Today I’m going to write a new instructable for Adobe Illustrator. I’ll guide you people step by step on creating a folded style logo in the style of Android N or the new Medium branding.
Logo designs are the most versatile when they're made in vector format using programs like Adobe Illustrator. It gives the artwork crisp edges that can be scaled to any size without loss of quality. Logos should also be re-producible in a single color, like black only, and be able to be reversed out of a dark background, so they're usable in any real world design situation. That doesn't mean you can't have some fun making a pretty colorful design, though, so in this tutorial, we'll create the original design, then produce flat and mono versions for use in specific scenarios.
Usually, we would start on paper with some sketches to brainstorm the style of design that would suit the client or business we're designing for, but since we've already decided to go for the trendy folded look, we can jump straight into the fun design phase! I'll be creating a design based on the letter M, but the folded style gives you plenty of options for various initials, or an abstract ribbon type icon.
Step 1: Getting Started
Open up Adobe Illustrator and create a new document at any size.
Step 2: Hiding the Artboard
Head to the View menu, then select Hide Artboard to give yourself an ample work space to make use of.
Step 3: Drawing the First Shape
Select the Rectangle tool and draw a tall shape to represent the first piece of the icon.
Step 4: Drawing the Second Shape
- Press CMD+C to Copy, then CMD+F to Paste in Front. Which could also be accessed from the Edit menu.
- Grab the Direct Selection tool, then click and drag the lower edge of the duplicated shape towards the right.
- Hold the Shift key to ensure this path moves perfectly horizontally.
Step 5: Creating a Duplicate Set
Switch to the standard Selection tool and draw a selection across both objects, then go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Select the Vertical option and press the Copy button to create a duplicate set flipped for the opposite side.
Step 6: Lining Up the Shapes
Hold Shift and drag the new shapes sideways until the points line up. You might want to zoom right in, then turn on Outline Mode from the View menu, or the CMD+Y shortcut to double check the pointing alignment.
Step 7: Final M Letter Shape
The letter M lends itself to simply duplicating those first two shapes and flipping them, but you could also build other icons by extending the layout in different directions using straight or slanted shapes.
Step 8: Starting Coloring the Shape With the Help of Palette
Let's bring the design to life with a bit of color. Find a beautiful palette to work with from ColourLovers.com or any other platform. I'm using one called Earth. I usually just take a screenshot and paste it into the document.
- Select the first shape, then grab the Eyedropper tool and hold Shift while sampling the purple color.
Step 9: Clearing the Default Black Outline
Switch to the stroke setting in the toolbar and clear the default black outline.
Step 10: Filling the Second Shape With Orange Color
Hold the CMD key to toggle back to the selection tool to select the second shape. Release the CMD key to switch back to the eyedropper, clear out the stroke and sample the screenshot to give it an orange fill.
Step 11: Filling the Shapes With Green and Blue Colors
Repeat the process until the design has a mixture of purple, orange, green and blue, or whatever colors you chose for your design.
Step 12: Enhancing the Look by Turning on the Smart Guides
To enhance the folded look, we can add some subtle shading to give the design more depth. Turn on Smart Guides from under the View menu. This will make it easy to snap to the existing points and follow the paths.
Step 13: Setting Up Black Fill
Select the Pen tool and set up a black fill with no stroke.
Step 14: Starting Creating the Shadow Element
- Begin by creating a point in the upper left corner between the purple and orange, then follow the path to the other side of the first shape.
- Add the point a little way down the first shape, then close the path back at the starting point.
Step 15: Reducing the Opacity to Achieve a Drop Shadow Effect
Reduce the opacity of this black shape to around 30% from the Transparency panel to tone down its impact, leaving a subtle drop shadow effect that lifts the second piece higher than the first.
Step 16: Copying and Flipping the Previously Made Drop Shadow Element
Since this letter M layout is symmetrical, this shadow shape can be copied, pasted, flipped and positioned on the other side.
Step 17: Drawing Another Shadow Shape
Draw another shape down between the two middle colors, and this time make it a little thinner. It also needs to run upwards in the direction of the third shape. The full-color version of the logo can be enhanced even further with some subtle gradients.
Step 18: Bring the Rectangle Shapes in Front
Hold the Shift key while selecting all the main rectangle shapes, then press CMD+C to Copy and CMD+F to Paste in Front.
Step 19: Replacing the Colors With Back & White Shadow
Replace the fills of all the shapes with a black to white gradient from the Swatches panel, then change the blending mode to Soft Light from the Transparency panel.
Step 20: Removing the Overlaps
Currently, the stacking order of the shapes has added some unwanted lines where they overlap.
Select the last gradient shape that's on the blue section and use the CMD+[ shortcut to send the item backward until this overlap disappears.
Select the orange gradient shape and repeatedly press CMD+[ until the vertical line over this shape disappears, then do the same with the purple shape.
Step 21: Altering the Flow Direction With Gradient Tool
With the first gradient shape still selected, switch over to the Gradient tool, then drag the line from the top to the bottom to alter the flow direction. Hold shift to keep this line straight.
Step 22: Altering the Gradients Flow in Remaining Rectangle Shapes
Alter the flow of the next shape, this time heading diagonally to allow the gradient to run parallel with the shape outline. Once all the gradients have been adjusted, the design has a vibrant appearance that will be the primary logo that's used for all on-screen purposes. Gradients don't always translate well into print, so it's always useful to create a flat version of your logo designs that can be used at small scales or on printed material.
Step 23: Copying and Pasting the Design in New CMYK Color Mode Document
- Draw a selection around the entire design and go to Edit > Copy.
- Create a new document in the CMYK color mode and paste in the graphic.
Step 24: Transforming the Design Into Flat Colors
Select and delete the gradient overlay shapes to transform the design into flat colors.
Step 25: Turning the Opacity of Shadow Shapes Back to 100%
Any colors outside the CMYK gamut will have automatically been converted to a printable hue within the CMYK spectrum, but I like to satisfy my OCD by rounding off the figures to neaten them up. Those shadow graphics should ideally be solid colors, rather than being a translucent shade of black to avoid any potential printing problems. Select them all and turn the opacity back up to 100%.
Step 26: Replicating the Shadow Shape With More Solid Color
Eyedrop the fill color to the same as the nearest shape, then add an extra 40% of black in the CMYK color panel, which will replicate the shadow effect but with a solid color.
Step 27: Creating the Mono Version of the Design
Copy and paste the graphic into another new document. It will be the mono version which will be used for any scenario where it needs to be reproduced in just a single color.
Step 28: Changing the Colored Shapes Into Pure Black
Select all the colored shapes and change them to pure black.The shading effect can still be somewhat replicated by punching out the shadows from the surrounding shapes.
Step 29: Minus the Shadows
- Shift and click the first rectangle and its shadow to select them both, then click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel.
- Repeat the process for the other shadows, then select all the shapes and click on the Unite button to merge the logo into an easily selectable graphic that can be set in any color against any background.
The final result is a cool logo design with a collection of different versions for real world use. The full-colour RGB version looks great with the gradients and shading effects; the flat CMYK version will reprint nicely on everything from business cards to exhibition banners, and the mono version can be applied to any background in any color.
So I hope you enjoyed this Instructable and picked up a few tips. If you did, be sure to subscribe to me for more stuff like this. Thank you very much for reading, and I'll catch you all in the next one.