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Drawing Great Logos in Inkscape

USING INKSCAPE FOR VISUAL EFFECTS WITH LOGOS

* First and foremost, keep things "fun" but not circus fun. Keep things cool. Stick with about 3 or 4 colors and gradients of those hues if you can. Don't add too many graphical items, but don't add too few.

* Inkscape isn't a perfect tool...at least yet. Smiling It sometimes has bugs. If you don't save copies as you work, such as bitmap1, bitmap2, etc., the bugs are more prevalent. Sometimes you have no choice but to exit Inkscape and get back in. If you find a tool isn't working right, such as an object that refuses a gradient, then you probably need to first try to make the object have a flat color, then try the gradient again. If that works, great. If not, then quit and relaunch Inkscape again.

* Think of the theme with the name or the sound of your logo phrase. For instance, with a term like "Xango", it's fun and can mean any kind of outer space or auto racing theme, or could have a tropical theme. Also, what the company does as its line of business should play into the theme, of course. However, often going with an outer space or auto racing theme can sometimes be abstract enough to not confuse the viewer and just might work.

* Try to avoid regular fonts. And if you use regular fonts, stretch or distort them.

* Sometimes it's good to have different color letters, especially the first one.

* Sometimes a capital letter, for the heck of it, stuck in the middle of the phrase, works well. Sometimes putting it all in lowercase works well, or using "Small Case" on some letters.

* No one ever says that all the letters have to be on the same line, or can't be rotated slightly left or right, or one or two letters flipped completely upside down, or given an unusually long bit of white space between it and the rest of the phrase. If the company name is not engraved in stone, then dropping vowels here or there is often a fun thing I'm seeing these days. Take for instance a company name like "Flickr" or "Flickr". It also reminds one of "phone talk" where people write notes to each other on their phone and don't use all the letters.

* 3D is more fun than 2D. Of course that's nearly impossible to draw for the novice, so going 2D and 1/2 (2D.5) is not too hard to pull off. That's achieved with gradients on all objects, brighter gradients on at least two of the edges of each item, and perhaps considering the use of a shadow.

* Put a gradient on everything with a consistent lightsource. Most people expect the lightsource either directly above or on the above left.

* Inkscape starts off with a default gradient that has a lightsources in the wrong place -- the left. You have to use a gradient line tool to change the direction of the gradient so that your lightsource is in the place where you want it, usually in the upper left and the darksource should be in the bottom right or direct bottom of each object.

* Spherical shapes with spherical gradients are great for inside of holes inside letters like o, e, R, etc.

* If drawing on white, experiment with transparent to white gradients usually, but there are other colors with which to experiment.

* Sometimes when drawing in 2D.5, you don't have to be completely accurate. Sometimes you can throw a gradient the wrong way on purpose and suddenly find it just "works".

* Outlines around letters usually distracts and brings down the visual quality and reality.

* Experiment by drawing a smaller version of a letter, putting it on the same letter but shifted upwards, and then throw a spherical transparent to white (or vice-versa) gradient on it. You might be shocked to find how aweseome this looks.

* Experiment by drawing the inverse of a letter (like a cutout), shifting it upwards over the letter, and putting a white to transparent or transparent to white gradient on it. Put it on the letter and shift it some direction up, down, left, right, diagonal, to see what kinds of effects it can do.

* To give the letters a jello (glass paperweight) kind of look, this is actually quite easy. Draw a "swath". This is the inverse of a circle, and only the upper righthand version of the corner of that cutout. It sort of looks like a stretched boomerang. Now put a white to transparent gradient on it. Then, drag it over the top of each logo item so that it touches the top and right sides of each item.

* Sometimes if a letter is a different color, if you've dressed it up enough, you can break logic here and not put the glass paperweight look on it. I know this doesn't make sense, but sometimes adding an inconsistent look to one, already-dressed up letter is just the ticket you need. And it stays with that "cool fun" tone.

* Letters are one thing, but you'll want some image to go with it. That's actually quite easy too. If you import a bitmap of some image from the Internet (such as images.google.com and keyword search), you can draw an outline around an object in the bitmap very carefully and make a silhouette shape of it. Remove the bitmap below it. Then apply a gradient on what you see. Now you can have fun with it. You can either leave it as is, or do fun things with it like draw a grid of lines across it with various white to transparent gradients on it in order to give it the effect of being "pixelized". Or you can draw only one set of lines across it on an X or just a Y axis. Or you can make it more photo-realistic by drawing lines (with gradients on them of course) across the object, such as the veins on a leaf. Consider adding shapes beside this new "icon" you have drawn to go with the letters. And apply gradients on the shapes.

* If you still want to draw something interesting, such as a dew drop or something like that, you can usually find a free tutorial with pictures for it on the Internet with a quick keyword search on Google. Sometimes you can even find the example in Inkscape.

* Think about lightsources when looking at your logo. Is it missing a lightsource on some surface? If so, consider drawing a rectangle or curved line, putting a white to transparent gradient on it, and dragging it over that surface just slightly, especially on the top and left sides, depending on where your lightsource is.

* Make certain to line things up with the Align and Distribute menu item. That is, if you *want* that effect. Sometimes you actually may want to do something unusual.

* There are two kinds of shadows. One shadow is a grayscale blur of each item flipped upside down and made vertically skinny, then put under the item and leaned to the right or left. Imagine standing in the sun and looking back at your shadow -- it's that sort of effect. Another kind of shadow is like an item on glass. This is achieved by duplicating your entire logo, keeping the colors, flipping it vertically, shrinking it so that it is the same width but vertically skinnier, and then dragging a rectangle over the top of that shadow. On this rectangle, make it white but with a weak opacity, or consider a white to transparent gradient again. For even more fun, slant the inverted image to the left or right before putting a white opaque rectangle over it.

* For some great logo ideas, look at the work of others by doing various searches on Google's Images. Another thing you can do is think up 2, 3, or 4 letters in a combination, putting ".net", ".org", and ".com" on the end, and trying to hit the website. Then, look at the logo you see and consider using some of the effects in that logo for your logo. Or go look at the gallery of a site that draws logos for companies.