In the final week of Autumn term this year, we were pleased to welcome Carl Middleton to Baseline shift. Carl is an award-winning designer, graphic artist and print-maker based in Somerset. We invited Carl to talk to us about his professional design practice and his letterpress work.
BackgroundAbout 10 years after leaving an art and design foundation incomplete and turning to civil engineering and carpentry, Carl realised that we wanted to return to design. He went on to successfully complete a foundation, a BA in Graphic Arts at the Cambridge School of Art and an MA in Typo/graphic studies at the London College of Printing. In 1998 he began working full-time as a self-employed designer, and founded the design studio Neat. Since then, he has worked on a large variety of design projects. He remains thankful for his background in construction as he believes it fuelled his interest in materiality and printmaking; he is less drawn to digital work.
‘I’m very interested in materials.’Throughout his studies as a mature student, experimental undergraduate work caught Carl’s attention, notably ‘found compositions’ such as letters found on the street whether intentional and unintentional. He enjoyed the material and 3D quality of them. He began to experiment with layering photocopied type on acetate on top of photography. He had access to a photocopier which could utilise different toners, which at the time was exciting, and he also utilised Letraset and Dymo tape. Subsequently, his work was a form of collage and hand manipulation, and remains so in some capacity today. Carl admires the designer Jonathan Barnbrook. [caption id="attachment_16606" align="alignnone" width="400"] Some of Carl's early student work.[/caption]
‘I was afraid of computers… they were very foreign to me. The things I enjoyed the most were the photographic elements.’Carl has worked for a number of notable clients in different facets of design. His first work experience involved working with artists to design art catalogs. This was expressive and experimental work, but typographically reserved. He later got to work for the BBC and design graphics for Strictly Come Dancing, Top of the Pops and Little Britain. He also worked on exhibition signage, including for the Tate in 1999 just before the opening of the Tate Modern. Out of the many Tate exhibitions Carl has designed for, he only has one photo of some of them. He presented to us with a slide of blank images to illustrate the importance of documentation of your own work.
‘Record everything you do… back it up… you don’t know when you’re going to need it in the future.’[caption id="attachment_16630" align="alignnone" width="1240"] An image of an exhibition Carl designed signage for. He subtly applied large type to the walls (seen top right) in order not to detract from the artwork.[/caption]
Designing typeCarl began to experiment with designing his own typefaces – initially individual characters, and then full alphabets – from an early stage in his design career, particularly once he had succumbed to digital technology. Today type is not limited to the printed page or black ink. It can be animated, 3D and dynamic. The possibilities of type interest Carl. A lot of clients also demand their own typeface as they want to have something that no one else has got. Although we get the opportunity to take on type design in Part 3, perhaps we don’t look to experiment with it often enough.
‘I’ve always designed type.’Carl got into designing type because naturally he would draw a lot. He used to buy graph paper as it was cheap, and this led him to designing modular typefaces. These are simple, quick and are usually monospaced; they’re not very complicated to create. With modular type, some letters may be legibly challenging, but it’s an easy way to try out type design on a basic level and to come up with a system. However, not every typeface needs strict consistency, and you don’t have to have a set of family criteria. [caption id="attachment_16607" align="alignnone" width="3791"] Draft type designs by Carl for a logotype for The Drugstore Gallery.[/caption]
‘You can make a typeface out of anything… you can find it.’Carl suggested that a great reason to design your own typeface would be for your business card. Many of us, at some point, will need business cards, whether we become freelance designers or not. You could try designing your own typeface for this, or simply write your name in an original way. To get started, Carl would suggest making a 26 page InDesign document with a grid, and just drawing As on the first page, Bs on the second, and so on. It might be easier to start out with uppercase characters. Simply see what you create, and if you can compile it into an alphabet. [caption id="attachment_16608" align="alignnone" width="3311"] A typeface designed by Carl.[/caption]
LetterpressCarl is passionate about letterpress. He has established his own print lab, Studio B, where he owns a series of printing presses and collections of movable type. The physicality of letterpress poses some significant constraints: unlike in software where you can instantly adapt typeface, colour and point size, you need to physically have the specific typeface and characters that you need, and you need to have the copy before you can set and produce any kind of printed result. All space, both horizontal and vertical, also needs to be physically defined. These constraints may seem daunting, but they can make for more creative outputs. You can experiment with overprinting and layering type, and subsequently the opacity of different inks. Letterpress will surprise, as you won’t be able to properly see the result until you’ve printed it. Carl started to embrace using blocks or substitutes for missing letters instead of starting again. [caption id="attachment_16650" align="alignnone" width="2291"] Some of Carl’s letterpress work.[/caption]
‘It's really interesting to have a different relationship to the materials you use.’[caption id="attachment_16612" align="alignnone" width="350"] Letterpress work by Carl with overprinted type.[/caption]
Letterform as artCarl also cuts 3D letterforms into timber and applies effects to them such as gold leaf. This work falls somewhere between signage and information, and art. It highlights his interest in language. Being dyslexic, Carl often uses a dictionary; dictionary definitions of words have found their way into his work. Work like this may seem far from graphic design to us, yet it can be equally useful to examine and can inspire us. It reminds us to consider the physical qualities of our work and how they can work together with the language and content to better communicate the intended message to the reader. [caption id="attachment_16618" align="alignnone" width="400"] Type carved into wood applied with gold leaf.[/caption] Some of Carl’s letterpress and letterform work is not so much graphic design, but more so art. It gets put in frames and hung on walls, and as such it is looked at differently to, for example, a poster. In these situations, Carl can afford to challenge legibility and create compositions of type which are difficult to navigate, because people don’t really need to read it. Having said this, such experimental approaches to typography can evidently work in the field of graphic design as long as control is sustained where necessary. [caption id="attachment_16617" align="alignnone" width="300"] The definition of 'in your dreams' carved into slate.[/caption]
Challenge yourselfWorking with an artist, Carl was once tasked with designing a case bound book in both English and Mandarin. He had never worked with Mandarin before. The main difficulty for him was identifying where sentences started and ended. He also had to purchase a Mandarin typeface for about £300. However, Carl admired the challenge that it presented and found it rewarding.
‘I can set a book in English, German, Spanish… etc., but it was very interesting to set a language with different characteristics. It is nice to work outside of your comfort zone.’
Standing outStanding out is evidently about doing something different from the norm, and it is something which aids communication. Carl suggested that people may be more likely to read a poster if it is spelt incorrectly, than if correctly. He also highlighted how, by simply using an upside down profile picture on Instagram, his friend stands out from everyone else.
