Signature Logos: Creating a Custom Logo with Sharpies and Adobe Illustrator | Derrick Mitchell | Skillshare

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Signature Logos: Creating a Custom Logo with Sharpies and Adobe Illustrator

teacher avatar Derrick Mitchell, Designer | Teacher | Artist | Innovator

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.

      Write Your Signature on Paper


    • 3.

      Take a Photo of Your Signature


    • 4.

      Linked vs Embedded Photos in Illustrator


    • 5.

      Using Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator


    • 6.

      Edit Image Trace Results and Change Color


    • 7.

      Add Text To Your Signature Logo


    • 8.

      Export Your Signature Logo


    • 9.

      Use Your Logo In Photoshop and The Class Project


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About This Class

Want to learn how to design fully custom signature logos?

In this class, you will learn how to create your very own custom signature logo using a sharpie (or with any marker/pen/pencil you have lying around) and how to take that signature or sketch and vectorize it with Adobe Illustrator. 

You can use these skills for real clients, or even for your own personal brand. A signature logo is also a great logo style for photographers who need a custom watermark for their photos. 

What You Will Learn: 

  • The fastest and easiest way to take a sketch on paper and get it into Adobe Illustrator
  • How to setup your design file in Adobe Illustrator
  • Keyboard shortcuts to make the design process incredibly fast
  • How to add type to your signature logo
  • How to package and export final files to use your new logo anywhere you want

This class is geared towards beginner to intermediate graphic designers who want to learn how to make professional signature logos. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Derrick Mitchell

Designer | Teacher | Artist | Innovator


Hello! My name is Derrick, and I’m so stoked to be teaching here on Skillshare!

Are you interested in making a living in the creative arts industry as a graphic designer, freelancer, videographer, photographer, or web developer?

If yes, then be sure to join me in these courses here on Skillshare as I show you what it’s like to be a graphic designer and make a living doing something that you love!

I will help you master the skills you need to become successful. I’ll show all of my processes so you can accelerate your success, while also learning from my mistakes so you don’t have to repeat them yourself and fall into the same traps that I did.

