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LOGO DESIGN BASICS

Logo design is a specialized subset of comic book lettering, as well as a creative area of its own across the spectrum of graphics and media, from movies and TV to books and advertising. Focusing on comics logos, here's a piece of art I put together about logo design.

Logo Design art

A larger version that you can download and print out is HERE.

This was created before I had done much logo designing on the computer, but many of the principles apply there as well. When designing logos today, I often begin with hand-drawn sketches, then scan those and trace them on the computer before doing further work on them there. Most of the computer design work is done in Adobe Illustrator, though I sometimes use Adobe Photoshop for specific effects.

Here's an example of the logo design from pre-computer days. The assignment was for a new Doctor Strange logo for Marvel Comics. I usually begin with three sketches. These were drawn lightly in pencil and then inked with markers.

Dr Strange sketch 1

Dr. Strange sketch 3

©Marvel Characters, Inc.

The editor got back to me with the following feedback: he liked the "Sorcerer Supreme" style from the first sketch, and wanted to see more along that line. Also, a straight logo would fit on the cover better, so he wanted to stick with that. I then did two more sketches.

Dr. Strange sketch 4

Dr. Strange sketch 5

©Marvel Characters, Inc.

The fifth sketch was what they liked best and decided to go with. Here's the final logo, inked on plastic vellum. This was a fairly easy one. Often more sketches or versions are required, sometimes as many as 15 or 20 before everyone is happy and I can do the final.

Dr. Strange Logo

©Marvel Characters, Inc.

Comic book logos at present have moved away from the hand-lettered look that was popular from the beginning of comics until the 1990s, when computer lettering and design began to make inroads. Now, many logos begin with a non-comics commercial display font that is converted to outlines in Illustrator, then tweaked and manipulated to give it a specific look in either Illustrator or Photoshop. The "distressed type" look is very common, and to my taste, overdone, but it does seem to have a lot of popular support.

One thing that is often overlooked is that short titles have a lot of advantages: the letters can be larger on the comic cover, and there are more design options. For instance, in the first image above, look at how much room THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES takes up. A title such as X-MEN offers a lot more room for innovative design, eye appeal and readability.

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All text and images ©Todd Klein, except as noted. All rights reserved.

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