‘We’re bombarded with information and it's a challenge to make things work.’Carl was once given a cumbersome brief to design the cover of a tourist guide for North Devon Plus; the brief required the design to feature a large number of artifacts associated with Devon including the landscape, wildlife, surfing, etc. He thought that unless he gave them exactly what they asked for he would fail, and so he took the brief literally and designed a cover which indeed displayed all of the required elements via sections of photography. The client loved the end product, as stood out from other guides because it looked so different. [caption id="attachment_16621" align="alignnone" width="400"] Carl's North Devon Plus tourist guide cover.[/caption]
‘At the end of the day, the audience is most important.’Ultimately, be clear about your audience. If you are going to make things a little different or harder to read, then how much time are people willing to spend looking at, using or observing your work? If you are designing for a medical company, you might not want to interfere with the reading process as being clear about the number of pills someone should take is crucial. Think about whether your audience will be accepting of your work.
‘Why?’Carl’s teaching in design education has made him step back and consider the fundamentals of his creative process. He stressed the importance of reflective practice. The question of ‘why’ is powerful, and he suggests that it should define the decisions that we make. Try to work in a reductive way. Consider why you have chosen the colours and fonts that you have. Could you communicate the same message with less? Don’t just choose the default typeface in the default setting. Choose a typeface applicable in every aspect.
‘Just consider what you do, and what value that process affords to your work.’
ReflectionFrom Carl’s diverse portfolio of work, it is clear that a career in design is not fundamentally restricting, but instead full of exciting possibilities. Unlike some, Carl doesn’t view graphic design as serious, and perhaps this is reflected in his work. It is clear that he is open-minded, as he can create things that appear on both ends of the spectrum: chaotic and structured, dependent on the brief, client and audience. If you’re struggling to find yourself as a designer, or are looking for inspiration, Carl suggests the following:
‘Go to lectures… read books… experience things that frighten you and excite you… just be open.’Follow Carl on Instagram @carlmiddleton_studiob
[caption id="attachment_16610" align="alignnone" width="938"] A Robin Kinross quote letterpress printed, combined with a lino relief detail from Michelangelo’s 'Creation of Adam'.[/caption]Carl’s letterpress work is currently featured in the exhibition ‘Reverting to Type 2020’. Find out more here and be sure to visit if you can. And if you would like some further reading, Carl recommends the following books which were valuable resources to him as a young designer:
- ‘Process; A Tomato Project’ by Steve Baker (1996)
- ‘Typography: Macro+Micro Aesthetics’ by Willi Kuntz (1998)
- ‘Adult Comedy Action Drama’ by Richard Prince (1995)
‘Carl has so much experience with so many different facets of design that it was a nice reminder that other careers outside of the digital are possible. The sheer amount of work he showed was baffling as well!’ – Robin Smith, Part 3 ‘The diversity of work showcased was unbelievably amazing and so inspiring. It was so nice to learn about a designer’s career and how he stumbled upon opportunities to work on interesting projects.’ – Part 2 student ‘Loved the work shown. Interesting to see all of the work that didn't serve a function exactly, more so that it ended up looking really fun, like the stuff with making the words difficult to read.’ – Part 1 student
Design Ideas and Design process I had a couple of ideas to produce for the podcast poster but u lacked the skills to actually produce these, as they were very complex composition whiles I hadn’t used photoshop before. When doing the photoshop task I found it enjoyable as well as very challenging as It was the pretty much the first time working with photoshop to create something. The task was to create a podcast poster relating to graphic design, my first cover is a red podcast poster titled “Talking with Type”. As it was my first attempt, I tried using simple images to try and get accustomed to using photoshop, so just using shapes and blurring out the edges of the circles to fade and smoothen out with the background. I then added my microphone which I struggled with, trying to crop and adjust the background so that it doesn’t override the actual colour of the background I had added. For my second poster I kept it simple again using an image of a character by their phone waiting for the podcast to come on. For this I had to change the colours on the figure by cropping out the background and highlighting the areas which I wanted to amend and changed the colours. For my third poster which is my favourite I used another microphone as the focal point of the postcard and amended the colours again. I also used simple circles to add some decorative effects to keep it simple. I then flipped the colours so that I would be predominantly white on black rather than black on white. I think this was my best attempt on the podcast as I got really comfortable with the composition and how to change the colours and tones of the shapes. Software Tutorials https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFyOznL9UvA&t=6s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAmSB5MQxOo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXPRZTxNm0M&t=76s\ Watching these tutorials helped me to get an overview of how photoshop is set up and how to access certain tools which may not be so visible to me. It also helped me get more accustomed to certain shortcuts to do different kinds of things. The first software video basically explained what photoshop is and the main benefits of it, which helps you to understand and grasp the type of things you need to be focusing on working on in that space when you go into tasks. It gave me the first steps into actually creating a file and why to use certain measurements for different projects. Compared to InDesign its mainly using images and playing with the aesthetic of an image whereas with InDesign you are able to do that as well as have a large amount t of text in one file. Photoshop mainly works with images rather than words. Resources for research and Inspiration For my research I mainly looked through Pinterest to find some interesting podcast covers which I could take some ideas from. Most of the covers that I first saw seemed quite difficult in my point of view as I was only beginning to get used to using photoshop, so I searched for simple podcast covers which are just simple words and shapes, but is still very captivating and aesthetic to use for inspiration. Finding these I was still somewhat challenging for me to kind of recreate them using my own images and basing it on a typographic podcast. So I watched more videos and tutorials on how to edit certain things to help me expand on my ability to make the podcast cover better. These are some of the things that I used as inspiration to help me come up the covers.
