How I designed the logo for my own studio

I’m far from a master of Adobe Illustrator (or Sketch), let alone a logo designer. But if I just copy or buy a logo from somewhere else for the studio I own (even virtually), that’ll be totally lame.

For designing a logo, it’s common to find interesting patterns from outside resources, such as photos, which could be a great source of inspiration. The other day I ran into this photo by Laura Tidwell, a Flickr friend of mine:

Low Fidelity Photo

Despite faving it immediately because of the smooth gradient color and stunning reflection, I also found that the far-side little brother might be a good symbol for the logo because he seemed so relaxed yet dynamic. After doing some image tracing in Illustrator, I did, eventually, get a quite impressive output.

Low Fidelity Photo 16 Color Photo 6 Color Photo 3 Color Photo

From a low fidelity photo to 16 color, 6 color and 3 color image in just a few clicks, it already looks so smooth! Finally it should come with a b&w version, of course, since I just want this to be a two-color result.

bw Photo bw1 Photo

After reducing the threshold value which determines how much of the image results in white and how much results in black when tracing as black and white, I came up with the image above (right). Then I used the Eraser tool to remove the unnecessary reflection and the Pen tool to make the vector even smoother, followed by drawing a circle to hold the shape - done! Now I just need to fill in some neutral colors as well as add some text, which I did:

final logo

If you like, you can further animate your logo like I did in After Effects, which really works well with Illustrator.

final logo

This way, I’ve created a completely original logo for myself!

Here I come - Getty!

Well…Sort of.

A couple of weeks ago I applied here to become an individual contributor for Getty Images. Today, when I almost forgot that - an unexpected notification arrived:

Congratulations! The editing team here have been through your submissions and think you might be very promising as a future iStocker! We would like to offer you an invitation to share your talents and apply to become an iStock by Getty Images contributor.

“What? What? Seriously?!”

iStock is a microstock affiliate of Getty Images. For many amateurs, it’s most likely the first step to become a real Getty Images contributor.

To be honest, I didn’t really expect to get an approval, not even from iStock. After all, I just bought an ‘amateurish’ APS-C camera - my Sony a6000 - less than a year ago. And I have only uploaded less than 160 public photos on Flickr, which, by all means, are my total presentable photos.

You can probably see why I feel so encouraged now. The recognition from a prestigious stock provider does give me a lot of confidence - another professional player out there!

Besides the congratulation, the notification email also contains three embedded images of the pictures that I uploaded previously, each along with a code - seems like these three have passed the editor’s review. I have listed them below:

Cape Florida Lighthouse

A good subject might really help you win in the application process.

After submitting the photos, it takes a couple of weeks to get approved and show on the website.

The watermarked photo would look like this:

watermarked lizard

watermarked lizard


Update*: It seems that iStock is full of both photographers and ‘wanna-be’ photographers now. After doing some research, I realized that I was just over excited. Though the market has no sign of gloom and doom, the chance to get yourself some notice on iStock is little. Downloads, which means profit from royalties, will very likely be negligible too.

Maybe it's time to get a drone

Yes I’m talking about the drones from DJI.

When it comes to cameras or lenses (a drone is no more than an aerial camera to me), I don’t buy them based on reviews. I buy them because of the output quality.

I’ve been subscribing a YouTube channel named Shinji kawamura for a while and everytime he has a new drone video it’ll literally stun me. Everytime. Check out the video below if you don’t believe me.

[click for the entire playlist](

So broad. The video was taken by DJI’s Phantom 4 and it’s 60FPS & 4K! Absolutely amazing quality and the turnarounds are smooth. I can easily tell that the drone is super stable without flying it myself.

Imagine the scene when I use a drone in the foliage season (I live in New England)… It’ll probably look like this:

Groton and a Sea of Fog or this:

Algonquin Highlands, Canada

Looks really exciting.

Sad news is that starting from this year, FAA requires that every single drone device be registered before it can be legally flying outdoors. This is likely going to take some time so I guess I should get one no later than August.

I missed last fall, so I really want to be fully prepared this year!