Rendering is a powerful computer skill that can help designers communicate ideas, moods or feelings to clients. In this tutorial, the style of vintage faded logos will be explored; an effect that can be useful in proposing brand identities that might include stamps, cloth, wooden signs or other vintage aesthetics.
Before beginning it should be noted that rendering is an art form in itself. This tutorial is not to be followed explicitly, but rather to be seen as an introduction to the process of rendering; a process of trial and error, pushing and pulling, and experimenting with a design until it succeeds. This process should be at least slightly different for every designer if any creativity and individuality is to be achieved.
Please note: While rendering can be very helpful to morally sound designers, it can also be abused to skew the perception of an aesthetically weak designs to impress a client. This abuse is strongly discouraged in the interest of filling the world with strong designs.
1. Collect textures and brushes
The first step to starting any rendering project is collecting “materials”. In this case I chose to use fabric textures, plaster textures, and photoshop brush sets. Free online resources are seemingly limitless, however here are two examples of free resource websites:
Any designer interested in honing their rendering skills should consider expanding far beyond the examples above and looking for “materials” that match their aesthetic and taste.
2. Vector Art
It is extremely important to start with a strong vector design. Often times the vector art is all that gets used by a client in their production process. As designers we should take care to think about our impact on the visual world around us. Once the vector art is strong, we can move towards rendering.
Before jumping to Photoshop a few key alterations can be considered in Illustrator :
Effect > Stylize > Round Corners : Rounding corners lessens the harsh digital corners that don’t exist so much in vintage aesthetics.
Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen : Roughening the edges in this way is much easier in Illustrator than Photoshop. Note how the “smooth” box is checked. Again, doing everything possible to avoid digital looking corners. This effect helps to “age” the design.
To push the concept further and – in a sense – beat up the design, anchor points can be pulled in at random.
3. Photoshop Rendering
The logo is brought into Photoshop. Notice how there are layers for the background (currently white), the logo and some textures which have been collected over time. Organization is especially important in rendering projects because they tend to become deeply layered.
The texture of choice is copied into the clipboard. Note that in this screenshot the fourth texture down is chosen, though later the course is changed and the last texture in the layer group is chosen. This speaks to the art of rendering and how there is no right way. It is often based in instinct and feeling.
A layer mask is added to the logo layer and the texture is pasted into the layer mask. This is done simply by alt/option clicking the layer mask, pasting, then clicking the logo layer thumbnail to exit the layer mask.
Now some raster texture is seen in the logo.
A simple contrast adjustment is made to the mask to emphasize the texture.
The edges can perhaps use more definition. The logo is copied (without mask) to a new layer. The “inner shadow” layer style is applied.
This effect is chosen to hint at the mechanical tendency of stamps to push more ink to the edges of a shape. Even though a literal stamp look is not desired, nodding to vintage methods helps the overall faded and vintage aesthetic.
Simply by instinct, a brightness/contrast adjustment layer is placed above both logo layers and adjusted by look and feel.
The entire rendering thus far is copied and placed crookedly off the “page”. The duplicate is faded out with a brightness/contrast adjustment. Again, this nods to the idea of a stamp or an analog method of printing.
The previously mentioned free Photoshop brushes are used as a way of searching for happy accidents.
The sad accidents are erased using the eraser tool at a low opacity.
The three previous images especially depict the art of rendering. The process should look different for every designer. There are likely hundreds of ways to distress a logo in Photoshop, this being only one way. It was discovered through curious exploration just as any good technique would be.
A background is added. Multiple backgrounds were tried before arriving at this one. Not to mention that this background was adjusted in brightness, contrast, hue and saturation to match an aesthetic goal.
The art of rendering is a process that requires curiosity, creativity and exploration. With a strong vector design and an aesthetic goal, this skill can provide excellent visual communication of ideas, moods and feelings to clients. Furthermore it can be enjoyed simply as an art form. The possibilities are infinite.
Once you complete the tutorial, feel free to share your vintage faded logo in the comments!