Logo Design with Grids: Timeless Style from Simple Shapes | George Bokhua | Skillshare

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Logo Design with Grids: Timeless Style from Simple Shapes

teacher avatar George Bokhua, Digital Graphic Designer & Illustrator

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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Why Gridding?


    • 3.

      Gridded Examples from my Work


    • 4.

      Sketching Logo Ideas


    • 5.

      Gridding Your Logo on Paper


    • 6.

      Executing Your Logo in Illustrator


    • 7.

      Finishing Touches


    • 8.



    • 9.

      Explore Design on Skillshare


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About This Class

What makes a logo design feel “perfect”? How do you fine-tune simple shapes to achieve visual stopping power? Learn how to design a modern, minimalistic logo from start to finish, and then add that extra punch of perfection to make it stand the test of time.

In this 30-minute class, graphic designer George Bokhua walks us through his process of incorporating grids and geometric shapes into logos so that you can unlock that feeling of timelessness in your own marks.

Key lessons include:

  • Why gridding is important + examples for inspiration
  • How to sketch your logo on grid paper
  • Executing your mark in Adobe Illustrator
  • Adjusting your grids to complete the mark

This class is perfect for graphic designers and illustrators looking to explore a methodical approach to logo design, as well as entrepreneurs and brands who need a starting point for making their own logos stand out.

If you’re totally new to Adobe Illustrator, have no fear; this exercise lives 80% on paper, and that extra 20% of polish takes place on the computer.

So grab a pencil and let’s make beautiful marks together!


What You'll Learn

  • Introduction. Shapes and symmetry are innate to our understanding of the world around us. Perhaps this is why so many designers use deceptively simple shapes to design logos that appeal to our most basic instincts and create images with lasting appeal. In this course on how to design logos, George Bokhua offers his 10+ years of experience to show you how to use grids to achieve that look of geometric perfection.
  • Why Gridding? Grids allow you to arrange information in a more structured manner. In today’s world, the ability to convey a great deal in the shortest time possible can make the difference between success and failure. A viewer must instantly understand what they are seeing. In his series of design tutorials, George shows that using grids to design is not constructive, but rather a versatile way to create a unified form that communicates its message quickly and clearly. He’ll give you examples from past Olympics, as well as the art world, to demonstrate that gridding can help you create logo designs with universal appeal.
  • Gridded examples from George’s own work. George will then open up his sketchbook and show you not only examples of his previous works, but also the different types of grids you might use to create your own. From 30-degree grids to dot grids and more, there is an option that suits your style. He shows you how to simplify any complex form. In one example, he uses the golden ratio in art to create an incredible swan logo out of simple shapes. You will learn how to use grids to identify inconsistencies in your design, as well as tips for keeping your design balanced.
  • Sketching Logo Ideas. From there, you will start to sketch out your own concepts under George’s expert guidance. He’ll give you hints on how to approach your project and build on existing shapes to quickly construct the basic elements, as well as identify good positive and negative space to explore when you design a logo. Starting with the letter ‘R’, he will talk you through his approach and help you arrive at a concept that you are comfortable taking to the next stage.
  • Gridding your logo on paper. As George says, sketching your ideas on paper familiarizes you with your subject’s shape, and in this phase he will help you develop your idea further while avoiding common pitfalls. He’ll help you save time later by giving you tips on using a compass and ruler to maximize your sketch so there’s less work to do later on.
  • Executing your logo in Illustrator. Once you’re ready, you will bring your ideas into Adobe Illustrator and take them to the final level. He’ll show you how to quickly and accurately recreate your sketch grid in the computer, and then use it to ensure that your design is perfectly aligned with the specific reference points. Using wireframe mode, he’ll show you how to identify and fix any problems before moving on.
  • Finishing Touches. Now that you have a sleek, stylish logo, you might want to change a few colors or invert black and white to make sure it will work in any situation. George gives you a few ways you can easily do this in Illustrator, as well as a few tips to subtly enhance your design. At the end, you should have a clean, professional-looking logo that will look great anywhere.

For an overview on logo design theory with George Bokhua, join 20,000 fellow students in his previous class Design a Logo in Modern Style.


Looking for more inspiration? Head here to discover more classes on logo design.

