recyclereduxlogoIt’s been a long while since I’ve updated anything here on the site and although I’ve been busy behind the scenes staying active in the collecting part of the arcadehobby and non-hobby life and all the crazy stuff that goes on with home ownership, etc., I’m getting back into the swing of things blog-wise and am looking forward to getting a huge back-log of information written up and put on the site.

Part of that involved me taking a second look at the site’s design and seeing where I could freshen it up just a bit and simplify it somewhat as well.  One of the things that I (admittedly) lack is advanced skills at Illustrator/Photoshop.  However, I’m constantly trying to learn more about such and one of the things that has always bothered me about the brokentoken logo is that it just wasn’t “clean”.  I originally got the ‘broken’ parts of the token from a live-traced (using a very old version of Illustrator) raster scan.  For me getting started a year ago, it worked.  However, I’ve always been bothered by how the token looked when blown up (I’ve got some future plans that require a clean vector).

So, I set out to teach myself how best to trace and/or clean up a drawing inside of Illustrator.  Tracing is tedious.  Learning all the aspects (especially to the unintiated) of anchors, paths, etc. is equally as hard.  There are a lot of good tutorials for each around the web, but nothing is a substitute for actually pushing the bits around, so I fired up Illustrator and got to work.   Just for reference, here’s a before/after picture that shows the beginning and final results.  The logo on the left is the finished product.  The logo on the right is what I started out with…

Brokentoken logo before & after

I tried several times blowing up the image and using hand-picked points along the curves to re-create the shapes.  That didn’t work out well at all.  I wound up with a blocky, chunky mess that looked worse than the original.  Time for another method of attack.  After thinking about how best to re-create the lines, I settled on creating a bunch of ellipses – which Illustrator draws perfectly smooth – and cutting them to size.

That actually worked out really well.  If anyone is curious as to how it was done, follow along…

Step 1 – Draw a bunch o’ circles…


After I broke the logo down into what could be represented by circles/ellipses and what could not, the job started getting a lot easier.    This next screen shot shows how I started drawing ellipses in the areas of the logo that were shaped as such.   Once I had all the elipses drawn to match the logo curves, I added in straight lines for the logo ends.


Step 2 – Divide and conquer


Corny step name, I know. ;)

The next step was something I hadn’t done before in Illustrator.  After I got the hang of it, it turned out to be extremely handy.  The problem is that the logo is now comprised of a bunch of intersecting lines that are probably unwanted.  The Brokentoken logo only needs the bottom/top “swoosh” parts of each ellipse, and the rest can be discarded.  How best to do this?  Enter the PathFinder.

First, create a new later, then make sure all of the paths to be divided (all the ellipses, in this case) are selected, then open the Pathfinder window.  Once open, click on the “divide” button and watch it do its thing.  The reward is a layer that has all new paths with one each per side of each intersection point.  The net result is that each part of the intersecting ellipses can now be discarded.


Step 3 – Cut the intersecting paths


Select every part of the ellipses that are unwanted and delete them.  The screen shot at the right shows this being done on the top portion of the bottom coin part.  The Pathfinder usually works pretty good, but I did run into a situation where no matter how hard I tried, I could not get all of the intersecting paths to be recognized as such, so I had to do a two-step process in order to achieve the desired result.




As can be seen here, after deleting out what I hoped would be the entire top of the ellipses pair, the left part remained a part of same paths that comprised the bottom.  No matter how many times I tried varying the division process with the pathfinder, I would get the same result.  Time to get out a hammer. ;)



The third picture shows a rectangle drawn and then aligned to the end of the coin swoosh.  I then repeated the pathfinder exercise, and with so many intersecting paths, it was easy to then go ahead and cut everything else out.



As can be seen in the 4th picture, I’m left with a perfectly traced (and smooth) version of the crappy/granular portion underneath.


Step 4 – Rinse and Repeat


Once the basics of this are understood, there’s really nothing to getting the desired results.  Take a look at this last photo – it shows how I traced out the bottom portion of the token bottom.  It was a bit more complex, but still just more of the same.

After finishing up and making sure the perspective/angles, etc. are correct, we are finished!


I hope this can help someone out who might be facing the same task.  Although it might be hard to tell at a distance how clean a vector is, it becomes immediately apparent upon magnification.  I’m glad I invested the time in cleaning up the logo.  It’s a small thing, but it pays off big in the end.

Please post any comments/questions or feel free to contact me!

Redux part 2 is on the way! …