Icon Design: Light Values & Extreme Shadows | Lindsey Meredith | Skillshare

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Icon Design: Light Values & Extreme Shadows

teacher avatar Lindsey Meredith, Lover of immaculate linework

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (20m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. 2 Study

    • 3. 3 Light Source Breakdown

    • 4. 4 Light Value Segmenting

    • 5. 5 Combo Approach

    • 6. 6 Vector Refine

    • 7. 7 Conclusion

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About This Class

When we set in to create a logo icon we are always reaching for the most dynamic and visually stunning solution. One method to consider is studying different aspects of how light and shadows come into play. If you are a designer looking for methods to create dynamic and visually stunning icons join me! 


Key lessons include:

  • Process of reference study and style
  • Sketch icon based on light source
  • Sketching icon based on light values
  • Refinement process
  • Executing your logo icon in Adobe Illustrator

85% of this class is about the process on paper with a good chunk in one video covering my vector process of finalizing. Do not be intimidated if you are new to Adobe Illustrator

Lets get started! ___________________________________________________________

Others classes on Logo design by Lindsey to check out include Sports Logo Design

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Lindsey Meredith

Lover of immaculate linework


Link represents the work of me, Lindsey Kellis Meredith. I am an independent designer and illustrator specializing in logo / identity design, custom lettering, and illustration.

My client list includes Nickelodeon, Disney, Hasbro, Leap Frog, Maple Leaf Sports & Enterainment (raptors, maple leafs) , as well as a few other collegient and professional sports teams and organizations. I have logo work featured in Logo Lounge books 8 and 9.

I am available for hire. Feel free to reach me HERE.

