Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Working with abstract imagery

Working with abstract imagery provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Nigel French … Show More

Designing a Logo

with Nigel French

Video: Working with abstract imagery

Working with abstract imagery provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Nigel French as part of the Designing a Logo
please wait ...
Working with abstract imagery
Video Duration: 8m 30s 2h 57m Intermediate


Working with abstract imagery provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Nigel French as part of the Designing a Logo

View Course Description

A great logo is often basic, composed only of essential parts, but simple is not always easy. Designer Nigel French distills over a decade of professional design and teaching experience in Designing a Logo. He discusses the principles and techniques of what makes a logo work, and explains type-only designs, type treatments, and logo symbols in depth. He also explores how to work with clients on defining job parameters and selecting a final design, as well as how to prepare the logo for print and web publication. Nigel demonstrates each of these techniques in the course of designing a new logo for a real client, so viewers can either follow along or apply the techniques to their own work. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Choosing the right typeface
  • Exploring transparency, warped type, and other treatments
  • Working with line, shape, and imagery in a logo symbol
  • Considering current trends in logo design
  • Fine-tuning a design after client selection
  • Drawing up usage guidelines
Illustrator InDesign

Working with abstract imagery

When you are trying to come up with some imagery to go with your logo, maybe your choice is going to be defined for you by the kind of business that you are in, and maybe you want to use as your source of inspiration animals, nature or buildings. Three very common sources, and we will be seeing examples of all of those. But maybe the range of services that you offer is a little more broad, little less easy to define and perhaps you want to go with some kind of abstraction in your logo, as we have in all of these examples on the screen.

Let us take a look at how easy it is to create shapes and symbols like this, especially using Illustrator's Pathfinder tools. So, here in Illustrator, all the results of my explorations of combining simple shapes; overlapping triangles and rectangles, circles and rectangles, multiple squares, etcetera. Repeating transformations to create these interesting kind of flower like shapes and combining the different resulting shapes using different Pathfinder shape modes.

I'm going to be doing most of these from scratch and we will get similar results, although not exactly the same. I'm going to start a new document. So, here I'm with a blank page and I'm going to start by tearing off my Shape tools, locking that panel up there and I also want to make sure I have my Pathfinder panel open, and I'll put that up there. Let us begin with my Rectangle tool. I have got my smart guides on, you can see that those messages popping up, telling me what I'm aligning to. That is going to make it slightly easier when aligning one object with another. Let us zoom-in on that and now I'll switch to my Ellipse tool and I'll draw myself an ellipse over the top of that rectangle, select both objects and then come to the second of my shape modes; Subtract from shape area, that is my result.

Using the Polygon tool, I'll draw myself a triangle, which I'll then re-shape. Press E key to go to the Free Transform and just narrow that. I then just want to intersect that shape with a guide. I'm going to turn on my rulers, Apple+R or Ctrl+R. I'm going to put myself a guide right there and using that guide as visual reference, I'm going to draw a circle over the top of that. Select both, subtract from shape area, and I get that result. Now, how about I'll copy that over to there. And these are all compound shapes, I can release them using the panel menu on the Pathfinder panel and this time, I'm going to get rid of that, switch now to my Rectangle tool and I'm going to draw a rectangle over the top of that triangle, like so. I'll then send it to the back; Object, Arrange, Send to Back. Select both and again, subtract from shape area.

Now, let us experiment with some circles. One circle, duplicate it, select both, subtract from shape area. Now, how many times do we see that kind of shape in a logo? Very frequently and of course, I could if I want to just rotate that through any kind of rotation to get different interpretations of that shape. Zooming out slightly, I'll select both, copy them across, release, delete the front most circle, and this time, I'm going to pair it up with a Spiral. Hold down the Alt key, so I'll draw my spiral outwards from the center and if necessary, pressing my Up arrow to get more winds on it and the Apple or Ctrl key to determine how tightly wound it is, it's a little bit hard to control this. There we go, that is a little bit better, something like that, and then I'm going to give that a stroke weight, maybe just hold that around a little bit, position it slightly differently on top of the circle.

Now, let us see what kind of result I get by combining the two and subtracting the spiral from the circle, and I get that kind of shape. This is the land of happy accidents sometimes. Now, let us try combining some squares together. So, I'm going to hold down the Shift key, zoom-in a bit, then holding down the Alt key, drag away from that. I'm also going to hold down the Shift key again to constrain my copy to 45-degree angle. Now, I'm going to repeat that transformation, Apple+D or Ctrl+D a couple of times, select all four and this time, I'm going to exclude the overlapping shape areas to get that result.

How about I'll now try a square and, of course, if we rotate a square, it becomes a diamond. So, I'm going to double click on my Rotation tool and rotate a copy through 45 degrees. Select both, exclude over lapping shape area. Now, let us take a look at working with repeat transforms. I'll use my Ellipse tool, create myself a tall skinny ellipse like so. Double click on my Rotation tool and again, rotate a copy through 45 degrees. Repeat that transformation, select all of the objects, exclude overlapping shape area. Now, that is a compound shape and I can combine that compound shape with another compound shape. I'm going to duplicate that and I'm going to draw a rectangle, actually a square, position it to something like so. Select both and actually, I need to make sure that this flower like shape is on top. So, I'm going to select that, Apple+Shift+Eight bracket, to bring it to the front, select both. Subtract from shape area or I'll duplicate it, Release the Compound Shape and instead of subtracting, exclude.

I now realize I'm running out of space on my outboard. So, I'm going to zoom out; let us select everything and just scale it down a bit to give me a bit more room. The final point I want to make is using blends and how useful they can be, and we have seen an example that's kind of similar to this before, but it is a very, very easy thing to do and in fact, a very commonly used technique. I'm just going to draw myself a square, which I'll then -- so, I'm going to draw myself a line and I'm going to make that line a thick line; I'm going to make it a weight of ten points. Let us give it a color, I'll make it green and I'm going to duplicate it or then Alt+ Shift and dragging away from it. I'll now make the stroke of the copy a lot lighter, I'll select both, go to my Blend tool and click on the top point of one, and then go and click on the equivalent point of the other and that is going me a blend of specified steps. If you are not getting exactly what you want then double click on the Blend tool and you can specify the number of steps that you want, and I'm now going to just make that a white stroke, so that it sits on top of the colored rectangle like so.

So, there we see just a few of the many, many options you have when using shapes and combining them using the Pathfinder shape modes as well as doing a simple blend or repeating your transformations to create multiples of a specific shape.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Designing a Logo .

Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
Q: Where can I learn more about graphic design?
A: Discover more on this topic by visiting graphic design on





Don't show this message again
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Designing a Logo.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


Upgrade to View Courses Offline


With our new Desktop App, Annual Premium Members can download courses for Internet-free viewing.

Upgrade Now

After upgrading, download Desktop App Here.

Become a Member and Create Custom Playlists

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of online learning video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Log in

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

You started this assessment previously and didn’t complete it.

You can pick up where you left off, or start over.

Resume Start over

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.