Design a Grungy Circular Logo

By   |  Stashed in Design & Drawing

This tutorial is in response to another good suggestion I received from one of my readers via the Community Suggestion Box. Here’s what Caroline had to say…

Hi – some fantastic tutorials here – thanks – learning so much :-) Please could I ask for a simple way to write text that fits around shapes? People shrug and say – vectors and pen tool but I can’t work it out :-( Thanks.

In this tutorial I want to detail how to create text along a path in an interesting way and apply it to a common application. Although the circular logo has been used forever, it can still be effective if done well, while mixing in some modern design. In this case, we are going to use some vector art, then grunge it up. This will give it that worn beach look I’m going for. I hope you enjoy it, here we go…

Step 1

Open up Illustrator and create a new document. Grab the ellipse tool. Draw out a new circle while holding down shift to maintain the proportions. Fill the circle with a light blue, I used #A1BEE4. Set the stroke to none.

Step 2

With the circle you just drew selected, hit ‘ctrl + c’ to copy it and ‘ctrl + f’ to paste it in place in front. Now resize it down while holding ‘shift + alt’ to scale it proportional in place. Change the fill color to a nice brown, I used #766352. Keep the stroke at none.

Step 3

Next up, I went in search for some free vector palm trees for our logo. I found some nice ones at vector4free, you can download them here. Place them in your Illustrator document. Size the trees and birds and place them in the logo using the image below as a reference. Change the fill color to the same light blue you used before. I also ungrouped them by selecting Object->Ungroup. Then I moved one of the birds up and to the right. I just thought it looked better there :)

Step 4

Now we are going to start work on the text of the logo. We’ll need a path to work with, so select the inner brown circle and click ‘ctrl + c’ then ‘ctrl + f’ to paste a new copy in place, in front of the old one. In the tool bar on the left, click and hold the text tool to reveal all the options within that block. Select the ‘Type on a Path Tool.’ Now change your font settings to the same brown color, Trajan Pro for the font, and 45 for the Font Size, set the text alignment to center. Lastly, open up your Character palette. If it’s not already open, then click Window->Type->Character. Change the Tracking to 50, the Vertical Scale to 90% and the Baseline Shift to 10pt. All these settings are suggestions for those who are following along, they may vary for you, if you’ve sized things differently. So use trial and error until things look just right.

Step 5

You should still have the ‘Type on a Path Tool’ selected, now click on the top of the circle you copied and pasted in the previous step. This will send your cursor to the bottom of the circle, because you’re working on type on a closed path (a circle) and this is the center point. No problem, will fix this in the next step. Type in your words, in this case, “Blue Palms.”

Step 6

Now we need to rotate that text along the path and into the correct spot. To do so, grab the direct selection tool, and hover over the text at the bottom where the blue vertical line is (it’s circled in the image below). When your cursor is over that line, you’ll notice that your cursor changes to an arrow with a small upside down ‘T’ next to it. When you get that cursor, click and drag your text to rotate it along the confines of the path. Place it evenly at the top. If you used different settings, you may have to adjust some of the character attributes to get it to sit properly.

Step 7

We add the text “Beach Resort” in much the same manner. This time copy and paste the bigger blue circle in front of itself, we will use this as our path. Change the character settings to 200 for the Tracking, 12 for the Baseline Shift, and 43pt for the Font Size. With the “Type Along a Path” tool selected, click at the top of your newly pasted circle. Type in your text. Now click Type->Type on a Path->Type on a Path Options. Check preview and flip, you will see the text flip over it’s path right away. There are some other interesting options in this window that are worth learning about, but this will suffice for our logo.

Step 8

Grab the ellipse tool and with the same brown color you used previously, draw two small circles between the words on each side. Use the align options to align the circles.

Step 9

In the last steps we are going to add our grunge. Select everything and choose Object->Group to group our entire logo together. Now find a texture that you want to use as an transparency mask. Below is the one that I used, which you are welcome to use as well. It’s modified from a texture I found at Grunge Textures.

Step 10

Open up your transparency palette, if it’s not already open click Window->Transparency. Click on the small arrow in the top right of the palette and choose “Make Opacity Mask” from the list of options that appear. Then click File->Place and drop in your texture that you are using. Resize it and adjust it until you have the texture you like. Make sure to click back on the image thumbnail within the transparency palette when you are done to get out of the transparency mask mode that you are in.

That’s It!

I hope this tutorial sheds some light on the possibilities of text on a path and texturing a logo within Illustrator. Have your say, drop me a comment below. Also as always, if you do this tutorial and come up with a cool result, I’d love to see it showcased in my Flickr Group. Lastly, if you have an idea for a tutorial, let me hear it, share your ideas in the Community Suggestion Box.

