Mastering Logo Design: Gridding with the Golden Ratio | George Bokhua | Skillshare

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Mastering Logo Design: Gridding with the Golden Ratio

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.

      Understanding Golden Sections


    • 3.

      Finding Reference Images


    • 4.



    • 5.

      How to Make a Golden Section


    • 6.

      Start Gridding with Golden Sections


    • 7.

      Adjust Shapes for a Custom Feel


    • 8.

      Join Grid Shapes


    • 9.

      Fine-Tune Your Logo


    • 10.

      Finalize with Color


    • 11.



    • 12.

      What's Next?


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About This Class

Uncover the secret to designing a perfect logo with this new class from George Bokhua, the legendary graphic designer who has taught more than 25,000 students on Skillshare!

Join George as he reveals his personal technique for creating complex logos that stand the test of time. Also known as the Golden Spiral or Golden Section, the Golden Ratio is a proportion known to be particularly pleasing to the eye. By using it to grid his logos, George ensures that every mark he makes evokes a feeling of perfection. In this 45 minute class, you’ll learn how to grid your work with the Golden Spiral.

Key lessons include:

  • Understanding the Golden Ratio + when to use it
  • Gridding a complex logo in Adobe Illustrator
  • Incorporating Golden Ratios to create natural marks
  • Fine-tuning techniques to ensure perfection

This class is perfect for designers and illustrators looking to level up their logo designs. With this technique, you will be able to grid logos of any complexity, allowing you to create the beautiful, lasting work you’ve always imagined.


What You'll Learn

  • Introduction. In this graphic design tutorial, you’ll come up with a logo brand design and learn how to grid your logo after defining your general concept. George Bokhua will demonstrate how the golden spiral can help you order your logo and turn multiple shapes into a cohesive form.
  • Understanding golden sections. Historically, the golden section has been used in architecture (think the Parthenon), and it occurs often in nature (think owls). George will show you examples of his work applying the golden ratio to logo design and prepare you for his assignment.
  • Finding reference images. When designing an animal logo, it’s important to start with the right reference image. You’ll learn how to pick a reference based on the animal’s silhouette.
  • Sketching. You’ll learn how to look at an image and break it down into its basic, geometric parts. Using a pencil and tracing paper, you’ll draw over your reference while looking for opportunities to simplify the form into shapes like circles and squares. Remember, it still has to be recognizable as the animal you started out with. You’ll learn how to translate your drawn image into an Adobe Illustrator file using anchor points.
  • How to make a golden section. You’ll learn how to create a golden spiral in Adobe Illustrator.
  • Start gridding with golden sections. You’ll watch as George applies the golden spiral to his uploaded design in Adobe Illustrator. You’ll learn how to find points in your design that naturally lend themselves to the golden spiral and other geometric shapes, as well as when as when it’s time to stop gridding.
  • Adjusting shapes for a custom feel. You’ll see how to realign and adjust the shapes in your grid to clean up minor inconsistencies. Remember, your initial Illustrator sketch of the animal is more important than the grid itself, so don’t let the grid take precedence over the design!
  • Join grid shapes. Now that you’ve laid down the basic shape of your logo, you can go back and add more grid elements to your design. You’ll learn how a grid can influence both the outline and the internal elements of a logo, and how to connect the dots to make all your disparate grid lines a cohesive image that represents the animal of your choosing.
  • Fine-tune your logo. You’ll learn how to use Illustrator tools like anchor points to smooth out wonky lines and ensure your logo looks like your reference animal. George will encourage you to make these last adjustments without looking at your grid but while paying attention to negative space.
  • Conclusion. The hardest part of designing a brand logo with the golden section is doing it for the first time. You’ll learn that the best way to get a handle on golden logo design is through practice, practice, practice.

For an introduction to designing with grids, join George's basic gridding class, Logo Design with Grids: Timeless Style with Simple Shapes.


