Build a Beautiful Logo in 3 Shapes or Less

Gabrielle Gosha
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Logos are essential when it comes to developing your brand, but that doesn’t mean your logo should be overdeveloped. Many well-known brands have surprisingly simple logos that serve their purpose well; customers recognize and remember these ubiquitous logos in part due to their simplicity. The lesson to learn is that your logo does not have to be comprised of multiple elements or unnecessary complexity — simplistic logos can be just as intricate ones.

The tutorial that you will find below is an exercise in creating a logo using just three shapes or less. By the end of the tutorial, I hope to illustrate that just because your logo is simple doesn’t mean it’s ineffective or underdeveloped. In fact, simple logos can outperform much more sophisticated competition. Power up Photoshop and let’s get started with creating our logo.

Concept

Conceptualizing your logo is often the hardest part of the design process. Typically, you will have already created a few thumbnails to determine what you want your logo to look like. In this case, I already have an idea of what I want to accomplish, so will be forgoing the sketching, but make sure you have an idea for your logo in mind. For this particular tutorial, I plan to create a simple orb-inspired logo for a fictional energy company that has a focuses on eco-​​friendly energy called BeauEnergie. The idea is simple, but it is the effects that are going to make this logo stand out.

Step 1: Create a New File

First, begin by opening up Photoshop and creating a new file. When the dialogue menu opens, give the canvas the dimensions of 800px by 500px, then press “OK” for the canvas to be created.

step1

Step 2: Build Background Color

Create a new layer and name this layer “BKG”. Change the foreground color to #c4c4c4 and make sure that the background color is set to the default #ffffff (white). You will need this for the next step. With your foreground selected, fill in your canvas.

step2

Step 3: Add A Gradient

We need to add a gradient to our BKG layer. To achieve this, you will need to double-click on the layer to get to the “Blending Options” menu, or you can simply right-click and go to “Blending Options.” Check the “Gradient Overlay” box and make sure the gradient colors are reflecting the colors of #c4c4c4 and #ffffff. Change the layer mode to “Overlay” and press “OK.”

step3

Step 4: Build A Blue Ellipse

To begin our logo, we will create a new layer. You can name this something like “Blue Ellipse” or “First Shape”. Just name it something easily identifiable. Next, change your foreground color to #25d1fc. Select the Ellipse Tool (U) and draw a fairly large circle in the middle off your canvas.

step4

Step 5: Blue Ellipse Warp

Next, we will distort the shape of our blue ellipse. To accomplish this, go to “Edit” > “Transform” > “Warp” and then manipulate the points by dragging the center down, the left points up, and the right points down so that you have something that resembles the image below. Don’t forget to press Enter to commit the changes to the shape.

step5

Step 6: Layer Opacity

Our logo is going to be featuring some transparent qualities, so we will go ahead and change the layer mode to “Color Burn.”

step6

Step 7: Blue Ellipse Gradients and Glows

To add effects to our blue ellipse, you need to access the “Blending Options” menu by either double-clicking the layer or right-clicking and going to “Blending Options.” The first effect we will be adding is “Inner Glow.” Check the box and change the color to #5aeeff. Change the rest of the settings to match what’s shown in the image below.

step7

Next, check the box for “Gradient Overlay” and make sure the gradient reflects the ellipse’s color. Change the other settings so that they match the settings shown below.

step7-1

Step 8: Pink Ellipse

Change your foreground color to #fc2561 and create another ellipse with the Ellipse Tool; it will be smaller than the blue ellipse. Make sure that our new ellipse is above the blue ellipse layer.

step8

Step 9: Pink Ellipse Warp

Just like before, you want to distort the shape of the pink ellipse, but give it an almost crescent-​​like shape.

step9

Step 10: Layer Opacity

Instead of changing the layer opacity of the pink ellipse to “Color Burn,” we will change it to “Multiply” and leave the opacity at 100%.

step10

Step 11: Pink Ellipse Gradients and Glows

We need to add effects to our pink ellipse as well, so open up the “Blending Options” menu. We will add “Inner Glow” first. Check the box and change the color to # 8de6ff. Change the rest of the settings to match the image below.

step11

Check the “Gradient Overlay” box and make sure the gradient reflects the ellipse’s color. Change the other settings so that they reflect the following values

step11-1

Step 12: Yellow Ellipse

Now, set your foreground color to #f3de00, and once again you will need to create another ellipse; this one will be smaller than the first two and placed under the blue ellipse layer.

step12

Step 13: Yellow Ellipse Warp

Warp the ellipse by dragging the top outermost points upward to give it an almost pointy top. Press Enter to commit the changes to the yellow shape.

step13

Step 14: Resize

Use the Transform Tool or press Ctrl + “T” on your keyboard to resize the newly-warped yellow ellipse. Make sure you press Enter once you are satisfied with the new size.