About the Author

Andrew is a primary contributer for MyInkBlog. He is a full time web developer for Niagara University. When he's not working there, he's a blogger, twitter'er, wordpress'er, silverstripe advocate, blessed father and husband.

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  • Dainis Graveris

    Very unique logo design – I like the idea! Thanks for sharing, mate! ;)

  • Craig Farrall

    Very nice logo and tutorial, keep up the good work ;)

  • NaldzGraphics

    nice!!!simplicity+ grunge style= brilliant outcome!!!! nice tutorial..
    thanks for the gonna try this in the future.keep it up


    NaldzGraphics’s last post was… Create a September 2008 Calendar Wallpaper in Grunge Rasta Design

  • Nick

    Nice little tutorial, thanks!

    Nick’s last post was… Proper Copyright Notices

  • Andrew Houle

    Thanks guys! I’m glad this tutorial was received so well!

  • Grant Friedman

    Looks good Andrew! You could additionally make this graphic entirely vector by bringing the texture into Photoshop, adjusting the threshold to just the black areas. Using the magic want to grab the black areas then converting the selection to a path. Once you do that copy the path to Illustrator and intersect it with all of your layers. That will give you a 100% grungy vector logo.

  • Andrew Houle

    @Grant Thanks! That’s good advice, it’s definitely worth going the extra mile :)

  • Ross

    Nice result! :)

    Ross’s last post was… Carbon Fiber Layout

  • Max | Design Shard

    Really cool result, looks vintage / grunge / retro style, nice one. stumbled

  • Simon SC

    I’d like to request the same tutorial for Photoshop please :)

    Simon SC’s last post was… Google enters browser wars with Google Chrome

  • Andrew Houle

    @Simon SC I think if you follow along trying it in Photoshop you’ll be able to achieve a similar look. Most of the tools are about the same. I don’t ever want to “reinvent the wheel” on this site. For the grunge you could use a layer mask instead of a transparency mask. The rest, the circle and text along a path should be almost identical. I hope this helps you.

  • Angie Bowen

    Very nice and helpful tutorial, thanks!

    Angie Bowen’s last post was… The Net Goes Chrome

  • Tom Ross

    Great post Andrew, I’ll definitely try and give this a go in Photoshop. Thanks.

    Tom Ross’s last post was… Create a Realistic Wine Bottle Illustration From Scratch

  • Charles Brown

    nice. I love the references you used as well.

  • agon keet

    hey, just wondering how to ungroup the downloadable vector art. i tried everything and doesnt seem to work.
    im working on a mac by the way.

  • Andrew Houle

    @agon On the mac the equivalent of right clicking is ctrl + click. If you do that on the vector it should bring up a list of the same options. Alternatively, you could select the vector and then click Object->Ungroup. Hopefully that does the trick, let me know if you still have any trouble.

  • agon keet

    hey thanx for your reply but it didnt wanna work, when i go to the options bar the ungroup option is greyed out.

  • Steve Tolley

    Very nice outcome mate, will try this one later…

    Steve Tolley’s last post was… Creating A Vector Style MacBook From Scratch

  • Graham Smith

    Hi ya,
    Can’t remember how I stumbled over this one, but It’s been in my tabbed menu for some days as it’s one of those things that I have wanted to do for ages, but just thought it was trickier than it was.

    Great effect and straightforward explanation.

    Catch you on Twitter. :)

    Graham Smith’s last post was… Follow the best 50+, now (100+) Designers on Twitter

  • 007

    where can i find the transparency pallete?, im using cs3

  • Andrew Houle

    @007 Click Window->Tranparency to bring up that panel.

    @agon Do you have the vector selected?

  • santikkkx

    How to cut picture at Step 3 ?

  • Andrew Houle

    @santikkkx You have to bring the vector art into Illustrator using File->Place. Then select the artwork and click Object->Ungroup. Select off the artwork, then back on the palm tree and birds you’d like in the logo. Change the fill color, resize and position it within the logo. I hope this helps, if not, please let me know.

  • Neil

    Thanks! Explained very well

  • farbflash

    very nice tutorial. But how do you fit the graphic to a circle at the last step? Thanks

  • Andrew Houle

    @farbflash Make sure you add the opacity mask and have that thumbnail selected when you go to place the texture. Doing that step correctly will reveal/hide only on top of the logo. Let me know if that helps.

  • Lea

    Thanks for the tutorial. I loved it but cannot get the last 2 steps to work. When I make opacity mask the logo goes into outlines and I file place the texture and it just sits on top. Nothing happens? Any idea what I’m doing wrong?


  • Nicole

    Thanks for a great tutorial! I am stuck on the last step…all I can see is my texture file and I can’t see my logo at all….its like it disappeared…any suggestions?

  • Andrew Houle

    @Nicole Make sure you have the opacity mask thumbnail selected and not the image thumbnail, within the transparency window. Let me know if that does the trick.