Design ideas and design process I started my design process by looking at some existing examples of podcast covers. The covers I looked at had some noticeable themes that I intended to replicate. A fair few (The Joe Rogan Experience) featured a microphone in the cover so that was something interesting I wanted to explore. A lot also made use of an image of the podcast host (like the dropout and Joe Rogan examples) while others just had the podcast name displayed in a creative way (Like the buzz cast). As I’d seen in my research, many podcasts covers incorporated the microphone so that’s where I started. I had this idea of someone talking into the microphone one end and out the other end there would spew subject specific vocabulary so from looking at the cover you could immediately tell what kind of topics would be discussed on the podcast. I also chose a catchy name for the podcast, 'typography time.' I enjoyed creating this idea and like the outcome, I think the cover incorporates typography well which reflects what the podcast is about. For my second design I wanted to explore creative ways I could display the podcast name (like the buzz cast example). I started by choosing a tasteful colour scheme and a simple name. I then stretched the letters stems to create a striking linear pattern. I then filled the gaps with the typical imagery you would see on a podcast cover (microphone and information). I experimented with this design by warping the lines to try and replicate sound waves emitting from the microphone but I decided to stick with the more simple idea. For my final design I wanted to create something that incorporated as many of the archetypal qualities I had seen in my research. I thought an image of the host on the cover would make quite a convincing design however a problem I faced was that it was a made-up podcast with no actual host. I decided to just use stock images, one featured a man, the other featured a microphone, I then applied a black and white filter to both to keep the image consistent. Similar to my first idea I wanted to communicate what the podcast was about so I had this idea of a thought bubble coming from the hosts head which would have all the topics he would talk about in it. In the end I went with the idea of having books about graphic design and typography (that he might discuss on the podcast) flowing out of his head, as if all his knowledge is on display. I started by removing the top half of his head and applied it at an angle to appear as if it was being opened. After that I found some of the best graphic design books and arranged them flowing out of his skull. I added shadow to the hosts head and to the books to give the image some depth. I did this by using tools like the drop shadow, curves adjustment layers and also just blending with the black paintbrush. I like this idea because It combines what I learnt from looking at existing podcast covers and overall looks quite convincing. Software tutorials I started by watching some of the official Photoshop tutorials. I watched a lot of the videos from the ‘working with layers’ link. This was very helpful as often my Photoshop layers get a little bit messy and this told me the importance of creating a Photoshop file that looks professional with correctly named layers. I did some further research into layers with just some basic google searches and discovered you can group layers when necessary which made a lot of this project more organised and effective. I also viewed the website ‘how to design a podcast cover’. This was really helpful as before I had a look through the website I had no idea how I was going to start with my designs but the website gave me some direction and discussed some good starting points and also some questions to ask yourself as you go through the design process. As I was working on Photoshop I had an issue where my images looked very flat on the background and I was not sure how to make layers look more natural and blend into the surroundings when on a page. A YouTube video called ‘Master Curves from Start to Finish in Photoshop’ really helped me out. I discovered you could use the curves adjustment layers to give an image darker tones and lighter tones in the appropriate places. This includes giving object shadows and highlights to make it look more natural. The curves adjustment layer also has a function where you can colour match two objects which will come in extremely useful. Skills I would like to develop in the future include mastering the pen tool as currently I am hopeless at using it. I would also like to improve at simple jobs like creating clean and crisp layer masks because currently when I cut out an image it takes ages and looks a bit dodgy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bvyiydd2dMc Resources for research and inspiration Like i mentioned at the beginning, I started this project by looking for some inspiration and a great way to do this is by looking at existing designs. I started by googling 'podcast covers' which showed hundreds of results however each one incorporated some of the basic archetypes. To list a few: Vibrant colours, use of illustration, interesting typeface, experimental use of type, most of them reflect what they are about visually, use of a microphone, visuals that reflect radio or sound in some ways, most feature the hosts face. It would be difficult to include all of these stereotypes into one cover so I cherry picked 3 features that I wanted to include in my ideas. 1. have a microphone, 2. be experimental with the type, and 3. feature the podcast host. I also had a scroll through spotifiy to look at what the most successful podcasts had done on their covers (https://open.spotify.com/genre/podcast-charts-body). Like I also said earlier I found the 'how to design a podcast cover' website extremely useful (https://99designs.co.uk/blog/design-other/how-to-design-a-podcast-cover-the-ultimate-guide/) which addressed how to start a design and also went into detail about picking a theme and running with it. As I was designing I had this website up in another tab just to refer back to and I feel like I was successful in following a lot of the instructions. For example it spoke a lot about picking a theme and colour and being consistent with those choices throughout, I'd like to think my covers have a solid style and a tasteful colour pallet. Topics I would like to explore further include colour theory, I'd love to learn about what colours work best together, combinations to avoid and also how colour can have an effect on the viewer. I'd also like to learn more A source that was essential for this project was Unsplash, (https://unsplash.com/images/stock). It provided me with a lot of the images I used throughout which were all very high quality and just made everything so much easier.
This week’s Baseline Shift welcomed Edward Liu, an MA information design graduate from the university. Currently working as a UX designer at Morgan Stanley, Edward talked about his unexpected start in UX Design, his current activities, and how to keep pushing through for success in your projects. [caption id="attachment_16394" align="alignnone" width="1073"] Image taken by Edward during his MA at the department.[/caption]
No path is set in stoneEdward’s story of how he went from studying code at school and mechanical engineering at university to UX design is an important lesson for those of you who aren’t certain about their future. He gradually figured out that his true talents didn’t lie in product design and engineering, and that it wasn’t made for him. The importance of finding out what you are good at comes in a series of trials, errors, mistakes and experiences that will help you shape the kind of life you want to live. Like Edward, maybe you’d want to complete a Masters degree after graduation. In his case, completing the program opened the doors of the world of UX design. But the only way you can find out where your true calling lies is in trying and taking risks.
‘For someone like me who arrived with very limited formal design training, things turned out alright.’
When things don’t turn out as expectedWhen finalising your studies, it is easy to become overly hopeful that your self doubts about your career choices and your value as a designer will go away once you've entered the workforce. When Edward got offered a project after meeting the head designer of Adaptive Path, he started working for a client in California. He had prepared wireframes and presented them to the client that first week. After showing the client his work in a video call, the client was so unhappy with his work that they hung up him! Nevertheless, after revising his work with his team and approaching his wireframes from a different angle, he presented his work to the same client after and it turned out to be a success. After that first blow, Edward who has now been working in UX for 8 years, still felt unprepared even though he was confident in his abilities after graduating. Working with people, and being willing to change his approach to his work, has helped him to succeed in his career. [caption id="attachment_16395" align="alignnone" width="1104"] Edward’s new approach to this project with Adaptive Path that helped him make major changes in his concept.[/caption]
‘People will make mistakes and not know what they’re doing.’This is a notion that is very important during your studies. Working with people, communicating with your peers, lecturers, people who come from different backgrounds, countries, and who speak different languages, will all help you learn to revisit your view of your work and yourself. Edward explained that he felt particularly empathetic for people who came from different countries as they brought out interesting perspectives that can add depth to your work by helping you break from your own cultural norms.
‘It’s always good to have another designer to work with.’
Make your own opportunitiesThe University offers plenty of opportunities for you to find out what you’re good at in the design world. Careers fairs, Real Jobs and the projects that you’re currently working on give you the chance to find out the things you like and dislike about the industry. These are all great opportunities for you to put yourself out there, show your work and talk to people to gain more knowledge and insight on the things that are around you. As we learned from Laura Chamberlain’s talk in week 7, she was able to get important publishing deals by exhibiting her work at the Bologna Illustration Fair. Edward, by going to the IXDA (Interaction Design Association), was offered a job by the design leader of an agency) and got offered the chance to prove himself as a designer with no UX experience. He ended up taking that chance, which led him to a tremendous series of learning experiences.
Becoming more flexibleAn idea that Edward explained well was that most other fields don’t give you the opportunity to learn from feedback from other people. From Part 1 to your career after graduating, you will have to face other people’s opinions on the work that you produce. When getting feedback, because your work is exposed in front of everyone, Edward explained that it you may feel defensive, as naturally you would be attached to what you have created. But, crucially, another person’s point of view helps you see what you couldn't see at the start of your project. Feedback helps you better your designs and gradually you will learn to be more optionally distant from work and make yourself more resilient.
