Creative Thinking with Constraints: Designing Logos of the Future | Stefan G. Bucher | Skillshare

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Creative Thinking with Constraints: Designing Logos of the Future

teacher avatar Stefan G. Bucher, Designer, Illustrator, Writer

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Project


    • 3.

      Spinning Out the Story


    • 4.

      Brainstorming the Name


    • 5.

      Logo Design 101


    • 6.



    • 7.

      Digitizing (Design)


    • 8.

      Digitizing (Type)


    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


    • 10.

      Explore Design on Skillshare


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About This Class

Join designer and illustrator Stefan G. Bucher to design a logo of the future — a fun exercise in creative ideation that gets to the heart of design! This 45-minute class is perfect for designers, illustrators, and storytellers who want to push their creative boundaries and explore what it means to design with constraints.

Starting with the question "What will the world be like in 2045?" Stefan brainstorms, spins out a story, and invents a fictional product. Then, he get designing! You'll follow along as he sketches, refines his ideas in Photoshop and Illustrator, and even creates a custom typeface for his product name. By the end, you'll go through this same fun exercise yourself: creating a logo for a product set 30 years into the future.

Stuck in a creative rut? Looking to create a stand-out portfolio piece? Use this class as a prompt to push your thinking and your work into unknown territories . . . the territory of the future!

Meet Your Teacher

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Stefan G. Bucher

Designer, Illustrator, Writer



I'm a book designer, and I've been doing this for a long time. Over the past 20 years I've created books for David Hockney, Philip Glass, Tarsem, Chronicle Books, Rockport Books, Pearson, and many others.

Beyond that, I've designed for clients ranging from Judd Apatow to JPL and The New York Times. I also designed the titles for the films "The Fall," "Immortals" and "Mirror, Mirror" by director Tarsem.

