How To Design A Basketball For March Madness In Illustrator

March Madness, also known as the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, is the greatest post-season in all of sports. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. This time around, I decided to create a logo that celebrated it’s return.

The concept I had was a basketball in the center with brackets feeding into it. I started with the basketball since that would be centerpiece. A lot of things can be made in Illustrator simply by positioning the right shapes in the right places. I started with the circle. Once I applied the right amount of stroke on the circle path, I copied the circle twice. I positioned the two additional circles so the bottom and top curves, respectively, would line up like they are seen on a basketball. The two crossing bars were applied and positioned to complete the center image.

Cutting away the portion outside of the center was done in three steps:

  1. highlighting everything thus far and doing Object > Path > Outline Stroke
  2. drawing a new circle on top
  3. applying Divide Objects Below and deleting everything outside the main circle.

Step 1 was necessary because I used Stroke to create the weight. If I had attempted to draw the circle and Divide Objects Below in that state, the cut would have been incorrect. I didn’t want the blank center to count as something to cut. The circle(s) must be counted as rings and not full circles.

Cutting stroked circles vs. Cutting circle outlines.

The brackets were pretty easy. I just drew one bracket with the desired weight and copied the positioned the rest. I added the text “March Madness” in the center and used “Unite” Shape Mode in the Pathfinder window. I like to unite the vector paths to make sure there aren’t any small white border lines separating the different layers. Uniting the paths helps ensure that the concept is seen as complete and not an assemblage of parts.

After finishing this and posting on my social media, I saw an interesting thread. Carrington Harrison posted a March Madness style bracket of Kanye West’s best songs – the #KanyeMadnessBracket. Immediately, I started working on a Kanye version of my March Madness concept. I kept the same brackets on the outside and created a simple Kanye West illustration. I used a Kanye photo as reference and made the center image. I started with the head shape and worked on everything fitting within and around it.

Those glasses were chosen because they are iconic and easily recognizable as a past Kanye staple. I played with the colors and even made a graphic for my personal #KanyeMadnessBracket Final Four.

Big events breed big, creative ideas. Glad I was inspired to design a couple of ideas to add to the fun of the season!


Why I Love Being An In-House Designer

I currently serve as the Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer at the National Headquarters of Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma. In our office, I am the only one exclusively dedicated to graphic design. I’m THE graphic design professional at HQ. I consider myself a one-man graphics wrecking crew! As such, I’m responsible for using my skill set to promote the brand of the Fraternity and Sorority.

Being in-house, for me, means being able to apply my knowledge and translate my love for the organizations into visually appealing and communicative art. As an in-house designer, I personally know and care about everything I do. It’s not just a job for me. I really get to live with the brands. I also get to help evolve those brands and then apply that evolution across various mediums. The deep connections I have with the Fraternity and Sorority helps me do better, more relevant work that will stand the test of time.

Instead of starting fresh every project, I’m working with people who have developed trust in me that’s built over time. We learn how we work and how to produce the best product. The creative process becomes easier. Also, I’m there to help manage all the designs and publications that are housed underneath these two larger umbrellas. I’ve re-designed both national websites and designed the Tau Beta Sigma visual brand identity and guidelines. I have a lot of experience designing for the organizations. This gives me ever-growing confidence to know I can properly showcase the personality of each in an impactful way each time.

“I see in-house design as a valuable resource, with in-depth knowledge and custodianship of a brand,”

Kate Bates, design manager at the British Library.

I feel that I am in a place where not just my work but my mind is valued. I’m not just asked to complete a task. I’m asked what I think about that direction. I’m asked how best to present information. I’m given creative freedom as well as creative clarity. There is a certain ownership you can take when you’re an in-house designer. There is a personal investment you’re making as well as an investment being made in you.


How To Know When A Project Is “Finished”

How do I know when an idea is “finished”?

At what point do I stop messing with layers, shapes, words, video, etc.?

For the most part, there is usually a feeling I am chasing. A feeling of completion. It can be a hard, moving target to hit. As you improve, your standards will as well. Your own high standards will make it increasingly difficult to let go and call a project finished.

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4 Ways To Use Instagram’s Multiple Picture Post Feature

Instagram continues to evolve and provide new tools. The latest shift came in the form of allowing multiple full photos to be used in a single post. Your followers can now simply swipe the initial photo to see the rest in that post’s collection. With any new social media tool, this creates new possibilities on the platform. Once I updated my Instagram app and started playing around with the new feature, I wrote down a few ways multiple picture posts could be used.

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New Year, New You? What Are You Planning To Give The World In 2017?

Last year around this time, I wrote about being a gift to others. Marie Forleo, one of my sources of inspiration when it comes to content creation, always says “the world needs that special gift that only you have.” What are you planning to give the world in 2017?

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What Should A Magazine Cover Do?

As the National Publications Manager at Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Headquarters, The Podium falls within my purview. Twice a year (Fall and Spring), we send this national publication to chapters and alumni across the nation. When they receive and open their package, the first thing they will see is the cover. The design of the cover is important to the overall presentation of the magazine. There is a reason why getting on the cover of certain publications is considered a big deal in the entertainment industry. The cover image is in many ways the “logo” of that particular issue. It is a condensed representation of that publication’s brand and that issue. It is worth investing serious effort.

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What Happens When You Create Awesome Brand Ambassadors

What is a Brand Ambassador?

A brand ambassador is someone who, through their words and actions, is a living testimony to the greatness of your brand. They are your allies in the world. Whether they are on your payroll or are just satisfied patrons, they are crucial in spreading the good word about what your brand does.

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