Adobe Illustrator, drawing

Elementary, my dear Moriarty…

Last week I posted a teaser photo of a small project I’ve been working on. I promised that there would be more to come and I consider myself a man of my word.

lestaret-moriarty-20A short while ago I was contacted by my old friend Ross, who asked if I was interested in putting together a logo for his new musical project called Moriarty’s Men. They wanted something with a skull, so I was definitely up for it! After sharing some internettery images between us it was established that a ’19th century rotten bastard’ character was required along with some appropriate typography, and the possibility of including guns, daggers and a cut-throat razor for good measure.

Starting with the skull and working from suitable reference, I got a decent line version  down in order to scan and use on the composition development. I also did this with sunglasses (classic Ray-Bans, of course!), a stiletto dagger and a cut throat razor, along with a variety of moustaches…


The smaller ‘stache was likened to a ‘Tom Selleck’ and was quickly dispatched in favour of a more luxuriant handlebar…

lestaret-moriarty-3 lestaret-moriarty-17

I then switched over to look at the text. We were looking for something with the exuberance of the late 19th century and after looking at some great modern examples, opted to head back to the source.

When I looked through my fonts folder I realised that I didn’t have much in there to use a frame reference, so did a trawl through the free font sites to see if there was anything that could be utilised as a starting point. Boy, there is a lot (and I mean A LOT!) of crap out there – after looking through thousands of poorly drawn, badly observed and clumsily composed fonts (I’m sorry, but there it is – free fonts are free for a reason!) but I did find a couple that looked promising…

Each was redrawn and modified to see how they behaved and then I added some embellishment to suggest style.


These stages were shared with the band to gauge their reactions and seek confirmation before undertaking any serious detail work. The next thing was to add the second word, which I had planned to include within a scroll or banner:


And finally sketching out a composite image with some detail.


The reaction was very positive at this point and the additional elements (razor/dagger) were left out. Now it was time to get serious. I needed a good quality ink drawing of the skull and decided to add some of the detail too.



This was now ready for scanning, so it was on with the lettering. The drawn versions had been radically altered in places, so I needed to create accurate vectors of each glyph and allow for drop shadows and spacing etc. This was done in Adobe Illustrator and went through a number of versions until I had all the details resolved.


The obvious elements here are the ‘ri’ ligature and the ‘y’ which was completely redrawn  but the ‘M’ and ‘t’ required a fair bit of modification. More subtle mods were made to the ‘a’ and the ‘s’. I then added an outer stroke to create the first part of the lip.


I wanted to create an inner shadow that would be shallower than the main drop shadow, so made a white fill and drew a shadow at the same width as the outer lip.


The lined fill was tricky in getting everything aligned, but after some careful manipulation and a clipping path, all was eventually wrestled into place.


The addition of a deeper drop shadow now made the lip effect work. Result.


The scroll/banner was scanned and used to trace a clean line version, being careful to make sure it curves to match the baseline of ‘Moriarty’s’.


Once the shading was complete I added the lettering in Copperplate Gothic as a starting point – this needs to be a much simpler style to prevent it getting lost in the overall complexity, and a couple of fleur-de-lis to the curved banner and nestled it all up the the main text:


So now it’s off to the the Men themselves to see what they make of all this, then onto the final drawing…


3 thoughts on “Elementary, my dear Moriarty…

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