How To Design a Sports Logo: My Design Process Step By Step.
As a Designer and Illustrator, I have always been enamored with sports logos. I am a huge sports fan and have always wanted to learn the process of how they came up with their design, and the process of creating the final design. I have gone out and searched the internet (Pinterest, Behance, Dribble, and Instagram), for sports logos and have been amazed by so many great designers. The one that always seemed to stick out for me was Fraser Davidson. He IS FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF SPORTS BRANDING AGENCY FIELD THEORY. I have learned the process that he goes through on creating these wonderful sports brands, and would like to share them with you.
Picking an animal for your Sports Logo
As any sports fan knows the most popular type of logo or mascot would be animals. You have the Eagles, Cardinals, Bears, Panthers, Tigers, Lions, ect..... So I am going to show you how to create an animal mascot for a sports team. I will be creating a Cougar but it can be any animal, because the process is the same. Now this will be a straight ,front view, of a Cougars face. I will be writing another blog post about a side-view mascot sports logo in the coming weeks.
The first thing that you should do is to find inspiration. I would suggest on going on the internet and going to Pinterest, Dribble, Instagram, or even just Google Images. I found a few examples that got my creative juices flowing.
Finding Reference Image for your Sports Logo
After you have found your inspiration, the next step is to find a reference image of your animal to get a general sense of shape, size, and features that it needs to really come alive.
I chose this photo, because it is fierce and aggressive, which most teams like in a mascot or logo. They want some edge and intimidation on their opponent.
Using Pencil and Paper First for your Logo
Now in the next step, I have seen designers just use put their reference image into Adobe Illustrator and just start drawing the image in Illustrator. I don't like to do that! I like to first use just an old fashion pencil and paper to get the general idea of what I am looking for in my design. Now for a straight on,front view logo, you only have to do half the work. What I mean by this is that you only need to draw half of the face. You can use that half that you drew and put it into Illustrator and mirror that half to make a full face image.
Now, as you can see, I have trace the outside shape of the cougar and then filled in the darker shadow of the face. This gives the negative space (White Area) the other shape of the face. It is very important to have equal negative and positive space in your design. This will give it more realism.
Using Illustrator (Pen Tool)
Now put your half of your animal face into Illustrator and lower the opacity to about 30 percent and lock the layer. Now start tracing with the PEN TOOL. I know the pen tool can be hard to use, but if you practice enough, then it will become second nature for you. I have found that if you trace you lines with just the just the stroke, at a very small thickness it will be much easier to use than have the fill on. You can see what you are doing a lot easier.
Once you trace your outline of your animal, and please feel free to be artistic about your outline of the animal, it does not have to be exactly like your drawing. The drawing is just a great base for you final design. So once you trace your half of the animals face, use the Direct Selection Tool and select just the inside anchor points and go to the align tool and align them. Then group the whole thing together.
Next step is to Command C Command F (Copy & Paste in Front) for Mac or Control C Control F for Windows (Copy & Paste in Front). Now go to Object - Transform - Reflect, and make sure it is on Vertical at 90 degree. This should give you the other half of the face. Keep these two halves separated for the next step!
Keep these two halves selected because the next step is TRICKY! Go to the Align Tool and make sure you have your options panel open so you can see the Distribute Spacing panel. You should see an Align To Panel, select that and choose Align To Key Anchor. This should align your two halves and make it a complete face. Then go to the Pathfinder Tool and choose Merge to merge it all together to make one shape.
Now is the time to start coloring your animal. Always choose a dark color for your outline and shadows. I chose a dark blue, but you could use a black, but since my colors are red, white and blue, I went with the blue. Make a new layer and put it behind the outline layer. Choose any color, I chose red. Now use the pen tool and start making anchor points around the outline of the face that you want red.
I went and did my highlight in white. I went and colored the nose, teeth, whiskers, ear, and eyes. I put in a few highlights around the eyes, chin, nose, and upper brow area. These highlights are crucial in giving your animal some realistic features. Next I added a tongue and I am pretty much done!
The last step that you can do is to give your Sports Logo a Keyline. That is the white border around your logo. You see this a lot on sports logos. To do this you have to group everything and copy and paste in back (Command C, Command B for Mac, or Control C, Control B for PC). Go to the Pathfinder Tool and press Unite. This should make it one solid shape. Now give this shape a white stroke with no fill color and choose whatever stroke size you want.
Now you can add text or shapes or really anything to finish off your Sports Logo Design.
So there you have it. My design process on Designing a Sport Logo. I hope that you find these techniques helpful and if you have any questions please feel free to comment on my post. I will get back with you. Thanks.