Meet Your Teacher

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George Bokhua

Digital Graphic Designer & Illustrator

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi guys. My name is George Bokhua. I'm a graphic designer from Country of Georgia, with 10 plus years of experience in logo design. Since my last Skillshare course, I've got a lot of requests on how to do gridding properly. So, I decided to stop by the Skillshare office here in New York and make another class for you guys. In today's class, we're going to learn about the fundamentals of gridding in logo design and then walk through making an actual logo in order to achieve that look of geometric perfection. Specifically, we'll walk through a simple letterform mark, choose any letter you'd like, and I'll show you how to grid that mark on paper, then clean it up in Illustrator. By the end of this class, you should have a mark of your own that's gridded to perfection. One thing that my experience has taught me is that geometric shapes like circle, spiral, triangle, et cetera, they have this innate feel of perfection. When your mark consists of those shapes, when you do it nicely and correctly, you do get the feeling of that perfection because components of it are perfect. Once you become fluent in gridding, you just start noticing grids everywhere, and that might be a curse or it might be a blessing. It's up to you how you're going to use it. Gridding is a good tool to order your design, as well as your life. 2. Why Gridding?: So, what gridding does, it basically allows you to arrange information in more structured manner. Layout grids are usually consist of vertical and horizontal lines, occasionally diagonal lines, angled lines also, but mostly it's horizontal or vertical lines. Generally, you need grids to get a certain type of consistency in arrangement of various graphical elements. In logo design, you as well arrange graphical elements, but they're not as diverse as in the layout grids. For example, in layout grids you have text, you have logos, you have illustration, photography. In Logo design, you just have different shapes, you have lines, you have circles, ellipses. So, gridding in logos are bit more different and bit more complicated depending on the complexity of the mark itself. There are several types of grids. The most popular one is a dot grid which usually is, there are five millimeter gaps between the dots. Since there are dots while you do your sketches, the background image doesn't get in your way and doesn't distract you. The second most popular grid is the square grids. You can work with a 45 degree angled lines as well as 90 degree angled lines. My favorite artist, Frank Stella, extensively use this grid in order to create his works. For example, here he's using diagonal lines as well as straight lines in order to create some of his designs. Also, you can see here where he also made sort of a three dimensional illusion in his flight's composition. Besides the square grid, there is also a square grid that involves diagonal lines, for example, in this Otl Aicher work from '72 Olympics, you can see squares as well as diagonal lines and he plays this game within this field and you can get very consistent outcomes. As you can notice, all the lines are either 45 degrees or 90 degrees or zero degrees. This shows how flexibly can grid be used, as well as you can simplify any complex geometric, four into 45 degree or 90 degree or zero degree angles and you can get pretty much any image. This proves that you can just get as complex images as, for example, a hockey player or a jumping basketball player, you can get when you play within grids. So, some people think that grid is restricting and it's not necessary, but in reality if you want consistency, definitely gridding is one of the easiest and best forms to create one unifying language of communication. The less common grid is 30 degree angle grids which are sort of played out in the hexagon shape. Frank Stella also was very good in this. Here, you get this sort of a three dimensional feel and you can play out your marks if you want to get some three dimensionality to your marks. This is a good grid to practice your designs. For example, here you get this one plane, then you get this different sort of a three dimensional plane here that goes into depths and then comes up, so it shows more fluidity, less rigid, more playful forms. 3. Gridded Examples from my Work: So, when we do a global design usually, cases are not as simple as it is in the layout design. As I said earlier, we have more complex forms like circles, spirals, degreed lines, et cetera. So, grids here are bit more complicated. In this design are not only trying to incorporate a horizontal, diagonal, and vertical lines, but also, I tried to put some golden section in it. Certain type of animals or birds like swan present very good opportunity for the golden spiral. For example, in the next section, you can see that it's just a perfect opportunity to use a golden spiral. As it turns out also, the golden section ratio here is also was readily available. So, I try to incorporate that also. So, this is a good example of where I used the square grid. As you can see, the horizontal lines are exactly aligned to the three grid system, and vertical grids are a bit thicker since the design required it to just grid along, and to just make those adjustments in a way that's from far away as well as from close, it looks just fine. The benefit is that you can align typography to the mark when you have a grided. For example, here, as you can see, you have this horizontal line, and you have the two lines of the type where this is a line to this part, the corner part of the mark, right corner part of the mark, and this allows you to just have more ordered logo plus type together. As you can tell without the grid, it looks more balanced. In some occasions, if you get rid of the bottom part of this mark, you can see that still the mark works well with the type. So this, the example of the 30 degree grids and the reason why I grided it because like, for example, on the right side, you can look at the mark and you can never notice that there is an inconsistency here. The angle is a bit off. What griding helps is to miss that inconsistency here as you can tell it's off. So, griding really help me to find those smaller inconsistencies after the initial sketching process and it allowed me into more precise socket. This defined area here allow me to direct exclusion zone for this mark and what exclusion does zone is this area where no other [inaudible] element should enter into the realm of the logo in order to improve it's legibility. So, for example, if I take this chosen space as an exclusion zone, that means that the surrounding area shall always be free of any other graphic element. Now, we have seen some good examples. So, it's time for us to start griding. 