Typographic logos, also known as wordmarks, are logos made entirely of type. Think Canon, 3M, and IBM, just to name a few. 

While it may seem like these are “easier” to create than more stylized logos, that is not always the case. In fact, typography is an art form in and of itself. 

To get started on your own typographic logo, you first need to sketch out your design before moving on to vectorizing your lettering. A vector is an image made up of points, lines, and curves and requires software like Adobe Illustrator. Not only are you digitizing your hand-drawn sketch, vectorizing your lettering makes it possible to scale the letters up and down in the same proportions. 

Below, learn how to transform your pencil sketch of a typographic logo into vectorized letters.

1. Trace the Lines

A partially traced design.
A partially traced design.

Open your scanned sketch in Adobe Illustrator and begin to trace the line paths with the pen tool. Everyone has their method of drawing paths. One way is to click when you come to a point and drag when you come to a curve. Remember, tracing your sketch using the pen tool isn’t as precise as designing a typeface from scratch, but it’s still a quick and easy way to bring your typographic logo to life.

As you trace, try to have as few points as possible. It’s also important to keep your letters as separate lines so they are able to be manipulated, if necessary. If you finish outlining your letters and discover that the proportions are off, having separate letters will allow you to adjust them accordingly. 

2. Fill in Your Outline 

filled in outline
How your design will look with your outline filled in.

Shading in your letters will help you better observe your work. Use the paint bucket to fill in each letter shape. After you fill them in, you’ll be able to see the curves and linework. It won’t be perfect, and that’s okay! Your next step is to refine your logo.

3. Shrink Your Logo 

Smaller versions of your design on one sheet.
Smaller versions of your design on one sheet.

Line up smaller versions of your logo on the same sheet. Try fitting at least six copies so you have multiple to play with. Then, print out the sheet and by hand, begin to refine and iterate different ways to improve your logo.