See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, My name's Lindsay Merida. I'm a graphic designer, and I specialize in logo design. So in this class, what I want to talk about is the role that light value and shadow complaint in logo icon design. So when we set out design a logo icon, we typically are aiming for the most dynamic but visually stunning and efficient solutions . One method to consider is studying the various aspects that light value complaint. So if you're a graphic designer and you're looking for some methods to create visually dynamic and stunning logo icons, I hope you join my class. We will be covering a couple different methods of observing and interpreting how light values and light sources can be used to create icons. I'm going to walk through five different logos I created to show you the process from research sketch refined in Vector. We will cover it all for your class project. You will pick a subject from a list that I provide, or from an idea that you have of your own and create a dynamic logo icon based on everything you learn, See you in class 2. 2 Study: As I mentioned for this class, I'm gonna be walking through five different logos that I designed. And just like any project, I always start off with a really good study. It's always good to do some really good research and get some references collected before starting a project. There's a couple different things that I want to study, but the first thing I need to collect to research is some good visual references of my different subjects. So I just kind of, um, go through look online or looking books or magazines and then make a good collection. Then I'm able to collect them all together on one reference Cheat toe have handy when I'm looking at these visual references, I'm obviously pulling out key characteristics just like I would with any kind of study before working on a design. But it's going to help me in the next steps that we're gonna talk about here as faras, pulling out inspiration from light values and shadows. I always like to have a nice variety so I can look it just key characteristics from different photos and not just one specific and put together my own interpretation based on a collection. The second thing I like to collect in study is some style references, whether we get on dribble or be hands or other books and magazines. Just kind of collect some style inspiration so that we can put together a mood board that helps us move forward before we start sketching. Here are a few overview notes and in our next class we're gonna talk about light source. 3. 3 Light Source Breakdown: the first method. I want to talk about his light source picking a light source in direction so that you can interpret how shadows and dark areas would be cast on a given subject. This allows you to creatively break down the subject into simple but well thought out shapes based on the light source. As you can see on this woman's face, I like to start by drawing a little sun or icon and arrows to represent my light source placement. Next, start with a rough sketch of just the subjects outline itself not considering the light source quite yet. I then go back and begin to flush in areas where the white would be hitting based on the life source. Keep things as simple as possible. And don't forget to use your references that you looked up to help you interpret things. Okay, let's take a look now at a logo I did of a basketball planet. So again, starting by just drawing it outlined like I normally would any drawing once I have the mainline work down there. Then once again, I choose the light source direction, and then I begin to interpret how things would hit and where shadows would be casted. Unfortunately, my little light source indicator or icon is cut off on the left side of my hand. Here in this video, just kind of refining here a little bit. Sometimes I'll use tracing paper, but for this logo, I didn't find it necessary to take it that far, but I will show you in some other examples. My next subject here is a Griffin, and I wanted to show something a bit more detailed with more detail. Naturally comes more of a challenge, but my goal is always to continue to fight, to simplify cleverly and strive to achieve the style I want. This is another example of referencing images being important. As you can see, I collected a lot. I also wanted to reference some more iconic Crest style Griffin examples to help may simplify and go for a more modernized version of that kind of style. Make sure you don't get stuck thinking things have to be super realistic. We want things to make sense, but you do have creative liberty to simplify the shapes and do it works best for the design . Visually, as you can see, I struggled a bit with what I wanted to do with the wing. But that's OK. Continue to draw, erase and mold it with your pencil work until it feels right. We will continue to see the refinement of these in the refined to vector video. Next, we will talk about light value segmenting. 4. 4 Light Value Segmenting: Another method to consider is one where things are broken down based on light values of the subject itself. Most things are broken down into light and dark areas based on areas that are different colors or just simply different light and dark values. We can use that to our advantage. Instead of breaking things down on how White hits this subject from another outside source , we're in considering cleverly clever ways of breaking it down based on these values on the actual subject itself. So on my wolf reference seat, you'll see here that his for has areas that are lighter in areas that are darker. I begin to think about how I can consider those shapes to create a simplified logo icon of the wolf. I normally do several sketches, but I am only showing one here for class. I start by sketching roughly. I always find that my first sketches have. I have to allow myself to get some detail out, and then I will work towards strategically simplifying. I always want to be referencing my reference sheet as I begin to think about the breakdowns . Look at all of those lights and dark areas while looking at the beginning of my sketch to consider how to break those areas down into a Nikon. The next step I take is to start to refine on tracing paper, breaking down the light in dark areas into dynamic, even more dynamic, simplified shapes. This is a