Two Approaches to Illustrating in A.I.

Depending on training, workflow and expertise, different designers have different ways to do illustrations in Adobe Illustrator. The great thing is, it allows for many different preferences to fit every artist’s style.

When I am illustrating, it usually comes down to two methods, finished work by hand, or hand sketched idea that I finish in AI. Here’s an example of both that I did yesterday:



Here’s a scan of two different apes. The top one is a pencil sketch that’s pretty much finished.



I use AI’s helpful LiveTrace feature to quickly vectorize it. It has some rough edges, but that’s the look I was going for.



Now that it’s vector, I can fix things like his eyes and hair. He didn’t look gorilla-like enough for me, so I pulled up his forehead. If I had done this with a pencil drawing, it would have involved a lot of erasing.



Five minutes later, I’m done with a the illustration. The longest part was drawing him out on paper. Unlike the second one….



Placing my original scan, I trace him with the Pen Tool (in pink, so it stands out).



Then I delete the scan, change it to black, and start giving some personality to those lines.




I add some detail, and make sure it all makes sense.



Twenty minutes later, he’s done. This one was much quicker to do before I scanned him, but took more time for experimentation and tweaking once it was traced. You can see more examples of this in the logo design section of

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Rob Marsh
Filed under Food, Holidays, Logos.

Designing Cinco de Mayo

It’s Cinco de Mayo, which we have traditionally celebrated with more than twenty bags of tortilla chips and gallons of salsa here in the design studio. This year we’re once again thinking about Mexico and logos, which naturally enough, we’ve done a bunch of. From salsa (the stuff you eat as well as the dance steps) to holiday celebrations, several clients have asked us to help create identities to match their Cinco de Mayo-ish products. Here are a couple from the archive, two concepts we put together a few years ago for a Cinco de Mayo celebration in St. Louis from a few years back.




Here’s hoping you have a great Cinco de Mayo from your favorite logo design studio.

Rob Marsh

Using Color—Red

A few days ago, Paul wrote about the importance of color in the design of a logo. (You can read his thoughts, here.) Color affects everything in a design from how you see an image to how you feel about what you see. Color also adds meaning to a design, so it’s a good idea to keep in mind what colors represent when you use them in a logo.

Take the color red for example. Like most colors, red is associated with both positive and negative ideas. Some of the positive: courage, leadership, vigor, power, energy, heat, strength, passion, romance, and love. Some of the negative: danger, war, malice, rage, anger, sex (the illicit kind), communism, and blood.

Red is very effective at calling attention to itself, which is why it is used on stop signs and traffic signals. It is also used in neon signs and “click here” web buttons for the same reason—it is easily noticed and gets your attention. As Paul mentioned in his post, red brings text and imagery into the foreground of a design.

Because it is so emotionally intense, red has an impact on metabolism. It can raise blood pressure and quicken respiration (hence the term, seeing red). Scientists have actually demonstrated that red can increase appetite (so many restaurants use red in their decor and menus).

Because of it’s instant visibility, red is used effectively by dozens of brands, including Coca-cola, Marriott, Virgin, Johnson & Johnson, Marlboro, Target, Marvel, and Avis. Many fast food brands use the color red, either as the main color or in support: Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Five Guys, Burger King, Jack in the Box, KFC, Denny’s, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, In ‘N Out, and on and on. Other easily recognizable brands that use red: Hanes, DHL, Nestle, ESPN, STP, Lego, Toro, Honda (small engines), Colgate, KitKat, and Firestone. No doubt you could add dozens more.

Should you use red in your logo? The answer really depends on the feelings and thoughts you want to invoke when customers see your product or service. Can you describe your product as energetic, powerful, strong, passionate, or hot? Is your product sexy? Is it a medical or food product? Is your competition using colors other than red? If the answer is yes, than red is probably a good place to start.

Here’s one of my favorite red logos from our logo design gallery:

Rob Marsh

See Our Work in Logo Lounge 6

We were thrilled to find out a few days ago that several of our designers will have their work featured in Logo Lounge 6—the latest in a series of well-respected design publications by Bill Gardner set to be published in February 2011. Nine of the logos in the upcoming book were created by the designers at our design shop. Here’s a preview of what you’ll see in the book next year:











As you can see, the selected artwork covers a wide range of styles and creativity in logo design. We’re grateful to Logo Lounge for selecting our work for inclusion in the book again this year (we have several logos in last year’s book too). Congratulations to Jerron, Josh, Justin, Paul, Curt, and Jose who created the “winning” marks.

As always, our designers would love to put together a few ideas for your next project. Check us out at to get started.

Rob Marsh

Logos I Love—Black Rooster

A few years ago, we were approached by a client to design a logo for a property holding company called Black Rooster. They didn’t have a lot of expectations, so our designers had a lot of freedom in concepting and designing the project. In my opinion, the work we presented to this client was exceptional. The client saw a total of six initial concepts (and four revised versions of his favorite concept after that). Here are two of the initial concepts.

The first concept is an illustration using simple shapes and just three colors to create a rooster enclosure. The more complex icon is contrasted with a simple clean type treatment:

And the second is one of my favorite logos we’ve ever created. It’s not perfect (for example, it would be hard to engrave or embroider with this level of detail), but it’s a great piece of artwork. I love almost everything about it.

Do you have a new business or product that could benefit from a stunning logo design? If so, we’d love to work on it for you. Check out the designers featured on our home page to get started. Or create your own logo at