by Curtis D. Tucker
How We Create A Cartoon Logo Tutorial
Have you ever wanted to know exactly how a professional cartoon logo is created? Read this detailed article and find out how we create our top quality logo designs.
The first step in creating a top notch design is to research your subject. I search the Internet, books
and many other sources looking for design inspiration, facts, pictures and reference material on my project. Once I have
gathered all of my inspiration I try to visualize how I want the character to look. I begin sketcingh with nothing more than a mechanical pencil (7mm
lead) on everyday copy paper. I draw, erase and redraw many times
on each part of the design. The sketched hand to the right shows the rough lines as I erase
and redraw the hand multiple times.
place a small light box on top of my drawing table and normally draw on the
light box. This allows me to see through the eraser marks and also gives me the opportunity to use two pieces of paper which I can overlay on each other and move body parts exactly where I want them without having to redraw several times. An example would be drawing the tongue on a second piece of paper and placing it under my original drawing. Once the tongue is in the position I am happy with I can trace it onto the top piece of paper.
I loosely sketch each part of the character beginning with the head.
I darken my lines by retracing over them several times as I become
satisfied with the image. The full pencil sketch to the right is the rough
for thiscartoon cow design. I normally have erased most of the darker guide lines so that I have a design that is as clean as possible.
I then scan the pencil drawing using a simple home canner/printer.
I scan as a 300 dpi. TIFF on color photo mode. Once scanned, I open the TIFF file in Adobe Photoshop. I quickly change the color mode from color CMYK to greyscale so that I get soft edges on my lines. If you save it as a B&W bitmal you will end up with very jagged edges.
This is where I begin to clean up the design. I erase and thickenmy lines to get the design exactly
as I want it. I try to eliminate any rough edges or jagged points. When finished the design looks exactly
like it has been inked, only I now have lines with very few flaws in them. I then save this B&W TIFF again at 300 dpi. It looks like the third drawing down.
The next step is to convert my pixel TIFF to a vector art image. I
use Adobe Illustrator to accomplish this step. Open a new page in AI and PLACE the TIFF onto the page. With the image highlighted click the Auto Trace button with the setting of Comic Art. The image is then ready to be vectored. Click Expand and the image will instantly become a wired outline called a vector. The file should then be saved as an AI or EPS file.
The new file looks like the
TIFF but now has very smooth lines that can be manipulated with the pointer tools. I ungroup the image and move any nodes, using the pointer
tool, that do not look correct. Each white section of the vector image can be
clicked on and color can be added with the click of a mouse.
I can also make any changes to the design that I needto at this stage.
Notice that I changed the flowers on the cow during this stage. I
also added a thicker outline around the cow to make it stand out more
and repositioned the tail slightly. These changes can be seen on the first color image.
Once the cartoon is created and colored I am ready to begin
the process of creating the lettering and any background that might
be needed. I scroll through hundreds of fonts picking any that I feel
might work for the current project. I then take the handful of fonts and create
the logotype using each font face. I throw out any that I don't t like.
I look for fun, cartoony and unique lettering.
When I have a typestyle
that I really like I normally try to change the font in a way to make
it unique to that client.This can be done once the font is converted to Outlines. I may stretch a letter, curve the words
or combine two different fonts.
If a background is needed I create it in Illustrator. I use circles,
squares, fades and other effects until I have one I am happy with.
The image to the right is a bogus cartoon logo design I created for
a t-shirt company. I used a circle with cow spots for the background
and used two different fonts. The top font was curved using the Fit
Text to Path tool in Illustrator.
The last step I perform is to save the completed design as an EPS
file. I convert the text to curves to avoid any font conflicts with
possible printers. I then actually reopen the design in Illustrator
and make any last minute color modifications and might add a little shading
to the design. Once completely done, I can save the design as
Illustrator and EPS vector files.
I open the vector EPS file,highlight it and export it as a transparent PNG file. I also Save As a PDF file. At this stage I have a vector AI, EPS and PDF file plus a PNG file. I then quickly open Photoshop, find the EPS file and it as a TIFF and JPEG pixel file. If needed I can also create a low resolution GIF file using Save for Web.
Read why you need a cartoon logo.
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Closeup of the sketch. Rough pencil marks and plenty of erasing.
The completed cartoon pencil sketch. Cleaned up lines and eraser marks.
The black and white high resolution TIFF. Created in Photoshop this step would have been the inking stage in the past.
The completed cartoon image including color and modifications. This would be the vector file.
The addition of a background, lettering and other elements makes this a professional cartoon logo design.