I have spent my entire career in the creative arts and marketing sector. I h... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: In this class, we're going to be creating your very own signature logo. We're going to start with regular piece of paper and some markers, we're going to sketch some things up and I'm going to show you how to take those, bring them into Illustrator, vectorize them, and then export these in a way that you could use for anything. Maybe you're a photographer and you want to create your own custom watermark when you export things from Lightroom, or perhaps you're a graphic designer and a freelancer and you want to create your own logo quickly. You can even use these just to make stickers or all kinds of things. But what's fun about this, is these techniques make it so you can use your traditional artist skills if you're an artist or maybe you're not an artist at all, but you can use real mediums like pens and markers to create something and bring it into Illustrator and then use it. My name is Jerry Mitchell. I have over 150,000 students at the time of this recording and I'm a creative director with over 20 years of experience and I'd love for you to be able to follow along with me in this course to create your very own custom signature logo. Let's go ahead and dive in. 2. Write Your Signature on Paper: It's time to dive in and make your signature logo. Grab a piece of paper. It doesn't even have to be a big letter-sized, 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper. It could be an index card like this, so this is a three-by-five index card. The biggest thing is, ideally, you want a blank printer paper or index card that doesn't have any lines on it or anything to try to workaround. Pretty simple, let's go ahead and get started. I've got my index card here and I'm going to grab a few different things to work with. I've got a colored pencil, I've got a pen. I'm going to grab a sharpie marker or we got a black one. I even have a chisel tip sharpie. Then let's grab this one that's got more of a brush tip shape to it. I've got some options here and they're all going to change obviously how this looks. What I'm going to do is go ahead and jump in here and write my signature. This one, here we go. I got distracted. That looks like garbage, obviously too thick. I might need a bigger piece of paper so let's just sign this really big here so I've got room to work. I'm going to go ahead and throw this up here. Let's grab another one. This time I'm going to use the pointier side of this chisel tip. [NOISE] That's better. You can sign it, you can draw it, you can sketch it. It doesn't really matter but the thing is, in this case, I'm going to do a few different options here. Just so as I bring this into the computer, I have a few choices to work with. The other thing I want you to notice in this case, this light purple, it's still going to be enough because the background is so clean, I'll be able to use this. But ideally, you want something with enough contrast so just go ahead and do a bunch of things here. You have options. Let's try the color pencil. [NOISE] Looks good, so the next step is we need to take a picture of this and get it into the computer. 3. Take a Photo of Your Signature: The next step is actually taking a photo of the sketch you just made. Get your smartphone or a camera, it doesn't really matter. A smartphone if you have one is going to be a lot easier. I've got my iPhone here and I'm just going to take a photo. Now, a couple of things as you're taking this photo, if I get too close to it, you'll notice I cast shadows over the top of this. One way to get around that is just to light it better or to maybe move towards a window. Obviously, I'm sitting at my desk recording this so I can't really move. What I'm going to do is pull out a little bit and then zoom in with the camera. Now my hand is further back and I can take a photo without casting a shadow. I'll take a picture of this card and this card. Even though I don't like this one, I'm not going to bother with this one, this one looks like garbage. We're going to throw that one to the side, and what we're going to do now is let's jump into the camera roll and we're going to share this with the computer. Because I'm on an iPhone, I can use AirDrop, which is super nice, really easy. I just click on the button here and it immediately shares with my computer. I can see this pops up here in my download stack after I share it and it's really quick, really easy. Now, if you're on an Android device and you don't have AirDrop, maybe there's another way to do this. If you're an Android user or PC user and there's a shortcut to share from your phone or your mobile device to the computer. Please share with the group, go ahead and post below. Maybe the best way is just to text it to yourself or send an e-mail. But however you can get it off your phone onto the computer, so you can begin working with this now in Illustrator. 