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Olympic Logo Tutorial #1: Munich 1972

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Perhaps every designer is interested in Olympic Games emblems – among the Olympic logos of past century there are many outstanding pieces of design. Although many of them are original and simple, some are not easy to reproduce. I decided to take a challenge and try to create some of the best and more complex Olympic logos of past hundred years.

Today, we’ll start the series with a unique op-art emblem of Munich 1972, one of the favourite designers’ logos of all times. This optical illusion is rather hard to create, but we’ll learn how to do it properly. Let’s get started!

Getting started

1. Let’s open Adobe Illustrator (I use CS3 version) and create new document 1000×1000 px any color mode. We will use precise calculations, so turn the grid on (Ctrl+’) and snap to grid option (Shift+Ctrl+’). Now go to Edit>Preferences>Guides and grid, and set your grid to 50px with subdivisions to 10. Customizing a grid this way will make your work more comfortable. Also, turn smart guides on (Ctrl+U). Now, create an ellipse (L) 600×600 px in the center of your document and turn it to a guide (Ctrl+5) – it is used for reference only. You can lock this layer now and create a new one.


Drawing a small segment

2. You can switch off snap to grid option now (Shift+Ctrl+’). We’ll create a segment of 12 degrees now and position it properly. On the new layer create a line (\) that goes horizontally from the leftmost point of circle almost to its center (or you can press Enter and write 270px for length and 0 for angle). The line does not have to touch the circle center! See the 2-A image for reference.

Make sure smart guides are on so that you see points and intersections of every object, in particular the center of circle – it’s important. Now grab Rotate tool (R) and Alt-click right point of line, enter “-6” degrees and press OK. Again, with rotate tool active Alt-click line’s right point and enter “12” degrees, now press Copy. See the image 2-B for reference.

Select two touching anchor points of lines with white arrow (A) and press Ctrl+J to join them (choose corner option). Finally, select the two opposite anchor points and press Ctrl+J again to close the path, fill it with black. Look at the 2-C image – that’s what you’ll have for now.


Creating a group of segments

3. Select the segment you created and again grab Rotate tool (R). Now, you have to Alt-click on the center point of circle guide below. We’ll rotate the segment to have a group, but it’s important what angle you enter. If you look at the logo carefully, you’ll see that the angle is a bit irregular, so the segments overlap. Therefore, in the rotation settings window enter 20.7 degrees and click copy. Now you have to press Ctrl+D 15 times so that you end up with 17 segments. Finally, group them (also you can name the group “1”).


Duplicating groups

4. With a group selected again take Rotate tool. Now you can simply click Enter and write “-8.1” for angle and press Copy. I know these numbers may sound crazy, but believe me – these are the precise angles you have to enter to exactly reproduce the logo. Now press Ctrl+D to transform again. You’ll have 3 groups of segments now, it’s better to organize them properly – name the copies “2” and “3”. I also suggest that you change the fill for now for convinience – we can change it back to black later. That’s what you’ll have for now.


Creating a spiral

5. The segments we made will be partially masked to create the effect we need – so it’s time to make a mask shape. First of all, I think it’s better to hide segment groups for a while. Take a Spiral tool that is hidden under Line tool. Click inside a circle and enter following values: radius = 290 px, decay = 84%, segments = 8, style = second option (counter-clockwise). Now you have to position the spiral as in the image below – you can scale and rotate it if needed.


Understanding the Shape

6. At this point you’ll have to make sure the spiral is positioned properly. Take a line tool (\) and create a line that connects two open points of a spiral. Smart guides will indicate intersections, make sure it snaps to the exact point. This way the spiral will be virtually divided into 2 parts. Now unhide the second group of segments and make sure they are overlapped by the outer part of spiral. For the third group, it has to be overlapped by the inner part of spiral. You can rotate, scale or move the spiral to achieve it. If everything is ok, duplicate the spiral shape and hide it for now.


Dividing the spiral

7. While the copy of spiral is hidden, select the original spiral and the line you created in the previous step (make sure it touches open spiral ends). Now got to Pathfinder panel and click Divide (first bottom icon) and ungroup (Shift+Ctrl+G). You will end up with two separate shapes – I filled them with different colors for now. You can see the order of objects in the image.


Applying first mask

8. OK, let’s synchronize the elements in our file: bottom locked layer with circle guide, current layer with 3 groups of segments, hidden spiral, and newly created 2 separate parts of spiral. Unhide the 3rd group of segments, select it together with the inner part of spiral (the yellow one), make sure group is below the shape and press Ctrl+7. This will make clipping group with mask created from the shape. I named the group “inner segments”.


Applying second mask

9. Now just repeat the same – unhide the second group of segments and select it together with the outer shape (blue one), and press Ctrl+7 to make clipping group. I named this group “middle segments”.


Applying the last mask

10. Unhide the first group of segments – you’ll see that it also needs to be masked. That’s when the hidden spiral copy will help – unhide it and fill with 100% black with no stroke. Now select both the segments group and the spiral copy (spiral has to be above!) and go to Opacity panel. Here go to the flyout menu and choose “Make opacity mask”, also uncheck crop option. Now the group will be masked – the spiral appears as a masking object.


Adjusting the color

11. If you did everything properly, you’ll end up with perfect shape where the distance between segments is equal. Now just fill all three groups of segments with the same color – in the layers panel open every clipping group an select the group of segments (make sure you don’t select the clipping path) to change its fill color to black.



12. Now, with Type tool (T) write “Munich 1972” with sans-serif 100pt font – and the logo is ready! This outstanding Olympic emblem was not easy to create, but we used exact measurements and precise calculations as well as some creativity to reproduce this well-known optical illusion. We’ll continue the series of best Olympic Logos very soon – stay tuned!


(This logo is owned by International Olympic Committe. Logo is reproduced for educational puposes only.)

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