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: Intermediate

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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. In my previous Skillshare class, we talked about how to grid simple marks with simple geometry. This class, we'll be walking through a slightly more advanced method. How to grid your logos after you've already come up with a general concept, using the golden spiral as your guide. Gridding is the technique that allows you to order things. It's an easy tool that allows you to grab various multiple shapes and compose them into one complete form. To begin with, we're going to find a great reference image and we will need a tracing paper and a pencil to do some sketches over our reference image. And also, you'll need Illustrator where you're going to import your initial sketch, design your mark, and then do gridding on it. Underneath every good mark there is a complex system of geometric forms that are composed to deliver fluid of perfection and timelessness. Simple, clean, and sophisticated, that is how I design. After you acquire this technique, you'll be able to grid logos of any complexity. So, let's get started. 2. Understanding Golden Sections: Well, there is a certain type of mystery and myth about the golden section, and the shape itself feels right, looks good. As soon as in the mark, you use components that will look good, the overall result is going to be good also. So, if you have imperfect spiral or imperfect shapes, the mark is going to look imperfect in the end. For more complex marks, I prefer to do gridding afterwards, because the components of it are much complicated, so it's quite hard to do grids beforehand. Each time I'm presented by opportunity to have a spiral used in the mark, I prefer to use a spiral in correspondence to a golden section. Now, I'll show you some examples of how golden section spiral can be applied to the work. Usually, in architecture, the golden ratio is used which is 1.618. In my case, I love the shape of the golden spiral, I just use it whenever I can. So for example, in the Swan marker I did a year ago, when opportunity presented itself in a neck part, I appropriated the golden section and spiraled into it. Also, I appropriated the golden section around the mark and the ratio of the mark is also in accordance with the golden section. Also here, the Beagle mark presented itself a lot of opportunities for gold section in the ear part, and the tail part, leg parts, and nose parts. So, I appropriated it into it and the result was very golden section in Beagle. While, when you don't have grids on it, you cannot really notice that golden section is used. But as soon as you put the grid over it, you see how golden section heavy it is. In nature, you'll get a lot of examples of golden section. For example, the eye of the great white owl eye socket is almost exactly in correspondence with the gold sections spiral. An owl generally is one of them most golden section, if I may call it, bird out there. Also, here you can see in the motion, owl gets this gold section dynamic, even the wing part also has the same dynamic. For our next exercise, we are going to design animal mark, bulldog in particular. To begin with, we're going to find the great reference image and we will need a tracing paper and a pencil to do some sketches over our reference image. So, let's get started. 3. Finding Reference Images: So this is a reference image for our next project is going to be a bulldog, where as I always suggest the silhouette must be clear. So, the overall shape of the mark already makes the animal or the object recognizable. If you're making a mark of a rare animal, it's very hard to find the correct reference. Birds like owls, or eagles, storks, they have thousands of images of them and it's easy to find the right reference right away. But rare animals, rare photos, it's hard to find a nice reference for them. Dogs usually are very easily found and they usually have good references, and always try to get easier silhouette where you have a two dimensional silhouette of the animal or two thirds of the animal is visible. Rarely animals become recognizable if you look at them from top, especially animals that are mammals. The spirals and golden section opportunities present itself more when you have a side view of an animal. Please browse through the Web, find your favorite animal, get a nice one reference picture that you will work with. Or if you get two reference pictures and if you're comfortable with it, you can combine parts of the references or ideas, from one reference you can combine to the next reference. So, we're going to print this out and tracing paper over it, and start making some sketches. 4. Sketching: So, why do preliminary sketching? Always bear in mind that sketching is a must process, because unless you're enormously talented and you can get the ideas of the form as soon as you look at it, sketching allows you to explore, discover new things in the form. So, it's pretty much the exercise that gets you better acquainted with the form itself. So, in our case, we have to look at the bulldog and try to discover where the golden section can be appropriated, and where the circle or other shapes can be appropriated. While doing sketches, those discoveries will come to you. So, pretty much I will lay down my printed out reference, put the tracing paper over it, and just let my pencil run. As you can see here, I made the capsule shape in place of the head. See that's going to do any justice in future. In my second sketch, I found out that the body and the neck part can be just unified into one circle. So, there's gonna be a discovery that I'm going to use in future, and it's already gives me a good foundation for eventual grading. The front leg part also presents itself in a round geometric shape. Hind legs also present itself within the round grading shape. While sketching, I'm looking for opportunities to simplify the form. Sometimes it's going to be circles, sometimes it could be a square, but the more I explore, more opportunities I find, and more places I find where I can do simplification. For example, here, I try to unify the front leg with the head part. See if that presented