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Using company initials to create a monogram

From: Designing a Logo

Video: Using company initials to create a monogram

Some examples of logos that use as their main design element the initials or the initial letter of a company. Let's explore this approach working with our logo in Illustrator. Here are some approaches that I have taken. Starting up at the top left I have combined the two letters into one. I'm not sure I'm crazy about it but it's an interesting exercise to see how this is done, so let's take a look at it. I'm using this version, I do here not Franklin Gothic but rather I'm going to use Gill Sans which also has that beautiful two story G that's so decorative and gives us so many possibilities to work with.

Using company initials to create a monogram

Some examples of logos that use as their main design element the initials or the initial letter of a company. Let's explore this approach working with our logo in Illustrator. Here are some approaches that I have taken. Starting up at the top left I have combined the two letters into one. I'm not sure I'm crazy about it but it's an interesting exercise to see how this is done, so let's take a look at it. I'm using this version, I do here not Franklin Gothic but rather I'm going to use Gill Sans which also has that beautiful two story G that's so decorative and gives us so many possibilities to work with.

Now on top of that it might be tempting to try and do this to lower case D on top of it but when we look at the letter shapes carefully we see that the size and shape of the counters are just so different, that's not really going to work. So what will I'm going to do to create the D is I'm just simply going to make a vertical stem that attaches to the G. I'm just going to use this D as an indication of how wide and how tall that stem should be. So with that D there at the same size of the D, I'm just going to draw myself a rectangle over it. That's now serve its purpose, we can say goodbye to that.

I'm going to put that over my G and we can see already there it's just looking too big. I'm going to reduce its size, I'm going to reduce its width. We are not going to extend it all the way down to what would be the Baseline but rather overlap it and like so. Now, in terms of adjusting the overlap you may find this easier working in Outline View but before I can go any further I need to convert my G to Outlines. Then if I switch to my Outline View we can see how one shape overlaps the other. And I'm going to get them really nice and big, click on that rectangle. Make sure it's not interfering with the counter. Make sure it's not coming outside of the curve of the letter and that's about as far as I need to go with that.

Now I need to retract this portion of the G, I'm going to swipe over those two anchor points with my Direct Selection tool, hold down the Shift key and bring that in inside the shape, I don't need to match up exactly with the edge of the rectangle, but just inside the shape is enough. I think I'm now ready to switch back to my Preview.

And that's just not really looking quite right is it. So I'm going to zoom in again on that. We can see it bulging out slightly, so I'm going to need to make some adjustments here. So size of that rectangle -- and I do actually want to continue it, move all way to there and that's looking a lot better, zoom out.

Even though it is the height of what a Gill Sans lower case D would be, it just looks too tall to me. I'm just going to reduce this vertical size, all right. That I think is looking a little better and now I'm going to select both of those, go to my Pathfinder tools and use the Shape Mode to add them together. There is our result. Not sure I'm entirely solved on that but an interesting experiment nonetheless.

In the second example, I would say, I'm just using the initials but extending the hook on this G with a turning into stem of that into a leaf, reasonably successful I think. Now where did I get this leaf from because I didn't draw it myself. I actually got this from Photoshop. In Photoshop, there are some shapes that we can take advantage of. While Illustrator has symbols, there is no Shape Library as such. So if you want to draw some simple vector shapes or you want to access some vector shapes very easily Photoshop might be a good source for you.

So I'm going to now come down to Photoshop and in Photoshop let's hide everything else. I'm going to start a new document. I'll just tune to default size, doesn't really matter what size it is, click OK. Then I'm going to use my Custom Shape tool. All I'm going to do here is use Photoshop to draw the custom shape and then copy and paste it into Illustrator. So using my Custom Shape tool and then I'm going to come up my tool options, here is where I get my shapes from. I can expand to see what I have got. Not too many options this is just the default shapes but if you click on the panel menu, you have access to over these different shape libraries. I'm going to choose All and I'll append those.

Now see we have got a lot more shapes available to us and one that I'm after is there it is, there is our leaf. So I can now just click and drag to draw the leaf, I'll switch to my Path Selection tool, select that, Apple or Ctrl+C to copy it. Switch back to Illustrator where I'll paste it, Apple or Ctrl+V and I want to paste it as a compound shape. It's coming out rather large, so I now need to scale it down, spin it around, apply a Fill Color and also I wanted to flip it around. So I'm just going to kind turn it around on itself like so, move it around a bit more. I'll get rather that one to replace it with this one and scale it, I'm just kind of dock it into position like so.

Well, like the previous example, interesting but I don't think that's going to be a winner. Let's now zoom out and see one more example of working with the initials. In this third example of using the initials as a design element, I'm going to recreate this fourth example here and I'm going to do this using a feature in Illustrator CS3 called Live Paint, which is a very cool feature and allows us to identify different elements that are created by overlapping objects and apply paint to them without first separating them into distinct paths.

Now this is an idea that was suggested to me by my client. She handed me a piece of paper with some sketches on it that she'd come up with, so I'm working out this idea to just can show her how successful this might be. I'm going to begin with an ellipse and I'm going to -- we saw this in a previous video. I'm going to pinch the top and bottom of this ellipse to make it into a leaf shape. So I'll use my Pen tool, hold down the Alt key, click and click.

Now I'm going to get my type. I'll do both letters at once and I'm using a font called Meta, Meta Normal. I'm going to increase the size of that, position the D right about there. I want to make sure that the top of this stem of the D just overlaps the leaf at that point. Then we'll have to separate the G from it so I'm going to come away from this type area, hold down my Apple or my Ctrl key and click and then insert my cursor and Apple or Ctrl+V to paste.

The G needs to go down here. Now I realize I need to my both letters, need to position the letters relative to each other. And then I want to size them both up. Kind of fiddly. Something like that. Yup. And I think that's about right. We're now creating any small-trapped areas of space where the letter meets the outside shape. All right, good enough! So with both my letters now selected, I'm going to convert those to outlines.

Apple+Shift+O or from my Type menu, Create Outlines. Now I'm ready to use my Live Paint, I don't actually need to combine these overlapping shapes into a single shape, might be an idea for me to do that but it's not strictly necessary. I'm going to swipe over my three elements and come and choose my Live Paint Bucket. And then when I hover over these three elements I get this message, 'Click to make a Live Paint Group' and that's exactly what I'm going to do.

You will now see that I can hover over any one of these segments and apply paint to that segment independently. Ideally, I have used more than two colors here but I'm trying to restrict myself to using two colors for all of the logos wherever possible when I'm breaking that rule in a few instances but I'm going to try and keep to it here. So I'm going to use my green color and let's apply that there and there and there. I think I'll make the letters white and I'll make the right-hand side black and that should be --- I have got one small area of trapped space there so I'll come back again and make sure that also gets white.

Now you will see that when I hover over any Live Paint segment, I get three little swatches above the paint can and I can use my cursor arrows to choose the different swatch. Zoom out a bit. There are my monogrammed initials. So we have seen three of an infinite number of potential approaches to working with the initials of the company as a design element for your logo. Next we will look at creating warped and extruded type.

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Designing a Logo

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Nigel French
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