4. Sketching Logo Ideas: So let's get started. Firstly, we're going to do a simple mark where we will do initial sketching and we'll do preliminary grids on a paper instead of doing it in the computer. Since it's a simple mark, we can do preliminary gridding when marks get more complex we will do gridding afterwards since the more complex marks require different approach. So, let's get your papers ready, sharpen your pencils and let's begin. In a first project, we'll be creating our letter form. To begin, I will just choose what type of R I want to illustrate or to make a logo out of. What I mean here is that I need the basic shape of an R that I can play my design within. A Sylhet of Gotham R, I find most appealing because Helvetica R, is a bit more illustrative, Gotham R is a far more simple and it is constructed of a triangle shape, circle and two squares as you can see in this example. So, it's always a good thing to have a good design in several different. If you have only a wrong design, it gets bit boring. So, this R allows me to sort of combine triangle, circle and a square into this beautiful form. And here we can see there is a four square grid and I play my game within it. Don't be afraid of experimenting, just let yourself and let your creativity flow. Just do whatever you feel comfortable with. Nobody's watching, just do any shade that comes to your mind. Feel free on a paper and at some point, you will get a result that you're happy with. For example, here, I already found the mark that is quite interesting and different from others that have seen before. So, here we have three 45 degree angle lines and some horizontal lines and it has a good combination of triangular shape and a capsule shape that combined quite well. So, I'm probably going to expand this idea a little bit more and see what it takes me. In this case, I do have some 45 degree angle lines but in a central part, there is too much dark space so, I have to find the ways to free out this black area. So, I have negative and positive spaces more evenly distributed throughout the mark. When you do sketching, you really you're learning your subject, so, it's sort of a getting introduced to the matrix of letter R. And once you're in it, you can just experiment a little more and dig in deeper and sometimes you just run into things unexpectedly. It rarely happens where do you have idea beforehand and then you execute it. Usually, ideas pop up on a paper while you are working at it. So, you sort of have to channel yourself into the design and just grasp the ideas while you're at work. So, here by pure accident, this negative space, sounded popped up. And it's quite interesting and you always have to sharpen your eyes for such a lucky accidents. And difference between a good designer and a beginner designer is sometimes beginners don't know what is the correct thing and you have to always be concentrated and just don't miss the right solution. If you're experienced, you can hit the mark in 5/6 sketches, but at the beginning, I would advise everyone to just fill out maybe 5/6 full pages of paper, 40 to 50 different directions. If you are running to it that you're very certain about, then you can just stop and start executing. But usually, when you get that flow going, you have to keep ideas just flowing for hours and hours and uninterruptedly. I would really suggest to turn off your phones or just do not communicate with other world. You definitely need several maybe half hour to one hour to get into the design and if something else grabs your attention, you might lose that flow. So, if you sit down, prepare for two three hours of sketching and at some point, you will get a get a good result. As you can see on this top left corner of a second page, this is a R which feel quite comfortable with. It's not done yet but I already know the matrix of it so I'm going to move to the next phase where I'm going to draw out the grid for this R. 5. Gridding Your Logo on Paper: I made the little drawing of the R that I'm going to execute, and what I've noticed here, I have a square form that I'm playing my shapes inside of the square form. What I'm going to do on this square grid paper, I'm going to start doing a drawing of the grid. What I'm doing here, I'm going to divide this into three evenly spaced out grid and I'm going to do some 45 degree angled lines. As you can see in this example, one section of the grid, I have divided it into three units here for black space and two units here for white space. The reason for it is because white space looks thicker than a black space. Black space has more gravity and white space has more outwardly. In our case, to balance out the negative and positive space, we will need to make white space a little bit less. So here, we have almost finished mark. As you can see, I tried to align this half circle to the first section of the bottom grid, and we have half of the grid divided by these diagonal lines. We have nice round stripes joining our shape which creates this folding effect. After we execute it, we're going to add some shadows to it. On a dark background, it's going to look top notch. I'm just going to color this one just to make sure that it looks fine before I start executing. I always advise to do your maximum during your sketching process. This not only will make you a better sketcher, but also, you will spend less time on the computer. In this case, pretty much, I would say, 70 percent of the mark is finished. What I can see already right now is that some of the horizontal lines will need a bit more thickness, but those are the things that I'm going to experiment with on the computer. At this point, 70 percent of the mark is close to the final outcome. The Illustrator will do the gridding, which will guarantee that the mark will be even more sound than it is at this point. 