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I’m Jacob Cass, the founder of JUST™ Creative. I’m a multi-disciplinary graphic designer, working with clients all around the world. My specialty is logo & brand identity design. JUST™ Get in touch.

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How to modify a typeface to create a unique logo

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Computer Arts Tutorial

This tutorial was written for Issue 176 of Computer Arts magazine. You can see an image of the tutorial in print here.

When creating a new brand identity, it’s important to ensure your design is unique and one way to ensure this, is to either create your own font or modify an existing one. In this tutorial we will be creating a new brand identity for Computer Arts by modifying ‘Gotham’, an incredibly well-crafted typeface by H&FJ.  If you don’t have the font already, you can find the ‘Gotham Light’ outlined version for download here. [H&FJ have requested for me to remove the file and I have done so, sorry for the inconvenience.]

A similar free font ‘Monseratt‘ can be found here.

It’s also important to note that in a real world situation, you should consider all your options before choosing to modify a typeface, based on thorough research & planning. The end result should be a brand identity that clearly and effectively conveys its intended message.

Time needed: 30mins

Software needed: Adobe Illustrator (or equivalent)

Skills you will learn:

  • How to create a unique brand identity
  • How to modify an existing typeface to create a unique logo
  • How to use the pen tool when editing a typeface

Step One

Computer Arts Tutorial

1) If you have the Gotham ‘Light’ typeface, create a new document and type out the words ‘computer arts’ at 50pt and then right click and click ‘Create Outlines’. If you don’t have this font,  download this file [H&FJ have requested for me to remove the file and I have done so, sorry for the inconvenience.]. You will also find the rest of the Gotham Light typeface if you wish to create a different logo after the tutorial. Take a moment to study the changes we are going to make, as circled in red.

Step Two

Step-Two

2) You will notice the text is now editable, this is because we have outlined the font. This allows us to edit the letterforms. Now that the text is outlined the first thing you will want to do is make a duplicate of the words. Hold down alt and drag a new copy out. After duplicating, right click on the text and click ‘Ungroup’. This allows us to edit each letterform individually rather than all at once.

Step Three

Step-Three

3A) Zoom into the top of the ascender of the letter M at 6400%.

3B) Select the letter M and then select the delete anchor point tool by clicking the minus button (-) on your keyboard. Delete the top right anchor point of the M’s ascender. This will leave a sharp point.

3C) Zoom out, turn on smart guides (Cmd+U) and then put a ruler in line as shown. Take note that the ruler is directly inline with the anchor point on the middle of the M. Use the direct selection tool (from now on called DST) and pull down the left side of the M to in line where you made the rule. Hold down shift to ensure it is locked to a straight line.

Step Four

Step-Four

4A) Select the delete anchor point tool again and delete the anchor point on top of the M as shown by the arrow.

4B) Now grab the DST again, click once on the very top anchor point of the M. This will show two blue nodes. Grab the left one and pull it out to the left so it is inline with the vertical edge of the M, remembering to hold down shift while doing so. A pink smart guide should show you where to lock it into place. Let go and now the letter m is complete.

Step Five

Step-Five

5A) Now zoom into the letter P. This is going to be similar process… delete the top right corner of the p’s ascender.

5B) Create a new ruler and put it in line with the middle of the P as shown, taking note that this is a different spot to the first rule. (You may want to delete the other guide so you do not confuse yourself). Now get the DST and drag the left side of the P down to inline with the rule you just created.

5C) Now delete the middle anchor point of the P. With the DST select the top anchor point and pull out the left blue node to the side of the P, just like we did for the M.

Step Six

Step-Six

6) The letter U will be using the same technique, just in reverse. Delete the left anchor point of the descender. Create a rule in line with the bottom anchor point found on the other side of the U. Get the DST and move the point up to where you created the line. Delete the middle anchor point like you have done for the M and P.  Get the DST and click the bottom middle anchor point, drag out the right node to in line with the right side of the U. The U is now complete. Use this same technique for the letter A.

Step Seven

Step-Seven

7) Now zoom into the letter T. Use the delete anchor point tool (-) and delete the two anchor points found on the left side of the T. You will notice that it leaves two other unneeded anchor points on the middle stem of the letter T. It’s good practice to optimise your files, both for file size and faster printing, so delete these too. Do this all again for the second letter T. Don’t worry about kerning just yet.

Step Eight

Step-Eight

8. Zoom into the letter R. The letter R is going to be using the same technique as the M and P however take note of where the ruler is located this time, this time it is in line with the bottom of the E. After you have done the letter R, duplicate it and drag it over to the other R and place it directly on top of the other R. Delete the R with the ascender. All of the letters have now been modified. From here you can kern as much as you desire.

Step Nine

Step-Nine

9) Now that you have the customised type, you can experiment further by adding new elements such as the ‘CA’ provided, tweaking nodes, changing the layout, sizing, colour, etc. to create a unique brand identity. Shown in the image above are just some of many possible variations.

Other magazine appearances:

Below are a few other other magazines that I have written for / been featured in. If interested, you can find the full list on my about page.

Be sure to share your creations if you do the tutorial!

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