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Using negative space effectively

From: Designing a Logo

Video: Using negative space effectively

One of the hardest tricks to pull off in a logo is to use negative space effectively. But when you can do it, it really makes the difference between a mediocre logo and an excellent logo. Let's take a look at these very popular examples. Beginning here with, you might say, is the most famous logo of all time and it's so simple and yet so effective the way the E and the X are brought together, so the negative space that's left, makes the arrow. That didn't happen by accident. Also, the World Wildlife Fund; how the shape of the panda is just suggested by the negative space, brilliantly simple. Likewise with the Champions League in the football. The Siegel in the Bank of America. The way the part of the A is rubbed out in the V&A logo. A major part of the success of these logos is the way that they use negative space. Let's see if we can try and do something similar with our logo in Illustrator.

Using negative space effectively

One of the hardest tricks to pull off in a logo is to use negative space effectively. But when you can do it, it really makes the difference between a mediocre logo and an excellent logo. Let's take a look at these very popular examples. Beginning here with, you might say, is the most famous logo of all time and it's so simple and yet so effective the way the E and the X are brought together, so the negative space that's left, makes the arrow. That didn't happen by accident. Also, the World Wildlife Fund; how the shape of the panda is just suggested by the negative space, brilliantly simple. Likewise with the Champions League in the football. The Siegel in the Bank of America. The way the part of the A is rubbed out in the V&A logo. A major part of the success of these logos is the way that they use negative space. Let's see if we can try and do something similar with our logo in Illustrator.

So, as I'm sure you know by now, we are working on a project, a logo for a company called Deep Green, a garden design company. Of course, you are probably working on your own logo which may be for a company entirely different from this, but nonetheless these techniques are going to be just as applicable to you. Now, the most basic use of negative space is to have your type reversing out of a shape. That could be your logo right there. Maybe you need nothing more than that. But what negative space does for us is it gives us the illusion of more colors, because we are using the color of the paper. I'm going to zoom out.

Now, if you know the Orange logo, the cellular telecommunications company? Looks rather similar, doesn't it? Here, I think things are a little bit more successful. We have the shape of the leaf suggested here and then echoed here. Negative space taking a bite out of the rectangle and then repeated but smaller in the top right. A similar version here, but what we are using in this instance is one of those Pathfinder options and let me just go to my Pathfinder panel. So much you can do with these Pathfinder options. I'm going to release that, so we see it begins as the leaf overlapping the rectangle and if I select both of them and choose this option, Exclude Overlapping Shape Areas, very interesting effect.

I'm going to come to the picture in just a moment. Couple of slight different variations on a similar theme here, using -- I think this was an Illustrator symbol that I adopted and adapted using the methods that we saw in previous video, talking about Clip Art, just boiling it down to its essential shape and then making that shape white, overlapping it with the rectangle. Here doing the same thing, but as we saw in the example just above, using the Exclude Overlap Pathfinder option. So, let's now take a look at this picture that we have up here, because this picture was a picture that I took from my client, who I'm designing the logo for Deep Green.

It's a picture of a garden that she works in and I was thinking about this picture, and how that might inspire some kind of logo symbol and that's what I came up with as a result of working with this picture. We saw this or a slight different version of this in an earlier video. I just want to deconstruct this and go over how it was put together. So, I'm beginning with two shapes, one of which is just reflected and copied from the original. We have got a single spike or frond or whatever it's called that has been rotated around the center point of a circle to make multiples using the repeat transform. We have seen that technique several times and that will group together and then that's reflected and copied right there and that's where I'm going to pick it out. I was tempted to maybe use transparency to give this effect here, wherever we have the overlapping fronds, but I don't want to use transparency because that's going to involve introducing extra colors into the logo. It's going to complicate things. It's going to make printing harder and reproduction of small size is harder. So instead, I wanted to use a Compound Path or Exclude Overlapping Areas from my Pathfinder panel.

So, I'm going to select both of those and then do that and that's the effect that we get. Now, I want to contain the whole thing within a rectangle. So, I'm going to draw a square with my Rectangle tool, holding down the Shift key and then I'll select everything. Come to the Object menu and choose Clipping Mask > Make. There we have it. I can thereafter, if I want, if I use my Group Selection tool, I can come and select either of these elements that go to make it up and move those around independently. So, this is a kind of fluid thing I can experiment with to get just the right combination of these two different elements and how they overlap.

Now, continuing with this theme of negative space, I encourage you to just mess around and experiment with shapes and combining them with other shapes and reversing one shape over another, and just see what results you can get. Here are some of my explorations. I won't go into them, but this I found a useful exercise working with, say, a leaf shape and then combining it with the rectangle, experimenting with my Pathfinder options and just say, how juxtaposing the two together in various different ways, we get some very interesting effects.

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Designing a Logo

31 video lessons · 60760 viewers

Nigel French
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