‘Taking different rounds of feedback eventually led to something I felt really good about.’[caption id="attachment_16396" align="alignnone" width="1127"] The final result and the development of his project during his MA, before and after taking in feedback from his peers.[/caption] A more complex notion that Edward pointed out was how to handle feedback from non-designers. This is inevitable if you want to work in for clients. You may have a team of designers, but industry is a working machine that needs different parts – sometimes one that don't easily work together. People who work in different sectors often don’t have the tools to appropriately communicate their ideas – but those ideas can be important. We can learn from them , and learn how to support the. This challenge forces you to define further your ideas and work on how clearly you explain them. Talking to your friends from outside our course or your family is helpful in doing so. Edward cautioned us to be patient and understanding of where people have come from – they may not be good designers but their input could still be crucial.
‘Everyone comes from a very unique background, so valuing your team members is essential.’In terms of the design process of your project, Edward suggested that clearly defining your project’s end goal, and figuring out what’s worth changing will help you and your team build a strong development of your design. [caption id="attachment_16398" align="alignnone" width="1140"] Edward’s final version of his MA project.[/caption]
Give time to researchAs an example in understanding how to define your goal, if you’re designing a website, you could ask 'should it exist?'. Envision how it will all come together. Researching is a big part of the design process, and it is one of the big notions that Edward learned during his time at Reading. Asking yourself the right questions is how you know you’re on the right path to producing helpful research in the development process of your design. Seeing and questioning your idea from all angles is crucial for you to pinpoint your user’s pain points. You don’t want to develop your design if it will only benefit your user, but be a pain for the people in your company. Considering how things will fit, their flexibility and scale, are all points to take into account when designing, especially for UI and UX projects. Edward gave an example of how research and talking to his peers helped him during his studies at Reading. His project was on the topic of calligraphy, specifically in understanding how to make a book about left-handed calligraphy. He explained that by looking into pre-existing examples of left handed calligraphy books, he was able to have a grasp what had already been made and the kinds of existing conventions that exist. He then pushed his research further by asking a friend who was left handed (and practised left handed calligraphy) to show him what it looked like. [caption id="attachment_16399" align="alignnone" width="1156"] Inside spread of Edward’s MA project, showcasing his friend practising left handed calligraphy.[/caption]
‘The best projects that you had were the ones where you spent the most time researching.’By sufficiently researching your project or topic, being flexible and open to other people’s opinions on your work, the insights you come across will heavily influence how you decide to develop your design. Edward also advises to consider all the things that may turn out wrong in your concept, as it will help you identify key points on which you might like to put an emphasis in your work.
ReflectionLearning about Edward’s experience and unconventional path was thought-provoking and inspiring. As a student, it is common to feel as if you haven’t reached your full potential yet, and that your peers are doing better. But Edward reminds us is that your experience is valuable. Whether you know a thing or two about engineering or writing, as long as you research, talk to people and remain open to criticism then you will be fine. Our careers are continuous trails of learning experiences, failures and achievements, and the design industry is an ever growing world which will have more and more opportunities for you. If you’re interested in UX design, Edward shared some valuable resources:
- Nielsen Norman Group
- UIE / Jared Spool
- Invision Podcasts / Talks
- Articulating Design Decisions
- Rosenfeld books
- UX Collective for weekly links
- Research Ops
‘Ed was really knowledgeable, and it’s comforting that he had some of the more rough experiences that we all forget that everyone has in this field! The perseverance, and the inside knowledge into the transition from university to the UX workplace is really helpful to know.’ – Robin Smith, Part 3 ‘The talk was insightful and inspiring. It gave me a glimpse of working in UX in an interesting and new way which connects to the skills we are currently learning at uni.’ – Part 2 student ‘Photos of Ed's Reading MA work were really interesting, as were the insights into the professional workplaces and people considerations.’ – MA student
Design Ideas and Design Process
Sticker 1: For my first sticker, I decided to incorporate a modernist style using geometric shapes, lines, and bold writing. One of my postcards was what inspired me to create this sticker as I felt the modern traits helped draw attention to the text and I thought they made the overall design generally more eye-catching and interesting. Whilst I knew I wanted to create a modern sticker; I wasn't entirely sure how to create it. To help gain ideas, I sketched out specific letters that I would include, and I illustrated around them until I found a look which I liked, and thought worked well for the overall style. I also experimented around on illustrator with font sizes and colours before finally settling on black, white, and grey tones. This design helped me a lot with regards to getting my bearings in illustrator, and learning about how it works generally speaking.Sticker 2: For my second sticker, I chose to create it with a softer, more artistic and creative feeling. To achieve this, I planned on writing out the text and then adding illustrations such as soft shapes and patters which would flow from it. Whilst I wanted to stick with this plan fully, I ended up changing a few things along the way. Instead of leaving the inside of the sticker plain white to help draw attention to the illustrations merged with the text, I chose to fill in the sticker with a grey tone that gets darker the further away it gets from the centre. This made the sticker feel almost like a metal plaque. Whilst it didn’t go entirely to plan, I feel like this design was successful at helping me develop my skills and knowledge of illustrator. I also managed to add a boarder to it which helped make it look more like a sticker. Sticker 3: My third sticker was easily my least favourite and successful. This was because my design didn’t go to plan at all and so much changed along the way. In the beginning I was planning on manually adding the text to the sticker using the brush tool as I wanted to make another artistic looking sticker, as well as wanting to explore the brush tool and what it has to offer to help me develop my skills. This proved unsuccessful as it was very hard to manually add the text without it looking messy and poorly made. To make up for this, I used a font called ‘sign painter- house script’. This looked like it had been painted as the letters seemed to flow more smoothly. I then used the paintbrush tool to add splashes of paint to the ends of letters, making them look like they had been messily painted on, without making the whole sticker look messy. The one issue I encountered however was that the whole sticker looked rather boring. To solve this issue, I added ink splatters in some of the empty areas. Whilst the design wasn’t as nice as I thought it would be, I think it definitely helped me develop my skills as I managed to explore the die cutting feature more, and I also got the chance to explore the brush options. Not only that but I also figured out how the edit the control panels, giving me the chance to add and subtract the more important tools which I needed. [caption id="attachment_15835" align="alignnone" width="300"] Sticker 1: This screenshot shows me merging some of my shapes together so that I could add a boarder around the sticker.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15836" align="alignnone" width="153"] Sticker 1: This screenshot shows me exploring the tools in the properties panel. I used this panel to edit the font, font size, and leading of the text.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15838" align="alignnone" width="300"] Sticker 2: To make sure the brushstrokes I used to illustrate the text of my sticker, I used the properties panel to edit the stroke size.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15839" align="alignnone" width="300"] Sticker 2: To make sure my illustrations looked neat and smooth, I used the paintbrush tool option panel to make the strokes as smooth as possible.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15840" align="alignnone" width="294"] Sticker 2: In this screenshot, you can see me using the gradient tool to edit the way the grey tones fade from the outside into the centre of my sticker.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15841" align="alignnone" width="203"] Sticker 3: Before making my third sticker, I decided to write out a few letters using the brush tool to see if my writing was neat enough to create an aesthetically pleasing text. This showed me that it looked quite messy and unprofessional.[/caption]
