Logo Design

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Basic Building Blocks for Logo Design

Lines Shapes - basic building blocks
Create a logo design or custom illustration with simple lines and shapes.

The basis of many a logo design and graphic image are simple geometric shapes — lines, circles, squares, and triangles. Even the graphically-challenged can create great graphics for logos, newsletters, fliers, or web pages using these basic building blocks. In logo design, simplicity is a good thing.

This is not a do this, then do this, then do this type of logo design tutorial. Instead, discover (or rediscover) ways to use simple shapes in logo design and creating other custom graphics.

Examples throughout this article are done in CorelDRAW, a vector drawing program. They utilize only the most basic tools — no fancy filters, fills, or complex manipulations. You can add filters and special effects later after you've got the basic design worked out. Look for the simple shapes that make up each graphic illustration or logo design.

  1. Basic Building Blocks
  2. Lines
  3. Shapes
  4. Combine Lines & Shapes

02
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Use Lines in Logo Design

Use lines in logo design
Use variety of lines in logo design and for custom illustrations.

Lines

come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Don't get stuck in a rut.

  • Vary the thickness of the lines.
  • Make lines of dots, dashes, or combinations.
  • Look at the patterns that a series of lines make.
  • Use lines to direct eyeflow.
  • Use lines to form barriers.
  • Use lines to indicate connections.
  • Use lines to show movement.

    Be aware of what the shape of lines can convey. Sharp edges could indicate:

    • tension
    • crispness
    • hardness
    • formality
    • high tech
    Soft edges and curves may suggest:
    • softness
    • gentleness
    • flowing
    • casualness
    • personal or friendly
    Even small changes in line thickness, endings, or shape changes can alter the look and feel of a design.

    In the "Advanced" logo design example, the lines that make up the triangle (letter A) go from thick at the bottom to thin at the top. They also suggest a set of steps (advancement) leading upward.

    Notice how the round line endings give the hammer -- drawn freehand with straight and curved lines -- a softer feel.

    The second version of the ifiche logo design uses rounded line endings and more curves (in the fins/lashes). Notice that a different typeface is chosen for each, to match the style of lines.

    You can also create interesting patterns with a series of repeating lines. None of these designs rely on color -- although changes in color can further change the appearance of the lines.

    1. Basic Building Blocks
    2. Lines
    3. Shapes
    4. Combine Lines & Shapes
  • 03
    of 04

    Use Shapes in Logo Design

    Use Shapes in Logo Design
    Use circles, squares, triangles to build logo designs.

    Everything has a shape but the basic shapes of circles, squares, and triangles can be very effective in logo design, in part because of their simplicity. These shapes have certain sub-conscious meanings as well.

    • The circle is protective or infinite.
    • The square denotes stability, equality, and honesty.
    • The triangle suggests tension or conflict or action.

    There are so many things you can draw using only circles, squares, or triangles. Group several together to form interesting patterns. You can make one shape from another — such as the group of circles that form a triangle,in the illustration.

    Alternating direction or color, disrupting a pattern with another shape or a shape out of alignment can add interest or suggest abstract ideas. A triangle alone or a series of overlapping ones can "point" in one or more directions.

    Replace letters in a wordmark or name with shapes that suggest those letters. A triangle for A or V is obvious. Less obvious is the E made of squares (in illustration) or perhaps two stacked circles for an S or a pair of triangles (one up, one down) for an N. Extending the concept slightly, the red ball (a circle) replaces the first o in the About.com logo.

    Logo designs don't need to be elaborate — and usually work best when they are kept simple. So simple shapes work beautifully.

    1. Basic Building Blocks
    2. Lines
    3. Shapes
    4. Combine Lines & Shapes

    04
    of 04

    Combine Lines and Shapes in Logo Design

    Mix lines and shapes in logo design
    Mix lines and shapes in logo design and custom illustration.

    You don't have to know how to draw to create some seemingly complex illustrations. The logo designs and graphics shown here use only lines, circles, squares, triangles, and text.

    Who needs clip art? A circle, a triangle, a square (the highlight), and a curvy line make a nice balloon. Repeat it a few times, changing the color and add a triangle bow. You could vary it even more by using an elongated ellipse for one or more of the balloons.

    A checkerboard of squares is a versatile pattern. It could be a tile floor, a racing flag, or, as seen in the illustration, a tablecloth. Can you pick out the shapes used for the different eating utensils?

    A simple shape (triangle) does more than just sit there. Can you tell what they represent in the above black and white logo design?

    The SpiroBendo logo design in the illustration is nothing more than a rectangle, some circles, and some very thick lines with round ends (filled rectangles with rounded corners could work too) that combine to look like a spiral notebook.

    Letters with a tail are fun. The tail on this Q (the circle) is a curvy line that does triple duty. It underscores the name, is the tail on the Q, and its curves suggest water — an obvious tie-in with the surf supply company.

    Take the stack of circles from the Using Shapes illustration and turn 'em purple, add a "leaf" (distorted polygon shape), squiggly line, and some text for a nice logo. No art lessons needed.

    1. Basic Building Blocks
    2. Lines
    3. Shapes
    4. Combine Lines & Shapes