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Logo Creation: Beyond Illustrator's Pen Tool

Chris Dickman Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:44

It goes without saying that digital tools have a central role in our design workflow. Despite this, analog processes for graphic design have not only refused to die but have experienced something of a comeback in recent years. In fact, the human touch is everywhere. Should you abandon Illustrator and return to pen and ink for logo creation? Hardly. But incorporating tradition techniques into your design process can without a doubt breathe fresh life into a discipline in which digital tools have sucked out much of what has traditionally given design its real power, as an expression of the human spirit.

Where to start? No doubt you're already beginning the design process by sketching. That's great. But why not try stretching that by using some new media, such as charcoal, Speedball pens, silverpoint, scratchboard or Japanese calligraphic brushes — the idea is to open up your ability to think graphically. There is life beyond Illustrator's Pen tool, after all. You just might find that brainstorming with fresh analog media opens up unexpected new directions for your logo design work.

As an example of how creatives can push the envelope by exploring outside their usual area of competence, I give you the paper cutouts of David A. Reeves. Creating silhouettes is a very ancient practice, spanning many cultures. But it remains surprising that Reeves, who is currently studying photography in Halifax, Canada, would spend his spare time creating and photographing Photoshop-free paper cutouts. The results, however, are quite compelling and I'd surprised if their creation hasn't affected his regular photographic work.

Feel free to share your own experiences working with traditional, analog art media.