When embarking on the journey of a music producer, it is imperative to take a few giant steps back and take a look at the bigger picture. Music should come first and foremost, this we all know, but this certainly is not the case. Take into consideration how easy it is to acquire the software and hardware necessitated to record music professionally in your own home. The monetary investment required for such recording capabilities has decreased rapidly over the years. You can even find yourself a free DAW like Audacity to get started before moving up and investing in more powerful software! But music production is but a small piece in the puzzle of musical success. And one very important facet of achieving success in any field is marketing. You must turn your product (music) into a unique and captivating brand. And to do this, you’ll need good imagery – a crisp, professional design of album covers and logos to best apply to your sound. As such, I’ve decided to write today about how to create your own logo – free of cost – using the bounties provided by the internet.
Conceptualization – How To Create Your Own Logo
To get started, you’re going to need to hone in on the elements of your music that would be best conceptualized through art. What subject matter is your lyrics and music portraying? Do you take heavy inspiration from thrash metal and traditional metal from the 1980’s? If the New Wave of British Heavy Metal is the style you’re drawing inspiration from, look at the artwork of bands such as Iron Maiden, Ronnie James Dio, and Judas Priest. Take note of the colors, the fonts, the presentation. You don’t want to directly rip off anyone’s font, on the contrary. Your best best is to create a font of your own from scratch, a unique depiction of your musical individuality through the use of custom letters. Before diving into how to create your own logo, you’re better off looking into the fundamentals of art design, and branching out from there. Check out this resource on color palettes, for example. It’ll give you great insight into which colors work together, which are on opposite sides of the spectrum, and shades that will compliment your base color.
But much like music production, digital art cannot be rushed. You cannot master graphic design in a weeks time, or even after several years of practice. You must always be willing to learn new tricks and techniques, and eventually invest in your craft by purchasing high end graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. But for now, let’s focus on the free programs to get accustomed with before moving up to the more in-depth programs. Today we’re going to talk about Paint.net and GIMP, both free programs you can use to get a start in your adventure into graphic design.
If you’re a PC user, it’s a given you’ve been introduced to the classic “MsPaint.” Many children throughout the years since the advent of computer technology have utilized this software to craft crazy doodles, or more recently craft ridiculous memes. Paint.Net can be described as a high-brow version of MS Paint. It’s great for beginners, and also serves as the perfect gateway between programs like Microsoft Paint and more in-depth programs such as the aforementioned Photoshop and Illustrator. The learning curve of Paint.Net is, fortunately, very forgiving, and even the most inexperienced graphic design enthusiasts can quickly start creating their own logos and artwork.
Paint.NET is an entirely free image and photo editing software, but be advised Mac users, as it’s currently only available on PCs. The program features an easy to follow interface, and supports the fundamental aspect of graphic design not afforded through MS Paint – LAYERS. Layering is of utmost importance in conceptualizing art of any kind, when it comes to digital software. Paint.NET also supports various plugins developed by it’s stellar online community, which is full of friendly and ambitious Paint.NET enthusiasts who will be happy to help you as you gain your footing on this foreign territory. A wide range of tutorials are also offered online, and are a great resource for beginners looking to start learning how to hone their graphic design craft. Paint.NET is oftentimes compared to Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop, Corel, Microsoft Photo Editor, and the Gimp.
The Gimp is a well renowned open source image manipulation program offered for free online. It is commonly referred to as a “free Photoshop,” in that it has quite a bit of capabilities within it’s software. I’d suggest “graduating” to Gimp after you’ve cut your teeth for a bit in Paint.NET, as the interface and features are quite a bit more in-depth. Do not underestimate the power of this free graphic editor. Much like Paint.NET, Gimp has a wealth of material available online – helpful tutorials, a friendly online community, and dozens of plugins. Custom brushes can be a great asset to utilize in album cover design – looking to add lightning to the post apocalyptic landmark you’ve been designing? Do a quick search for lightning brushes and you’re on your way!
Bear in mind that downloading these programs and beginning to create within them is only the first step in a long and oftentimes tiresome journey of educating oneself on the fundamentals of graphic design. Follow tutorials, than use the same techniques immediately after without following the tutorial a second time. Do this a third time. Ingrain the knowledge into your head, and add to your mental database of graphic design techniques. While the sky may be the limit with digital design, you must first gain the tools and knowledge necessary to utilize this software in a professional fashion. Don’t expect to be Derek Riggs overnight – much like learning how to produce music, this is a time consuming process.
This is the logo I designed for myself. The fonts are custom made, and the inspiration for the art style is likely apparent. For “Jon of the” I drew inspiration from horror movies from the 70’s and 80’s, which is also a big inspiration to my sound. For “Shred,” I got inspiration from the grungier metal logos of the world, from thrash metal, to black metal, to death metal. While the logo is no means highly professional or polished, I believe for a self-taught graphic designer who started on freeware it is decently made and, most importantly, a good representation of the atmosphere and sound of my music. These 3D effects were learned through a series of tutorials. The logo was designed in Photoshop, but bear in mind the same results are possible when using the free combination of Photoshop and GIMP.
Bearing this all in mind, download your free programs and get started on some basic tutorials. Start your journey in graphic production today! Who knows, maybe in a few months you’ll already have the skills needed to craft the album cover for your killer debut release!