The design of a logo is crucial to any business. It is the one single graphic that represents the brand across all channels, and therefore is quite an important one to get right. When I studied graphic design at Shillington College in Sydney, we got taught that logos are generally either typographic, purely based on a graphic or a combination of the two. If you decide on a typographic logo, lettering can be a great choice to give your logo a unique character and communicate a certain feel. In this post, I’ll guide you through the process of designing the Lettering Hub logo, along with telling the story of how this website was born.
When I decided to start Lettering Hub, it was a long way from initial idea for the website to working out all content and design. I first concentrated on figuring out the general concept and content, which all went up in quite a rough form, and once that part of the website was taking shape, the design was the next thing to move on to. I wanted to get it right because I knew my readers would mostly be designers, or at least people with an appreciation for good design. Still in the content creation phase, Wayne Thompson was the first I reached out to for an interview because we had met before at a number of his lettering workshops. Wayne liked the idea and thought setting up a website like this was a bit overdue here in Australia. He must’ve really liked the idea, so much that he offered to help with the logo design. I gladly accepted – not only because time started to get away from me setting up this website while working full-time in an agency, but also because Wayne had done lettering a lot more than I had.
We agreed to take a collaborative approach. Firstly, Wayne came up with a few initial rough concepts and ideas, documenting those in his sketchbook. I was allowed to draw all over his sketches, and a few days later we met to discuss ideas, and conducted an interview at the same time – which you will be able to read shortly!
There were many ideas floating around. One-line, scripted or a mix of styles? That was the question. We agreed that a brush pen often is the first point of contact for anyone getting into lettering, and therefore decided on applying a brush treatment to Waynes initial one-line rough.
Wayne then developed the rough sketch by enlarging it on the copier and re-drawing it at A3 size to finesse some of the curves. Then it was time to take it to the computer. The A3 sketch was scanned and turned into a vector graphic as accurately as possible.
Now, there’s different ways of turning an image into a vector graphic. There is live trace, which usually gives you a pretty good result if you want the graphic to look exactly like your drawing. This is perfect if you think your drawing is perfect. If you want to make adjustments and smooth out curves though, it pays to manually trace the outline of your scan with the pen tool. The secret to achieving smooth curves is to try and use as little anchor points as possible, and treating each curve as part of a circle. Place anchor points at the furthest point of the curve and stick to positioning handles at either 90 or 180 degree angles. See how Wayne kept pretty much all handles on the capital ‘L’ horizontal or vertical? It’s generally a good approach to trace and make ALL handles vertical or horizontal, and then adjusting angles if necessary.
The red-black colour scheme came from the following initial moodboard of traditional Japanese calligraphy elements. I decided to keep the logo classic black because brush pens traditionally use black ink, and then decided on a bit of a fresher, more modern red and grey scheme for the rest of the website.
Yeah and that’s it! That’s how this website and it’s design came together! What’s to follow is a series of interviews with mostly Aussie designers and artists that specialise in lettering or calligraphy, lots and lots of links to learning resources and materials, and more. I hope it’ll be helpful to anyone that wants to give lettering a go – if you have feedback or questions, I’m always happy about comments or emails!