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One of the most important technical skill to understand in Adobe Photoshop is the use of layers and layer masks. These tools are used to combine two or more images to create a composite image, they provide a non-destructive way to correct exposure, brightness, contrast, dodge, burn and color correct images.

About Photoshop Layers
Photoshop layers are like sheets of stacked acetate. You can see through transparent areas of a layer to the layers below. You move a layer to position the content on the layer, like sliding a sheet of acetate in a stack. You can also change the opacity of a layer to make content partially transparent. You use layers to perform tasks such as compositing multiple images, adding text to an image, or adding vector graphic shapes. You can apply a layer style to add a special effect such as a drop shadow or a glow.

What is a Layer Masking?
Layer masking is a reversible way to hide part of a layer. This gives you more editing flexibility than permanently erasing or deleting part of a layer. Layer masking is useful for making image composites, cutting out objects for use in other documents, and limiting edits to part of a layer. You can add black, white, or gray color to a layer mask. One way to do that is by painting on the layer mask. Black on a layer mask hides the layer that contains the mask, so you can see what is underneath that layer. Gray on a layer mask partially hides the layer that contains the mask. White on a layer mask shows the layer that contains the mask.

Create a layer mask

  1. Select a layer in the Layers panel.

  2. Click the Add layer mask button at the bottom of the Layers panel. A white layer mask thumbnail appears on the selected layer, revealing everything on the selected layer.

Add black to a layer mask to conceal
Adding black to a layer mask hides the layer that contains the mask.

  1. In the Layers panel, make sure there is a white border around the layer mask thumbnail. If there is not a white border, click the layer mask thumbnail.

  2. Select the Brush tool in the Toolbar. In the Options bar, open the Brush Picker and choose the size and hardness of the brush.

  3. Press D to set the default colors of white and black in the Toolbar. Then press X to switch the colors, so black becomes the foreground color.

  4. Paint over the image, which adds black to the layer mask. Black on the layer mask hides the layer with the mask, so you can see the layer below or the checkerboard pattern that represents transparency.

Add white to a layer mask to reveal
Adding white to a layer mask shows the layer that contains the mask. You can paint with white on a layer mask to reveal content you had previously concealed with black on the layer mask.

  1. Press X to switch the foreground and background colors in the Toolbar, so white becomes the foreground color.

  2. Paint over hidden areas of the image. This adds white to the layer mask, bringing back into view corresponding areas of the masked layer.

Fine-tune the layer mask with black, white, and gray
Switching between black and white as you paint on a layer mask is a flexible way to fine-tune the mask edge. If you use a soft brush, the edges of the brush will apply shades of gray, partially hiding that part of the layer with the mask.

Save your work with layers

  • Save the image in .PSD or .TIFF format to retain the layers and layer masks for future editing.


Collegian 45th Logo


Logo Project

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Logo Examples

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Illustrator Tools

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Design a logo in Adobe Illustrator using text and an illustration. As discussed in class there must be a conceptual relationship between text and the illustration. You may use any name, theme or subject that is of interest to you. You may not use any materials from the web or from preprinted materials. The design, illustration and concept must be original.
You will make four versions of the logo.

  1. Flat 2 dimensional Illustrator version. It may be B&W, 2, 3 or 4  color.

  2. Black and white Illustrator version.

  3. 3 color Illustrator version.

  4. Three-dimensional Photoshop version from 1 of the above. With or without the inclusion of a photo.

If you need specific direction as far as developing a company name, theme or concept I can provide you with some guidance.

Before you begin working on your design, do some research and then write a 2 page design brief that answers the following questions.

  • What is the name of your company?

  • Do you have a company tagline or slogan that could be used as part of the logo?

  • What product(s) or service(s) do your business provide?

  • Who are your competitors?

  • What differentiates you from your competitors?

  • Is there a unique story behind your business?

  • Are there any inspiring visuals associated with your business?

  • What does your audience care about?

  • What does your audience want?

  • How does your audience learn about your product, organization or service?

  • Why should your audience choose you over the competition?

  • What words do you want your audience to associate with your company?

  • Generally, what logos or brands do you think will appeal to your audience and why?


Vocational Technical Education Frameworks: Design & Visual Communications (VDVC)

Strand 2:  Technical Knowledge and Skills

2.B Fundamentals of Design

2.B.01 Describe and apply Elements of Design.

2.B.01.01 Describe and apply Elements of Design to design work, including line, shape, form, color, value, texture, space, and size.

2.B.02 Describe and apply Principles of Design.

2.B.02.01 Define principles of design (balance, contrast, unity, rhythm, and proportion).


2.B.02.02  Describe and apply principles of visual hierarchy in regards to composition.

2.B.03  Demonstrate an understanding of typography.

2.B.03.01 Describe the basic anatomy and history of typography.


2.B.03.02 Define and demonstrate the manipulation of type (i.e. Kerning, tracking, and leading).

2.B.03.03 Describe and apply typography measurements and tools (points, picas, etc).

2.B.03.04 List typographic styles and explain their relationship to a design project.