very important step to me. This is my first tracing paper attempt. As you can imagine, you may not always be happy with your first attempt, and especially after busting out one, sometimes you feel like maybe a second attempt. You could take things even further. So that's what I did here. Another quick logo icon I wanted to show is an idea I had on a funny play on the word crab cake. You'll see. I already have him sketched out here with this particular subject. I am more concerned with how I use light and dark areas and negative space where the crab in the cake interlock with each other so there is negative space cut out of his body. I had done this other version of crab apple, and it does not have the reverse body. I really like the reverse body idea, so I went back to that now it is time to refine with tracing paper. And then finally, here's the finish sketch. Here are some overview notes and on the next class we're gonna talk about breaking the rules and combining strategies. 5. 5 Combo Approach: As you can guess, using one way or another is not a rigid rule. You may find that using a combination of value shapes in light source works well. Also, here are some reference images of a logo icon for a restaurant called Spaghetti NIST. As I began to sketch, I already had an idea of the nest being primarily all dark areas and then the meatballs being in a very high contrast value being in the middle as Theo eggs, I realized I really wanted to emphasize the noodles in their fund. Curvy nature tangled and flowing as a nest. I knew I could have them sticking out on the edges, but needed a way to suddenly define them on the inside dark areas of the nest. That is where the light source came into play. So as our find here, you see, I used light value for the meatball eggs and then a light source, just a general one coming from the top to kind of service highlights on the noodles on the inside of the dark area. In the next video, I will be showing all of the logos being vector rised in my process of taking these sketches to Vector 6. 6 Vector Refine: Okay, so now we have all of our sketches done, and we're ready to get into Adobe Illustrator and start Vector rising. First step we need to take it is simply scan in our sketch, Put it in a layer in. Illustrator. I like to put it on a bottom layer. Um, lock up that layer, you can dial down the transparency. We just kind of wanna have it down there, Obviously, to be building on top of for this first logo, I'm gonna be using the Ellipse Tula shaped tool. So basically, I just lay out a lips on every single shape that I see on the illustration from the outlines of the basketball to the halo to the inside lines here of the basketball, and I just get those perfectly in place. My goal is to have these shapes in place that I can use things like other tools in the Pathfinder to break things down the way that I want. First, I'd like to make a copy off into the great area for editing down down the road for just as a backup. Open up my pathfinder. Um, I tried minus front on these two shapes to just get this. These two pieces knocked out, but then I ended up using divide. Um, so that breaks it all down into separate pieces, and I just delete the ones I don't want. Um, next, I'm going to use the scissor tool to cut up this line here for the inside lines of my basketball. So I obviously don't need these outside lines. I'm gonna cut in those two areas and then delete the outside points for pads. Okay, I need to do minus front for my halo. I need to cut off the path for this line on the inside of the basketball as well. And now I'm gonna use the blob erase tool. Or, I mean, I'm sorry. Just the erased. Also shift e Just a kind of a race away. The part of the halo here that I don't don't want based on my sketch. Um, sometimes it's a nice because it's kind of a free hand erasing or drawing tool. But, um, you can always hit Command Z. If you don't get it right on, then I'm just kind of using that rounded corner feature that we have with a corner point to kind of round things off there. Now it's time to put it on black. And I'm just going to start Teoh, um, put a drop shadow here. So I made a copy of back and manipulated the paths there on that, um, bring up the stroke on those lines. And then what I really want to hone in on here is using the with tool, which is key command shift W and that allows you, Teoh, just make some thick and thin areas on those lines like it would naturally come on a basketball. Now I'm going to go to object path outlines, stroke. And the reason I like to do that is any time I'm working with a stroke, I like to convert it to a filled object so I can make more manipulation. And more specifically, what I did here is I grabbed than that shape and then knocked it out of the white part of the basketball with minus front in the Pathfinder so that I have one object. Always make sure you combine multiple objects before using them to cut out of other ones. All right, And then, as a finishing touch, you'll see all zoom in and slow down here. I'm once again rounding things in certain areas just to kind of give it a softer feel. And that kind of helps add to the whole kind of intense extreme shadow feel. I'm just adding those rounded corners on certain areas now moving on to the wolf icon. So I have a sketch on the bottom. I'm going to be using the pinto honor. Goodness, start with a black stroke with no Phil. So it may activate the pin tool Key Command P All right, um, I'm going to start here with in his eye area and then just click wants and then click and drag anytime you click and drag your giving yourself those handlebars to achieve curves that you want. And it's all about point placement and just pulling out those handlebars when you want to kind of reset for a quick turn or edge like this, I click back onto the icon to kind of reset and then click and drag again. Click back on the point click drag click back, and then what I'm actually gonna do. I like to break things down into segments for easy editing and adjusting down the road I'm actually gonna skip his here for now and kind of just continue on with his head. Click Drag. Quick. Back on point click. I decided I wanted to add a curve here, so click and drag. Um, and sometimes it's good to kind of Put those on the apex of kind of Ah, major curve. My goal is I always want to make closed objects. So right now, my goal