Software TutorialsSticker 1: When creating my first sticker, I used a few software tutorials to help me figure out how to die cut my sticker. I also watched two YouTube tutorials to help me merge layers and shapes so that I could die-cut them. Whilst I was able to merge the layers together, the die-cutting was not as successful as the sticker was made of multiple shapes and even though I merged them, they were still seen as individual shapes when I tried creating a 0.5pt boarder. The video I watched to help me merge shapes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwEGB4YVe-c The video I watched to learn how to die cut: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqQqEJ-HtC8 Sticker 2: In order to successfully die-cut my second sticker, I used the same tutorial as I did for my last sticker. The die-cutting process was much more successful in this sticker than it was in the last one as the whole sticker was based on a single shape. I also watched a YouTube tutorial and looked at the adobe website when making this so that I could work out how to make my brush strokes smoother so that my illustrations appear more professionally done. Not only this but I also looked at the adobe website for help on how to create a gradient colour blur within my sticker. Link to adobe website: https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/illustrator/using/gradients.html Sticker 3: Whilst my third sticker was definitely my least favourite and most unsuccessful, I gained quite a few new skills from it including how to find and change different brush settings, how to alter the control panels, and how to make a more effective looking die-cut border. To do this, I watched a YouTube tutorial explaining how to find the different brush settings and how to use them. I learned how to manipulate the control panels simply through experimenting and exploring illustrator. Finally, when it came to die-cutting, I simply watched the same video from before, and then experimented further. Brush tool video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P4-QIj0B2o
Resources for Research and InspirationSticker 1: Two large inspirations for my first sticker were the modernist movement and Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, specifically, his painting ‘Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, and Gray’. I loved the painting because of the bold colours and blocky modernist layout. Whilst I wanted to make a sticker like this, I also didn’t want colour to distract from the text as that is the most important part of it. Because of this, I chose to make all of the shapes black and white and grey. My second source of inspiration is hard to explain, however it was essentially the faded lines you see in architectural sketches that are used for accuracy. I liked how the lines made architectural sketches look technical and industrial, yet still creative. I chose to incorporate this into my text, as if the text is something which was designed and planned before being manufactured. [caption id="attachment_15933" align="alignnone" width="300"] This image was taken from google images and is a simple example of the kind of architectural lines I was describing.[/caption] Sticker 2: When coming up with the design for my second sticker, I knew I wanted to create one which looked more artistic and creative, and I also knew I wanted to merge my text with illustrations. In order to gain inspiration on how to illustrate my text, I created a mood board featuring a variety of images of text and letters with patters and shapes and visuals flowing from them. Some images were of old or old styled letters and some were clearly contemporary. Whilst I originally liked the idea of my text being heavily mixed with lots of visuals, I ended up simply decorating it with shapes and patters which flower from it as I found it was quite difficult to create my idea on illustrator. It also ended up looking quite messy. After creating my text, I decided to fill in the whole sticker with grey and I chose to make the grey fade as you look towards the centre. This made my sticker look like a metallic plaque which I actually quite liked. In order to then expand on this idea, I smoothened out the edge of the sticker. Illustrated letters mood board Sticker 3: My third and final sticker was heavily inspired by what I wanted my second sticker to be like. I intended on it looking messy but in a controlled and intentional way to make it appear more creative and artistic. I wanted the text to look like it had been painted onto the sticker using oil paint. I was somewhat inspired by the logo for the show 'art attack' as it looks like the text has been splattered onto the logo. After this idea fell through, I decided to use ink platters instead in an attempt to bring back the artistic theme. This worked somewhat however the whole sticker looks messy. [caption id="attachment_15940" align="alignnone" width="250"] This was the logo which I was partially inspired by. I wanted to make a sticker similar to this, except a bit more professional looking.[/caption]
For my photoshop task we were asked to make a podcast cover for graphic communications. This was my first time using photoshop, so it was a challenge to begin with, and I had a few designs to start off with, that in all honestly looked very childish, simple, and I was not a fan of them. So I decided to go for a design that was a bit more simplistic in hopes, that while I'm still learning, simple would look more professional. I went online to look at other podcast designs for a better idea, and looked at graphic design posters as well to try and help with some inspiration. I came across a photo of a small podcast mic, and thought I would incorporate that into my design, and decided on a simple pattern behind it using just the shapes tools. I went for the circular pattern behind, as the circles could look slightly like sound radiating off the mike, and I think with the colours it looks slightly vintage, with a 60s, 70s kind of vibe to the cover. Above you can see my two trails designs, it was my first time using the software so they are quite simple, especially the one with the circles, where i was just testing out what I could do with the software and how it worked. While I was not keen on this design it did defiantly help to inspire my final product, taking from it the colour scheme, and the circle kind of pattern. My second design was to look almost like a book cover with various fonts to the side, while I liked the idea of this design, I was not happy with the final product, and thought it looked a bit childish, I also don't think the colour complimented each other in the end, maybe with the right colours this design could have worked, but I also struggled to find some more elegant fonts in photoshop as well. Despite the fact I feel this design was not particularly good, I did end up using the type face that I used for the heading. When it came to colour scheme, I wanted to use colours that complimented another, and with it being autumn, ended up choosing some warm tones, of yellows, orange, purple. When I cut out the mic, I actually ended up using the outside part that I had cut out, layered it on top of my coloured pattern, so that the colours only shone through the mic, and the rest would be muted, allowing my text and title to stand out. I'm a big fan of record design and covers, and in fact have a large collection at home, so did look to them for some inspiration, with my Photoshop skills still being quite limited, I couldn't yet create something like my favourite designs and covers but thought it was a reasonable start. I also liked working with a square base for design, as it is slightly unusual, but very common in podcast and music, I really hope we get a few more projects like these, to experiment with advertising something as well, as a cover is a form of advertisement that contributes to the consumer picking your product, or in this case, podcast. Choosing a title and a font, I chose the name 'Type It Out', as a play on for the common saying 'talk it out', its simple and easy to recognise for people, and clarifies that the show will be about type and font. Below the bottom of the mic I wrote 'graphic communications' just for added clarity, as my design is very simplistic. I also changed the font, the title font, is bold and eye-catching, and has a slightly old fashioned look to it, with the added details, so went for something minimum for under the mic, and to give the title the forefront in the design. Chose for both pieces of text to also be in white to add contrast to the design, and again help them to stand out. I think I could of added something more about typography to my design, as perhaps an image would have made it slightly clearer what the podcasts subject was, however the title, and sub heading below the mic I think explains it well enough, and both are quite bold to create a hierarchy in the design. I also layered the text so it ever so slightly went on top of the mic, making sure it was in the foreground, and liked how the cross over looked. I was quite happy with the end result of my podcast cover, however I hope with time to become more familiar with photoshop, and would have liked to have used my own photography, then edited a cover out of that for an extra challenge, to find and compose the right photo for a cover. I think the simplistic design did managed to work in my favour of looking more professional, rather than setting myself too challenging a design as I tried previously with my first couple attempts, and it looking quite cheap. In conclusion I enjoyed learning the different software's, and enjoyed the task using illustrator as well, to explore my designs further it would've been nice to see them in a few different colour swatches, perhaps this time in some cool tones, although I liked the fact that I had an autumnal theme, and the warm colours also gave it that 60's look. I will definitely try improving my skills with a bit more time, and try to source some more videos and tutorials on YouTube, perhaps editing more photos, and learning how to manipulate and photos and colour swatches a bit better.