If that wasn't enough, I'm the creator of the Daily Monster series of improvised ink blot drawings. My time-lapse drawings appear on the Emmy-award winning TV show "The Electric Company." I was the inaugural designer of the Echo Park Time Travel Mart for Dave Eggers' 826 organization, and designed the Blue Man Theater in Las V... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Stefan Bucher, I'm a graphic designer and illustrator, writer as well and now a futurist because I like to add a hyphen every once in a while. You may remember me from Skillshare videos like my last Skillshare video about creating daily monsters, but today isn't about that, today is about going into the future. So, we're going to create a logo for a product or a company that set in the year 2045. This class is about creating a world that you can use as a tool to help you come up with new ideas that you'd not otherwise have and to break out of established pathways of how you work on things. You're going to learn to see and you're going to learn to open your mind to different ways of thinking about your projects. Not so much by changing the work but by changing the world around the work. The world you're building is a tool, it's a wind tunnel for your ideas your creating an environment that you can react to that's different from your current environment. 2. Your Project: The assignment today is to create a logo, an identity, a system, possibly, for a product, for service set 30, 40 years into the future. So what I want you to do is pick a company. It can be a fictional company. It can be a company that actually exists and project yourself into the future. What does this company do? Are they doing the same thing that they're doing today in a different environment? Is the environment basically the same but they're creating a new product? What does the logo for that product look like? You can come at it from different ways. You can come at it from the point of view of art. I'm looking around me. What products are around me? Erasers. What are the erasers of the future? Or you can think of a character and you could say, "All right. There's a woman in 2045. This is the job she has. This is the place she lives. What is she going to need?" What I'd like you to upload into the gallery is a documentation of your project. So that can take a number of forms. Maybe you really just say, "Right. Says logo on the title of the class. I'm going to design a logo. I'm going to upload a logo." I think that's fantastic. Do that. If you want to really spin out the world, what I would love to see is any documentation of that world. So upload your logo. Upload a little bit of text. Upload a little bit of a story or maybe you film yourself telling the story of what the world is like and if you want to do images about that world, if you want to generate your logo on a billboard, on a spaceship, docked in the space port of new Chicago, do that. I think, just go as crazy as you want to go and as crazy as you have time to go. The difference between a good project in this class and a great project is the depth of your world. You can just do a logo and that's totally fine, but what makes it really great is if you have the logo and then you have the logo applied to products of the future and maybe you show images of the future or you describe the future in text, or in a video, or audio. However you want to do it. Maybe you want to write a jingle that goes with the thing in the future with crazy instruments or something like that. Basically, the more you can evolve the world around the project, the greater it's going to be and I think when you upload it, that's really going to make it the thing that gets everybody drawn into what you did. 3. Spinning Out the Story: All right. Welcome to the year 2045. Time to pick a project, time to pick a product. As I said before, it could be something really simple as what's around you. it's like, "Okay. Well, there's a pen, then what's the pen of the future?" Or you can think about it in a more holistic way of, "Okay. What's the world going to be like?" I'm in California, so in 2045, it's going to be hot and it's got to be dry. But still I want to go outside and walk around, and I don't want it to be where you're just walking through walkways where it's like the inverse of Minneapolis, where you have to just stay inside at all times, or Phoenix. So, what do we do about the heat? How do we still go outside? So, maybe the project is like a parasol, maybe it's like branding, taking an existing brand of umbrellas and covering them in mylar so that you really get maximum sun protection. But I think that's probably more like a product of 2025 kind of solution because it's going to get really hot and really dry. Probably, it's going to be that you're in your car most of the time, so you're going from your garage into the car through an airlock into another airlock. But what if you want to go outside? You're going to need some sort of environmental suit, like almost you need to go outside in a space suit. But what do you do? Because the problem with space suits is that there about keeping air in and keeping the vacuum out, so it's not necessarily about keeping you cool. So, you could do a whole lot. You could put in a whole lot of fans, but you'd probably want like a liquid cooling system. Because the immediate thing is, well, let's just fill it up with water, let's fill up the environmental suit with water. But we're Americans, god damn it, so presumably water is just not going to be good enough. What if we take a sports drink and put it in the environmental suit because we want to be cool but we also want life to be delicious? So, maybe we take a product that's sort of like Gatorade or something like that, an energy drink with electrolytes and put that into the suit and make that the coolant for the suit. The suit coolant, by the way, I should explain, this is a breathable liquid, this isn't just something that's sloshes up to your neck and keeps you kind of cool. So it's like amniotic fluid but raspberry flavored. It would be that you would put your head into your helmet and the liquid would completely encapsulate you, and you would actually breathe in this liquid. Practical feasibility is really at the top of my mind with these projects because this is about coming up with something that can be slightly absurd. 