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04.09.20 | Education

How to make great finished art for your brand identity project

By Amanda Kirkman

We have created many brands over the years and in-turn a LOT of finished art. Below we are sharing our process we have refined over time to help you make the best brand assets. Artwork that is both helpful to your client, and appreciated by other stakeholders.

Why is good finished art so important?

The brand identity is approved, you’ve put your heart and soul into a project and your client is thrilled — this isn’t the time to get lazy! Supplying comprehensive and practical finished art for your logo project means your beautiful work will have the best chance of looking great not just in your design presentation, but in your real-world applications as well.

Tidy up your artwork

The first step once your design is approved is tidying up your artwork. Here is a list of things to go through to make sure your master file is perfect:

  • Make sure there are no hidden shapes behind objects
  • Check for overlapping elements that shouldn’t be there
  • Typography has been outlined and kerned to perfection
  • Variations of your logo have been made e.g. full black, white and reverse artwork as needed
  • Print your logo out at small and large scale to make sure it looks great no matter what size
  • If possible have another designer take a look — a second set of eyes is a great resource for anything you’ve missed.

Folders

Before you start exporting anything set yourself up a finished art template folder. We always call our folder CLIENT NAME Brand Assets. They sit in a separate folder on our server. We break our assets into:

  • CLIENT NAME Colour Palette
  • CLIENT NAME Graphic Element (or system as needed)
  • CLIENT NAME Logo
  • CLIENT NAME Photography
  • CLIENT NAME Templates
  • CLIENT NAME Typefaces

Our Logo folder is then broken down further to:

  • CLIENT NAME Logo
  • CLIENT NAME Logo Black
  • CLIENT NAME Logo Reverse
  • CLIENT NAME Logo White

Then each folder is broken down to colour variation:

  • CMYK (For Digital Printing)
  • PMS (For Press Printing)
  • RGB (For Screen/Web)

Finally each file variation and its corresponding colour format:

  • EPS (RGB)
  • JPG (RGB)
  • PDF (RGB)
  • PNG (RGB)

This will appear like a lot of folders at first, but when you’re after a vertical logo in RGB as a JPG quickly — you will thank me later.

Finished art folder template

Colour

Once the artwork is finalised it’s time to refine your colours if you haven’t already done so. We will often consult our Pantone® books BEFORE presenting artwork to make sure the RGB version is a practical colour. Often you will find the RGB that looks great on screen never had a chance of existing in its print form. This is especially important for greens.

Choosing from the Pantone® book can be a headache when you have multiple colours. As a cheat to get you started, use the Recolour Artwork tab in Illustrator, select from the drop down Colour Books > Pantone® Solid Colour. This will pick out some close Pantone® colours to get you started. Once you have these get out your Pantone® books and use the suggested RGB numbers to get an accurate version of your artwork. Review the colours alongside your CMYK and PMS printed swatches in the books to make sure you’re happy.

Converting colours from RGB to Pantone®

If you don’t have Pantone® books you can purchase them via the Pantone® website or often find them on eBay. Otherwise, you will need to borrow some. This process cannot be done on the screen or skipped.

Once you’ve picked your final colours and made a note of all their Pantone® numbers — we personally suggest naming your colours to give them a bit more personality. This makes colours easier to refer to in the future. It can be as simple as Navy or Red, or you can get a bit creative. Wikipedia is oddly a great resource, with whole pages dedicated to different shades of any colour you can think of.

Tick the checkbox to make your colours Global within the palette. This will be helpful later if you make a mistake and need to update the palette.

Convert your artwork to your new colours and make a new RGB Master file. Set up your palette with no colours other than those in your artwork, naming all your colours followed by RGB. *THIS IS IMPORTANT*.

If you take a logo file that is RGB into a CMYK Illustrator file it will automatically convert the colours and they won’t be accurate to the Pantone® book. Adding RGB manually to the colour name is quick visual to ensure you are working with the right colours depending on what colour profile you are in.

Export your perfectly named colour palette as an ASE file to your Brand Assets Colour Palette folder. This is the biggest file I always find missing from finished art. It makes life so much easier, especially if you don’t have quick access to brand guidelines. Our naming is quite simple as follows:

  • CLIENT NAME Colour Palette RGB.ase
  • CLIENT NAME Colour Palette CMYK.ase
  • CLIENT NAME Colour Palette PMS.ase

To export a colour palette, use the hamburger icon on the Swatches tab.

Naming your swatches

File Naming

Badly named files are a headache for everyone, take the time now to plan what each file will be called. We use the same breakdown as below. Variations in brackets.

