Thursday, 6 January 2011

Cutlass logo development

I thought I would share with you the working stages I went through to reach the final logo for Cutlass! The progression you see here is fairly typical for a logo job.

I have worked with Adam at Black Scorpion on several occasions before (see the BS page on my site here) and I was so proud that he asked me to be involved in the project. He knew at the outset that he wanted to create a rulebook for a skirmish game involving fantasy pirates, and had already begun work on the background and rules. It was my job to produce the rulebook and all the associated bits of graphic design. This included the logo, which is where we started.

The stages you see below were proceeded by a fairly thorough bout of visual research. It is tempting to "jump straight in" to projects like this, but I find it always pays to think carefully about where you're going. We honed in on several key visual themes which we wanted to be expressed in the project. These included navigation (maps and sextants in particular), Voodoo (as the game is set in the Spanish Main and involves the undead), tattoos and decay. We also decided there were certain things we wanted to stay away from. The game is land-based, so although we were dealing with pirates we didn't want the imagery to be too nautical.

The first stage was to generate some thumbnails. This is visual brain-storming and from these Adam was able to say which directions he liked, and which he didn't.

Once Adam had decided the direction he wanted us to go in, the next stage was to generate a vector version of the logo in Adobe Illustrator. I am very familiar with this program and feel very comfortable working in it. It allows me to design freely and efficiently while, at the same time, the results look very pristine and presentable. Adam was quite happy with the first version I generated, and decided upon the font option I had shown in the main logo (this was my favorite too).

Adam requested some revisions which resulted in the two versions you see here. He opted for the second as the one we'd pursue to a final design. Another advantage of working in Illustrator is that the results can easily be imported into Photoshop to form the template for the final design.
This is the final design as rendered in Photoshop. The original file is very big - about 6,000 pixels in diameter. Logos need to be high quality because they are often used for print jobs and blown up to large proportions for promo banners and so forth. Working on such large files can really put a strain on your computer, so I tend to work on each element separately, and then stitch the flattened bits together at the end. This is actually the second version of the final logo. When we posted the first version people kept telling us they couldn't read the text. The "t" and "l" were too close together and looked like an "h". I tweaked the tracking a bit and what you see here is the result. It's funny that when you work on something so intensely you can loose sight of the bigger picture and miss things which are obvious to someone with fresh eyes.