BTS: "High Level" Logo Design
For my upcoming comic book, I of course wanted to design the logo myself. For as many things as I've designed, most of them have been for other peoples' projects - so the pressure was on to make something cool to represent my own original vision. I thought maybe some of you might be interested in how I build a logo design from sloppy napkin sketch to finished version. Everyone has a different way of approaching something like this, and I find it's sometimes helpful to see how others go about it.

A few people observed a resemblance between the High Level logo and my HTDA logo design, and you're absolutely right.

I thought of that logo right away because its 70s retro-futuristic approach is exactly how I wanted High Level's logo to feel. I started sketching in my notebook with my mind on ways the letters could flow into each other like a puzzle, and where I could remove parts of letters to reduce them to their simplest forms. I also wanted to play a lot with symmetry, so it was perfect that "HIGH" starts and ends with "H," and "LEVEL" is a symmetrical word.

Here's how the sketching process started in my notebook - it ain't pretty, but it doesn't have to be, it's just to get my mind thinking about shapes and the flow of the letters:

After playing with these sketches, you can see I honed in pretty quickly on the "V" as the centerpiece with the "E" lines coming out from the side of it, framed by the "L"s. I was really excited about how that seemed to be working, so I took these ideas into Photoshop and started to make some more refined variations of the ideas:

Some parts of these were working, some definitely weren't (especially the round "G," which looks totally out of place). Although the first couple you see here make really nice bricks of type, the hard edges of everything, especially the way the bottom of the "V" cuts off, made it feel too militaristic to me. As soon as I was able to work in the sharp bottom point of the "V" and more 45 degree angles in the "E" lines, as you see in the last version here, it immediately went more to a place of Kubrickian 70s sci-fi I was looking for. But it still wasn't quite right.

I started to combine elements from all these sketches, and made the "V" wider to make it more symmetrical with the type above it. Widening it brought its bottom point down below the other letters in "LEVEL," and that made it really feel like the way I wanted it to. I made the following variations, added some texture to them to give it a more tangible feel, and sent them off to the editors and art direction team at DC for feedback:

This set of options still included some with the more rigid, cut-off "V," and I was hoping they'd go for the sharp "V" but wanted to show it contrasted against a different idea. Thankfully they loved the same ones I did, and picked their favorite elements from these variations, which became the final design:

And here's the horizontal version, for occasions where that's necessary - the only difference is the second "L," which faces forwards because it isn't beholden the symmetrical framing of the stacked version:

I saw some graphic design dork on Reddit complaining that the "V" isn't the same width as the other letters. Well, there's a reason for that. The symmetry of the logo and how the two words fit together was important to me, so I wanted these vertical points to align:

If the "V" had been wider it wouldn't have lined up like that, and would have driven me crazy. It's a matter of personal preference I suppose, but I chose to go this way.

I found it oddly daunting to have to come up with a way to represent my own vision with a logo, and I'm incredibly relieved and pleased with how it turned out. I usually judge logo designs based on "would I want to wear this on a t-shirt?" and I can't wait to get a t-shirt of this, so it passed my internal criteria. If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments!

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