Logo painting simplified

When I started my business 16 years ago, I planned on laying out and painting the lines and numbers for athletic fields and installing baseball and softball infields. Since I was already on the job, the logical question from the athletic director was, “Can you paint our school logo?”

Naturally, I said I would try. Since no one in my area of Oregon was doing custom field paining, I had to train myself on how to even begin such a task. I started by requesting a helmet decal or a printed drawing of the logo to use as a guideline; I’d either make a stencil of the logo or set up string lines to guide my freehand painting. As I worked with creating the logo on the field, I was intrigued by the challenge of making it bigger, smaller or more detailed. The problem in developing the design in different sizes was maintaining the right ratios of size and scale to keep the logo consistent.

My first attempt to paint a grid logo was in San Jose, Calif., at Valley Christian High School on their new FieldTurf field. I had made a stencil for their Trojan warrior head, but they wanted the letters “VC” and a scripted “Warrior” in one end zone. Luckily, I had convinced one of my buddies, Erik Erikson who had worked at the Civic Stadium in Portland, to come help. He had done some work with grids when painting special designs in the end zones for past events there. I took the printed design and drew a grid by hand over it, with 1-by-1-inch squares. Then I had that drawing laminated.

Once we figured out the size that would be needed to keep the integrity of the design, we could determine a ratio for each 1-square-inch block. Working from the ratio we’d decided on, we ran string lines back and forth all over the area that would be painted.

Photos by Mike Hebrard.
This is the graphic of the Alpenrose Challenge logo. The graphic laid out on a grid in PowerPoint.
The Alpenrose Challenge logo as it appeared justafter the on-field painting was completed.  

Building on the success, I’ve used a hand-drawn grid as the starting point for developing any logo. Looking for ways to increase my efficiency, I’ve evolved to using the computer to do the tedious work of drawing the grid on a logo. It’s fast and easy to do using the PowerPoint feature of a Microsoft program and following the steps outlined below.

  1. Open the PowerPoint program.
  2. Click on “new” to bring up a blank presentation screen.
  3. Right-click on the screen to bring up the menu that has a “Grid and Guides” option.
  4. Double-click to get the grid menu.
  5. Select the 1-inch size option.
  6. Check the box that says “Display grid on screen,” then click OK.
  7. Your screen will show an evenly spaced grid, but this will not show on a printout.
  8. Go to “Insert Shapes” and pick a line in the “Home” or “Format” menu to draw a horizontal line, selecting the color you want to use and the weight (or thickness) of the line.
  9. Copy this line and paste it onto the grid screen.
  10. Use the arrow keys to move the line so it ends up directly on one of the grid lines.
  11. Repeat this process until all the horizontal grid lines are marked by the lines you’ve drawn.
    Repeat steps 8 through 11 for the vertical lines.
  12. Make the center vertical and horizontal lines a different color than the other lines of the grid.
  13. Move your cursor to “Select all” and right-click and select the group option so that your grid will stay locked together.
  14. Save your Grid program and make extra copies for future use. (I have all my logos on the same document in PowerPoint.) The grid will now show in a printout, and the lines should be exactly 1-inch square. (If not, go back to steps 3 through 5 to adjust your settings.)
  15. Now import a logo in either a JPEG (JPG) or vector art format. (I’m sure there are several different programs that could be used for this, but these are the main ones that coaches and athletic directors are using, and they are usually the easiest to edit.)
  16. You can either select the insert option at the top of the slide or simply copy and paste to insert the logo onto the grid slide. The logo will usually appear in the top left-hand corner.
  17. Use your cursor to grab the bottom right corner of the logo and drag it to fit the screen. Be careful not to grab the wrong portion of the image and incorrectly stretch it out.
  18. Use the arrows to center the logo.
  19. Right-click on the screen to send the logo image to the back. This will bring the grid lines to the front, on top of the image.
    It might take a couple of times to correctly lay out the image to best fit the page. Don’t forget that you can change the page layout to a portrait setting if the logo is taller than it is wide.
  20. Once the grid setup is completed, print it out in color on white paper.
  21. Laminate this drawing to protect it when you take it to the field. The lamination also allows you to use an erasable pen to change the grid dimensions as needed.
  22. Take a portable table to the field to lay the drawing on so you don’t have to bend over to check points.
  23. Determine the measurement of the space in which you’ll be painting the logo.
    Work from that measurement to decide the ratio (1 inch equals how many feet) you’ll use to lay out the logo.
    To increase accuracy, use an engineer ruler to accurately measure the drawing.
  24. Use spray chalk to mark the key points when first trying this method out on the field. I still use it to clearly show where a line intersects.
  25. Once the top and bottom strings are set, I work from left to right with another string to mark each vertical grid line making dots with spray chalk.
  26. Run a vertical string line and work from top to bottom with another string to mark each horizontal grid line making dots with spray chalk.
  27. Once the basic layout is completed, you’re ready to paint the full design using your standard painting techniques.
This is the graphic for the Liberty Falcon logo. This is the falcon logo as it appeared whenpainted on the field.

Using the grid to set up a painting isn’t unique to sports field managers. According to www.paintbygrid.com, “Artists dating back to the ancient Egyptians knew of a technique to break down a painting into smaller ‘grids’ to effectively divide the image they were painting into a number of smaller images, each of which has less detail than the whole. The grid method was even used by Leonardo Da Vinci in both his works and in teaching.”

By using PowerPoint, we just make the process easier and faster.

Mike Hebrard is owner/operator of Athletic Field Design, based in Clackamas, Ore. He’s a frequent speaker at national and regional conferences.