tutorial:

1. How to Draw a Vector Outline

Step 1

First, we will draw the logo in vector software, Adobe Illustrator. You can draw it directly in Photoshop, if you want to. But personally I prefer Illustrator since it has better control for vector editing. In Illustrator, make a New Document (File > New). Any size is acceptable.

Create a new document

Step 2

Activate the Rectangle Tool and then click once on the empty canvas. A dialog box will pop up asking for the dimensions of the rectangle we want to make. Set it to 13 cm x 12 cm. Click the OK button to make the rectangle at exactly that size.

Draw a rectangle

Step 3

Make sure you have activated the Smart Guides (View > Smart Guides). Select the rectangle shape. Using Pen Tool, click on the center of its lower edge to add a new anchor point.

Add new point

Step 4

Pull the new anchor point down using the Direct Selection Tool while holding the Shift key.

Pull down the new point

Step 5

While the shape is selected, click Object > Path > Offset Path. Set a negative offset size until we have made the frame shape. Make sure the Preview option is selected, which will allow you to see the end result in real time.

Offset path

Step 6

Using Direct Selection Tool, select two anchor points on top. Add a small amount of radius corner from the Option Bar.

Add corner radius
Add corner radius result

Step 7

We're done building the frame, so let's move on to building the letters. You can try searching for a font type that matches the original letter shape, but in this tutorial we'll draw them from scratch. We start with a rectangle shape as the base for the J letter.

Add a rectangle

Step 8

Duplicate the shape (Control-CControl-V) and then Rotate it 90°. Attach it onto the lower part of the J letter. Duplicate another shape and use it for the upper part of the J letter.

Add another rectangle
Resize the path
Add another path

Step 9

We need to move some anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool. Check out the following pictures for references.

Move the point
Move the point for the letter J

Step 10

Once you're happy with the result, we need to combine all the shapes into a single letter J. Select the shapes and then click Unite on the Pathfinder panel.

Select all shapes and then click unite
J character

Step 11

Select all the anchor points and then add Radius Corner.

Apply corner radius to all points

Step 12

Add bigger Radius Corners to the two anchor points at the bottom of the J letter.

Add bigger radius

Step 13

Using a similar approach as in the previous steps, draw the L letter. We start with a rectangle. Make sure the rectangle shape has the same thickness as the one used in the J letter.

Draw L character

Step 14

Drag its right edge upward using the Direct Selection Tool.

Draw L character with direct selection tool

Step 15

Add another rectangle.

add rectangle to letter

Step 16

Select both shapes and Combine them into a single L letter.

Combine the shapes
L character result

Step 17

If we look closely at the vector path, we will notice that there are some unneeded anchor points, such as the two points shown below. It's a good practice to always keep your path clean and free from unused anchor points. Click both points with the Pen Tool to remove them.

Remove unneeded points
Remove more unneeded points
Remove the last unneeded points

Step 18

Here are some more anchor points we want to remove.

Remove unneeded points on J
Remove points on letter J
Result after removing points

Step 19

Add a star shape using the Star Tool. Place it in the middle of the letters.

Draw star shape
Place star shape in the middle

Step 20

Select the star and then Copy it (Control-C). Then, select both the star and a letter. From the Pathfinder panel, select Subtract.

Subtract character using star shape
Result after subtracting star

Step 21

Hit Control-F to Paste the star object that we have copied earlier in the same place. Select the star and the remaining letter and then Subtract it from the Pathfinder panel.

Subtract other side of the star
result after both star shapes subtracted

2. How to Export Vector Paths to Photoshop

Step 1

We are done with the vector shapes, so let's transfer them to Photoshop. Select all the shapes we have made and hit Control-C.

Copy paths from Illustrator and paste them into Photoshop

Step 2

Let's open up Photoshop. Make a New File (Control-N).

Make new canvas in Photoshop

Step 3

Click the Add Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a Solid Color. In the next dialog box, select a dark color (#0e0f16) for the canvas background.

Set its background color to dark gray
Empty canvas in Photoshop

Step 4

Hit Control-V to Paste the vector path we made earlier in Illustrator. Paste it as a Shape Layer.

Paste paths into Photoshop as shape layer
Pasted shape result

Step 5

Double-click the layer shape thumbnail and change its color to a dark shade of gray (#414650).