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Step 15: Layer Opacity

Change the layer mode of the yellow ellipse to “Darken.”

step15

Step 16: Yellow Ellipse Gradients and Glows

Just like in the previous steps, you need to add an “Inner Glow” and “Gradient” to your ellipse. Check the “Inner Glow” box and change the color to #fee55c. Change the settings to match.

step16

Check the box for “Gradient Overlay” and match the settings shown in the below image.

step16-1

Step 17: Shadow

Create a new layer under all three colored ellipses and draw an ellipse with the Circular Marquee Tool. This will be where our shadow will go.

step17

Make sure that the foreground color is #898989, lower the layer opacity to 51%, and change the layer mode to “Hard Light”. Apply Gaussian Blur at 5px.

step17-1

Finish

Finish up the logo by adding your chosen company name and any other finishing touches that you want to add.

logo

Conclusion

Simple logos can be just as distinctive, effective, and memorable as complicated ones. With a little practice and planning you can easily create your own logo in three shapes or less, just as I have done. Some design improvements come from the careful triage of elements, not the addition of new ones.

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  • AJ

    But…. this is crap and ugly. Not beautiful. Please be more accurate.

    • Mike Ritter

      AJ, compared with the stuff that passes for logos (company name in a serif font), this is a decent elementary exercise in getting over that hump.

  • iamkeir

    Is this a satirical article? I’m genuinely (and worryingly) unsure…

  • Mike Ritter

    Combine this with a mastery of SVG and you have a pretty powerful arsenal.

  • Clint F

    The first image in Step 7 shows the Gradient Overlay instead of the Inner Glow.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Clint. That should be fixed now.

  • Vincent H

    No professional graphic designer would ever make a logo in Photoshop. Logos are made in a program that deals with vector graphics like Illustrator.

    What’s wrong with using your company’s name set in a beautiful serif font as the logo? Nothing is wrong with that. Not as long as it’s a well thought-trough decision.

    This article got one thing right though, and that is that it’s the concept that’s the most important. But you don’t get to the concept by sketching, you get there by exploring the customer and asking questions until you’ve got something that feels exciting and unique. Then you sketch fifty ideas, then fifty more and another fifty.

  • George

    I too wondered about the use of Photoshop as the tool, but again, this is just an exercise. And of course, the original Coca-Cola logo was done in Photoshop… ;-)
    Don’t forget to apply this same concept to an existing logo. I simplified a client’s existing logo that they themselves didn’t even want to use and reduced it down to one simple concept that they immediately took a liking to because it looked more professional than their old multiple-item one, while “paying homage” to the old one for any brand value that it did have. Nothing new, of course – Apple, Starbucks, Pepsi, Shell…

  • Mike

    Well said

  • Vincent H

    The original Coca Cola logo was absolutely not done in Photoshop. It
    Was created way back sometime between 1880 and 1890. A long time before Photoshop came along.

  • Mike

    As I think about my SVG comment I’m picturing dynamic logos that make the Fox News spinning block look elementary.

  • Anonymous

    Coke logo was done in 1986, I wrote about it here http://www.brandnlogo.com/pepsi-vs-coca-cola-not-so-timeless-branding/

  • Vincent H

    Yes, the coke logo was made in 1986, but the Coca Cola logo is from late 1800s or early 1900s. And even the Coke logo from 1986 could not have been made with Photoshop as the software was first released in 1990.

  • George

    Really guys? Didn’t you see the emoticon? ;-)
    I was pointing out that you can design a logo in ANY tool and MANY (most?) great logos never saw Illustrator nor Photoshop (nor Corel, Paint, Fireworks, Gimp…)
    Whatever did we do before computers!?

  • Anonymous

    From a design perspective, this is anything **but** a simple logo. It’s unnecessarily busy, a cluster-fuck of random meaningless blobs and masturbatory gradients… “simple” design does not refer to the designer. This is pointless, tattoo shop flash to be regurgitated ad infinitum on 99designs.

  • Simon

    @walesmd You are clearly a fine specimen of a human being. I am sure you are the best design know to man but that does not give you the right to speak “potty mouth”. Comprehend?

  • Anonymous

    Yes suh’ mastah. I’s be so sorreh mastah. No suh’, no needs for da whippins mastah.