Enfilade - Black Metal Logo Process using Illustrator and a little Photoshop

About 2 weeks ago a friend of mine contacted me about doing a metal logo for someone she knew. I told her to go ahead and give him my contact information. A little while later he messages me on Facebook with a laundry list of things that he would like to have in the logo. A skull, ribs, a bullet, electricity, gore etc.  It seemed a little overwhelming to try and cram all of these things into a band logo but I figured why not and I would find my way as I went along. 

 

It started with the below sketch to lay out basically what I thought he was asking for.  

 My first sketch for this logo which would have been really badass. Maybe I can revive this later.

My first sketch for this logo which would have been really badass. Maybe I can revive this later.

I was initially very excited about something like a rib cage with a skull thrown back in agony so I showed it to the client. He really liked the sketch but it wasn’t quite what he was imagining. I worked out another sketch for him. 

 

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This was more in-line with what he was thinking so we went with this one with some minor changes. He really wanted to incorporate elements of other black metal logos and had sent me some references so I used those as guides for putting together a basis for the final version.  

I knew I wanted to vectorize the logo. During the week I work with a variety of images at my job. A lot of our customers don’t have high quality files of their logos so I sometimes end up recreating them as vectors in Adobe Illustrator. So of course, in complete opposition to my original plan, I started by drawing it in Photoshop on my cintiq tablet. I had done a really nice rendering of the skull when I realized, this is getting to be too complicated for a logo. 

Logos are meant to be really simplistic and signify a brand. They need to be readily reproducible and sometimes need to be manipulated to fit a variety of media. This logo was already very complex due to the amount of detail the client wanted to be included. Upon realizing my error I promptly got frustrated and thought I would have to start over completely. I had gotten too caught up in the small details and had lost sight of what the end result needed to be.  

 I had created the core letters in illustrator but imported them into photoshop. 

I had created the core letters in illustrator but imported them into photoshop. 

Eventually I went back to my computer and opened illustrator and went to work vectorizing my drawing. I had started on a very large canvas in Photoshop so my rendering was pretty high resolution. I decided that instead of redrawing the whole thing in illustrator that I would instead try image trace and see where that got me. It turned out fairly good. The result was very graphic but mostly clean. Image trace can be very variable in its results so I wasn’t sure what would happen. Thankfully it turned out  to be something that I could work with.

 

 The initial drawing in photoshop. This drawing got overly complicated so I scrapped some of it and used Illustrator instead. 

The initial drawing in photoshop. This drawing got overly complicated so I scrapped some of it and used Illustrator instead. 

After I had gotten everything set up as a vector from my core drawing I started adding back some of the texture that had been lost. I created some basic shapes and then just scattered them around where I thought they would fit. Mostly this was a few very thin line type of shapes and clusters of dots. Once I was satisfied with the way the skull looked I started adding some cobwebs. These also are mostly the same few shapes repeated over and over and manipulated to fit in between the ribs and letters. 

The raster skull, ribs, and bullet images combined with the vector letters which I had already created using Illustrator.
The raster skull, ribs, and bullet images combined with the vector letters which I had already created using Illustrator.
  Logo with added grimey details like cobwebs and chunks missing from the letters.

 Logo with added grimey details like cobwebs and chunks missing from the letters.

The client really like where I was going with this but one of his reference images was a logo from a band called Carcass.  I used this reference to add a scribbly static texture around the edge of the logo. 

 Carcass logo with what appears to be a static/electric scribbly texture.

Carcass logo with what appears to be a static/electric scribbly texture.


 

 My experimentation in adding a similar texture inspired by the Carcass logo. You can also see some of the shapes I used repeatedly to construct the texture. 

My experimentation in adding a similar texture inspired by the Carcass logo. You can also see some of the shapes I used repeatedly to construct the texture. 

I sent over a version of the logo with the texture and we both agreed that it didn’t work with the logo. I scrapped the scribble static and instead added a lot more gore. Sometimes it’s good to try out weird things like this because it can really work out great but in this case it didn’t. It looked a lot better before I started adding the scribbles.

 Final version of the logo with lots of gore and more sharp edges in the letters.

Final version of the logo with lots of gore and more sharp edges in the letters.

I kept adding more and more drips and sharpness until I got to a point where I wasn’t sure where else I could add these things. I was determined to have it finished and get a finalized version that my client would be satisfied with. In my opinion, it came out better than expected. The logo is also completely transparent which took a little bit of careful layering of elements and dogged use of the pathfinder tools.

This was a fun, if frustrating at times, project for me. It came out good and I think I may tinker with doing other little things like this soon.