Steps to Create a Custom Hand Lettered Logo

Creating logos is one of my favorite things. And, as a calligrapher and designer I love when I have a chance to mix these 2 skills to create a logo. I recently worked on a logo for a photographer here in Miami that fortunately for me had a good sense of what she wanted before starting the design process. 

1. UNDERSTANDING YOUR CLIENT'S STYLE 

The first step was understanding the style of my client. She shared with me a Pinterest board she had created with different pictures she liked, mood boards, branding boards etc. This was more than enough inspiration for me to start the sketching process. 

2. SKETCHES 

I usually like to give my clients a good amount of hand drawn concept sketches so I understand better what they like as well as what they DON'T like. I also like sketching with markers, pens and paints (water color in this case) because every time I sketch with pencil I find my self erasing more than I should and it just destroys my creativity. I also like using different pens because they create different effects and contrast on the letters that just gives your more ideas for variations of one concept. For me, it is better to spend more time in the first steps of the design process than changing lots of details at the end. 

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3. REFINING SKETCHES

I have to say working with this specific client was a pleasure. She knew what she wanted and she went for it without thinking too much about it. From the original concepts, a couple sketches (or in this case my client knew she wanted to go with number 5) are chosen to be refined. Now, it's time to focus on the little details. Knowing how thick you want the letters where do you want the thick strokes to end and where you want the thin ones to begin, placements of the letters, how they connect with each other etc. 

4. VECTORIZING YOUR CUSTOM HAND LETTERING 

After making a good amount of sketches and you think you have achieved a good layout and proportion for your letters it's time to scan your refined sketches. I like to scan almost all my refined sketches because once I have the logos on the screen sometimes I see little details in other sketches that I like and I would like to incorporate in the final logo. As a calligrapher I've learned different ways (maybe easy ways) to vectorize my hand lettering. However, when it comes to logos it is a MUST that you vectorize the logo by manually tracing your original sketch. (Unless you're looking to achieve a rough look for your logo) You never know where this logo will be printed or enlarged and the last thing you want is your client contacting you after a couple months saying that the logo is looking weird when it's enlarged. For this logo, I wanted to keep the look of the strokes uneven so it was clear that it was a hand drawn font. 

5. ADDING COLOR AND GIVING SOME PERSONALITY TO THE BRAND

Finally, after the logo is vectorize you can play around with colors. Most of the time I don't add color to the logos until I get to this step. Colors, even thought they are beautiful they tend to take away some of the attention of the actual design of the logo. With this client I also created a small branding board with a color palette for her to incorporate in her brand and some design elements. If you are only creating a logo you would want to give your client between 3 or 5 color variations for the logo.