Gemini is a 20-year old dude from California. He’s looking into enlisting in the Navy in the near future.
I was under my own alias, Final Detox.
I bumped into him online, in the perpetual void of the online gaming community. He’d put out an open request, in search for someone to create a logo for his streaming channel that he wanted to build. As a project, I find logos are fun to generate, solely on the premise that they’re a one-and-done deal. So, I volunteered, and sent him some examples of my stuff, including one of my favorites and an outdated portfolio (which, fingers-crossed—soon to be revitalized).
Convinced that I was his guy for the job, we met up through voice-chat on Discord. We broke the ice, and it soon became clear to me that Gemini came off as an unapologetic alpha male, but with a good heart. After coming to an agreement on my compensation, I asked him what he had in mind. He sent me a sketch that a friend made for him.
He said the general idea was to have a Gemini symbol, with an “etching” texture to it, a vivid “underglow” of shorts, and he wanted to make the “pillars” of the symbol a bit thicker. He said he also fancied a “worn gunmetal” look to it. The rest we’d orchestrate as it came along. He also sent me a message that simply said “ #0078ff “ – which, you might right-away recognize as an HTML color code, a useful ingredient to include in your design proposal.
To reassure Gemini that I was committed on a solid turn-around of his logo, shortly thereafter hearing him out, I sent him back a raw outline of his sketch:
“Fuck yeah, dude,” he said. So it began.
We ended our call, and I spent the first ten minutes looking over his original sketch, evaluating his persona, and the notes I jotted down.
- thicker pillars
- worn gunmetal
Having recently leaving a career in information technology, I hadn’t fired up Photoshop in awhile. After readjusting the thickness of the pillars, I got into a good groove and experimented with layers.
To brush up advanced techniques, I pulled up a site that I frequent that always delivers. Eventually, I rendered out a few drafts to pass along to Gemini for our next meeting.
We both signed back into Discord. I reminded him that this round was more or less just throwing out ideas, then I posted the first mock-ups for him. After silently awaiting his assessment, he chimed back in.
He let out a drawn-out sigh, “OK, dude. So, first all: I fucking love what you’ve got here—don’t get me wrong. Anywhere else—I’d might want to use both of them, but for my key, final image: they’re not quite what I have in mind. What I do want to keep, though, is the background. To me, that’s perfect, so let’s hang on to that, exactly how it is.”
As he continues, I take more notes. I then ask him about how he wants to approach the “etching” effect.
“I really want it broken apart, almost as if the lines are like trenches, ya know? Embedded into the symbol in such a way that they glow like lava. Here, here, here, wait. Hang on. I got something for ya on that.” Then, he posted a reference image for me:
“Sorta like this, only that blue. That #0078FF.”
At this point in time, I eyeballed his original sketch on another screen, alongside this new reference image.
“Okay,” I replied. To which, at that point, he said that he had to take off for awhile. So, we made an arrangement to meet again later that evening after I whipped up some more stuff.
Reflecting on the original again, I started looking through the various, royalty-free texture samples to see where we could apply the “worn gunmetal” effect. I figured it would be a good idea for him to select through an array of skins for his symbol.
I picked one at random to assure myself that the patterns could be applied on top of the symbol correctly. Once I felt I had the general jist of this, I started free-handing this “etching” that he was so fond of, staying as relatively close to the original’s as possible. Around ten minutes into free-handing these crevices, I noticed Gemini sign back into Discord. I showed him the metal textures to poke through first.
“I also started working on the etching a bit while you were out.” Then, I posted the next round of mock-ups:
“No, no, no, no, nononono. That’s not what I meant by that kind of etching,” he stated. He sighs, “I don’t think we’re on the same page, as far as when it comes to this ‘etching’ idea.”
At this point, I started getting slightly concerned on our overall vibe with this thing. So, in order to get this “etching” idea communicated properly, I set his original sketch side-by-side with my mock-up and asked him to help me understand what I was missing:
“OK,” he said. “What I’m looking for in the etching is for it to come across like a ‘grid’ effect.”
“A ‘grid’ effect?” I ask, as I jotted this down.
“Yes,” he replied.
“Sort of like a grid you’d see on, like, drafting paper?”
“Yes!” he replied.
So, then I hopped on Google Images, and I ran a quick search on grid patterns, and posted what I believed to be suitable ‘grid’ references:
“Okay,” I said. “For this...’grid’...effect—do any one of these look pretty close to what you mean? Also, ‘none of these’ is a completely valid response.”
“None of these,” he responded.
“All right. Well, it only took me, like, five minutes to draw on these…’cracks,’ so let me erase them.” I selected ‘etching layer,’ pressed Control+A on my keyboard, then pressed Delete.
“Hang on a sec,” said Gemini. “I got something here for ya, buddy. You know the movie Tron?”
“Yeah,” I replied.
“Here. This is what I meant:”
“You see that pattern on the guy’s back? Do THAT!,” he cried. “I’d like for it to have that kind of engraving across the logo, in such a way. Like along the outline, maybe.”