is just kind of to get around into this portion of the top part of his head. Always make sure you come back all the way around and connect to the beginning point. So I closed up this object, and then I made another object here. Now I'm gonna make this a section here, come back and fill in his ear, as I mentioned. Now I'm going to start going in and making just shapes for the inside objects that I'll eventually be using the Pathfinder, um, to knock out and make white a lot of times, once you turn things into black and white like I converted the appropriate objects to black and or white. You really kind of see where you need to adjust things. And, um work on the negative space. Um, I was like to also round my edges ever slightly with, um, the stroke panel. I just choose that rounded corner feature. And really, I just go around and I play with those handlebars and I'm manipulate, move points. Um, add points removed points if I have to. I'm just really getting it picky to make things look just the way I want them. Sometimes I might decide I want to add a little piece. So I just decided to add a little piece of hair here. Not sure Fall end up keeping it or not. Um, but sometimes it's worth just kind of playing and seeing what's worth adding or removing. Okay, I'll keep moving quick here, but it's basically the same thing with my Griffin. Um, I want to break things down so that I could easily add it them because sometimes again, once I turn things toe black, all black and white, um, things might feel off. So when I have things broken down into segments like I do, it's just a lot easier to to edit and kind of I can actually tilt things and move things, resize things without it being, like, connected as a whole piece. So I purposely, you know, obviously draw my black portions first, and then on top of that, because I want them to be on top. I draw what will be the white pieces that I eventually use the Pathfinder to knock out, um, of eventually. Okay, so now I converted things to black from making some fine adjustments before I use the Pathfinder. My spaghetti ness logo is gonna be a little bit different and that I'm gonna actually use the pencil tool. I might use the pencil tool for parts of the lions and then end up going back to the pen tool because it's my favorite pencil tools. Key command in pen tools, key command, p. But basically, I'm actually just using the stroke to make, um, at least this portion of the lines for this logo. So I'm just kind of carefully, um, using the pencil total. Draw those in, and I will eventually convert those towel lines. And then here's the inside parts that I know the highlights that I'm gonna know that are gonna be white. So I went ahead and made those strokes white. Now I'm drawing the outline of just kind of that main dark area of the nest and filling it in with black. Now I'm just kind of dialing down the opacity because I want to see my sketch a little bit better because there's some line with variation in my sketch that I want to, um, trace, obviously. And I'm using the with tool here key command shift W. And it's the tool that allows you to, um, kind of pick points in places on a path and make them thick and thin. You can even bring them to a complete point. As you can see, I'm doing with these highlight portions here. And then Now I'm just using the pin tool to draw all in those solid, filled shapes for the meatballs. Okay, OK, it kind of zoomed through here, but basically everything is converted to a shape. Now there's no more strokes. So I converted all these lines to actual filled shapes by going toe object path, outline, stroke. And then now I'm using the erase tool, the blogger race tool to kind of a race. Strategically, certain areas to make it look like the spaghetti is kind of intertwining um, I I again, I like to use that a race tool when I can. So here's the final piece. Okay. Finally, we're gonna talk about my crab cake. Um, logo. Now, this one is gonna be a little bit of a combo of using both shapes, um, and the pencil. So I'm using the warp to kind of get that curved part of the cake here, and then I'm gonna expand that appearance, shrink it down, borrow that one. I can obviously borrow it, and I'm tilting it a little bit. So for the kind of frosting area of the cake that kind of has that extreme highlight going on. I know it seems kind of bizarre, but I'm using two circles here, and I'm going to, um then replicate one on top of that to then use the Pathfinder to knock those out of each other with minus front. Whoops. Go back and do that one. You just have to select. Actually, I'm gonna combine or, um, make this a compound path so that I can just go through and not come quickly out of the rest of them. So I'm gonna borrow those, and I'm just gonna go ahead, not worry about how they overlap quite yet. I decided to keep them separate. And now I'm gonna gonna erase away where they overlap with the main part of the cake and then choose how I want to use to kind of overlap with each other. And then again, I'm using that, um, a race tool to just kind of quickly choose areas I want to race. I can combine multiple objects and erase them all at the same time. Or just wanted a time in a race where they they overlap. I won't show any more pin tooling, but I didn't want to really emphasize the importance of zooming in closing up objects, kind of checking details, rounding off corners. This is always a good practice toe have when you're finishing up a good vector logo design . And here are last set of final notes 7. 7 Conclusion: I hope you enjoyed this class. Remember to start with rough, loose sketches and allow yourself to walk through the process of refining your icon creation while being inspired by light values or light sources or both. And just allow yourself to simplify to create a nice, dynamic logo icon. As a class project, you will pick one subject from the list here, or you can go with your own idea. You will work through the process and create an icon based on the methods you learned in class. Pick one and start looking up some reference images and some style references as well, so that you can create a mood board toe. Look out as you work. I look forward to seeing some awesome icons using extreme light values and shadows. If you enjoy this class, please consider checking out some of my other classes. Hand lettering to refine vector in sports logo design