4. Brainstorming the Name: You'd actually be breathing this liquid. So, this liquid has oxygen in it and maybe it needs a name that describes that. So, the first thing I'm going to do is I'm just going to see if I can come up with some names. I think there is that rhythm of Gatorade and Powerade. So, what is this about? It's about delivering oxygen. It's about respiration. It's about breathing. It's about cooling. It is about survival, but that's grim. Yes, Survivalade. It's about breathing and it's about oxygen. The cooling. Well, that is Kool-aid and that's then it's just, Kool-aid and we already have that so, no. Breathade, maybe. Breathingade, breathade, sounds medical. Maybe Respirade. I kind of like Respirade. Then maybe it's just Oxygenade, maybe Oxynade. That's kind of nice. That sounds like a product that could be real. I like that. All right, so, I'm going to say my product is called Oxynade because it's like a lemonade or a Gatorade that is oxygenated and it's going to keep your breathing when you're outside in your environmental search. All right, so I'm going to go the idea of Oxynade. So, next step is going to be coming up with a logo for that. The world you're building is a tool. It's a wind tunnel for your ideas. So, you can take any object. Keep going back to this pencil just because that's what I have here, but rubber stamp or digital camera or something like that. You can say, "All right, I've built this world. I'm now going to put this object in it and see what happens." So, don't think of it as a template where it's like, "Oh, the future. The future means whatever rounded corners or type that glows or a heads up display look or something like that." It doesn't have to be that. It's not a template. It's a tool. Really think about it that way of you're creating something, you're creating an environment that you can react to that's different from your current environment. So, the whole point of this exercise is to change the world around us so that we can be changed within it, so that we can react differently because the world is different. Then, since we didn't actually transform the world, we can keep the reaction and re-enter the regular world where something new that hopefully otherwise we wouldn't have gotten to. 5. Logo Design 101: Let's have a quick sidebar about logo design. Sure you've taken other classes on the subject, but what are the points of a good logo? What makes a good logo? There's to me, two kinds of logos. There's sort of overall corporate logo, and for that, I really favor logos that are kind of empty. That don't necessarily say much even in their own right so that the company through their actions can fill the logo of meaning. So, what I mean by that is it doesn't necessarily have a descriptive visual thing in the logo about what the company does so that it leaves it open so that as the company evolves into the future, the logo can still encompass what the company does, and it doesn't feel old-fashioned in a matter of a few years. So, I like a logo that's visually distinct, so you can remember it, and you can immediately recognize it, but it doesn't necessarily force a particular interpretation on you. It's really just a brand versus an explanation. At the same time, I think if it's for a product, and especially for a product that people don't know yet, that's establishing itself, I think it's important or helpful, certainly, to have a logo that serves like an explanation of what the product is, or a super, super, super condensed instruction sheet. I think in my case, for Oxynade, that's probably the kind of logo that we're going to need for that. A logo that says all right well it's an Oxynade liquid, how do we show that? So, what's a good logo in 2015, probably pretty clear, pretty simple, probably like the visual puns still cool, but maybe a little bit on the wane. I don't know. Then for 2045, it's sort of up to you to decide what makes a good logo in your framework. So, think about that, think about how the world you've built is affecting everything. What makes a good logo is that it's unique and recognizable. It's very tempting but I- I do this all the time, I mean, you run through your fonts, right? Like you just run through your typeface collection and you go, "Oh, wow, this looks really interesting, this looks really cool." Maybe this is the chance to also come up with your own alphabet. Come up with a new typeface, create custom lettering for this project that takes into account the constraints of your universe, of your future universe. Really try to push yourself and questioning everything that just seems like a given. Maybe there are logos that only work under certain lighting conditions. As a matter of fact, I mean, now that I'm thinking about that, for Oxynade, you're going to be suspended in a colored liquid. So, you're going to be in an orange, or red, or the blue liquid depending on what flavor you choose. So, now that I'm thinking about it, I think that's going to affect how I build my logo so that there is something that works only when you're looking at it through the filter of that liquid. Maybe this is the heart of the class is to let you notice things that you've stopped noticing. That's what the new environment, that's what the time travel is all about so that the thing that you're used to become strange to you again so you can notice it again and react to it. One way of being a good designer is keeping yourself aware of the helpfully strange to play, but to play in a way that is conscious and aware. So, you're not just fiddling around, but you're actually keeping your eyes open to things happening. 6. Sketching: Let's see. Oxynade. Oxynade is also a good logo name because it's got an O and an X and a Y so it's got all nice shapes. So maybe the first thing is- maybe it's actually somebody in a suit, the Oxynade man or the Oxynade person, I guess. Let's see. So then would the logo it'll be this? But it feels a little bit flat, feels a little bit like Omega too, which was interesting. Omega collar, it's the collar to end all collars. That also looks a little bit like he just has a really weird hairdo. So, I don't know maybe we'll pass on that one. If it's an animated logo, maybe it's this maybe it goes from super condensed to regular or wide. So the logo itself actually breathes, that could be interesting. Maybe it's this or the part of the X actually becomes a straw that goes into the O. Maybe that mirrors the D. Maybe. We'll add some bubbles to that. I think the bubbles are important to just show the gas part. And an oxygen is a covalent bond. So it's two oxygen atoms with a double bond. That's interesting. So maybe that becomes a thing. Where we have two oxygen atoms with the bond then maybe that becomes a face. That's a little bit like a dog. There it's upside down and then it's a bird. Check up my related video on monster making, you can see how it actually does go into everything oh well. Oxynade Oxynade Oxynade. So I think that the O with the bubbles coming out of it, is interesting and maybe it's- which is still pretty simple that just says all right, it's providing you with the air you need