Sure, simple logos are better but sometimes extreme and complex is where it’s at. A case study in illustrative logo design.

Last time out, we took a look at how a client wanted a complex logo, only to have the project turn 180 and end up with a brutally simple design. Today we’ll take a look at the other end of the spectrum – an extreme logo project where the client wanted loads of realistic detail, the result of which is a very complex piece of artwork. Calling this an extreme logo is fairly fitting I suppose, considering the name of the company, Australian based Xtreme ATV, and their target market – the all terrain racing crowd. And despite the highly rendered detail of this work, I think it turned out to be an extremely (pun intended) effective logo – especially when we consider the target market – and one that will serve the client well.

Starting from sketch..

Let’s take a look at the preliminary passes –
extreme-logo-rough-designsThese mock-ups were rendered into vector versions after quite a few sketches and conceptual drawings of the company’s ATV vehicle. Like any illustrative logo project, there’s really no point in spending large amounts of time on the computer until we have a first stage approval on the pencil drawing itself. Before we could achieve that, the drawings had to meet a few bench marks set by the client – they wanted to show the buggy “in action” rather than a static beauty shot, and the ATV had to be fairly accurate in terms of specs (the all terrain crowd are sticklers for detail). We worked with several angles before settling on the ATV shown here, one that we’d work with throughout the project. xtreme-atv-brand-identityOnce we had our finalized vehicle, it was time to work the complex illustration into an a by adding text and other graphic elements designed to ‘hold’ the artwork together visually. To further complicate matters, the client wanted a text only variation that could be used for applications where the detailed illustration wouldn’t work, or where the aspect ratio of the logo was height prohibitive. Accordingly, we had to design the text portion as ‘stand alone’ as possible, while making sure it sat well within the main logo. We messed around with a few variations – the Australian flag and related elements were added and added and removed, we worked with the bounding graphics and text (adding an Australian tag line and then removing that too) until arriving at the final version below.xtreme-atv-final-logoDespite its relative complexity, this art still works as a ‘logo’.

Logos need to work on different backgrounds..

Certain applications of the design would see it being used on dark backgrounds, so we had to make sure the logo worked on white and black.logo-different-backgrounds If the original company logo wasn’t extreme enough, the client wanted another variation of the logo that was even more ‘over the top’. This artwork was developed for a T-shirt run.extreme-ATV-logo-preliminaryWe took the company logo and added even more graphic flourishes – buggy lights, tire tracks in the font work and some chains. Below you can see the T-shirt back (right) and breast text logo imprint (left). To top it all off, we added flames. Yep, this logo was as extreme as we could go (at least without ruining its relationship to the actual company logo).extreme-business-card-artEven a highly complex design has to work like a logo. It has to be featured on business cards and stationery just like its simpler, iconic logo ‘cousins’ – here’s some of the business card designs that were presented to the client. As the logo was full color – no point in trying to work with spots – we had a lot of design latitude and didn’t have to ‘hold back’. Like most highly colorful designs, these cards were created with glossy stock in mind. Printing them on matte, or uncoated, card stock would mute the colors, and the design, far too much.


Despite the extremely complex logo, fairly ‘busy’ business card design, we decided to restrain ourselves and keep the letterhead and envelope to a basic layout. While we’re always tempted to create letterheads that scream, it’s always good to keep this in mind – the most important part of any letterhead is the letter itself. Typed words. A signature. No point in compounding things by presenting the client a complex letterhead design that may look terrific, but will clutter up any message that’s written on it. The envelope is extremely simple – the overall design and a text logo ‘ghost’ that’s so high key, it might not even be visible on your monitor


Heh. Had a few wags e-mail me and tell me that the letterhead featured above is too ‘skinny’. Xtreme ATV are from Australia. A4 people. A4…