4. Linked vs Embedded Photos in Illustrator: Now that we've got our signatures into the computer, let's get them into Illustrator. The first thing we're going to do obviously, is open up Illustrator if you haven't already. There's a couple of ways we can work here. We can start with just making a brand new file, so I'll click on ''New File''. I'm going to actually make this an 8.5 by 11 regular-size piece of paper. One thing I want to point out in Illustrator, you have all of these shortcuts up here across the top, these tabs. Typically what I'll do is I'll jump right into the Print settings and I'll click right here on Letter. I'd like to change it from points to inches because it makes sense to me. But you can make this any size you want because this is going be vector-based. It really doesn't matter too much. This is just my preference. I'm going to make this a landscape, we'll use one art-board. Down here in the color mode, it should already be set to CMYK and high. These don't matter too much right now for what we're doing. I'm just going to click ''Create''. Now I've got a brand new art-board or canvas or file, whatever you want to call it, I'm ready to go and let's go ahead and get started. A few ways to work. I like to just click down here, my downloads and just drag and drop right into Illustrator. This is going to come in huge. There's a few things you can do. What I like to do is hit the letter S to get my Scale Tool, and then without clicking anything else, I just hit the Return button. Now I can just change this from a 100 percent down to say, let's just call it 10 percent and hit ''Return'', and that gets it pretty close. The other thing you could do is you could come to File, and then come down to Place,and then you can navigate to your downloads. Then you could find the other document here. The other thing I want to point out, we have this little checkbox here to link this. I'm going to go ahead and uncheck this one. I'll click ''Place'' and notice the other thing too is when you go to import it this way, I've got the cursor here where I can just click and drag and automatically have the size be smaller instead of having to scale it. There's two different ways to work. I'm going to get my selection tool over here. You'll notice when I hover over this first image, I've got a blue X through it. I want to hover over this new one we've brought in that we unchecked the link box. You'll notice it doesn't have that blue line. The two differences here is this image is now embedded in this document. If I were to move this somewhere else or e-mail it or share it, this image would come through, but this one is actually linked to and referring to this file that is still in my downloads. If I delete this image or if I don't move this with the file, you're going to get a big old question mark saying, hey, I can't find the file when you open this up. To fix this, we've got a couple of options. One is just to keep this file together as a linked asset. Or when I click on this with my selection tool, you'll notice the Options bar across the top. It gives me a few different options here. What I'm going to do is click on the Embed button. Now this image will be embedded into Illustrator and I don't have to worry about any more broken links. Now we've made it this far. Let's go ahead and save our file. Go to File and I'll come down here to Save. Typically, it's a good idea to use the Creative Cloud. You can see all of the benefits of using the Creative Cloud. However, my workflow, typically I save it on my computer because I use Dropbox and I share my assets with a lot of my teammates when I'm working on things. I'm just in the habit of using Dropbox. I'm going to go ahead and go to my Desktop, I'm going to make a New Folder. I'm just going to call it a signature logo and I'll click ''Create''. Let's just call this DM signature logo and I'll click ''Save''. Click ''Okay''. In the next video where you're going to learn how to actually trace this sketch and turn it into a vector signature logo. 5. Using Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator: Welcome back. Let's go ahead and continue by tracing these images. Luckily, this is really simple. What we're going to do is click on our image and then I'm going to come up here and click on "Image Trace." You'll notice depending on what you use, you're going to have different results so quickly and easily traced all of this but the top versions that were in the lighter color don't come through as well. What we're going to do is we're going to come up here to this little tiny box. It says Image Trace panel. Now if you don't see that, make sure you've got the selection tool and you've selected your thumbnail or come up here to Window, come down here to Image Trace and it'll open up the same window, same thing. We've got a few different options to work with. Right now we've got the preset set as default, so the threshold controls basically how much contrast is used. If I have more threshold and I scrub all the way to the right, you'll notice up here that the other signatures come back. Whereas if I go to less threshold, you'll see they almost all disappear. I'm going to go back up here to more so that way those signatures really popped through. That's too much, let's dial it down a little bit. That looks pretty good. I'm going to go just a tiny bit more. Let's do 180, that should get us pretty close. That's pretty good. I'm going to go ahead and X out of this and then let's click on this other one and you'll notice as we did that the default turn this into a black and white trace. On this image, I'm going to click on Image Trace again, but this time I'm going to show you a few different options. We'll open up that tracing window again, and instead of default, if I click on this twirl down, you'll notice we have a lot of options here. Typically when I'm doing this, I'll just make it a black and white logo and after I click on this, you'll notice the result is the same. It does change how the anchor points are created. But what we're going to do right now if I click on this and go to three colors, we should see some of that purple come back from the marker. Now, this is a vector trace, but it looks a lot more like the photo. Let's go ahead and close this window and now the next thing you'll notice, we still can't really select anything in here, so what we need to do now, let's go ahead and save our document. I'm going to click on this first one and up here we have this button for expanding the trace. If I click on "Expand", it's going to convert it to has all these anchor points. If I click off and then