All images © DC Comics, Inc.
This was an easy assignment because I had a very strong foundation to build on: the Robin logo above, introduced in 1991, which I’ll be writing about in a Robin logo study soon. In brief, the R comes from the costume redesigned by Neal Adams, and the rest was a group effort by several designers. It was very successful, lasting nearly two decades at a time when many logos came and went quickly.
But the character was being revamped with a longer name: Red Robin. I was contacted early in 2009 by DC and asked to submit some design sketches. The direction given was to build on the previous Robin logo, perhaps modernize it a bit, but keep the feel. I was sent some art for reference, the cover art for the first issue:
I like the look, and was intrigued by the chest symbol, but it was hard to be sure of the correct shape of it, so I asked DC for a more head-on shot. They provided this one from interior art:
Now I had something to work with. A stylized version of the character’s hood in a circle…or is it meant to be the head of a bird of prey (which a real robin is not)? Could be either, I guess. I thought I’d try using it in place of the letter O in Robin, at least in some sketches I’d submit. It would provide a good visual tie-in to the character.
When I was ready start, I sat at my drawing table with the previous Robin logo and made some very rough idea sketches, more like doodles really, trying to see where I might go with it. I liked the idea of revising the large R by making the top loop more pointed, and I worked forward from that.
Once I had that direction I did a larger and more measured sketch of the Robin letterforms as well as a drawing of the chest symbol. This seemed a good direction, but I need more variations.
This version went back to the original initial R from the Adams logo and reimagined the rest of the letters in a similar style. One handy thing about this character name is that the R is repeated, so I only had to design the ones shown here to have them all, assuming I didn’t need the O.
This third version made more extensive changes to the first R, giving the right descender a clawlike curve. The rest of the letterforms were similar to version 1, with minor variations.
Here’s the first sketch rendered on the computer in Adobe Illustrator, then expanded further in straight and curved variations, with and without the chest symbol, and with that symbol in a circle or angled. I did a more complete rendering on the first and last versions, as I thought they were the most promising. Red and black seemed a good choice for colors. Always handy to have a color in a character name!
Here’s sketch 2 rendered the same way. One nice thing about working with logos on the computer in Adobe Illustrator is that, once you have the outlines traced, making variations is fairly simple. I kept the chest symbol in all these, but could have replaced it with a regular O if asked.
Here’s the third sketch rendered. I liked this one the least; frankly it seemed too much like some other logos I’ve designed, so I kept the versions to a minimum, without the chest symbol. Again, I could have added it if asked.
After some deliberation by DC, version 2E was chosen as the final with no further changes. I love it when that happens! Here’s the final logo file. I’ve given them version 2D also, in case they needed a solid-letter version at some point. They chose the one that had stayed closest to the chest symbol from the Adams logo, but also incorporated the new chest symbol. Wise choice, I think, as it would please old and new fans of each.
Here it is on the first cover. They’ve changed the color on the logo’s chest symbol to match the actual costume, compressed the entire logo a bit horizontally, and given the black drop shadow a gray tone to make it work, but I think it’s otherwise as I sent it in. I can’t claim this as entirely my design, since the R is almost the same the the Adams one, but I’m happy with the way the collaboration turned out. Be interesting to see what happens if they go back to calling the character just Robin again at some point!