Our first task for this module was a Photoshop task, with the aim being to create a Podcast cover for a new podcast about typography and graphic communication. I decided to call mine 'Let's Talk About Typography' to create an inviting feel that encourages the idea of discussion and represents the content of the podcast. Design Ideas and Design Process I began my design process by researching existing podcast covers, including podcasts that focused on the topic of graphic design. Looking at these existing covers helped me to grasp that the ones that stood out the most to me were the ones with brightly coloured backgrounds, a relatively simple design and typography that stood out. Personally, I begin the design process by mind mapping my own ideas so I created a mind map of words relating to typography and graphics. I then went on to use these as a guide to search for images on free stock image sites. For this task, I mainly used Pixabey as recommended in the provided guidance, but I also looked at images on unsplash.com. The keywords I was searching for were mainly: metal type, woodblocks, warped grid, laptops, and desk. After downloading my chosen images, I began working on them in photoshop.
FINAL IDEA 1 - LETTERING BACKGROUND I began by cropping the original image and used the camera raw filter to adjust the exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows etc. My aim was to go for a brighter, higher-contrast image to make it 'pop'. I feel I did this successfully and found the camera raw filter a very easy tool to use as you can see the adjustments you are making as you are changing the values. I also wanted to add a 'grainy' sort of effect to the image, almost making it appear faded and older to represent how metal type and woodblocks were used for bookmaking back in the 15th century. I played around with various different filters to give this effect such as: adding noise, grain and despeckling. I finally settled on adding noise as I felt it gave my most desired effect. I thought that the image still looked a bit dull therefore I went to image > selective colour and chose red to give the image warmth and make the red colours pop.
I used the image of woodblock type as I was inspired by our print and printmaking module where we have learned about the history of printing and how books were printed from the before and after the 15th century. I thought it would be interesting to use an image that had a historical context in the topic of the podcast cover, which my audience could connect with
FINAL IDEA 2 - OFFICE BACKGROUNDI used two images to create this podcast cover. After importing the first image of the laptop and coffee and phone into photoshop, I used the direct selection tool to cut out the objects I wanted to use from the image and copied them into separate layers. I deleted the background from the image and imported an image of pieces of paper to create the background. Underneath this layer, I created a pink square and used the layer blend options to merge them together to create a textured background that made the design pop. After then watching a tutorial about how to blend out the edges of the cutout objects to make the concept look more well put together, I used layer masks and adjusted the feather, contrast, and shift edge in Global Refinements to give a blurred effect around the layers. For the text, I used two different fonts. Although in our integrated design module, we have learned to rarely use more than two typefaces at once, I felt it was appropriate to create emphasis on the topic of discussion. We have also been taught in integrated design to always track all caps, which I did for my capital letters. I changed by type to white and then placed it in the top left corner of the design.
FINAL IDEA 3
For this design, I used an image from Pixabey and created a gradient map, and experimented with different gradients to change the color to give a duotone color effect. I tried to do this by creating an 8 bit grayscale of the image and then using photoshops duotone effect but I found that the results didn't look how I wanted them to so looked at a tutorial online and learned how to achieve the effect using a gradient map.
We were provided with a list of Photoshop tutorials that I found helpful to refresh my memory on how to use the basics such as importing photos and using layers and effects, as I hadn't really used the software since GCSE/ AS level. I had rarely used layer masks before, so it was interesting to learn how to use them.
From this online tutorial, I learned how to soften edges of cut out objects which I found helpful in my first concept where I cut objects out of one image and placed them on top of another. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lDtw99bM3w&ab_channel=Dansky
This tutorial was on how to create a duotone image in photoshop - I found this helpful in my last design and I'm glad I had the opportunity to learn how to do this as i find duotone images really interesting and have seen them gain popularity recently. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyuXdD_v4f8&ab_channel=PhotoshopTrainingChannel
I also watched this tutorial on using the selective colour tool as I planned on making the red colours in my first design pop out. https://youtube.com/watch?v=crslYuiU1V0&ab_channel=PhotosInColor
All of these tutorials helped me with the technical side of creating my podcast covers, and aided me in my making. It was useful to watch the full videos even if I had already picked up what I felt I needed to learn, to explore the tools more.
I also watched this video on shortcuts in photoshop as I think it will help me in the future to make my workflow quicker and easier. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1732S1rlHOM&ab_channel=PhotoshopTrainingChannelResources for Research and Information
Looking at existing podcast covers helped me to grasp which stood out to me more, such as covers with an effective, bright but simple colour schemes. I was particularly inspired by looking at graphic design podcasts for inspiration as to which typography to use. I thought that the covers that used a script typeface for emphasis were effective, and appealing to my eye. Hence why I used this typography throughout my designs. Although most of the podcast covers that I looked at were vector or illustration based, I still wanted to focus my covers on the use of the image to improve my skills in photoshop, as I knew that we would have time to develop other skills later on in the upcoming weeks in the module.We were also provided with sources of inspiration which encouraged me to think about the audience of my podcast cover and the style that I wanted my designs to fit into. When thinking of my audience, I wanted the covers to appeal to people interested in design and typography therefore i feel like my image choices were appropriate. I think I could have made the style of my designs more consistent but I used the same typography in all of them to tie them all together, which got me thinking about the identity of the podcast which I have also been thinking about throughout the other tasks from this module.
(left to right) Design 1, Design 2, Design 3.