CLIENTCODE_(LOGO/SYMBOL/WORDMARK/TAGLINE)_(H/V)_(CMYK/RGB/PMS).(EPS/PDF/JPG/PNG)

Using Everymind as an example, we would end up with the following naming just for the RGB files. This is a simple one as there is only a horizontal and vertical version of the logo along with the symbol. Occasionally we end up with a lot more variations for artwork. (See the Coassemble artboards below).

  • EM_Logo_H_RGB
  • EM_Logo_V_RGB
  • EM_Symbol_RGB
  • EM_Logo_H_Black_RGB
  • EM_Logo_V_Black_RGB
  • EM_Symbol_Black_RGB
  • EM_Logo_H_White_RGB
  • EM_Logo_V_White_RGB
  • EM_Symbol_White_RGB
  • EM_Logo_H_Reverse_RGB
  • EM_Logo_V_Reverse_RGB
  • EM_Symbol_Reverse_RGB

Artwork

Now you have done all the prep work, it’s time to get onto the artwork itself.

  1. Set up a new file just called the CLIENTCODE e.g. EM for Everymind. Set it up as an RGB colour profile within its own RGB folder. As you make the file create all the artboards you need for just the full-colour RGB files, so with our above example that would be three. Set them at 1,680px (W) x 1,030px (H).
  2. Add the artwork to the artboards and depending on the artwork orientation, resize the artwork to accurately fill either the full width or height of the artboard – whichever is filled first. Do this by using the resizing tool in the menu bar and manually type in 1,680px or 1,030px depending on the orientation. Use the align tool to centre artwork horizontally and vertically with ‘align to artboard’ set as default.
  3. Reduce remaining artboard to fit the artwork. The easiest way to do this is to select the Artboard Tool and click the artwork, then delete the larger artboard left over.
  4. Deactivate constrain width and height proportions and add 20px to the total width and to the total height of each artboard. This ensures that the artwork will not appear cropped after export. You will end up final artboards that are 1700px wide or 1050px high depending on the orientation.
  5. Name each artboard using your previously decided naming convention, leaving off the client name e.g. (LOGO/SYMBOL/WORDMARK/TAGLINE)_(H/V)_RGB
  6. Hit Save.
  7. Duplicate your file and convert to CMYK, update to your CMYK Colour Palette ensuring all the artwork is updated. (Your earlier setting of Global will make this happen automatically). Update all the artboards to have CMYK at the end.
  8. Hit Save.
  9. Duplicate the CMYK file to create your PMS file. You can often delete a lot of artwork here as the white and black versions won’t be needed. Update your colour palette, artwork and artboards to have PMS at the end.
  10. Hit Save.
Artboard Naming

Exporting

Now all your files are done, take time to run some checks and catch any mistakes. Check colours have been applied correctly using the Magic Wand Tool (if correct your colour palette will highlight), check artboards are named correctly and that your document is in the right profile.

In your RGB folder, make a new folder called artwork, this is where you will temporarily export all your files. This is important as you don’t want to save over your master file.

Exporting as PNG

  • Export As > Name file [CLIENTCODE] > Select PNG (300 ppi with transparency) > Tick ‘Use Artboards’

Exporting as JPG

  • Export As > Name file [CLIENTCODE] > Select JPG > Tick ‘Use Artboards’
  • Delete any White or Reverse variants

Exporting as PDF

  • Save As Copy > Name file [CLIENTCODE] > Export as Adobe Illustrator File
  • Save each artboard to a seperate file > ‘OK’
  • Select all exported files > Rename Files again > Replace ‘.ai’ with ‘.pdf’
  • Select ‘Use .pdf’ for each file.
  • Delete the exported file simply named [CLIENTCODE]

Exporting as EPS

  • Save As Copy > Name file [CLIENTCODE] > Export as Illustrator EPS
  • Check Use Artboards > Check All
  • Leave EPS Options as all default > Click Okay
  • Delete the exported file simply named [CLIENTCODE]

Now it’s time to organise. Sort all the files into their corresponding folder that you created at the beginning of this process. Then repeat the exports for your CMYK and PMS files. With PMS files we only create PDF and EPS files as your JPG and PNG files will not carry Pantone® information.

Exporting multiple artboards as individual AI files

Testing

Always do some spot testing, opening files picked at random to make sure everything has worked ok. Check all your file names, that you haven’t missed any variations and that your colour palettes match your colour profiles.

And you’re done — time for a well earned coffee!

Interested in partnering with us on your next project? Let’s talk!