to breathe. Thanks Oxynade, thanks for letting me live. But then it could just be compressed gas so we're not doing the logo for oxygen so maybe- so we need the liquid part in it. So, all it's a liquid so maybe a drop shape that turns into bubbles. So a drop going to the bottom. Maybe there's still oxygen bubbles in that. It's actually pretty clear, it's a liquid, it's got bubbles in it, it's Oxynade. So with that we can say right well what happens with those bubbles? Are they like little champagne bubbles that make a little S curve? Or maybe we go back to the thing, maybe this thing actually lives inside a teardrop shape like that. That actually works nicely, like that, that makes me kind of happy. Okay, Let's go with that, well then again as we were talking about before, if you're using the product, if you're using Oxynade, then your head is going to be submerged in a liquid, in- all right, so you've got yourself a red liquid that you're looking through, that you're seeing the world through, so maybe that can be a thing as you're drawing the logo. And maybe it's like, maybe the big O is more like that, and maybe it's- you remember those colorblindness tests maybe it can be like that where it's all the little dots and if you're not colorblind you can see the number 42 or you can see the number seven or whatever it is. And maybe if you're looking through the red liquid of Oxynade, you can see the Oxygenate O and maybe the whole thing is made up of lots of little bubbles of different colors and then when you're looking through it, through the liquid, the teardrop shape of the drop of liquid goes away and you only are left with the Oxynade O. So I think we're going to try that, that could be really fun. All right, so we're still going to need a font for this or not a font. We're going to need a logotype for this and there's just the option of doing it really straight and simple but maybe we can carry on this bubble theme. So maybe it's actually just this, so maybe we have a dotted line with it to just carry on the brand. So that everybody who sees the Oxynade logo immediately knows that it's about effervescence survival, the best survival there is. All right, so I'm starting to be pretty happy with this, I'm going to do a little bit more sketching before I go into the computer just because I want to still explore a little bit and find out some of the particular shapes. So let me do that, I'm going to do a little bit more sketching and then I'll meet you over in the computer 7. Digitizing (Design): All right, so let's see if we can get this thing digitized. If it's a more complicated logo usually, I'll take one of my sketches and I'll scan it in, but this is so straightforward, that I think I'm just going to wing it, and start by making that teardrop-shape. I already know that I want to put a little reflects on it. So, I'm going to make two circles and get myself some rulers to mark the center and sides. Usually I'm a big, big fan of working off a pencil sketch, to keep the things in the digital file that make it alive in a sketch, but in this case it's so simple and stylized that I feel pretty confident about just doing it like this. We want to find our tangent point here. That looks pretty good. A good pathfinder will make that one shape, if I can find it. There we go. Send it to the back. Give it a nice orange flavor. Get it really outlined, and lock that. Then for the highlight, I'm going to use the circle. Take away three quarters of it, make it transparent with a white outline. Give it rounded edges, and adjust. Make that pretty big here, and give it a very minimal transparency. There we go. Much more minimal than that 20 percent. There we go. Save it as oxynade-01. Good. Yes, yes. Okay, and then we're going to have an O in it. The way to do these bubbles is, we can just work like this. I'm going to just choose a pretty obvious color, that's obviously different, so that I can see what I'm doing. So, we can do the bubbles like this, but that's kind of a pain in the ass especially, because I want to put a little reflects on this bubbles as well. Hang on, especially if I want different sizes. So, we're putting in a reflects on here too, because it's just nice and run those corners. Give it maybe a third opacity. There you go. All right, so we'll do a new layer, call that bubbles. Link that here. Alright, so I am going to paste that in, and I'm going to make this black for the time being, because I'm going to create an object brush for this. The way that works is, you've got a brushes and is it object? No, new brush. It's going to be a scatter brush. It's all fixed here, because all I want to do is, make a single point to put the bubble in. Then the colorization method is tints and shades. You can click on this little, If you don't see a six like I am, click on the little tips thing, and it'll show you how it works with tints, and tints and shades and Hue shift, but I just want tints and shades. Then with that, I'm going to delete that original bubble. I'm going to select this brush. Then I can just take my brush here, and go like this. Then I can make bubbles fast. I'm trying to keep them within the shapes. I'm going to also switch to precise cursor, and lock the layer below that. Take that own guide out. Just hide that. That's pretty cool. That works. Let's see, maybe I want to not have this an orange. So, then because they're objects like that, we can also change the flavor really quickly, which was less orange, raspberry antifreeze berry, back to Orange. But, then I still like the idea of having something that's only making the logo visible only to the people who were actually breathing through the color liquid. So, I'm going to take this out and I'm going to hide it in a whole bunch of other bubbles. That I want to put on another layer. More bubbles or make those a slightly different color, so I know what I'm doing. The way that the old color blindness tests work, is that they also don't just have two colors, that kind of disguise a little bit by having similar tones, but sort of slightly off. I'm always kind of confused by this, while it so. I'm going to select all unused, and delete those. So, I'm just left with what I'm actually working with. I don't really know how to mix anything but CMYK, because I'm still so print heavy, but I think that's pretty good for right now. So, I'm going save this, and then I'm going to bring it into a photoshop. So, we want to do the test, how it works. So, I need a red filter. So, since this is a wholly new idea, I'm going to take my Sagmeister book, and use his red filter, because again I thought of this, all by myself today. You can see that it vanishes completely. I am going to use my ten years older parcels album, tried with