You’ve seen Mackey Saturday’s work before: He’s the designer behind Instagram’s “scripted” logo and countless other logos for cool brands like Unsplash, Oculus, and SeatGeek.
Saturday’s design specialty is logotype—or a type-only treatment of a brand or company name. If you’re inspired by his work, you’re in the right place: We’re breaking down his process to show anyone how to DIY an incredible brand identity, from initial sketch to final logo in Adobe Illustrator.
1. Generate Ideas
The first step is a fun one: Pick the brand name you’ll be working with, then get out sketch paper and write the name in all different types of lettering—script, block lettering, graffiti style, you name it! Let your hand move freely, and just keep drawing and drawing, seeing how the letters all interact together.
If you see something you like, keep playing with and refining that version until you’re satisfied with how it looks. At this stage, you might want to grab graph paper, which can be helpful to make sure your sketch is drawn on a straight line.
2. Refine Your Sketch on Tracing Paper
Now, grab some tracing paper, and place it over your brainstorm sketch. Using a pencil, trace over your sketch with more detailed lines and a bit more polish. It doesn’t have to be perfect, as you can always adjust later in Illustrator, but you’ll want it to be close to the final look you’re going for.
3. Bring Your Sketch Into Illustrator
Once you’re happy with how your logotype looks, take a photo of it using your phone. Then, upload your sketch into Adobe Illustrator. Set your guides for consistency, and make sure your artboard is cropped tightly on the word, leaving just a bit of room on the edges.
4. Trace Your Sketch With the Pen Tool
Go over the lines of your drawing with the pen tool, using as few anchor points as possible. You’ll want to focus on each individual letter at a time, which will ensure your curves are smooth and solid. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect just yet—you just want to set up the groundwork for the form.
Make lines that go right through your paths, just like a stroke. Tip: If you’re using the same letter multiple times, you can use the same shape for all of them instead of re-drawing the letter. (In this case, you could just do one letter o.)
5. Compare Your Letterforms for Consistency
Now, it’s time to polish up your logotype. Zoom in, adjust any curves needed, and compare your forms next to (or on top of) one another to make sure their strokes, heights, and widths are consistent.
6. Flip Vertically to Fine-Tune Spacing
To double-ensure consistency, flip your wordmark upside down so you can see the spacing from another angle. Make any adjustments needed to fix issues.
7. Present Your Final Logotype!
And that’s it! Once you have your final design, use it everywhere you want a logo! Online, in the real world, and anywhere that you want to create brand consistency.
Want to Learn More?
Logo Design: Craft Type-Based Wordmarks.