any opportunity. If it does in future, I'm going to exploit it. Here, I have made a sort of a breakthrough, when face part was simplified enough. So, I've got this one line that represents the face and it still makes it recognizable as a bulldog. I modified the leg part a little bit, so it stands stronger. Then, I poured some color in it, so I know that the bottom part is going to be darker and the light source is going to be from top. As always, I advise to think geometry when you look at the shape, think geometry, and if you see complex for more area, try to appropriate sound form because there's only a few forms you can incorporate. As I said earlier, either it's circle, or an ellipse, or a spiral, and the fluid, and more organic forms. So, combining this three forms, you can get the whole logo finished. So, think in terms of circle, ellipse, and spiral. After several tries, this is the image that I feel most comfortable with. I'm going to take a photo of it, import into an illustrator, and try to do the outline and pay attention where I can incorporate golden section. So, please grab a pen tool and try to use as little anchor points as you can. Don't worry about how perfect the shape is. We will adjust it afterwards anyways, just click through nice and easy. Try to be as close as you can to the reference image. Already, I can tell here that the golden section spiral shape presents itself. Also, there are some opportunities in the leg part. So, we got our outline, was copy it, put some color. Moving on, I'm going to try to perfect the shapes that are obviously not in line. We're doing it very rough now, we'll do the more precise grading in the end. This is just to get the overall shape right. So pretty much, the most process is based on trial and error. See if something works, if it doesn't work, go back to the previous image. That's what's good about most simple marks, that you don't have too much anchors to work with. So, if you move one up another down, you have to do it enough times until you get to the shape right. Always look at your mark from afar during the process. Don't get lazy on that because it really has to work while it's small. But now, I'm just doing a general shape, just general outline where fielded mark is right, then I'll do grading to make it more perfect. So, this has just a rough computer sketch. 5. How to Make a Golden Section: Now, we will need the golden spiral for this exercise. So, what I'm going to do, I'm going to make a real quick golden spirals. This is our golden spiral. I have attached the golden spiral Illustrator file, so you can download it and paste it to your design, so you don't have to redo it. 6. Start Gridding with Golden Sections: So this is the moment that all of us have been waiting for. I'm about to start gridding. The mark is already in a condition where I can comfortably get into it. Someone say it's 80 percent done, 90 percent done, and this gridding part will add that extra edge to it. So, it's 100 percent. So, as a first step, I would advise you to import golden section spiral into your work, and try to look at your mark, and see some points where you can put that golden section over, and assimilate it to the golden section. For example, in our case, the upper part of the stomach gives a very good opportunity. The front part of the face also just put a spiral over it and rotate it, adjust the sizes so match it as close as you can to the shape itself. You have to examine other parts also where you can put the circle or ellipses. And for example, in the shadow part of the leg, and the ear, and the tail part, so those are the older good spots where a circle could be appropriate. Well, you don't need too many grids on top, because it makes image too complex and you will have hard time to get your ways around it. It might get too confusing. So put whichever you feel is necessary. Whichever feels right at first. After cleaning some extra parts off, you can add some more or you can always add it after you started joining it. So it's never too late to add grids. So just take it easy at first, and if you need some more, you can edit eventually. If you can, it's better if you use the same size circle and with the same scaling, because it makes mark more simple. But if the background shape, if it's too different than a background shape, whatever the initial sort of the illustrator's sketch requires, if you to want to grid it, it's more important to have a good solution maintained rather than have it nicely gridded. So if the background design requires some adjustment in scaling, you should go ahead, do it. And if it's very close, I would suggest you to use the same size circles all the way around so you keep mark more simple. So occasionally, I'll go to I'll frame you to make sure that the lines are close, very close to each other. We should bear in mind that when we do design, when we do logo design, and if client asks for something nice, welcoming, you should always consider designing with rounder shapes, because rounder shapes have more cozy and nice feel to it. Don't get the grid scare you. It might be a little bit intimidating when you see a lot of graphic lines that are interconnected, intertwined. In reality, if you want, you can use very few gridding elements, like couple circles or couple points. I mean, it's not necessary to completely grid your mark all the time even though I do suggest that most of the time you have to. It will be nice if you could grid it completely, but don't let it scare you. Eventually, when you get the good feel what grid is, you will have far easier time doing good and far more courage also. Precisely, when it gets too complicated where there's too much grid points on the mark, that's when it's good time to stop. Cut it, make some cutting. Clear it up and then you'll see if there are some points you want to add more, which we're going to do eventually. And just when it's too much, you have to stop. Cut it, then add more if it's necessary. So initial part of the gridding is done. It fills at the point where I can start cutting and joining shapes. 