that, that's just dark. So, let's not do that ever again. Okay, so you can see how the effect kind of works, but we obviously have to make some adjustments. So we go in, not quite that much, and select the center bubbles. If I have been really smart, I would've probably broaden as two separate layers, center ones. So, I'm going to make a hue saturation mask, and then we'll just try out what happens. Oh yes, look at that. So, that totally works, but is completely opposite of what I want. So, I need to invert that, and do this again, select the inverse, make another hue saturation mask for the other bubbles, and really make those go away. Look at that. That just looks like a drop, and then it looks like an O with bubbles coming out of it. Success. I'm going to put one more layer of hue saturation on top of it, and then just mask out some of these lighter bubbles that were shown up kind of weird so that I can adjust those individually. Yes, look at that. Okay, cool. For this one mix, this one and this one. Yes, so we've got a nice even O, and then a pretty convincing teardrop. 8. Digitizing (Type): So, what I want to do is actually just create some very quick letter forms, and I really just like creating from scratch and you'll see how fast it is. It's nicer than taking some model box. What I also like is, I like to prepare letter forms from just single lines instead of having one box, second box, hey, and now it's an H. Because there are actually some benefits to having it as lines and you'll see that in a second. Just flip that around. X. That will be our Y, closer together. I'm basing the D on the O, so it's going a little bit above the X height to compensate for the curve. So since I'm basing the D on it I have to manually adjust that a little bit, so that it doesn't become too big, right there, and a little bit. Because it's just single outlines, I don't have to worry about the line thickness distorting when I do that. As we know, from all sci-fi movies, the E's of the future will never have a backstem, there will just always be three lines. That's just science. Okay, so there we have oxynade, letter forms, orynade? Oxynade, here we go. All right, spaced that out a little bit better. Not bad already, kind of nice. But now, I want to try that bubble thing. So, let me go to my stroke pallet if I can find it. There it is, okay. We'll make it a dashed line with the dash set to zero, the gap, let's say five, with a width of five, four three. So, that looks like this, where you get that little hairline dash pattern, but then if you make the caps around it, you got yourself some nice dots. There's ways that you can set these lines up in terms of exact dash and gap length versus aligning dashes corners, so that the dot ends where the path ends, which tends to be better. Because otherwise, it gets wonky, and you can see these odd little corners here. I want to set that to align with the end of the dash. So, I like that, but I see that I need to bring this in a little bit to compensate for the curve of the D. That's pretty nice. That's not bad. Space a little [inaudible] , I'm going to save that. That's fulfilled, the thing that I sketched out earlier, but let's try some other things. What if these are a little thicker? We do a crazy weight sometimes. Oh! not uninteresting. But maybe a little bit too much. What happens if these are the bubbles? That's kind of cool because then it's sort of a little bit like the Michelin man or the letters are actually suggest a pressure suit. That's still be a little bit too much. Let's try 15 and adjust the gap accordingly, a 12. A little bit thicker after all. Yeah, that's nice. So, now, I just need to adjust that a little bit in terms of the distances. I don't mind that they're bumping into each other. It's actually kind of nice. It's all just one big space habitat, and the whole idea is that it's like the pressure suits. So, I'm going to put a layer style on it and give it a little more depth, give it a little more size, so we got a nice highlight on there, like our highlights, nice and hot, and put a contour on it. But I'd like to soften it a little bit, so it looks a little bit more roundy and not just like a bubble. So, I might I have to put my depth down a little bit. There we go, cool, all right. So, that's already looking a little bit friendlier. But feel like maybe the highlight should be orange, and maybe the shadows should be red. Yeah, like that. So, do a little bit more. Oh, yeah. Look at that. That's the future right there. It's like a 3D thing that doesn't actually become 3D. Look at that, Oxynade. We've got ourselves a logo of the future. Look at that. If you're actually in your little bubble, looks just like a drop. That's ahead now. Damn right. 9. Final Thoughts: So, we started with a very small thing. We started with a sports drink, and then went into the future and said, "Okay, in 30 years, how are sports drinks going to evolve? How they're going to be used?" It turns out they're going to be use really, really differently. That led us to all kinds of side projects. Other things that live in that ecosystem around the whole thing. So, we picked a really simple thing and we made it really, really complex in a really short amount of time. I hope that in your project you're going to be able to do the same. Again, what I would like you to do is create the logo, apply the logo to wherever is appropriate. If you're working on a product, put it on the box or the bottle or the magnetic field that in the future will encase your product. If it's a service, maybe put it in on a billboard, put it on the side of a house or a jet, put it on a satellite and then upload it to the gallery along with a story, because that's really where a lot of this lives, is write the story of the future. Tell it to camera, write a song about it, put it up online, and then we can all share in these different worlds. Maybe, there's even a way as the project goes on, that some of the worlds in the project section can merge, and we can create projects in each other's worlds. Thank you so much for doing this class with me. Hope you had fun going into the future, and I hope this is going to be really helpful going forward. I don't think it's going to work for every project because some clients might look at you and think that you're a little bit weird for talking so much about the year 2045, at least for the next 30 years. But I think, for your process, it's a really valuable tool to have, just to take yourself out of where you are right now and taking yourself out of preconceptions of what certain projects need to be or how certain logos need to look to work. So, thank you for going on the little trip with me, and I hope you had fun. 10. Explore Design on Skillshare: