Designing Logos

Hello, readers!

As some of you know, it’s been a rough week because of unforeseen tragedy (the death of a friend and the hospitalization of my grandmother).  It feels a bit strange to blog in spite of all of this, but in the interests of sticking to deadlines, I’m going to go ahead and provide a weekly update on Songs of the Victorians and Augmented Notes.
This week’s goal was to learn more about design and to create drafts of logos for both projects. As I’m essentially a complete neophyte when it comes to design, I had to learn how to use some image editing programs. I investigated various free programs recommended to me by generous twitter users, but I decided to focus my time on the tried-and-true Photoshop and on Inkscape.  With the help of Jeremy Boggs and Eric Johnson of Scholars’ Lab, I learned some basic Photoshop manipulation, including how to warp text.  I’d also like to recognize two others who assisted me with this process:  my friend and colleague Rebecca Levy taught me of the glories of the “clone stamp” tool to erase text, and my husband, Dan Lepage, showed me how to use Inkscape for vector graphics.
For the logos themselves, I knew that I wanted each design to reflect the style and purpose of the site. For example, Songs of the Victorians is an archive and scholarly tool for discussing parlor and art song settings of Victorian poems, so I wanted its logo to echo the aesthetics of such music. Since Victorian sheet music covers are extremely recognizable, I designed my draft of both the logo and the “coming soon” homepage to look like the cover of Michael William Balfe’s “Come into the Garden, Maud” (one of the songs in the archive).  I took the scan of the cover and used Photoshop’s clone stamp tool to delete the pre-existing text, and then tried to find good fonts that matched the original image.  I highly recommend “What the Font” if you ever need to find a font: users can upload an image and then the site identifies the fonts that most closely resemble those in the image.  I also used “Fontsquirrel” to find less specialized fonts.
Once I had all the components, I added my own text into the image.  I’ve included the original image so you can see the actual sheet music cover next to my own rendition of it.
Balfe’s original
My version
Once I finalize the design, I’ll use the full image as my “coming soon” page: expect a version of it at soon!
Since that image is sadly much too large to be a reasonable logo, I’m only going to use the portion of it included below:
For Augmented Notes, I knew that I wanted to emphasize the pun of the title: the scholarly portion of my project “augments” the analytical text with musical excerpts (or notes), and in music, the term “augmented” refers both to major or perfect intervals raised by a half-step and to a note whose value is lengthened (as with a dotted quarter note).  I tried to make this pun visually as well in two ways: first, by augmenting, or making bigger, the first letter of each word, and second, by placing the project’s title on a musical staff and by representing two of the letters as musical notes.  I’m currently trying to decide between six variations on this theme, but the one below is my favorite so far:
All these images are still works in progress, so I’d welcome any feedback on ways to improve them even more.
This post is dedicated to Josh Endo.  Josh, we’ll miss you.

3 thoughts on “Designing Logos

  1. Hey Annie! Cool post, for which I have a few suggestions (puts on design hat):

    For 'Songs of the Victorians': Comparing to Balfe's cover art, the icon you've generated is somewhat dark and cramped. To start, I'd highly recommend tweaking the letter spaces on the main title. The cover is only using a few more characters than you are but allows itself to occupy far more space. Even if you have to shrink the font size a little bit, this could make the image more readable. The cover also does a good job of keeping the text and design separate, arcing the title just over the inner curls and fading the line elements whenever they come to close to the subtitle – taking a similar approach to all the text in the logo (both keeping the text away when possible and fading the pattern's lines when not) will make the text stand out more.

    Similarly for 'Augmented Notes', the background image feels like it's conflicting a bit with the text i I like that the font lines up so well, but perhaps graying out the horizontal lines of the staff (possibly the clef symbol as well) will emphasize the text more, while keeping the pun.

    Just some thoughts!


  2. Have to say, I think this is fantastic. I think it'd be even better if you actually mark this content up in HTML and use some CSS and JavaScript to make the web page look like this image. You could add the flourishes as background images for specific parts of the text.

    The Augmented Notes logo looks terrific. My first suggestion would be to try it with a few more typefaces, and see if you can find one that more closely resembles the shape of the notes. You likely won't get an exact match, but something closer than the one you have might help make the appearance of those notes not as abrupt.


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