Coming Back to The Tutorial
7. Now that you understand the box method, let's see how it helps in real design situations. Let’s start with the first letter of the logotype: ‘O’. While you can easily create this shape by using a circle and manipulating it, it won’t work in all situations. Therefore, I’m going to show you how to do it properly, using Bezier curves.
8. To do it, first create a guide around the letter. So go ahead and create a filter stroke and then create a square, a box around the letter. Then reduce the stroke size to 0.25pt.
9. Start manipulating the box to make sure that it contains the letter O perfectly. When resizing the box, make sure that every time it hits the boundary line of the circle, you stop. Do it on all four sides of the box.
10. Do you see the points where the circle is meeting the square? Those are going to be our anchor points. Now repeat this process for the oval shape within the circle. Highlight the square, press Ctrl+C (for Mac users Command+C) and then Ctrl+F (Command+F) and start working: drag and drop. Make sure the inner square tightly contains the oval within. Everywhere it touches the oval, that’s our anchor point. So in total, now we have eight anchor points. 4 for the circle and 4 for the oval.
11. Highlight the whole letter now containing both boxes and press Ctrl+5 (Command+5). This will create guides that you can switch on or off.
12. All we need to do now is, place the anchor points where needed and pull the handles in a way that gives us the shape that we need. If it sounds simple, it’s not. You’ll have to practice a lot to master it. Now, working with the shape, I don’t use the Pen tool. I use something called InkScribe. It’s a plugin from AstituteGraphics that makes it easier to use the Pen tool. But if you rather use your regular Pen tool, that’s fine. The process is the same.
13. Ok, now turn on the Smart Guides. Use Ctrl+U (Command+U) or go over to the View tab and from the dropdown menu, switch on the Smart Guides.
14. Go on the top of the shape of the outer box and click on the exact point where the box is touching the boundary of O. As soon as you do it, an anchor point will appear with two handles on either side of it. These handles are movable and allow you to manipulate the shape. Now be careful. Make sure your handles are perfectly aligned to the horizontal line of the top of the box. Hold ‘Shift’ when you do it otherwise the handles can go anywhere.
15. Now come on to the left side of the box. You’ll see a curve – in the shape of a rubber band – stretching from the top anchor point. Connect it to the one on the left side of the box, then the one on the bottom, then the right side one, and neatly bring it back to the top – completing the circle.
16. Again, make sure the handles are vertical on vertical lines and horizontal on horizontal lines.
17. To see how the shape looks, switch from Stroke to Fill and you’ll see that the shape is not exactly true. It looks like a weird egg instead of the stylized O that we want.
18. But we can correct that by dragging the handles. While working on the handles, keep in mind that none of the handles can intersect the opposite line – it’ll mess up the shape. Work with two opposing handles of two different anchor points simultaneously to work the shape into something that you want, instead of focusing on one handle.
19. Click on the top-left handle, press Shift and drag the handle till it is right over the shape boundary.
20. Now repeat the process for everywhere on the shape where you want to tweak the boundary a little bit, make it smoother, more organic.
21. Plot the anchor points for the inner shape too: the oval. Work the handles and bring the outline to fit the shape perfectly. Tweak it as you go to make it look perfect.
22. And there you have it, a perfectly shaped and vectored O. But it’s not the O that we want; the inner oval hasn’t been cut out and so it still looks more like a circle than a letter. So what do we do? We highlight the whole shape, including the inner oval, then press Shift+M to cut out the oval with the Shape Builder tool, giving us our perfect O.
23. Continue the process of plotting anchor points on the remaining letters of the logotype till you’ve achieved a perfect shape for each letter.
Now that you know the mechanics of Bezier curve paths, it’ll be cool to know that there’s a shortcut method to create shapes for letters. It’s done by embossing a circle on letter O and then simply moving and resizing the circle till it fits the shape. Have a look at the video at 9:41 and see what I mean.
With both these methods – using Bezier curve anchor points and the shortcut of embossing the shapes – we achieve the same results. With curves, though, you get more knowledge and freedom to flex your creative muscle and work on more complicated shapes with better precision and control.