How to Design a Logo in Adobe Photoshop

by Guest Contributor Anna Gay

One of the most important aspects of your business is your branding, and the way you present yourself to potential clients. Having cohesive branding is something that will go a long way in getting your name out there, but doing it yourself can be daunting for some people. However, as a photographer, you are already creative, so why not use your creativity to customize your own branding that is a perfect representation of you?

There are a lot of different design elements that go into a photography business – web design, blog layout, business cards, water marks, the list goes on and on! A great place to get started, though, is your logo, which will most likely go on everything that you put out for advertising, in some form or fashion. Your logo is your calling card, and is extremely important, so it should be a visual representation of you and your business.

For example, I use film and vintage cameras in my photography, and when I edit my digital files, I like to give them a retro vibe, so my branding includes a lot of vintage textures, with retro fonts and clip art.

Once you figure out what sets you apart, think of ways you can incorporate those elements into a visual representation.

Now, there are endless ways of putting everything together, and various programs that can help you, but since a lot of us have Photoshop, let’s look at designing a simple logo in Photoshop. I am using CS4, but this can also be done in Photoshop Elements.

Create a new Photoshop document by selecting File, New. Make sure the background color is set to transparent, and that your Width and Height will make the document similar in shape to a business card.

Next, I am using a texture as the background for my image, so drag and drop the texture onto your first layer, the Photoshop document you just created.

We are going to use the Brush tool to add an embellishment to the center of the card. Brushes for Photoshop are an easy (and really fun!) way of customizing your branding and making it unique. They can be found for free online, and HERE is a great place to browse brushes:  http://www.brusheezy.com/brushes. Installing them is easy, too. All you do is unzip the downloaded brushes, double click, and they automatically install themselves in your brush library.

Before we select a brush, let’s change our Foreground color to a shade that will match our texture. When you click on your Foreground/Background color icon on your left-side toolbar, this box will open:

If you hover over the texture while this box is open, you will see what looks like a dropper tool – use the dropper to click on various sections of the texture, as it will help you select a color that is already in the color palette of you logo. Here, I used the dropper to select a color, then made it slightly darker for extra contrast.

Now, we’re ready to select our Brush tool, circled above.

Right click on your image, and this will bring up your brush library. Then, create a new layer, so we will now have three separate layers.

After placing my embellishment, it didn’t quite blend in with the texture, so I set the Blending Mode of Layer 3 to Pin Light. When working on this type of project with various brushes, textures and fonts, experiment with Blending Mode and Opacity until you feel that everything blends together nicely.

It’s time now to add some text, which can be done by clicking T on your toolbar. This will automatically create a new layer for you. You can alter the color of your text in the same way we altered the color of the brush tool. To add contrast, I made the text color slightly darker than the embellishment.

Just like Photoshop brushes, there are endless free downloads for unique fonts, and they are installed in the same way you install your custom brushes. I download the majority of my fonts HERE.

At this point, I cropped the image so the text would not appear too small in comparison to the rest of the image.

Just as we did with Layer 3, set your Blending Mode to Pin Light.

Next, I selected a different font, but still similar in style, for the word “Photography.” And, I set the Blending Mode to (you guessed it!) Pin Light.

I wanted to add one more touch to finish off the design, so I used a faux film brush tool (I love these film brushes, and they can be downloaded HERE.

Finally, I cropped the final image. I like to save an extra copy of my designs in a .PSD, that way, if I want to go back and make changes later on, I can tweak each layer without having to start from scratch.

Like I said before, this is just one of many ways to create designs, so have fun, experiment, and always strive to keep your brand in mind when tying together your design elements!

Anna Gay is a portrait photographer based in Athens, GA and the author of the dPS ebook The Art of Self-Portraiture. She also designs actions and textures for Photoshop. When she is not shooting or writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband, and their two cats, Elphie and Fat Cat.

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Teresa Schmid - July 22, 2012 - 9:56 am

Great tutorial, I’m going to have to try this!

jennifer cates - July 23, 2012 - 8:19 am

I freakin LOVE this. Helps me out SO much!!!

Kerry Sherbinow - August 11, 2012 - 7:04 am

thanks so much for this great tutorial and the links to all the brushes etc. It is so easy to follow!

Amanda - August 22, 2012 - 9:23 pm

Hi, quick question. How does this hold up size wise? What size should we begin with so the image is not pixelated as we enlarge it?

Thanks!

Amanda - August 24, 2012 - 11:43 am

While this is a great tutorial about how to create graphics in Photoshop I feel the need to share with everyone that this is NOT how to design a logo! Anna mentions that there are different ways to design a logo, but she chose to share with you the Photoshop way. As Amanda pointed out above – the moment you go to resize your logo for something larger than a business card (or whatever file size you’ve used to create your logo) you are going to run into a lot of problems!

The only way to design a logo (and the right way) to allow infinite upsizing is by using a vector based system. The most popular one being Adobe Illustrator. As photographers know, you can’t increase a pixel. But a vector you can! You could put your logo on the side of the empire state building as a vector :)

I know that when you are starting up a business you often have limited funds and for photographers that money usually goes into gear. But setting aside some cash to have a logo professionally designed is an investment that will pay for itself over and over again! Professional branders (like myself) will look at your market (competitors, clients), your style and discover what makes you unique. Then we will take our knowledge of colour theory, design and branding and design a beautiful brand that will help you stand out from your competition and work on a small business card or the side of your vehicle!

I don’t mean to discount what the tutorial above is trying to do, but I certainly want to make sure that you are aware of the appropriate way to build a logo file that will not pixelate on enlargement. Even creating a very large bitmap logo won’t get you close to the flexibility of a vector based design. Not too mention the large file size that will no doubt result! Take it from a girl who’s had to rescue a few bitmap logo versions in her life. You either pay for it done right the first time, or you pay for it to be redone the right way a 2nd time.

Jeff - August 24, 2012 - 8:52 pm

You really should design your logo in Illustrator then use Photoshop to add the effects…

dallas photographer - September 1, 2012 - 8:41 am

Thanks for the brushes.

Tara - October 4, 2012 - 6:03 am

I have to agree with Amanda this is a great tutorial for photoshop but the majority of graphic designers would use Illustrator for logo design and only use photoshop if needed for effects.

Vector graphics can be scaled to any size without losing quality. One thing that is also key for logo design is to start by mind mapping and then sketching first to work your ideas out before you jump on the computer. You can then use your sketched ideas as a template when you work your ideas up on the computer.

Laura - November 15, 2012 - 3:12 pm

I just want to confirm that Amanda, Jeff and Tara are correct. This may be a way of creating a logo but not the best way.

Mo Danish - February 12, 2013 - 6:39 am

nice designing..

Bonk - February 15, 2013 - 2:07 pm

which texture from brusheezy did you use?

Stacey Devine - March 26, 2013 - 5:25 am

I just can’t believe that its so easy to create logo on adobe after
reading this article thanks for posting gave me a lot of knowledge.

sashacarey - March 26, 2013 - 7:10 am

i learn much from here. i like this one very much.

riyan khan - October 5, 2013 - 9:49 am

thanks

wendy - January 16, 2014 - 6:59 am

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I really needed this. Love your website and designs.

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