Design ideas and ProcessMy design ideas stemmed from the idea of using illustration. I really enjoy simple illustration, and thought that it could be used well to create a neat, clean podcast cover. I knew I wanted to use the idea of interviewing designers from looking at some design podcasts on Spotify, which provided commentary on design, or interviews with designers about their work. From there I developed the phrase 'type talk', as well as the idea of having a simple design to show that concept. I think illustrations work best when kept to a limited colour palette, so I decided to work with a mix of both cool and warm tones that complemented well. This way I could keep the design simple and aesthetically pleasing, while communicating the theme of the podcast. In the actual drawing process I used my Wacom drawing tablet, and the photoshop basic brush presets, the hard round brush, on full hardness and 10% softness. This gave me clear lines, while keeping a rounded edge. I drew some little character busts in my own illustration style, with simple features and colours. The idea was to have one speaking into a microphone, as if recording the podcast, and another listening. My three ideas for this project were playing with the layout, text colour and form. I wanted to keep the idea of the two figures being linked by a wire, so in my first one I placed the figures back to back, with their wires plugged into the text. In my second I did a similar effect, with the figures at both ends of the screen. In the third I used a circle, with the text in the middle, and the wires jutting out with the characters on the circumference. In the end I used the second one, as it was my favourite of the three visually, and I felt was the most eye catching and original. [caption id="attachment_15658" align="alignnone" width="170"] the colour scheme i used for the work[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15652" align="alignnone" width="162"] plain digital sketches[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15653" align="alignnone" width="300"] characters with the microphone and headphones[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15650" align="alignnone" width="145"] first sketches[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15651" align="alignnone" width="196"] final character sketches![/caption]
Software tutorialsAs I am relatively competent with photoshop as a design and illustration medium, I mostly knew how to go about creating me design, but the tutorials provided by Rachel were still very helpful, especially the video by Terry White on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NrP690oqKA) . Although my initial plan was to work with illustration on photoshop, I still found videos explaining the uses of photoshop useful and helpful, such as the tutorial on embedding files in photoshop https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OfC9pZMJKs . I watched a few videos with tips on illustrating on photoshop, for example, Sophie Melissa on youtube has a video on her illustration process that I found helpful (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYoO_u8JNCQ.), that allowed me to reflect on making a simpler design. These provided me with more knowledge about how to navigate photoshop and how to make my design cleaner and neater. Software skills wise, id like to try a more complex design perhaps, or the use of actual photos and editing them in photoshop, as this is something i'd like to become more competent in. This project provided great insight on what i would like to work on in the future regarding photoshop and developing my current skills further, and also provided me with an idea of my current competency level with illustration in photoshop, and taught me how to simplify my designs, as I often have the desire to make them complex, so it has definitely helped me with the 'less is more' side of design in being able to create a clean, simple design.
Resources for research and inspirationMost of my research was based around sketching ideas in different styles and then transferring them over to digital, however I did look at a few minimalistic illustrative images for inspiration, on pinterest and instagram. The first was Benji Nate https://www.instagram.com/benjinate/?hl=en, a favourite artist of mine who uses a style similar to my own, with pretty simplistic features that I thought might work nicely, but eventually decided didn't quite fit the aesthetic i was attempting to achieve. Another source of inspiration was the art magazine 'fan club' chttps://issuu.com/fanclubnotts which uses a simple style that I really enjoy, and inspired me a little more to look at making a more simple style of my own. From this I took away some features that made the image much more clear and simple, while retaining the message of what it was supposed to represent and advertise. Looking at different artists and images really helped me develop the imagery I wanted from something i was used to and comfortable with, into a more user/audience oriented design that could be used for advertising. It also helped me develop skills I had previously struggled with through research and trial. Topics in design I might like to explore further within this project might be looking at a more photographic approach, taking my own photographs and editing them, whether they would be of typography I find, or images I take from pre made environments, or images constructed in a set to achieve a specific look. Id like to work on my photo editing and manipulation skills in the future, as that is something I am less comfortable with than illustration, and I think it would be useful to explore in my own time using some of the skills I learned in this project, and this module as a whole.
Design IdeasFor this task, the design was supposed to relate to typography and graphic communication. I first decided to name it ‘History of Typography’, because giving a name to the podcast can make my design direction more specific. 'History of Typography', the word history means the past and the story of old-time. I wanted to design each of the covers for a particular period, for example, the first one as the 1970s edition and the next one be the 1960s edition. To make the design feels like its responding year period, I searched for their own represented era as the design theme.
Design 1My first design idea came from the word, ‘disco 70s’. Mirror balls are one of the iconic elements in this disco era, so I used a picture of a woman lying on the mirror ball to give out this similar sensation. The original picture was in a brownish warm colour tone, I increased the noise level to add more texture to the image. To create the dreamy fantasy look, I changed the gradient fills into blue and purple. I also wanted the audience's attention to go to the mirror ball rather than the woman next to it. In this case, I needed to emphasise the existence of the ball, so I added a glitter image on top of that area and blended it in the colour dodge mode. A soft paintbrush was then used to add white dots to make those sparkles more noticeable. In this version, I did not do much to the typography, I just simply turned on the drop shadow and the inner glow effect to make it look much more three-dimensional.
Design 2Pop art was first introduced during the 1950s, it went viral onwards. Comic style, dots were the key features, so I decided to apply these effects to my second design. I first cropped the woman out and change the background to full white. After that, I applied the halftone pattern with dot size 3. I increased the brightness and shadow level to create a much stronger contrast. I also changed the background to red and filled in the colour of the character in a comic style.
Design 3The last one was designed for the 1960s. I tried to make the picture look like an actual oil-painting by editing its contrast level and setting different blending modes like dissolve or multiply. I also added a mask on top to create the light and shadow parts. For the colour adjustment, I increased the hue and saturation to the point that the image looks vibrant enough. These designs came out great but the choice of imagery was not appropriate to the topic, which made the whole design not relevant to what I was supposed to achieve. As a result, I started to think about changing the image to another choice that would fit better with typography. I was searching for something vintage and representable to the theme at the same time. Finally, I decided to use a typewriter and applied the same effect on it as my last design.
Software TutorialsFor the whole task, I watched six different videos online. The most memorable one was what I watched for my last design. It was about creating a retro imagery style. One of the reasons that made this video especially unforgettable to me was because I reviewed it at least ten times. As a Photoshop beginner, it was really hard to follow his instructions when he only used short-cuts to control, so I had to pause after every step he made. In the video, he taught me to use the filter gallery from the effect panel, and the filter gallery can only be available in RGB mode, but my design task was in CMYK, so I needed to use an alternative way to achieve a similar result. Instead of applying a filter gallery to the picture, I edited the levels of the image and also extra blurred the picture to make it look more like an oil painting. Even though the outcome looked a bit different from the video, I think it still presented the retro atmosphere in the design. https://youtu.be/XbokgCKvFWU Another video resource I used was about making pop art. This one was not that difficult as the previous one. Having my last time experience of struggling between the RGB and CMYK mode, this time I started editing directly on the original picture rather than placing and edit the image on the CMYK preset. For this tutorial, it was much easier to follow because those short-cuts were clearly shown on the subtitle. This effect also required me to use the filter gallery, but with a different filter pattern, called the halftone pattern. https://youtu.be/fGxH76JYDdQ These two videos helped me to learn using different editing functions in Photoshop and guided me to explore how powerful it can be. I had no idea about this software before, but now I can do a few interesting photo editing after watching those tutorial videos. In the future, I would like to learn more about how to edit pictures apart from using filters, such as combining pictures by cropping or blending them.
