My Process: Creating a Logo Start to Finish

by Rebecca Tillman-Young

Last updated on November 21st, 2017

Have you ever been faced with the need for a new logo and not known where to start? Let me walk you through my process, start to finish, to create a logo from scratch.

Before I start on any logo, I first have to sit down with the client and determine what they need, and what their target audience is.

In this case, that was easy, since the client was my husband and the logo was for a website we’ve been talking about starting for quite a while now.

We established that we were targeting small businesses who needed web solutions — custom themes, logos, tech support and so on. We wanted to present a professional but attractive front. Thus, we decided we wanted clean, crisp, and stylish, with a “techy” vibe.

With that, I set off to see what I could come up with in Adobe Illustrator.

1. Brainstorm and Find Elements

First things first: I decided I wanted an icon or image in the logo, so I did some brainstorming on what sort of image would work for this site.

My husband suggested a rudder, but since that’s not a particularly identifiable shape to the average eye, I decided perhaps using a ship or sailboat might get the idea across in a way that was easier to read visually.

So my first task of the day was to find a useable image. I could have done things the complicated way and found a stock image of a ship, cut it out by hand and turned it into a vector, but I decided to be a little lazy and see if I couldn’t find what I needed already out there on the web.

Lucky for me, I found a free stock image that was pretty close to what I wanted.

sailing boat silhouette hi

This was pretty good. I knew I needed something easily identifiable, and I wanted the dynamic angle too. “Tech Rudder” implies directionality and forward movement, or at least that’s what we were going for. So I didn’t want a ship that looked dead in the water. I wanted something with movement.

2. Customizing the Image

The only thing about this image that didn’t suit me was the bottom section with the water line. So my first task was to remove that.

To do this, I opened the image in Illustrator and first used the “Live Trace” function to vectorize my image. I then went to Object>Expand so that I could separate the image into parts and get rid of that pesky white background.

select object expand

You’ll then see this dialogue:

expand object fill

Hit OK.

Once that was done, I just used the selector tool to select the white background (you may have to do a little experimental clicking to make sure you’ve only got the white part, not the whole thing) and used the “Delete” key to get rid of it. Easy peasy.

Ok, next, to get rid of that black water stuff.

Now that our image is expanded, I just used the direct selection tool (White arrow) to drag around the anchor points as needed, and the pen tool (right click it to get the “delete anchor points” option) to delete points which became obsolete.

Logo step 3

Logo step 4

Logo step 4-2

After a little more finagling….

Logo step 5

Our final ship!

Awesome. Pesky white background and nasty black water both gone now, and we’re left with a lovely vector version of a ship.

3. Adding Text and Colors

Next, I went ahead and threw up some text. I wasn’t entirely sure at this point where things were headed, but I had my boat element, and decided to just run with it and see what happened.

Using the text tool, I added my text. The default font was fine for the moment. I also knew that I wanted to use dark gray and a bold yellow as my colors for the site, so I went ahead and changed things to their respective colors.

(You can do this by selecting your desired object with the selection tool and then double clicking the color square at the bottom of the left toolbar.)

Logo add text

Next it was time to face the fonts!

4. Choosing a Font

I take a lot of time to choose the right font for each project. I firmly believe that fonts have personality, and you have to pick one that has the right personality for your project. In this instance, I wanted crisp, clean, and “techy,” remember?

After scrolling through just about every font I have (and let me tell you, I have a lot of them), I decided on Eurostile.

I also played around with placement a little bit, just to see what it would look like if I moved my elements around (see next image).

5. Creating and Arranging Elements

Next, I decided I wanted to put a circle around my boat. I right clicked on the rectangle tool to choose the ellipse tool.

choose the ellipse tool

I made myself a circle, and I decided I wanted to make it gray and put the ship over it in yellow.

logo add grey circle

Notice below that even after I changed the color of the ship, I still couldn’t see it through the circle. Why? Illustrator always puts newer objects in front, so I had to right click on my ship and bring it to the front.

arrange logo

And once I did…

rearranged logo

Voila! Turns out I liked it better to the left of the text, though, so I rearranged again.

PRO TIP: To make my life easier, I used my Selection Tool to click and drag the cursor from the upper left corner of my circle-and-ship combo to the bottom right, selecting both. Then I right clicked and opted to “group” the objects so in the future I could move them around as one object.

click on group

6. Typography and Finishing Touches

Ok, now it’s time to pay attention to the typography. Right now, everything looks kind of spaced out and boring. Use the shortcut ctr+t to easily access your type controls so we can fix that.

finishing touches

I changed the space between letters (kerning, for you typography folks) to -25. I didn’t really want my letters to touch, but I didn’t want them to feel so far apart either.

After further consideration, I opted to remove the space between the two words as well. The color shift makes it easy to separate the two without the space, and I felt it was more unified.

Drumroll for our finished product….

tech rudder logo


There you have it. Simple, clean, and pretty easy!

Was this helpful? Still have questions? Have a better way to do something? Comment below!



Get updates on new articles, webinars and other opportunities:

Rebecca Tillman-Young

Rebecca Tillman-Young is a graphic artist and painter trying to find her niche in this crazy online world. Her goal is to make the world a more beautiful place, one pixel at a time. Check out her work on her website.


Comment Policy

Please join the conversation! We like long and thoughtful communication.
Abrupt comments and gibberish will not be approved. Please, only use your real name, not your business name or keywords. We rarely allow links in your comment.
Finally, please use your favorite personal social media profile for the website field.


Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Joris says:
    November 6, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Anybody that can work with the Pen tool can also figure out you don’t have to do all the work yourself, by using elements/shapes etc.

    For anybody that can’t work with the pen tool or make shapes in PS, this article is useless unless they find an exact free shape they can use. I think in most cases they are better off using a crowd design platform and spend 300$ on a logo design contest.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      November 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      If you want something easy, sure, use a crowd design platform. But if you’re a DIY’er who wants to improve your skills, this is a great tutorial. I’m not sure I agree with you, Joris.

Show Me My Heatmap

@CrazyEgg thank you for your amazing service! #GrowthHacking #startup #growthtools

Claudio Cuccovillo


What makes people leave your website?