Change the shape layer color

Step 6

Now, we want to move the letters and the frame into separate layers. This step will ease the editing process. Select the letters' paths and then hit Control-Shift-J.

Move the character into its own layer
Separate the layers

Step 7

Change its color to a lighter shade of gray (#78757b).

Change the character color
Result after changing the color

Step 8

Repeat the process for its frame, and move it onto a separate layer. Keep in mind that now we have three shape layers: one for the JL letters, another for their frame, and another one for the pentagon shape background.

Change the frame color

Step 9

Make sure the letters' layer shape is selected and then double-click the layer to add some styles. We want to add Bevel & Emboss to add a bit of 3D appearance onto the letters' surface. Inner Glow and Gradient Overlay will help add lighting onto their surface. And Drop Shadow will lift the letters off their background.

Apply Bevel  Emboss into the character layer shape
Apply styles into the character layer shape
Apply Inner Glow into the character layer shape
Apply Gradient Overlay into the layer shape
Apply styles into the character layer shape
Apply Drop Shadow into the layer shape
Apply styles into the layer shape

Step 10

We also need to add styles onto the frame layer. For the frame, add a large Inner Glow with a sharp white to black Gradient to add metallic lighting onto the surface.

Apply bevel and emboss layer styles
Apply inner glow styles
Add gradient overlay to the logo elements
Gradient Editor
Add styles to the logo elements
Apply a Drop Shadow
Result after the layer styles are applied

Step 11

We also need to add styles to the logo background.

Add inner shadow
Inner shadow result
Add inner glow
Inner glow result
Add Satin Layer Style
Add Color Overlay
Result after layer styles

3. How to Apply Textures

Step 1

The logo appears three dimensional, but still too flat. To fix this, we need to add texture. Grab the metal texture number 4. Place it above the letters shape layer. Reduce its layer Opacity to 60% and then hit Control-Alt-G to convert the texture into a Clipping Mask.

Add metal texture
Apply metal texture
Set as a clipping mask

Step 2

Add another metal texture, this time number 8. Place it above the letters shape and just like the previous texture, convert it into a Clipping Mask.

Add metal texture 2
Apply metal texture 2

Step 3

Let's add another texture, this time a marble one, to add random wavy lines across the letters. Hit D to reset the background and foreground color to their default settings, white and black. Make a New Layer and then make a new Selection covering the letters. Click Filter > Render > Clouds.

Add marble texture

Step 4

Click Filter > Render > Difference Clouds.

add the difference clouds filter

Step 5

Hit Control-F a few times to apply another Difference Clouds Filter. Once you get some interesting shapes, hit Control-Alt-G to convert it into a Clipping Mask and put the texture inside the letters shapes. In the Layers panel, change its Layer Blend Mode to Overlay and reduce its Opacity.

Create more difference clouds
Apply the texture

Step 6

And, of course, we need to add texture to the frame. This time, use a concrete texture. Place it above the frame, reduce its Opacity, and convert it into a Clipping Mask.

Add concrete texture
apply the concrete texture

Step 7

Add another metal texture, place it above the frame with low Opacity, and then convert it into a Clipping Mask.

Add metal texture
apply metal texture as clipping mask

Step 8

Don't forget to add texture onto the logo background.

Add concrete texture to the logo
Apply concrete texture with a clipping mask

4. How to Add Lighting to the Background

Step 1

Add a New Layer and place it above the Justice League logo. Activate the Brush Tool. Right-click to open the list of available brushes. Select a Scatter Brush. Paint white inside the logo background.

Add subtle highlight inside the logo
Paint highlights with scatter brush

Step 2

Soften the brush stroke by applying a Gaussian Blur filter from Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Use a big Radius Size until the stroke is completely blurred. In the Layers panel, reduce its Opacity and set its Layer Blend Mode to Overlay.

Blur the brush stroke
Apply the highlight

Step 3

Add another white brush stroke to add more lighting into the scene.

Repeat the lighting
Set the blend mode to overlay
Result after lighting application

Step 4

We still need to add stronger shadows to the letters manually. Add a New Layer and place it underneath the letters shape layer. Control-click the thumbnail of the letters layer to make a new selection based on its shape.

Make a selection of the letters

Step 5

Fill the selection with black. Then hit Control-D to remove the selection. Using the Move Tool, move the shadow a few pixels down. Keep the shadow soft by applying a Gaussian Blur filter (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) and reducing its Opacity.