As I studied the effect on their clothing, I felt quite confident that I could reproduce something similar onto his logo. However, at this point in time, I also noticed that it was past midnight, and an effect of this quality was something that I didn’t necessarily want to rush through. Plus, this had only been day two, and there was no absolute immediacy on the project ever mentioned. All the more, I didn’t want to waste time either. So, we agreed to pick it up again later in the day. Gemini made a mention that he spends his mornings hitting the gym every day, as well as working as a waiter, so he usually signed in very late, while seeming anxiously jaded.
“Sorry, man. I’m not trying to be a pain in the butt about this,” said Gemini. “ADHD.”
“No trouble at all. I understand,” I replied. “To me, I compare this idea of branding a logo is like going to a barber and explaining how you want your hair cut. We’ll make it work. By the way, I found this texture we can modify for the ‘gunmetal’ effect that I think looks much better:”
“Perfect,” Gemini replied. We both signed off for the night.
The following morning, I stripped the symbol clean from all of the effects, to where it was simply a standard shape. I engraved three different outlines based on what Gemini and I had discussed throughout our last meet. Appeased with three new drafts saved, I took a small break. I pondered on how this relationship would play out, and I imagined the relief I’d have once this first project was completed. I decided to unplug myself and go for a walk outside to get a fresh reset. For all I knew, it was likely that Gemini was busy pumping iron somewhere, as we wouldn’t meet again until later on that night.
When I came back, feeling much more relaxed, I fired up Photoshop again. I had a side-mission in mind to troll Gemini. He had mentioned that at any point while he was away, I could send him updates on the design, and he would check them on his phone. Shortly thereafter, I finished another mock-up, and sent that one to him first.
“All right, check this out. This rendered out beautifully. Let me know what you think:”
Around a half-hour later, I got his reply back: “Lmao I fucking hate you ”
“I do actually have some stuff for ya,” I said.
He responded, “I actually need to hit the gym. Could we possibly go over these things when I get home around 11:00 PM PST tonight, or possibly tomorrow?”
“Absolutely. I’ll be around. Either works,” I said.
Up until our 11:00 PM meeting, I spent a majority of the time looking through other techniques that I could apply in order to achieve this Tron effect. Nonetheless, I also didn’t want to go too heavy on the mock-ups. I was under the impression that I needed to remove myself a bit from freestyling too much on them, and switched to painting strictly inside the boundaries of what Gemini was asking for.
After Gemini signed into Discord that night, we returned to our meeting room.
“YES! YES! The 2nd one! Hooooly shit, yes. We’re finally on the same page. That’s exactly what I’m looking for.”
Finally, for the first time thus far, we both had the alleviation needed and the go-ahead to hone in on this logo.
“Cool. Well, I’m glad to hear that,” I replied. “I’ve also already split apart each one of these, like you’d requested. So, since you like #2, I’ll pull the split-version of that and show you what it looks like.”
“Awesome. Hey, I had an idea last night. Go ahead and send me those. I think I’ve got something handy that will make this process much easier on both of us, going forward.”
“Sure,” I answered.
Gemini found the idea for us to use a tool called AwwApp, which was new to me. It allowed for us to create a room, post an image on to a whiteboard, and both of us could scribble on top of it, in real-time. And he was right: it made the process of explaining and bouncing ideas off one another much simpler. So, under a new momentum, we both scribbled on the drafts together. We both seemed to let our guards down a little, too, as we got to know each other more through teamwork. We made genuinely considerable progress.
I saved our scribbles and notes, and we wrapped up our meeting.
“Streaming tonight?” I asked.
“Yeah. I’m gonna get it going here in just a minute,” said Gemini. It was just after midnight, my time. Just then, his phone rang. Leaving his mic unmuted, his end of the conversation with his girlfriend remained audible. I can’t say I wasn’t a little flattered when he closed their call by saying, “Yeah, I’ll talk to you later—I’m actually talking to my graphic designer about my logo.”
I decided to ride my high and livestream myself, so I streamed my Photoshop canvas with our logo on deck. Gemini did his gaming thing elsewhere, with his regular crew.
After Gemini wrapped up, I invited him to my channel to spectate for live feedback.
“Is it all right if I invite Steak to join us?” he asked me.
“Yeah, that’s fine. Might benefit us to have a third pitch in on it.”
Steak, from the get-go, naturally came off much more relaxed. He provided us with fresh eyes, and justly countered both Gemini and my own ideas that we’d dish out. I brushed, erased, dragged sliders, re-scaled textures, switched layers—I wouldn’t settle on anything until I got Gemini’s approval to proceed. It was a fun session, lasting hours.
“You know what?” Gemini delivered at one point. “Is it possible that we can stamp a crown on here?”
“A crown?” I asked. “I mean, yeah, we could. That’s pretty specific, so I’m gonna let you pick out your own crown, and then let me know what you have in mind.”
So, in came the crowns. Steak and I idly stood by, as Gemini talked himself through which one he preferred the most.
Gemini settled. “This one:”
“The white lines at the bottom can go away, but I like this shape.”
