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Complex Logo Design in Zaxwerks 3D Invigorator Classic

How to create a complex logo using Adobe Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, and Zaxwerks By Kevin McAuliffe

I have always been fascinated by 3D animation, but I unfortunately don't have the time to sit down and learn a 3D program to really produce great looking animations. A few years back, Zaxwerks released a set of plug-ins called Invigorator (Pro and Classic) that brought the world of extrusion to the "3D" in After Effects. I love the plug-in, but I always found it cumbersome to create complex animations, as time was always an issue.  Well, that's not the case anymore. In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to create a complex logo in no time flat using Adobe Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, and Zaxwerks 3D Invigorator Classic.

Now, believe it or not, the longest part of creating a great looking 3D element for your project will be in the organization, but, if you organize right in Illustrator, you will be able to create your complex 3D element in a matter of minutes.

First, we need a logo. For me, I do alot of sports promos, and with that comes the team logos that producers always want in 3D, so I'm going to use the Tampa Bay Buccaneers logo for our tutorial, and as you can see in Illustrator, it's a bit of a mess as far as the organization goes.

When you organize your logo, think of the stacking order that you want to see in your 3D element. I'll list them from 1-8, with number 1 being the top most layer.

1. Football
2. Sword Grip
3. Sword Gleam
4. Sword Handle
5. Skull and Crossbones
6. Black Skull Cutout
7. Red Flag Background
8. Black Flag Background

Now, it's a matter or organizing and naming your layers according to this layout. It's important to keep this in mind when doing any type of logo treatment in a 3D application, as it will make your life much, much easier. Another thing to keep in mind when working on this logo is the "Skull and Crossbones" element of the logo is actually made up of eleven elements, which if you are trying to manipulate them on their own, can get quite cumbersome and frustrating. Instead, in Illustrator, group these elements together, so they act as one element, instead of 11.  

Once your organization is done, you are ready to save your file. For your Illustrator files to work properly in Invigorator, they need to be saved as an Illustrator 8 file, which is an option when you "Save As".

If you don't save your file as an Illustrator 8 file, you will get this unfriendly message when you try to import into After Effects.

Believe it or not, you are almost done! Launch After Effects and create a new composition. When applying the Invigorator effect, you must apply it to a solid layer, so create a new solid the same size as your background, select it, and then navigate to Effects>Zaxwerks>3D Invigerator. 

You are now greeted with the "Select Artwork" window. I'm going to navigate to the file that I saved, called "Tampa Bay Bu' s", and before I select it, there are two important check boxes that need checking. First, I want Invigorator to "Open by Layers". What that means is when opened, Invigorator will display all the layer information I input in Illustrator (Skull & Crossbones, Football, etc.), making my organization in Invigorator just as easy as it was in Illustrator. Second, I want to "Use Illustrator Colors," for the obvious reason of saving myself time and work re-inputting all that information. Once I have those two selected, I click "Select" and now I'm ready to finish this logo off!

As you can see, when Invigorator opens my file from Illustrator, it looks like a mess.

The reason for that is everything is on the same plane, so nothing is really standing out from one another.  Here's where organization in Illustrator really pays off. At the top of the Effects Palette, you will see an "Options" button. Click on it, and you will be taken to the 3D Invigorator Set-Up Window.

This is where we do our final tweaks to our 3D Logo. Do not think of this window as an animating window. This is where you organize your layers, set colors, change extrusion options, etc, and as you can see, Invigorator has already transferred my colors from Illustrator, so that job is done! Since I am going to be moving my elements around, but I am only going to be moving them forward and backward, I'm going to want to have a top down view, so with "Camera Mode" selected, I'm going to click on "Views" and select "Top." At this point, feel free to zoom in on the model, as the distance might be too far away to get a good feel for how your model is looking.

Now, if you take a look two icons to the right of the "Camera Mode" button, there is a button called "Object Mode." This mode is where you will select each layer you created in Illustrator, and move them to where you want them. Once in "Object Mode," click on the bar that says "None Selected." You will now see that all your layers show up here, and you can select them one at a time, and using the "Tweak Object by Tracking" tool, you can "pull" your layers out to create your 3D model.

That's it, you're done! Well, almost! If you have already clicked O.K. from within the 3D Invigorator Set-Up Window, you will see your final logo, which looks awesome (if I do say so myself!), but one thing that always bugs me about Illustrator, is that it always puts a bevel on the logo which is great if you want it, but if you don't, here's how to get rid of it. Simply go back into the Invigorator Set-Up Window, click on the "Selection Tool," and press "CMD+A" to select everything.

Now, click on the "Object" tab, and on the right side of the "Object" tab, you will see a drop down menu for "Edges." Here is where you can select what type of edge you want your extrusions to have. I just like "Basic, Highlight Edges," so that's what I'm going to select, and you will notice that your logo updates itself automatically.

Now, you are done! You can add lights, camera movements, beveled edges and any other type of flair you can think of to further spice up your logo.

Zaxwerks 3D Invigorator Classic is an excellent plug-in for Adobe's After Effects, and if you think through what you are doing, no logo will be too complex for you to create and build. Zaxwerks 3D Invigorator Classic is available at www.zaxwerks.com for $249 US, and one last thing that I will mention is that I am running Illustrator CS3, After Effects CS3 and the Invigorator Plug-in on Leopard with no problems whatsoever! Happy extruding!

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at [email protected]

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