The power of a simple animated gif for logo design

Bestselling horror writers James Thorn asked for some design feedback on a logo he’s making.

Something kind of scary, like this one from American Horror Story.


This was his first attempt:



Not bad, I can see what he’s going for.

In general, bevel and inner shadow should be avoided. They look cool and 3D, but they’re old-fashioned now – since 2010 “Flat Design” is in style (notice American Horror Story – flat with no style).

For thriller/horror, you need sharp, dangerous looking fonts that make people uncomfortable. The font James used is “Fatal Romance” – not bad for paranormal romance covers but horror needs to be edgier.

The fonts and text can also be crammed together, to make people feel nervous, or styled to seem like blocks – you can tell a story with your fonts and get the text to represent something.

The monster face is kind of funny, reminds me of the old aqua man/swamp monster movies – but horror and thriller fans probably love those old movies, so it fits. I was tempted to make it a real, hyperrealistic monster face… instead I kept it and replace the EA of theater.

Most people’s brains are sharp enough to figure it out (seriously what other word could that be?)


3D gif maker

If it doesn’t flash for you, try clicking on the image.

The fonts are “Ace Records” and “Ostrich” – I like the thinner, narrow fonts on theater.

And the flashing eyes of the gif make it fun.

I can make animated gifs in Photoshop but it’s a pain, so I used to upload both versions in jpg and convert it.

It’s still simple and old fashioned (animated gifs went out of style in the 1990s) but I think it would work really well on a dark website… you’d need to have a blackbackground though, I don’t think gifs can do transparent PNGS, and unfortunately gifs don’t work on Facebook, and a lot of devices won’t display them properly (but they’d see the static logo, which is still pretty good).

What do you think?


About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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