So, I removed the white lines, and I blended the crown under various methods. By dawn, we eventually tapered away from the critique, talking about other things in life, leaving the render looking exactly like this before logging out:
After catching up on sleep, I awoke late in the day. I picked up the logo where we’d left off from the livestream. I looked at my new notes:
- ‘light gray’ instead of ‘purple’
- point those tips!
- add 4K resolution on final copy
- more glow
As I examined the image further—overall, it just wasn’t doing anything for me. So, I started going through the layers, one by one:
As I peeled away effects, at one point I had a render that lovingly roused my senses. I sent the sample to Gemini, who was likely scraping off dinner plates and trading his courtesy for tips somewhere:
“Oooh. I love it. I do, but as I was looking over the image from last time—I changed my mind on one thing.”
Of course you fucking did, I thought to myself. Please ditch the crown.
”I wanna make it darker. The symbol. Like, closer to black actually. My colors are going to be more like black and blue anyway, I figure.”
“All right,” I responded. “I’ll probably get started on it here shortly, then.”
“Again, I apologize. I know I’m, like…always getting super specific with stuff,” he said.
“No need. Changing the hue shouldn’t take long at all.” Which, truthfully, didn’t. I reverted the image back to it’s state from our livestream, selected the layers that made the symbol appear purple, and moved the appropriate sliders toward black. Saved.
With plenty of time to spare, I gave myself another break to take care of errands and detach myself from the project. I spent time hanging out with my wife, and I took my kids out to play soccer. I also had an impromptu sit-down with my next-door neighbor, and we had a polite conversation on the state of things. All around, I remained optimistic. Primarily I think because I felt relieved from a once-rigid lifestyle, doing detail-oriented technical support. It was nice to have more time with my family.
As it got late again, I went inside, and back into what I now looked at as my new office. Gemini eventually signed in, and we returned to our whiteboard room. I posted the new mock-up, based off his latest feedback:
“HELL yeah, dude! It’s...ALMOST there. I promise you, it’s almost RIGHT there,” said Gemini.
“So, the final thing—and it’s just this little tiny change, I hope. I was looking at the vertical, straight lines on each pillar..”
“Can we indent these, maybe?” he asked. “Here. I’ll show ya what I was thinking.”
“Okay,” I replied.
Gemini, then, scribbled three examples of what he’d envisioned this time.
“Can we do anything to make the crown pop more, you think? Without changing the color?” asked Gemini.
“Well, we could add more glow around it, maybe. We could make it slightly wider. But honestly, since you said you are set on wanting it right there—there’s not a lot of room to increase it’s size without enlarging most of the entire symbol first,” I replied.
“Eehhhh… actually never mind. I still like it as is. I wanna keep it in. So, if you can just make the vertical lines indented, but still symmetrical from each other, then go nuts if you want to experiment,” he said.
“Okay. Let me mess with it; clean it up a bit. I’ll send you a model for each one of these first, close to what you drew here, and we’ll see where we’re at,” I replied.
“I really do appreciate the hell outta ya!” Gemini acknowledged. He eventually went off to start his nightly stream.
I got started right away. Truthfully, I was getting burned-out on reworking the Gemini symbol, and I wanted it to be wrapped up. The problem I immediately faced this time around was getting the etching on these pillars flipped across, symmetrically, without making it too complicated. So, I devised a way to create custom stencils in order to apply the new changes.
After duking it out, in just under an hour or so—I sent him back the three different versions while he was in the middle of his stream:
“First one. That’s it,” Gemini responds.
“You’re sure?” I replied.
“One-hundred percent! Wrap that puppy up and send me that one. Hell yeah! That’s the one.”
Thank fucking God, finally. ”Awesome. Okay, then. Sounds like we got it.”
“Let me know your Paypal when you get a chance, and we’ll make it official.”
So, as Gemini continued his stream, I spent the remainder of the night polishing up small blips and jagged edges. I exported the final render in all of the applicable screen resolutions, starting from 3840x2160, and worked my way down. I packaged up every single draft, mock-up, render, scribbling in association (including the stripper horse joke) and packaged them into a .ZIP file. I uploaded the bundle into my private cloud storage.
I’ve already mentioned on a previous entry that Gemini generously overpaid me, to my surprise. After I confirmed to Gemini that my payment had been received, I sent him the link to his .ZIP file for download.
On the following day, Gemini showcased his new logo on his Discord channel:
Throughout our short re-visits, Gemini maintains on immodestly introducing me as “my graphic designer,” and it is encouraging. That was it, for now.
Of course, our dialog in this recreation of events was considerably paraphrased for entertainment value, but not too far off overall. That’s really all I can say for that, considering that I’ll need to uphold a certain level of professionalism for my patrons.
I’m looking forward to working with the next one, JackleJay. He seems significantly more laid-back than Gemini; however, he’s also asking for, not only a logo, but an entire kit for his streaming channel. In the mean time, I’ll need to overhaul my portfolio.
It's very admirable that you can work in that way- with constant revisions and critical feedback from someone who doesn't know how to do what you do. I very briefly worked with someone on some advertising and it was soul crushing for me every time I brought them "what they asked for" and then they told me no... Not quite right, change this or that…
It sounds like you are able to do that well, and it's a great skill! Good luck!
Thanks! I sincerely appreciate that.