Create a shadow behind the letters
Blur the shadow
Lower the shadows opacity

Step 6

Let's add another texture onto the logo. Make a New Layer and draw a selection covering the logo. Click Filter > Render > Clouds.

Add clouds texture

Step 7

Click Filter > Render > Difference Clouds a few times until you get an interesting texture.

Add more texture

Step 8

Click Image > Adjustments > Levels or hit Control-L. In the Levels dialog box, drag the white triangle until we have nice contrast inside the selection.

add a levels adjustment

Step 9

To isolate the texture in the letters and its frame, we'll need masking. Control-click the letters thumbnail layer and then Shift-Control-click the frame thumbnail layers. Add a Mask to the shape layer and then set its Layer Blend Mode to Darker Color with 30% Opacity.

isolate the texture
Set blend mode to darker color

Step 10

We want to add depth into the scene. Paint white on a New Layer using a Soft Round Brush. If you want it to be softer, just apply a Gaussian Blur filter (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur). Reduce its layer Opacity and use Overlay for its Blend Mode.

Paint white onto a new layer
Set the blend mode to overlay

Step 11

Repeat this step to add another soft highlight on the scene.

Add more soft highlights

Step 12

Don't forget to add the dark area. In the top left corner, paint a random black spot and keep it subtle by making it transparent. Add some Gaussian Blur if needed.

Paint dark pixel on the background

Step 13

Let's add a grainy background to create a dark mood for the overall scene. To do this, add a New Layer and then Fill it with white. Click Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Make sure Monochromatic is selected. Click OK. Change the Layer Blend Mode to Multiply to preserve all the dark pixels and hide the white pixels from sight.

Add noise
Set the blend mode to multiply

Step 14

We want to add a blue shade into the background. From the Layers panel, add a Photo Filter and select Blue for its color. By default, the Photo Filter Adjustment Layer will affect every pixel underneath it. To confine it to the background, select its Layer Mask and paint over the logo with black.

Apply Photo Filter to the background
Paint on the photo filter mask

5. How to Add Lights and Reflections

Step 1

Make a New LayerControl-click the letters' shape layer to make a new selection based on the letters shape. Click Edit > Stroke. In the dialog box, set white as its Stroke Color with a 1 px Width. Click OK to accept the result.

Add stroke
Apply the stroke

Step 2

Using the Eraser Tool with 0% Hardness, erase most parts of the stroke line and leave some on the letters' corners.

Add light reflection

Step 3

Duplicate the stroke line and then apply the Gaussian Blur filter to soften the line. Reduce its layer Opacity to keep it subtle.

Apply a blur to the line

Step 4

Repeat the same procedure for its frame.

Add more light to the frame

Step 5

Zoom in on the center of the letters, right on the empty star area. Using a Soft Round Brush, dab once on a New Layer using light yellow as its color.

Use the brush tool to apply highlights

Step 6

Hit Control-T to Transform the brush stroke.

Transform the brush stroke

Step 7

Hold the Control key and then drag its corner to skew the brush stroke. Hit the Enter key to accept the transformation result.

Transform the light
Result after transformation

Step 8

Repeat the previous steps, add a quick dab of a brush stroke and then skew it. Repeat this a few times until we have enough light reflection to fill the gap.

Repeat the light reflection
Light reflectionr esult

Step 9

Behind the star reflection, paint white for a fill light on the logo background.

Fill the star background with light
Result after lighting

Step 10

We can add another light reflection on the other part of the logo where the light hits it. In this scene, the imaginary light source was placed in the top right corner. One of the best places for our next reflection is in the lower left part of the logo. Just like in the previous steps, we just need to paint a soft light yellow over the area.

Draw glow on the frame edge

Step 11

Make it more realistic by painting over it again using a smaller brush with white or another light color.

Add another light reflection
Add more reflection
Light result

Step 12

Using the same techniques, another light reflection is added to the top right corner. Considering this is where the imaginary light source was placed, the reflection should be bigger and stronger.

Add big light reflection on top right corner

Final Result

This is our final result. As you can see, we did a lot of manual painting and added some subtle highlights to keep the scene realistic. We also relied on textures to easily add realism to the shape.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you've learned some useful techniques from this simple tutorial. If you do follow along, please make sure to upload the result in the comments below—I'd love to see it.

Justic League Logo Photoshop and Illustrator Tutorial
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