come back, you'll notice that I still can't really select this. Let's do the same thing over here. I'll click "Expand", but there's still some things we need to go through to be able to actually work with this. 6. Edit Image Trace Results and Change Color: Now that you've traced your signature logo, let's go ahead and continue and refine this a little bit further. What I'm going to do is hit the letter Q to get my selection tool up here, it's actually the Lasso tool which helps me select points or path segments. The reason why we're going do this is because I want to be able to grab just this piece right here, so we're going to use the Lasso selection tool to grab our signature. Now, you'll notice just these anchor points have been selected. I'm going to hit the letter X to cut it and copy it to my clipboard at the same time, and hit Command V to paste this down here. Now the next thing we can do is hit the letter R to get our Rotate tool and then turn this so it's a little more level. I'm going to hit Command R to turn on my rulers and then drag my guide down here from there. Zoom in a little bit. That's looking good. I'm going to rotate it just a little bit more. Now the next thing we need to do is clean this up a little bit. You'll notice if I get the direct selection tool, which is the letter A and I click in here and I move it, we've got a lot of other stuff happening here, we've got a lot of little other pieces that come over with it. Another trick we can do is I can select just this purple, and I'll go to Select, Same, Fill and Stroke, and it should select this purple up here too. I'm going to cut it and now you can see the background that came over, I'll delete that and then hit Command F to paste everything back in place where it was. Now we've got a vector of just our signature. Let's go ahead and grab this one over here that I drew with the colored pencil. I like that it's got a little more grit, little more grunge in it. I'll hit letter Q to get my Lasso tool again, and we'll make a selection around this signature, hit Command X to cut it and copy it to my clipboard, Command V to paste it down here, we'll get it in place, hit the letter R to get my Rotate tool. I'm going to click down here in the corner so I can pivot it from that anchor point. Let's scale it up a little bit using our Scale tool. Now this is looking good. I've got a couple of pretty good options here. What's cool about this, let's go ahead and highlight all of this, hit Command G to group it, is I can change the colors on this really easily to anything I want. Even though we drew this out with a colored pencil, now that it's a vector, I can convert this to any color I want. 7. Add Text To Your Signature Logo: Now that you've vectorized your signature, let's go ahead and add some text to it as well. I'm going to go ahead and change this back to black, and then I'm going to hit the letter T to get my type tool, and then I'm going to click once in here. I'm just going to add my website. Then we'll move it back up into place, I'd hit letter E to get my scale tool. Hold down, Shift and scale it down so it's nice and close here. Then I'm going to add a little space between here just so this little tail on the letter T drops down between it. Let's scale it down a little bit. Let's go ahead and change the font to something else. It looks good. There's a signature logo. Let's go ahead and save this. Now I'm going to show you how to export this in a way that you can use it. 8. Export Your Signature Logo: You've got your signature logo, you've added some text, now it's time to export this thing so you can use it anywhere you want. There's lots of ways to do this. There's a couple of things we could do. We could just delete all this extra stuff like this, any of them that you decide not to keep, and scale this up. We get in here. Then I'll hit "Command Shift S". I'd like to save it on my computer. I'll call it DM-Signature-Logo-Final and I'll hit "Save". Click "Okay". Then I'm going to group these together, "Command G". I'll center it horizontally and vertically. I could be done, I could save it just like this and it's vector and I could use this for anything, but let's push this a little bit further. If you're happy with your font, one thing I recommend doing is grabbing this type and going to type, down to Create Outlines. The shortcut for that is Shift Command O. Now, it's no longer a font, it's a shape. Then that way, if you send it off to somebody else and they don't have the font, it'll still work exactly like you want it to. That's one way to save it. But if you don't have Illustrator, how are they going to use this? Well, here's a few things we could do. The first is we'll come here to File and we're going to come down to Export, Export As. Let's make a new folder in here called exports or you can call it finals or whatever you want, it doesn't really matter. I'm going to click down here on "Use Artboard". I'm going to change this to a JPEG. Then I'll click "Export". It can be a CMYK. This looks fine. We'll click "Okay". Now, if I come back into my Finder and I go find this folder we're working on, go to my Exports, you can see there's the JPEG. Anybody on any computer could open this up and see it. Now, there's a lot of extra white space around this logo, so let's push this a little bit further and see what else we can do. I'm going to come back down here to File, down to Export, Export As. This time I'm going to use a PNG. I'm going to turn off Use Artboards. Let's click "Export". The resolution is set to 150. I would change this to high and make sure the background is transparent and then click "Okay". I'll jump back into Finder. Now, you'll notice the file is just the exact size of the artwork. Because it's a PNG, the background is transparent. You could