This is what we will be making in this tutorial:
We'll be using the Pen Tool and making paths. The advantage of paths, is that they are Vector, so you can resize them to jinormous proportions and it won't pixalize a bit.
First thing, unless you want to do it from scratch, you'll need something to trace, here's a simple superman logo from supermanhomepage stuck on a light blue canvas.
Let's start with the basics, we'll outline the shield first. So grab your Pen Tool (P) and click the bottom of the shield.
Now click on the lower top left point of the shield, and then the upper top left point.
As you can see, it has started filling in your "path" with your foreground colour. This can be a little annoying, mainly due to the fact that you cannot see through it. I highly suggest changing the opacity of your path layer.
The lines will be straight. And as you may have found out already, if you move your mouse while clicking to make your next point, you can make the line curve.
Continue around the shield and you will end up with something like this:
Now for the trickier part, the inside pieces.
Hide your first path layer (the shield), and start tracing.
When you get to the second point, move your mouse up and to the left. It may take a bit of getting used to, but you want it to look like the picture below.
Also note that since the line you are tracing curves at the centre of the image, try to get the lower handle in the centre.
Now this is the part where people run away screaming about the end of the world. If you click on your next point, the line will continue to curve around and make a perfectly sleek looking curve.
Unfortunately, this is not what we want. Undo (Ctrl+Z). In almost every other program that has a Pen Tool, to stop it from curving, you click on the curve handle. The curve handle is the one that followed your mouse when you were making the curve. In our example here, the curve handle is the one on the left.
To stop it from curving in Photoshop, get your Pen Tool, hold ALT, and hover over the curve handle. You should see your cursor change to a V-Like empty cursor. Now you can move the point anywhere your like.
Since we want to start a new un-curvy point, we simply move it to the same position as the point itself.
Now click on your next point, and ta-da, a perfect V Shape with a curve at the top.
Go ahead and finish off the other sections
Now that we have all of our little sections made, we can complete the logo. Hold CTRL and Click on the thumbnail for the first Path Layer you made, the Shield.
Now hold CTRL and ALT and click on each other inner sections to subtract them from the selection.
Hide all of your path layers (even put them in a group and hide the group if you want), and make a new blank layer. Now fill in the selection with a bright red.
Congratulations, you just successfully traced a Superman logo into a path and coloured it in. But it doesn't look very stylish does it? Let's go ahead and make it look pretty with some Layer Styles.
Click on Layer > Layer Styles > Gradient Overlay.
The Gradient Overlay just looks neat on the Superman logo, and will make it look a lot less flat and a little more real. We're using a Gradient Overlay, and not just a gradient fill, because you can change it later on if you don't like the colours.
When the Gradient Overlay window pops up, click on the gradient bar next to the "gradient:" text (not the drop down arrow, the actual gradient bar).
Double click on each of the little boxes at the bottom and you will get a window pop up with a colour picker. You can make a new colour slot by clicking along side the existing boxes and draging it along to wherever you like.
For this example, I've made four boxes, going from bright red, to darker red, brighter again, and then darker again.
If you are like me, and go left to right, top to bottom, you figure left would be up and right would be down, right? Wrong. If you are like me and think that, simply make your gradient go at -90 degrees, as shown in this screenshot:
Since it's the superman logo, we'll want it to be beveled. It wouldn't be the Superman logo without one. Here are the options I used:
It's lookin' a lot better already, but what about a background? Simply polygonal-line tool around the shield, make a new layer, move it under the logo and lay down a yellow gradient.
I added a drop shadow to the logo, and here we have a finished Supes logo
Personally, I always preferred the Kingdom Come logo. Unfortunately, it's much too simple for a pen tool tutorial.