A month or two ago I got an email from DreamCoders, an indie development group currently focusing on mobile games. They were in need of a logo that could be displayed easily on a mobile device as well as scalable to other applications, such as the PC. Although they had no definite direction for the logo, they did want something, “Fairly simple, not too cartoony — more serious.”
Step 1: Direction & Research
Because the request was pretty broad, I asked a question all graphic designers should know by heart: what would you like the design to communicate? In this case, I wanted to focus on one-word qualities (like “versatile” or “innovative”) that the logo would say about DreamCoders. The client replied back with three such words:
- Old school
They also gave me more info about the kind of games they would be producing: “…not the type of games with instant reward, but more with a high risk versus reward…thought-provoking, problem solving.”
I did some research on “DreamCoders” and found no other entities (companies or individuals) that had a similar goal. But I did have to be aware of “DC”, which I wanted to be a focal point of the design, because of DC Comics and DC Shoes. Both logos use the letters DC in a similar manner, and even though comics and shoes have little to do with game development I wanted to avoid a connection.
Step 2: Sketching
With a direction in mind I put pencil to paper.
As you can see above, the process is extremely messy. I started at the top left with the letters “dc” and tried to flesh out a unique way to represent them. Finally at the bottom of the paper I hit upon the keyword “old school” that the client had given to me. When I thought of “old school gaming” I immediately thought “Atari”, so I drew an Atari controller and began to map the letters “dc” to them. This resulted in the big final sketch to the right.
Step 3: Initial Design
The next step was to digitize the sketch.
I used Adobe Illustrator to vectorize a scanned image of my sketch using the reference image to the left. One of the major problems of my design was that it was quite hard to see the “C”, which was intentionally blended in with the “D”. I settled on gradients that flowed between two contrasting colors (in this case blue and green) to emphasize the two letters. Finally I added “DreamCoders” below the logo using the Good Times font.
Step 4: Variations
The client liked the direction I was pursuing (not necessarily the design itself :-P) and asked to see some variations on the Atari controller idea.
I decided to explore various elements of design, such as rounded corners, surrounding brackets and rectangles, and brush strokes (which seems to be becoming more popular for logo designs). Crucially, I made the design flat-color instead of with gradients to allow for applications such as stencils, stickers, and monochromatic icons.
The client liked the flat-color version without surrounding elements the best, and also wanted me to change the “DreamCoders” below the logo to all lowercase to better match the lowercase Atari controller letters.
Step 5: Color Combinations
The next step was to decide on appropriate colors. The client wanted black-on-white and white-on-black versions but was unsure about other color palettes.
I explored very contrasting themes for this part. The blue-green original was never a good color combination but I included it here anyway. Red and orange are both very strong, aggressive colors that I found matched well with the logo. I also did a metallic copper-gold mix (luxurious, refined) and a more earthy steel-sand mix (grounded, reliable). For the black/white images, I found that the “C” had to be outlined in order to stand out, and the right side of the Atari control stick had to be the same color as the “D”.
Step 6: Final Touch-Ups
The client made some edits to the design at this point, removing the vertical stroke of the “C” to make it more of an equals sign. I agreed fully with this decision because I never really liked how the outlined stroke looked in the black/white version.
I also changed the font to LaBeouf, a much stronger and more dynamic text that worked better in lowercase than Good Times. You may recognize it from the fourth Indiana Jones movie, which stars the Shia after which it is named.
I hope this post has been informative. Fellow amateur graphic designs out there should know that even the simplest logo design job requires a good deal of work; this one by itself needed about 10 days of communication with the client and 7 revisions to get it just right. But, as always, the rewards are worth it.
Also to DreamCoders, I hope you like the logo and use it well…and good luck with gaming!