actually put this into anything and be able to use it. Now, let's do the same thing, but maybe let's make a white version. I'll get my eyedropper tool, hit the letter "I", and I'll just click on the Canvas here. You'll see it's still there, but if we click off, you can't see anything. I'm going to go to File, Export, Export As. Let's change this to final-white. I'll click "Export as a PNG", again, without the Artboard option selected. This looks good. We'll click "Okay". Now, we have a white version that's also transparent behind it. We could use this if you've got a colored background on something. Let's go ahead and close that. Now, another way to work that I enjoy, I'm going to hit "Command Z" to make this back to the black version here, is we've got this little icon over here on the right called Asset Export. Now, if you don't see this and you're in Illustrator, let me just go ahead and make this full screen. Up on the top right, you should see this tiny little thumbnail for your workspaces. I'm currently using Essentia's Classic. I'm going to come down here and click "Reset Essentia's Classic". Hopefully, you and I are seeing the same thing. If you don't see that, come up to Window, come down to Workspace, and you'll see it here as well. I'm using Essentia's Classic. You should see this little option right here for Asset Export. Again, if you don't see it there, come down to Window, down to Asset Export. Lots of ways to get to the same place. What we're going to do now is simply drag and drop right into this window. Now, we can name this DM Black Logo with URL. Then I could delete my text below it and just drag this in here as an option. Let's try that again. It's because I'm still drilled into the group here. I'm going to double-click up here, and now it's back to the main artboard. There we go. We'll call this DM-Signature-Only. Let's maybe change the color on this. I'm going to go to my libraries and let's just grab another color. You'll notice it updated all of these because they're dynamically linked. I'm going to undo that. I'm going to drag a copy down, holding down Option and Shift. We'll click on this. Now, we'll drag it in and you'll notice that the colors stay the same for the ones that are linked to this asset and then the new one we brought in is the new blue color. I've got three different options here. Let's rename this, DM-Blue- Signature. I'm going to select all three of these by holding down the shift key and clicking. Then down here you can see we've got some different export settings. I can make the scale larger, in this case 4X should be four times the size it is now, or I can do 1x, which would just keep it at scale, which honestly in this case looks pretty good. It's about seven inches wide. I can see because my ruler is up here. I'm going to do the format as a PNG. Now, you see there are a lot of other options you have. A PDF would be another great option. Then you can add a scale. In this case, maybe I want to do one that's twice as big. If you're doing a retina display or a high quality display, make sure these are still selected. Then I'm going to come down here and click" Export". I'm going to put these in the Exports folder. Let's choose that. It already exported this. It shows me this message, export is complete. Let's jump into Finder. You can see we've got the original ones we did plus the new ones we just added. Now, these look the same because of this window, but if I look in my details here, this size is only 18 kilobytes and is about 466 pixels wide at 72. If I click right here, you'll notice it's about double in size, at 144 for the resolution. We can play those export settings to get the exact file we need. Now, we can use our signature logo anywhere we want. 9. Use Your Logo In Photoshop and The Class Project: One of the thing I want to show you is how to bring that vector into other programs. Specifically in this one, I'm going to show you how I would put this into a Photoshop document. Right now, I've got a document open for a thumbnail I made for one of my courses. I'm going to jump back over into Illustrator, I'm going to grab this signature logo, copy it, jump over into Photoshop, and just hit Command-V to paste it. Now, when you paste it, you have a few different options here. I like to use smart objects, because then it retains its editability as well as being able to scale without getting pixelated. I'll click "Okay," and now I have the option to scale this to whatever size I want. You see I can make it huge and it stays nice and crispy, or I can scale it down smaller. If I wanted to put this maybe down here in the corner, or maybe down over here, or somewhere like this, nice and tiny, and I'll hit "Return". Now, one thing you'll notice when you bring it in that way, the color is whatever you brought it in as, so you could either change the color before you copy it, in this case, I could select the eyedropper tool, sample the background, copy it, bring it back into Photoshop as a smart object, and now it's white or whatever color you want it to be, or if you're familiar with Photoshop and you can click on this vector smart object, I could double-click on that layer and it's going to bring me back into Illustrator where I can change the color from here, save it, close it, and now that smart object updates in Photoshop, or I can come down here to the effects panel, and I could do a color overlay. Whatever color I make this overlay, it will apply to this layer. Now, I've changed the signature without actually having to open up Illustrator. Okay, for the class project, you're going to be creating your very own signature logo. If you haven't already, go ahead and dive in, create your own logo, and then post it into the class project area. I can't wait to see what you guys come up with.