Designing a logo

I do bits and pieces of painting/drawing once in a while and I love almost everything that had anything to do with computer graphics. Electronic games are my weakness, but that’s mainly from a user point of view. Other interests are graphics programming, designing etc. Creativity has its own advantages. You can create, destroy or modify almost anything you want. More than that, I like playing God. So I jumped right in to the opportunity to design a new logo for our organization and my logo is selected as the new official logo.
Our organization - ARL - was on the process of revamping its website and the employees were given the choice of coming up with a new logo. We were free to come up with anything. No bounds were there. But it had to be agreeable to others in the lab. The main factors I had to keep in mind when designing a logo was that it should be easily printed on paper (in color, gray scale and black & white) as well as clothes (embroidery), stationery items like mugs, pens, plastic etc. Also the colors should stand the test of time and space (stretching, different media etc).
In the beginning, I was not sure whether I could do it. Finding the starting point was my main challenge. I had to formulate and idea and then start off from there. I kept thinking about it for some time and decided that I will start from where my predecessor stopped - the old logo. My plan was to rebuild the old logo first, may be with minor modifications in phase 1 and then add any new ideas as it comes along my way.

Old Logo
I looked at the old logo and asked myself, what are the key elements in there and what can I do to make them look better. After some thought and discussion with my professor, I decided to concentrate mainly on the following.
1. Make a new earth with glossy surface and a good reflection (inspiration: windows vista aero interface)
2. Make the bubbles, bubblier.
3. Decide whether to retain the waves or not. If retaining, try a different look. (The shell & waves are adaptation from the TMSI (Tropical Marine Science Institute) logo, to which ARL is affiliated to.)
4. New fonts for ‘ARL’.
I started with the earth part. The only tool I have used for the whole process is Adobe Photoshop. (Both ver. 7 and CS4). I searched the net for tutorials for a glossy globe and found this one.
And that’s from where I started. The result of my first experiment looked like this.
Ok, now that I have a place to start from, I started playing with other factors like the bubbles, fonts, waves etc. Some of the tutorials I have used are given in the reference section. I downloaded custom brushes, fonts etc. My reconstructed logo, with new bubbles and font, but without the waves looked like this.
Ok, phase 1 is over. Now for the next phase, I wanted ideas, something that everyone will notice from the previous logo, at the same time, retaining the key elements of the old logo. That’s when I noticed the color combo of NUS website. Orange, blue and white. That’s from where I got the idea of using different colors. Ok, orange and blue, one of my favorite combos and at the same time, a theme which goes along with NUS website theme also. I had to start the logo all over again. The result looked much better than the green one (from my point of view).
I also had to create the ripples that originate Singapore. For that I found many methods/tutorials, but none was getting close to what I wanted. Then my professor sent me a link to try and voila! It worked. Also it was he who suggested keeping a simple font.
The result of my earlier experiments looked like this.
Another of my experiment with waves and without ripples resulted the following.
I ignored the idea of waves in the beginning itself as I was not able to do a nice work and it’s a bit difficult job and I was too lazy for that.
The above logos were used to collect feedback. Some of the main feedbacks received were, the ‘ARL’ text is not proportionate to the size of the globe, the gradient color scheme is difficult to do embroidery on t-shirts, the ripples are too small, since the ripples are there in the land, it given an impression of tsunami (We wanted the ripples to represent acoustic waves - showing the relation to our research domain) etc.
I redesigned again and came up with the final logo with bigger ripples explicit to the blue region (water) and a bigger single color ‘ARL’.
Final Logo

And that’s how this logo was born. Different versions of logo were made with different sizes, background (alpha channel), color/gray scale etc.
I never thought I will end up with this logo when I started. But when looking back, I feel great about this project. Special thanks for my professor who helped me from the starting point till I finished this project, with valuable advices and suggestions.
Along with the logo, I have also designed a simple map to reach our facility which you can find in the ‘contact’ page in our website. It was real fun making it.

References and tutorials which helped me in designing the logo
Glossy Globe
Text Effects

Additional references and tips
Layer Masks
Custom Brushes
I am not an expert in photoshop, but drop in a comment if you think I can help you with photoshop.