Create Minimal Logos Using Transforms
As a graphic designer, creating logos can be one of the most challenging job you will come across. In recent years, Minimal or Modern logos have been the big key words when corporate companies request logos. Luckily there is a simple trick to creating simple, original logos while maintaining a symmetrical and precisely measured look to them. By using some of Illustrators Computer Aided tools, you can duplicate and shift a single shape to form evenly spaced radial, skewed or scaled objects that look just like many of the minimal abstract logos you see today. Companies like BP and Audi use this technique of duplicating and shifting to create their own minimal logo. We will show you three examples on how to create minimal logos using the Transform tool and some design techniques.
Lets start by creating a simple shape. Use the Ellipsis Tool (L) and create two circles. Intersect the two circles by clicking the Intersect button in the Pathfinder Panel. You should have a single shape left similar to the image below.
Select the new shape and go to Effect < Distort & Transform < Transform.... Use the pop-up window to scale, duplicate, rotate, and move the shape and preview your changes by checking the Preview Box. In the example below (and in most cases), you get the best results by adding some copies and rotating the shape on one of the 9 axis points. Use the image below as an example to get pointed circle shape shown in the image.
Next we are going to add some variation in the color to make the logo more unique. Color, spacing, and typography all play a big role in making a logo memorable and most importantly, legible. Start by selecting your new shape and go to Object < Expand or Expand Appearance. Now, UnGroup the object by right-clicking the shape and selecting UnGroup or use the short-cut key Shift + CTRL + G / Shift + CMD + G. Next, select all of the individual shapes and go to the Transparency Panel on the right side (or located in the Window drop down menu) and select Multiply. You will notice that you can see the shapes overlaying each other with a slight transparency. You can now change the colors if you like and place a good Sans Serif font next to your logo. For the best results, choose three shades of the same color. Similar to how we chose three shades of blue to color in the logo in the example below.
Now lets create a new logo using the same techniques. This time, Unite two circles using the Pathfinder Panel and Subtract from a third circle using the same Pathfinder tools.
Go to Effect < Distort & Transform < Transform... and play around with the settings to duplicate and rotate the shape you just created. This time we will space out the duplicated shapes and not use the overlaying technique from the previous step.
Again, select your new shape and go to Object < Expand or Expand Appearance then UnGroup the object by right-clicking the shape and selecting UnGroup or use the short-cut key Shift + CTRL + G / Shift + CMD + G. Change the shape’s colors to have two tones, one light and one darker and add your type underneath the logo.
The last example is slightly different but still uses the same techniques. Start by drawing a circle using the Ellipsis Tool and go to Effect < Distort & Transform < Transform.... This time we will be adjusting the Scale and Move sliders to create a different logo. By increasing the Scale, each copy is calculated and scaled by a certain percent each time. The Move sliders adjust the vertical and horizontal position of the shapes. Rotating will shift and curve the copies depending on what angle and axis you rotate it on. Use the example below to get the effect demonstrated.
To get the transparent overlay effect, repeat Step 3 and adjust the colors and add your type inside the little space within the logo. You can always go to Adobe Kuler to explore different color combinations for you logo.
Wrapping it Up
The key to remember when creating a logo is always keep it simple, but most importantly, make it legible. Many illustrated logos may seem complex but are mostly simple in color and design to keep the company name legible and memorable. Another benefit of using Illustrator to create logos (besides the computer aided tools) is the ability to scale your logo to any size, big or small. Try testing out different settings and shapes using the Transform Effect tool and see if you can find some more interesting logos you can use in future projects.