3D Logo Design for Beginners

3d logo designAre you an artist that is ready to try their hand at 3D logo design? Logos are an important design aspect for any business. 3D logos can be exciting, flashy, realistic, and convey a complex idea better than a 2D logo may be able to do. Many design firms fail to stress how important it can be to have a 3D logo created. Impress your clients by letting them know how important it is to have a 3D logo and that you can provide this service for them.

As an artist you know how important it is to understand the creative process. As a designer you will need to have an understanding of the basic logo design process in order to create a stunning 3D logo. You are not just planning a 3D logo design for your client. You are creating an identity for the company. You need a logo they can use for all sorts of online media and printed materials. Mastering these design basics will help you create stunning logos that stand the test of time and your clients are proud to display.

Client Brief

The first place to start is discussing what your client wants and what their company is about. Creating a client brief will help you refer to all this information later on in the process. It is important to gather information on your clients company and get a good understanding of the kind of business they have. Gather any style guides or ask questions if they are happy to leave the artistic design process up to you. You can’t create a logo that speaks about a company if you don’t know what that company is about.

Researching

You will need to research the industry the company is in and take a look at your client’s competitor’s logo. It doesn’t mean you have to stick with any trend you see in those logos it’s just good information to have when researching and mind mapping ideas. It is important to gather reference material and images that will help you in creating your 3D logo. Once you have a few ideas mapped out you can start the next phase of the design process.

Sketching

Once you have gathered your reference materials you can begin to sketch out your ideas. Remember that you are creating both a 2D and 3D logo to represent the company on multiple materials. Feel free to let your imagination run free in this step. It doesn’t matter how many ideas you come up with. You can choose the best one when you are done with this step. Here are some key things to think about while sketching up your ideas.

  • Shape – When you are creating the shape of the logo think about what kind of symbols will be easily recognizable. You want a symbol that will be memorable after only getting a quick glance at the logo. The 3D logo will help your design to stand out and be remembered. You also want to be able to recognize it when it is downsized to use on smaller media like business cards. Many famous logos are easy to describe and iconic. The key is to think about simplicity.
  • Typography – Consider how you will create the text for your 3D logo. Think about its position to the iconic shape you have created. Will you use the company’s initials as part of the logo? Maybe you decide to use only the first letter of the company in the logo. After deciding whether to use the initials as part of the design you have to decide if you want to make the companies name a key part of the logo. If it is an eco-friendly company for example you could have a leaf coming off of the company’s name. It is important to think about text position and also selecting the right typeface for the project.
  • Color – Color is a key component in designing a logo. It is important to have a strong understanding of color theory and color basics when designing for print. You will want to create the logo in CMYK color space when creating a 3D logo for various forms of printed materials. There are three stages of coloring your logo to think about. The first is the black and white version. Your design needs to stand up when printed in black and white and at a smaller size. If the black and white version holds up think about creating the color version of the logo with a few key colors. Use the company’s colors if they have provided those in the client brief or feel free to select them based on your professional judgment if they didn’t include that. It’s ok to add some gradients and slight shading in this version if you want to. Remember that the 3D logo should be your highlighted version with the most coloring and shading. You can even add lighting and create shadows if you think it will enhance the design.

First Pass

Once you have selected a concept sketch or two that you like it’s time to start drafting up a more final logo. Select your favorite software program and get started drawing your logo. Four of the main software options for creating a 3D logo are Illustrator, Photoshop, Maya, and 3D studio Max. Use whatever one you are most familiar with, own, or just prefer. There are benefits and disadvantages to each one.

One advantage to choosing a 3D program like Maya or Max is you have the option of creating an animated 3D logo down the line if the client likes the design or wants to use it in a video. It may also help you if your artistic background is in 3D modeling and not graphic design. Here are the steps to creating a 3D logo in a modeling program.

  1. Model design based on your sketch.
  2. Texture and color your design.
  3. Create a background.
  4. Add lighting.
  5. Render image and adjust lighting.

If you follow those five steps you will have a simple 3D logo for your client in no time. Later you can go back and do things like change the camera angle or add animation. You can even get more creative by adding lens flares and animating the lighting.

You can also choose to create your logo in Photoshop or Illustrator. If you know the basics of illustrator it’s the perfect program for creating a logo because it allows you to create vector art that can be scaled to any size without losing quality. The next step once you have your 2D logo created is to decide if you will continue in with the program to create your 3D logo. You will have to have a good understanding of shading and gradients in order to create the illusion of a 3D logo in Illustrator or Photoshop. This process will call on your drawing and observation skills as you will have to manually place highlights and shadows. You may have to brush up on more advanced illustrator techniques to perfect your 3D logos.

Client Review and Approval

Once you have finished your 3D logo design it is time to send it off to the client for review. Remember that presentation is important. You don’t want to send them a jumbled image or logo designs. Carefully place your logo examples and prepare for feedback. Don’t be discouraged if you have to make changes. That is a common occurrence in the logo design business. Keep calm and listen to your client so you can make quick effective changes to your logo. It is a dance between the designer and client that needs to go smoothly.

There are also some important formatting things to remember when supplying your client with the final 3D logo design files.

  • Deliver high res files to the client. They will need the vector file in order to resize the logo properly.
  • Make sure they understand the various logo uses and what file formats will be required for things like displaying the 3D logo on their website. It will need a transparent background for that one.
  • Deliver the logo in the CMYK color space as mentioned above.

This is a very basic overview of what you will need to do in order to become a successful 3D logo designer. Continue to practice these techniques and remember the following three words. Simplicity, Originality, and Form. Create logos that are easy to recognize, memorable, and versatile when printed. Remember you are creating a brand identity for your client. Their logo is a powerful marketing tool and they will only want the best you have to offer.

If you feel like your graphic design or logo creation skills could use some fine tuning you can always get more practice with a professional  logo design boot camp. You can also learn more about brand identity to create better logos that will hold up over time. You can even search out companies that only have a 2D logo and practice by creating a 3D logo for them. The more professional logo designs you create the better you will become at it. Remember to have fun and never stop learning. You have to stay up on new trends and current designs in order to be a successful at creating 3D logo designs.