7. Adjust Shapes for a Custom Feel: At this point, we're ready to start cutting the shapes. But at first, I'm going to realign old shapes and adjust them so I don't have those minor inconsistencies. Command Y is a very important shortcut because you see a sort of a skeleton of the form and you get a better idea of what the vector and what the direction of those lines are that you're cutting. Always bear in mind that initial illustrator sketch that you're doing the grid, griding on, is more important than grids itself. So, make sure that all the shapes are as close as you can to the original form. Whenever you can, you have to adjust the shapes, so they touch each other, or almost touch each other, or at least cut it in a way that the direction of the cut will smoothly connect to the next shape you're going to cut. And I'm going to move the bulldog to the background shape, to another layer because sometimes I will need to see it, sometimes I'll need to turn it off. Now, I'm going to start cutting the grid points, but firstly, I'm going to save the grids. So we can put it over after we're done. You have to always pay attention to what that cutted part is going to be joined to. So, I do like quarter spheres, and a lot of cases they work very well and half a sphere, half a circle also works very well. But again, bear in mind that what you're going to connect the next shape to, that's the point where you want to cut, so the vector and the direction is going to join the next one, smoothly. Same thing here. So, I'm going to just move this over here, so we get similar shapes. Here is a bit tricky. I'm going to hold this here, connect it and this one. I'm going to increase the size of this a little. Okay, that's good, and I'm going to take this to our grid layer also and put it there. Substitute it with existing one. If the points are not touching or if the directions are cutted not the right way, after you join all the older parts, we'll examine where we have mistakes and we can always go back or always add new grid points to readjust those small inconsistencies and mistakes. It will save and doesn't always allow you to snap to certain shapes. But again, don't worry about it, conjoin the whole form and if there is obvious mistake and obviously if the aesthetics are not nice or they don't look good, we can add different shapes of grids and adjust existing mistake. So in our case, the rear leg, the left part of the rear leg, is a more complex shape than any other shapes because it can be really simplified, even though I tried the shape,it has a good negative flow to it, but the shape itself is too complex and involves several spirals. So, I made perhaps several ellipses. So at this point, I'm not going to grid it too precisely, but if I needed after I do all the cleaning and cutting, I'm going to add some grids to it afterwards. The one thing that none of you shall forget is that the more time you put into a mark, better it gets. There's some cases, as I mentioned in my previous video, when you get tired, your judgment is not too correct, you get lazy, you convince yourself that work is good enough and you want to just send it out to a client. But just stop, back off for a couple of minutes, think about it. Rest for a couple hours. Look at it again. If you have more time and if your deadlines are not too tight, look at it next day. There is rarely you get a good result. If you work for two, three hours on the mark, you need at least eight to 10 hours, even more, to get the form right. That I'm saying on the forms of mediocre complexity. Some complex marks can take you four to five full days sketching, executing, and gridding. So, more time you put in your mark, in the end, it pays off. Well, since during the gridding, you adjust sizes of the geometric components of the grid, you tend to lose track of what the thickness of the lines are. So in the end, just select every grid element and then make it into one line thickness so you can see the flow and you can notice mistakes easier. So now, since we cleaned all the extra elements up, I see some points where I want to add a couple more grid elements. I'm going to cut those also and in a couple of minutes, we'll started joining those parts and getting the whole picture together. 8. Join Grid Shapes: Okay. So, we're back to our bulldog. What I see here, I can add a couple more grid elements as well as in the mouse part and the nose part. Afterwards, we'll start cutting them and joining them all together. So, let's see here, the circle could be added for this rear leg joint. Also here, I can add one more circle or maybe an ellipse because the shape is a little elliptical. I could add one here too, but I would have a far easier time just joining these two, and it's not 100 percent necessary in this case. But we definitely need lines here. Here also, I could add a circle. Let me try if it fits into our frame mode, so I could just drive this into here. So, I guess this could work, I'm going to just leave it like this. It's not quite as easy, I might, we'll want to add the little parts over here afterwards. Here, we can add the quarter circle, and of course the nose. In the case of nose, I'm just going to use existing shapes that I already put in the initial design, and just color same as our grids are. So, this is pretty much it. Now, what I'm going to do, I'm going to just grab those extra new grid points. Now, we're going to cut those up again. This one is tricky. So as I said earlier, the vector of it should connect to the next point. So, I think the line will go similar to this trajectory. So, It's going to connect right here, so I'm going to cut it and similar to this, it's going to go to this trajectory and I'm going to cut this one right here. Okay. Here we're going to get this quarter circle. I'm going to save the file and start joining the parts. Now, I'm going to keep that background image because I need some reference for this part and this part. Also, eyes. So, let me copy this little quick, just in case something goes wrong, so I can go back to the original. Let me cut this a little quick. Okay. Now, we're going to start joining. So, locking the background layer, so it doesn't interfere, and just with the anchor tool, or with a pen tool, just start joining the designs. Zoom in if it's too far. From here, I'm just going to improvise, move it to here, and just try until you see it. It gives me a