Designing the TriCat logo

One of the first tasks we needed to address at the company was creating our logo. This actually ended up taking a lot longer than we initially expected, but we felt it was really important to get it absolutely spot on.

We'd very quickly decided that TriCat was going to be our company name (legally, we're 'TriCat Games' to distinguish ourselves, but we're going to leave the 'Games' part out here, as it doesn't appear anywhere). So the first step was trying to think up the basis of the logo.

Dave had a few ideas revolving around the idea of a cat with a game controller for a head. I'd done a few similar scribbles like this too so we agreed that it sounded like a promising idea. Dave also had a second idea which involved a cat with three (i.e. "Tri") eyes. We decided to investigate both, but we also needed to work out how to include "TriCat" in the logo.

While Dave went to sketch a few ideas for controller-head cat, I did a very quick mock up of the basis logo in paint, using a font I found online called Prototype (http://www.1001fonts.com/prototype-font.html):

We both immediately really liked this idea. It was clean, bold and very readable. I had a thought about how to integrate the cat within the logo so borrowed a silhouette image of a cat that I found online, tweaked it a little and ended up with:

Neither of us were completely sold on this idea and had concerned that the 'cat' may not read well as an 'A'. So we did a glance test (wave the image in front of someone and ask them what the first thing that comes to mind is):

"Tricot"

Fail! We returned to the original design.

We were still really happy with the basic idea, but Dave pointed out a valid problem: Could the logo be misread as "Tric-at" instead of "Tri-Cat"? So we made a quick tweak:

Much better! We both really liked this change. It now clearly read as "Tri-Cat" and we hadn't lost any of the readability (in fact, it was a lot better now).

Around this time Dave had completed some simple sketches for the cat with the controller head as well as a rough sketch of the three-eyed cat:

I wasn't completely sold on the three-eyed cat, but wasn't put off enough to not see it through to the next stage. We were both still really liking the controller head theme.

Dave started to work on a higher quality version of both so that we could make a final decision of which design to iterate on.

It was around this time, during one of our discussions about the logo that I stumbled around the idea of running the 'tail' of the 'C' around the top of 'at'. I tried it (along with running the 'T' across the top of 'ri'):

This was a complete fluke, but we both instantly fell in love with the idea of this design.

But we still had problems to solve. Namely that the 'Cat' part was a lot wider than the 'Tri' part, which made the whole thing feel uncomfortable to look at. And the 'T's left side felt somewhat stumpy. Not to mention, this was still using the Prototype font, which we didn't have a licence for.

At this time, Dave completed his first draft of the three eyed cat:

CatThree01.png

This version was actually starting to grow on us a lot, so we tried it was the current logo design:

We were really happy with how this was going and we almost committed to this design fully. But Dave still haven't tried out the controller-head idea to the same quality level, so we decided to wait and see how that turned out:

We both thought this was nearly as, if not as strong as the three-eyed cat logo, but we needed to see it in context. We got it into Photoshop alongside the 'TriCat' logo and:

This was the one! We immediately knew this was the template for our final design. But we had still had a bunch of problems to iron out. Dave started on a more final cat design, while I started to work out how to address the issues with the font.

Around this time, I decided that we needed to decide on a font and licence it if necessary. Prototype was still our forerunner, but I looked into a few others. None of them worked as well as Prototype.

I was contemplating fixing the issues with the font by handed in Paint.net and then licensing Prototype. But then I made the realization that, by the time I'd be done with the changes, there wouldn't be much left of the original font left. I considered the idea of painting a new font from scratch, but decided against that idea. In the end I decided I would model it, allowing me to make subtle tweaks as when they were needed.

Firstly though, I needed to fix the issues with the spacing. So I grabbed a pencil and some graph paper and began sketching layouts for the final logo design:

You can see I went through a LOT of iteration attempting to not only space the letters correctly, but answer questions about the shape of the letters and how they interacted with each other. The part I've highlighted in red was the first time I finally managed to get everything to fit together really well and I was happy with the layout.

I made a much bigger version of this logo, across two pieces of graph paper, to use as a template:

The next step was to model this. I used a trial version of Maya and started to block out the basic shapes, concentrating on getting everything lined to a grid and evenly spaced:

The 'R' was really bugging me at this point, so I decided to focus on going it's shape in place:

It took some time to get right, but the other letters fell into place a lot quicker after that:

At this point it was time to render it out and see how the new font looked next to our cat. Dave also made an alteration to the cat, replacing the square nose with the 'T' shaped one from the three-eyed cat:

We felt we were nearly done at this point, but there were a few things to sort out. The biggest problem being that letters looked extremely blocky. So we did a smoothing pass:

But there were a couple of issues we didn't like with this version. The main problem was the curvature on the lower half of the 'A'.

I decided I needed a lot more control over the shapes of the letters, so I flattened out the 3D model into a 2D plane and made some tweaks to the basic mesh:

At this point I was extremely happy with how everything fit together. But we had to re-solve the smoothing issue from earlier, so the last step was to give the curved letters ('R', 'C' and 'A') much better definition, while not affecting any of the other letters on the straight edges on those three. I used a heavy smoothing tool on particular faces:

Then rendered it out and tried it with our existing logo again:

Much better! We still needed to replace the borrowed silhouette for the cat, so Dave grabbed a few pictures of cats from Google and used them as a reference to draw a completely new cat from scratch:

Once he was finished, we placed it next to our letters, made some tweaks to the spacing and we were finished:

Additionally, around the time I was creating the font, Dave was also experimenting with a 3D-looking cat, created in Blender, just as a test. Ultimately, after a while, we decided we preferred the silhouette version before he got too far with it:

Posted on May 29, 2015 .