2.B.03.05 Demonstrate and apply techniques of font management for outsourcing to various media.

2.B.04 Demonstrate and apply an understanding of color theory.

2.B.04.01 Demonstrate and apply an understanding of color theory as it applies to fine art, design, and digital media.


2.B.04.02 Demonstrate and apply an understanding of the color wheel and its component parts, including primaries, secondaries, tertiaries, compliments, color schemes, etc.

2.B.04.03 Introduce the seven designations of color contrast by Johannes Itten.

2.B.04.04 Explain the difference between additive and subtractive color principles.

2.B.04.05 Define and demonstrate the differences between various color modes, such as CMYK, RGB, grayscale, and spot colors.

2.C The Creative Process

2.C.01 Employ design strategies.

2.C.01.01 Identify and utilize steps in the design process

  1. Understand the Goal

  2. Research

  3. Brainstorm/Thumbnail Development

  4. Roughs

  5. Final Comp


2.C.01.02 Describe and demonstrate roles and responsibilities of a creative team in dealing with client needs, including a timeline and budget.

2.C.012.C.01.03 Describe considerations for print, web and video audiences.

Point, Line, Shape, Form, Color, Value, Texture, Space, Size


Design Principals
Unity and Variety, Contrast, Emphasis and Focal Point, Scale and Proportion, Balance, Rhythm, Movement

Elements and Principles of Design


Color Theory Infographic


Typography Graphic


Visually represent the concept of GRAVITY.

Gravity, also called gravitation, is a force that exists among all material objects in the universe. For any two objects or particles having nonzero mass, the force of gravity tends to attract them toward each other. Gravity operates on objects of all sizes, from subatomic particles to clusters of galaxies.


Using the Pen Tool


The Design Process
Definition, Creativity, Analysis, Production, Clarification

What is brand? – The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole.
What is identity? – The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.
What is a logo? – A logo identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon.

A logo is for… identification.

A logo identifies a company or product via the use of a mark, flag, symbol or signature. A logo does not sell the company directly nor rarely does it describe a business. Logo’s derive their meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolises, not the other way around – logos are there to identity, not to explain. In a nutshell, what a logo means is more important than what it looks like.

To illustrate this concept, think of logos like people. We prefer to be called by our names – James, Dorothy, John – rather than by the confusing and forgettable description of ourselves such as “the guy who always wears pink and has blonde hair”. In this same way, a logo should not literally describe what the business does but rather, identify the business in a way that is recognizable and memorable.

It is also important to note that only after a logo becomes familiar, does it function the way it is intended to do much alike how we much must learn people’s names to identify them.

The logo identifies a business or product in its simplest form.

An effective logo is (in no particular order):

  • Simple - A simple logo design allows for easy recognition and allows the logo to be versatile & memorable. Good logos feature something unique without being overdrawn.

  • Memorable - Following closely behind the principle of simplicity, is that of memorability. An effective logo design should be memorable and this is achieved by having a simple, yet, appropriate logo.

  • Timeless - An effective logo should be timeless – that is, it will endure the ages. Will the logo still be effective in 10, 20, 50 years?

  • Versatile - An effective logo should be able to work across a variety of mediums and applications. The logo should be functional. For this reason a logo should be designed in vector format, to ensure that it can be scaled to any size. The logo should be able to work both in horizontal and vertical formats.

  • Ask yourself; is a logo still effective if:

    • Printed in one colour?

    • Printed on the something the size of a postage stamp?

    • Printed on something as large as a billboard?

    • Printed in reverse (ie. light logo on dark background)

    • One way around creating a versatile logo is to begin designing in black and white only. This allows one to focus on the concept and shape, rather than the subjective nature of colour. One must also remember printing costs – the more colors used, the more expensive it will be for the business over the long term.

  • Appropriate - How you position the logo should be appropriate for its intended purpose. For example, if you are designing a logo for children’s toys store, it would be appropriate to use a childish font & colour scheme. This would not be so appropriate for a law firm. It is also important to state that that a logo doesn’t need to show what a business sells or offers as a service. ie. Car logos don’t need to show cars, computer logos don’t need to show computers. The Harley Davidson logo isn’t a motorcycle, nor is the Nokia logo a mobile phone. A logo is purely for identification. For further evidence of this, take the top 50 brands of the world – 94% of the logos do not describe what the company does.

“A trademark is a picture. It is a symbol, a sign, an emblem, an escutcheon… an image. There are good symbols… like the cross. There are others… like the swastika. Their meanings are taken from reality. Symbols are a duality. They take on meaning from causes… good or bad. And they give meaning to causes… good or bad.
The vitality of a symbol comes from effective dissemination. It needs attending to get attention.
The trademark is a symbol of a corporation. It is not a sign of quality… it is a sign of the quality. Trademarks are animate, inanimate, organic geometric. They are letters, ideograms, monograms, colors, things. Ideally they do not illustrate, they indicate… not represent, but suggest… and are stated with brevity and wit.” –Paul Rand

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