little bump here, so I'm going to undo this and try to move this anchor point a little bit up. Imagine that the direction of this will go towards this trajectory. So, if I'll drop that anchor here or somewhere, then I'm going to get the cleaner joint. But here, I don't like this angle but I'm going to just afterwards. Let's join those parts, here also we're going to improvise, move it up, put it here and here. I'm going to fix this, eventually. Also, goes to the neck part. Here, we got the weird edge, I'm going to move this up now, so it's more aligned with the snout part and just increase the curve a little, so it's more smooth. The ear part, this's a tricky part, I'm going to adjust it afterwards. So, here we are on this part, the curve is not nice and easy, but I'm going to try to move this down a little and smoothen this up a little bit. When you do this, try to make sure that doesn't influence your original shape. At some point, it might go off, but if you look at it carefully, it'll stay at the original form regardless how you move it. Just double-check if everything is joined. Now, the eye part, I think we're good to go. So, everything is joined at this point. Now, we're going to move it aside, fix those small things and assign pour color in it and put the second color that we haven't decide on our main board. So, we get the final result. 9. Fine-Tune Your Logo: At this point, we're close to it. The logo is looking good as it is, but I'm still going to copy it and see what more fine tuning it needs. If you feel like you have to take a rest, just go out for a couple hours, maybe half hour or so, and just come back to it and look at it again. This is so you have easier time to find those little mistakes. So, I'm going to just copy this again. So, as I was suspecting, the snout part is a little bit too extruded, and the mouse part doesn't feel quite right. So, I'm going to take a few more minutes to fix those up and then we'll call it done. So, what I'm going to do now is just to get rid of this couple anchors here and see how it looks. Also, I got this extra one here. That feels a bit more appropriate. I'm just going to disregard the existing grid and I'm just going to, by my hands and eyes, just correct this and make it bit shorter. Now it feels teeny bit better. This back part also, there's this weird edge here. I'm going to try to adjust that. There's probably two anchor points here joined together. I'm going to move it up or move it down, get rid of it, highlight it, push this button so it's smoother. Now, the transition is a bit more smoother. I know we lost that initial grid of the ellipse, but this way it's smoother, so I'm not going to sacrifice the design because of the grid. I just move it a little bit up. At this point, if you feel that something is not correct or the flow is not nice, for example in this part right here, the flow is not too nice. Also here, we have to adjust the flow and maybe a couple other spots. Here, I see there is this little indent. You will have to use your hand-eye coordination and just adjust it and disregard the grids you used before because those are minor imperfections. If you put more time in appropriating grid to the initial shape, you will not have those cases. But here, there are a couple slip ups and I'm going to fix them. So here, I'm going to move this out of my way and get rid of this one anchor. Still, I got this little angle here. I'm going to highlight it and make it a little bit more smooth. Now, it's much smoother. Also here, I could add another grid point. But since we're almost done, and it's easy to fix it with eyes, I'm just going to move it up. Get rid of this point. Get it back. Try not to lose that vector and make it bit more smoother. Lets see how it looks. It's much better. Now this one also, since I made that adjustment, it may require to get some more smoothening and here with one push of a button, it's already better. Now, let's see some other parts. The head part. I'm just going to get rid of it altogether because it feels extra and add a little bit more leverage here. So now it's far smoother. Final and more or less obvious one is the tail part, where we got this little indentation here. I'm just going to drag this out while making sure the top part of gridding is not lost. So now it's a much smoother. If you're a real OCD, you will notice other small inconsistencies here. So, feel free to get into it. For example here, this part was not grided and it is obvious that's why it's so lacks smoothness. I'm going to just adjust that to my liking and perhaps a little bit here. Okay, now the flow is very nice, and the ear part would be another one I'm going to just adjust it a little bit without losing that initial grid that I had. Okay. Here also we didn't have gridding, that's why this form is not too complete. There is some extra anchors. Much better. So at this point, have a close look to your work and make sure it's firstly very fluid. There are no weird angles and things that do not please the eye. Also, look into the negative space and see how negative space is flowing. Same there, make sure that there is no minor imperfections. Also, make sure that you don't have extra anchor points. Because in reality, extra anchor points are the ones that make mark more complex and shape less fluid. So, get rid of all the extra anchor points, and basically that's it. You're good to go. 10. Finalize with Color: So, at this point, the mark is good as it is in black and white, but I still feel there is a little bit of a lack of the volume. I'm going to try to add some color to it and see if it is going to bring out more volume and more definition to the shape. 11. Conclusion: Okay, congratulations. We're done. I hope you enjoyed the course. I know it's hard at the beginning but once you get into it, once you keep practicing it, sooner or later you'll get a better feel of it, and generally, eventually you will have a hard time not doing great things. It definitely allows you to finalize the mark and put the final touch on it, so it's perfect and ready to go out in the world. Where if it's a sketch or fully executed logo feel free to share your project at any point. Thanks for joining me, and see you next time. 12. What's Next?: way.