6. Executing Your Logo in Illustrator: Okay. So, let the party begin. The first thing we're going to import our grid into the illustrator and start making some guides. So first one I'm going to do here is create alter grid and make sure you have command Y pushed so you have all the snap to the grids option available, command U, I'm sorry. Then, I'm going to do a diagonal divider in the first one. Here, I'm going to just choose, since I know already that I have one, two, three, four, five,15 squares, I'm going to try to replicate the initial sketch into my computer grid. So, let's grab this one. Divided by 15. So here I have my initial square and I'm going to copy it here and then I'm going to push command D, so I have everything just in place, and I'm going to copy this, rotate it with a 90 degree angle, and snap it to my initial bottom left corner. So here, I have pretty much the same ratios, not very much exactly same ratios as I have in my initial sketch. Now, I'm going to do I'm going to count just three squares here. One, two, three, and I'm going to make another line. So, I have my first diagonal line here. I missed the point so I'm going to go back and snap it back to the grid point. So at this point, we're going to make a second line, second diagonal line. So pretty much the preliminary work of gridding is done here. So I have imported my second sketch and I'm just going to use this place it underneath my initial grid. Don't worry if it doesn't perfectly align because you'll get the if you still get the rough idea what the thicknesses are so just try as best as you can. So as I can see here it's a little bit more than two grid points. Firstly, I'm going to start designing the round part of the mark. So this is my centerpoint for the circle. I'm going to just, for a reference, going to use this square as a center part of the circle that I'm going to design. Take a circle and get it to the right point. Now, I'm going to grab this space. Where I'll have two point of unit grid. I'm going to make it a little bit bigger and this will be my reference point to do the thicknesses for the circle and what I mean is in a vertically and horizontally. So here, I'm going to copy paste this circle, make it a bit smaller, and this is going to make sure it's exactly to the spot. This is where I'm at now. Let's copy paste this again with a command C and command F, and I just put it here. I will now decide what the distance from this point to this point is yet, but I'm going to just roughly do it as it is now and see if it works and then adjust it. Let's move this here again so we know the distance. Okay. So here, I have a little bit of an inconsistency because the sketch was not too perfect. What I'm going to do, I'm going to make this smaller, adjust this line, and try to do this again, and try doing it until I get it more or less close to the initial sketch. Okay. Here we go. It's pretty close. I'm just going to copy this in case I will need to get back to initial design. So, I'm going to get rid of this initial square and other measuring objects. All right. I'm going to start cutting and then we're going to start putting some color in. At this point, I'm not 100 percent sure that the thickness of this line is visually similar to the diagonal line. But as soon as we pour some color in, we're going to know 100 percent if it's right or not. So, let me cut this up real quick and I'm going to make those cuts into the half circles. I don't need this outer square anymore. So, I'm going to get rid of that so I don't have too much extra things, neither do I need those unique grids. Okay. So let's cut this real quick. Make sure it's on the right, on the anchor points. Okay. So, I also need to cut this right when it touches this area. Okay. So I do have outline ready. I'm going to copy it. Now, I'm going to take a pen tool and just connect these things. Make sure you're right in the intersection and you'll have to double check it afterwards. So, when you're using the pen tool, make sure you hold your shift button so it's straight and as soon as you find the intersection while you touch the diagonal line, that's where you want to release the pen tool. Now, we need to connect that same here. Push the shift button and connect those. So now, we have to see if we have any mistakes. So, just push command Y to go to wireframe mode and just see if you missed anything. So here,it seems pretty clear. Here also. So, so far so good. Okay. Everything seems clear and correct. We're going to copy this image again. We'll have a black color and just pour into it. This one. Right here. Right here. Right here. So at this point, I realized the thickness of the round lines are not in harmony with the thickness of the diagonal lines. So I'm going to go back a few steps and make those lines a little bit thicker so the negatives and positives spaces are more balanced. 7. Finishing Touches: So, I'm quite happy with the result. It seems pretty well balanced. Now, I'm going to put it on a dark background because when you see it white reversed out of black, you can actually notice negative space even better. So, let's see how it looks on the dark. It feels right here also. So, what I'm going to do here, to add an extra much of effect, folding effect. I'm going to put a gray shadow between round part and the diagonal part. I'm going to try to make it same thickness as diagonal line, so it looks more consistent. So, the darkness of this shadow really is up to you, 30 percent usually is what I like but it could be less, more depends how strong you want the effect to show when it's further away. Now, what I don't like about this is that we have this weird little space here that is not in line. So, I'm ready to sacrifice the idea that diagonal line shadow should be same width as the diagonal line here. So, I'm going to increase the width of it because it's dark anyway. It looks smaller than white, so it will be more sound if I'll just make it a little bit larger. So, this is pretty close to our final result. I'm going to sit over it, and if I look at it after 10 minutes, if nothing bothers me to rest my eye. If nothing bothers me. I'm going to call this mark done. Viola. We have a finished mark. 8. Conclusion: So this is our final result. On the left side, we have a mark without a grid and in the center, we have a mark with the grid and on the right side, we have just a grid, and looking at just the grid, you see that there is a quiet consistency there and grid itself looks well balanced and mark inside also looks pretty well balanced. And at this point, we're ready to call this project done. I hope you enjoyed working on your own mark and please share your results. I'm looking forward to seeing it. 9. Explore Design on Skillshare: way.