  • Crystal

    Thanks for the awesome tutorial! I was having trouble with the last steps as well with the opacity mask, but I finally figured it out. I wasn’t seeing the thumbnails in the Transparency palette, so I had to select Show Options from the flyout menu and there it was! Then it all made sense. Hope that helps out some people. Thanks again Andrew!

  • John

    when you download the vector, where to extract the files to,
    im not sure?
    any help please?

  • Lee

    did u make this on photoshop?

  • Andrew Houle

    @John Extract the file somewhere that you want to save it, just remember where you save it to, so you can find it when you place it later.

    @Lee This tutorial is for Illustrator

  • Rodrigo Aun

    Nice result! Thanks a lot.

  • Andrew Nicholas Roman

    I’m forcing myself to work more in Illustrator … and this is BRILLIANT.

    I didn’t realize that you didn’t need to use a vector to do the opacity mask — and after my own minor mental issues, I got this working. Thanks!

    Just a note: If you have your texture already placed on your artboard, bring it to the top layer, move it on top of your logo and adjust it in advance, then select all and follow the same step for making the opacity mask. It’s a little easier for me because I know better what I’m getting. Then just click on the thumbnail if you need to make further adjustments.

    Andrew Nicholas Roman´s last post was… It’s Amazing What Four Colors Can Do

  • George

    Love the tutorial but also stuck on the last part. After I group I go into transparency and the make opacity mask is grayed out, What am i doing wrong?


  • George

    Great tutorial. When I go to the last step in Transparency, The make opacity mask is grayed out. What am I doing wrong.


  • Andrew Houle

    @ George Make sure you have the opacity mask thumbnail selected and not the image thumbnail, within the transparency window.

  • http://wow dan

    Wow, Thank you

  • kharjawi

    Very nice logo ..

    than you :)

  • Seattle inspector

    Great info. A definite bookmark. Thanks!

  • Abdullah Abubakar

    Great tutorial, Great info and Very nice logo. I will however be glad if you can explain how to put border around the text within the logo.

  • Moksha Solutions

    i was in search for something like, thanks for posting it

  • Tess

    This is a really REALLY stupid question but I just brought CS4 today…how do I draw a circle? I’ve spent ages fiddling and can’t find the button..sorry

  • Andrew Houle

    @Tess – By default the ellipse tool is nestled under the rectangle tool. On the tool bar on the left hand side the 8th icon down is the rectangle tool. Click and hold down on it to reveal the other tools nestled under it. When that pops up, you’ll see the ellipse tool there.

  • Tess

    Thanks Andrew, I really appreciate your reply. I would have never figured that out :) Cheers

  • Tess

    how do i make it so there is no outline around the circles? i dont understand this stroke business…

  • Tess

    Sorry disregard last question…. though everytime I go to put the text in it says “You must use a non-compound, no masking path..” and wont let me… How can I change this?

  • Andrew Houle

    @Tess – What step are you on?

  • Tess

    Step four… It wont let me write text anywhere, that message keeps on appearing… (thank-you for your time)

  • Andrew Houle
  • Free vectors

    Great tutorial. And i just love your blog, will be coming back!
    .-= Free vectors´s last blog ..Red holiday background =-.

  • glurt

    Great work, excellent guide. Thanks for your time !

  • Frod

    Thnx for this! ur a good guy!

  • eshanne

    whoaa.. kewl tuts hahaha.. i like it dude, but it seems to me i know that already but it’s ok.. i like the design the simple but yet an elegant design.

    Keep up the good work there, mate..

    .-= eshanne´s last blog ..Announcement From TM® =-.

  • Sean
  • Andrew Houle

    @Sean – Cool stuff, thanks for sharing!

  • Richie

    Nice logo design …… i am delighted to say that I created one such logo inspired by this tutorial to one of my friends who owns a resort and guess what… he decided to use it.. thanx a million…

  • Andrew Houle

    @Richie – That’s awesome, you should post a link to the image so we can check it out :)

  • Carl

    This it too hard!

  • john

    I Approve.

  • Victor

    Just wondering, will I be able to like re-size this logo to any size without losing quality”? I mean if I do something similar following your this guide would the product I make able to shape up to a size without losing its quality?

  • Andrew Houle

    @Victor – Yeah, it will be in vector format, so it will be scalable.

  • littlemakz

    wonderful, andrew!!!

  • Rafael

    Thanks men, it help me a lot. Good job!

  • GeT4

    thank you for the tut. I have the last week make tests to get the USED Look for a new Page area. This is a nice art for cool used Look Logos. Good Tut

  • free bird

    Great post! It is really very helpful for me to learn the logo design. Thank you!

  • Tommie Surrency

    Right on time, I was thinking about this, thank you.