Tips and Tricks of Designing an Airline!

So you’ve found this topic! Well, welcome!! :smiley:

SOOOOOO, here’s the thing. As you know, we’ve had 2 airline design contests, and there’s been tons of entries for each one.

Little advice of the trade, it’s just like the airline industry. It’s busy, constantly changing, and VERY challenging to get in.

This topic though, I’m hoping will shed some light on a potentially successful design!!

Little tidbits of information- I’ve received these tips from some people, and some of this is what I’d learned for myself! Keep in mind that this is NOT a How-To or a Design Guide, or even Guidelines. This topic is for tips and tricks, and may show you insight on stuff you miss out on, or don’t think about. After all, we ALL are not automatically airline designers, even if we do it for fun. It takes time and patience, and creativity too. With that being said, let’s get started!!


Tip #1
Have Patience

I learned this the hard way. Boy oh boy, did I learn this the hard way. I tend to rush things sometimes if I get frustrated with it, or I (like others) rush to get it out so we can get more likes. That doesn’t always work. Have patience with your process, and the fact that it’ll take a while to get it done. You’re gonna want to spend at LEAST 2 days on this, while some people can do it in less, and others can do it longer… The advice here is to plan accordingly, knowing how long you’ll take to do it, and don’t rush if you can’t help it.


Tip #2
Know Your Programs

This is tricky. I don’t mean know what you’re operating on, I mean know your programs that you’ll be using, and the files that you’re using as well. Which program will you use? How is the file set up? Any art type of program that can handle layers works wonderfully. This is also a good chance to see how the layers are set up on the file you’ll be tweaking!! GIMP, PaintTool SAI, and Photoshop are just a few programs that would work on this.


Tip #3
Think It Through, Designing, and Planning (BUT NOT CREATING YET)

I learned hard with this as well. Despite how you want to, the advice here is to really think everything through. You’ll want to step back and think about how you’ll create the file. Your colors, your patterns, and everything of that sort. Your backstories, ideas, everything of that nature.

Tip #3-A
Start with your basics, the base. For me, I find that creating a small story works best to begin with. I personally can create something off of the story. I can ALSO create a story off of the product, but I find the first option tends to be more detailed that way.

Option A - Create Your Story First
Option B - Create Your Product First

Tip #3-B
Start to build your product in a way that it works with the story. What does your product portray? Does it link with that story? Here, the two options kinda start to mirror each other, but the process is similar.

If You’re Doing Option A - What does your story tell? Does it give you your ideas? Does it give you a plan of what to create?
If You’re Doing Option B - What does your product or design portray? Does it provide a decent story? Are you able to make it work?

Tip #3-C
Knowing how your airline will come together really helps out, but now you’re getting into fine details… Different aspects start to form either way you decide to follow through with your design. All of this will end up tying together and it could really come into fruition!

If You’re Doing Option A - Have you come up with a name? Do you know what kind of airline you’re dealing with now?
If You’re Doing Option B - Have you decided on colors? Have you decided on your patterns? What about your logo?

Tip #3-D
You’ll find that the process here really mirrors and starts to reverse each other during 3-C… This is the point of the flip flop, so to speak. Now that you have details, you can start working on the other half… Did you do your story? Then design around it! Did you design? Then make a story based off the appearance!

If You’re Doing Option A - You’ve made your story, name, and you know what you see in your head. Now you design around it! What colors works best for your story and name? What cool logo can you design?
If You’re Doing Option B- You’ve got your design and logo!! Does it give you ideas for your name? Does it feed you a backstory and details?

Tip #3-E
You’re at the point where you began, but now you’re ending on the other end. You created something, and found a complimentary partner to that creation.

If You Did Option A - You created this amazing idea, pattern, and logo all off of a backstory, details, and a name.
If You Did Option B - Your image gave you an idea and knowledge of what you wanted your airline to be. Now you have that name, story, and details, all from the appearance and style.


Tip #4
Applying It All Together

Ah, now you’re here. With Tip #3 in mind, you’re able to bring all of your elements together into something that can really flourish, but it’s art time. If you are doing the image, you should already know what colors you want, how you want them, and the logo as well. If you’re doing the story, you know what kind of airline you want. You know it’s level of care and detail, right down to the CEO of that airline, and what they fly. All of these complimentary elements really come together and you’re applying it together. This part requires (I personally found) the most patience, as you’re still trying to flawlessly mesh them together.

Mini Tip #1 - Consider that your colors are complimentary colors. Color wheels work well on this, as you have those colors that can compliment each other well. Single colors and color variants can work, but be aware of how you’re using them.

Mini Tip #2 - Consider your pattern. I fell for the 2D look once, and found it looked better with a little bit of curves. After all, it’s an aircraft, not a paper model. Adding curves (even small ones) can help pull together the fact that it’s an aircraft.

Mini Tip #3 - Be unique but somewhat simple. You want something that stands out, but isn’t too busy. I was guilty of this on my first airline. The colors worked well, but it was a little too much going on. My second airline only had really 1 color, but the design was unique and simple. You want to find that nice balance. Curves are interesting, they catch the eye, but don’t do so many of them that you can’t focus. Straight lines are nice too, and may be simple. If you are too simple with 1 straight line, it may appear boring.

Mini Tip #4 - Watch your layers. Those layers can get tricky, and if you’re not paying attention, can mess you up. You want to make sure your layers are in the right spot, and showing the right thing. If not, you can design something awesome, but in photos it can look odd as something wasn’t layered right.

Mini Tip #5 - Really use your livery and story to create your logo. That logo is the brand, the image of your airline. For Envision Airlines, I personally liked the logo, but as it was pointed out to me, it looked a bit too flat, and I wish I would have done something to tweak it.

These are just a few tips and tricks that I feel can really help an airline design flourish.


Each airline is different, each creating individual has a different style and different process to how they design, but it’s a basic topic of tips and things to keep an eye on. For instance, I need to be aware of the combination of my colors and patterns.

All in all, I hope this helps you become the creator of the next airline to get into the game, if there’s another contest.