Resources for Research and InspirationBefore having the whole idea of what to create, I had a look at a bunch of existing podcast covers from the internet. I found out that most of them are simply an image and the podcast title. Instead of using or combining many pictures, they only have one focused imagery. Therefore, I mainly used one individual image in each of my designs. At first, I wanted to refer my design to some old podcast covers, but it was hard to find them because people before did not use podcast covers at all, they usually advertised the podcast by posters or leaflets. In this task, I aimed to create designs in a vintage or retro style to relate to my podcast title. I compared the difference between a modern design and a 'traditional' one. It is common to see that nowadays podcast covers tend to have a simple and basic layout, meanwhile, texture or extra decoration is generally used in vintage design. Typography wise, I used serif fonts instead of a san serif, as it gave out an old style. A serif at the end of each typeface can also have a decorative purpose which made the font look much more fancy and elegant. https://about.easil.com/support/serif-vs-sans-serif/ I also got inspiration from a 20th-century artist, called Earl Moran. His artworks were mostly pin-up paintings and they really gave out a vintage style. Pin-up art was first introduced as attractive pictures to men back then, so nearly all pin-up art had women to be the painting subject. Unlike any other art, pin-up art tends not to focus on the background of the painting. They might just leave it blank or using a few colours to create shades as the background. Therefore, when I was designing my cover, I did not add any fancy stuff at the back, instead, I paid more attention to edit the imagery. https://creepingirrelevance.tumblr.com/post/10465286149/earl-moran Lastly, Photoshop still has many functions that I have not yet explored but I am really willing to know more about it. In my opinion, learning Adobe software is just like mining, the deeper I dig in or investigate, the more and precious skills I can learn from it.
A sticker design project. Created using Adobe Illustrator. [caption id="attachment_15632" align="alignnone" width="960"] Image 1 - An overhead mockup with two designs[/caption] Personal Aim: experiment with movement and flow within Illustrator Brief Introduction: During the entirety of this term, we were asked to explore different Adobe softwares, to expand our understanding, whilst also experimenting with different document formats and the regulations that apply within. Almost instantly, I was excited to have an opportunity, to polish up my existing skill set with Illustrator. Hence why these designs, turned out to have the strongest visual impact. [caption id="attachment_15631" align="alignnone" width="960"] Image 2 - An overhead, mockup shot of the strongest design idea (refer to design 3 below)[/caption] Design Ideas and Design Process: Idea 1: Exploring Curves and 3D Type Since Illustrator offers a wide range of tools for both, the development of illustrations/drawings and type, I was curious to experiment with the idea of 3D type, a design trend that was dominant in 2019, with the concept of 3D not only being limited to type (refer to image 3) but was also prominently seen in animations and GIFs as well (refer to images 4-5). One other popular trend that I have seen, probably emerging around late 2019 to 2020, is the increase use of neutrals and soft pastels, with both leaning towards embedding accents of pinks (can be very evident in ‘stationery design’, with abstract curves serving as a repetitive pattern in the background. From the start, I knew I wanted to try and fuse the two together and judge the outcome derived. [caption id="attachment_15708" align="alignleft" width="150"] Image 3 - A 3D video by Antoni Tudisco, that got popular over Instagram in 2019, https://www.behance.net/antoni[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15709" align="alignleft" width="150"] Image 4 - Another 3D animation seen trending in 2019 by BastardFilms, https://www.instagram.com/_bastardfilms_/[/caption] . [caption id="attachment_15707" align="alignleft" width="800"] Image 5 - A collage showing the popular use of 3D type, softer colours and curves, derived from Pinterest[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15735" align="alignleft" width="300"] Image 6 - Final design 1, inspired from certain elements of the 2019 design trend[/caption] After coming up with a small phrase, I decided to choose Helvetica Bold as my typeface, primarily because square types tend to work better with 3D view. Once I was satisfied with the size, I headed over to the ‘effects’ menu before selecting the ‘3D, extrude and bevel’ option. After much consideration, ‘isometric top’ provided the desired effect that I was after. All that was left for me to do was to just ‘expand’ and ‘ungroup’ the object and soon enough, I was able to physically choose parts of the 3D shape to fill in my desired colour. Instead of following the general rules that comes to shadows, I decided to just use two soft orange colours, one being light and the other being dark. The next characteristic to embody were the curves, which in this case, were freely hand drawn with the help of the ‘pen tool’ and then fixed with the ‘direct selection tool’ (to smoothen out any sharp or ragged edges). After drawing one, to add variation, I copied the same design, but instead flipped them either vertically or horizontally, alongside with making some of them bigger in size than the others. [caption id="attachment_15738" align="alignnone" width="960"] Image 7 - A screenshot showing the process of creating a soft brush pattern[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15740" align="alignnone" width="960"] Image 8 - Representation of what the pattern looked like when layered onto the background[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15743" align="alignleft" width="261"] Image 9 - The ineffective dotted pattern layered in the background[/caption] Sticking with the design trends colours, I went with soft pastel pinks with accents of neutrals. I did also try to create an abstract pattern with a soft brush, but in the end, that experimentation did not look very cohesive. Just to give one last try, I created a dotted pattern, but in the end, it also took me to a dead end, making me realise that it would be best to leave this design the way it looks. Idea 2: Exploring Layouts and Twirling [caption id="attachment_15754" align="alignnone" width="960"] Image 10 - Final version of design 2[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15746" align="alignleft" width="300"] Image 11 - Stationery designs like this, inspired me to try out the marbling effect[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15747" align="alignleft" width="203"] Image 12 - A recreation of the texture that marble resembles[/caption] As I was researching into some stationery designs (refer image 11), I was reminded about a technique that I had seen and tried (physically with nail varnish) previously. Whilst exploring idea 1, I was reminded about this technique effect that piqued my curiosity. The effect in question is called marbling (refer to image 12), where beautiful and smooth curves mix with the background to form movement (similar to waves). As the name may suggest, it is inspired from the physical textures of natural marble, where this movement is prominent within the rock. It is a process that is usually associated to more elegant types of design, that are usually topped off with serif fonts and complimentary colours. [caption id="attachment_15751" align="alignleft" width="300"] Image 13 - The end result of the twirl effect, which worked out effectively[/caption] For the colour schemes, I decided to use purple as my main focus, which has been quite common for web design trends within 2020. Varying degrees of purple hues and even neon versions of purple have been more commonly visible. I also thought that the colour purple could create an interesting juxtaposition between the marbling effect and the suggestion of elegance (as it is not considered, in the Western cultures, to portray elegance). After drawing two rectangles, with different shades of purples, all I had to do was select the ‘twirl’ tool and adjust the size of the brush, before creating this effect (refer image 13). I kind of wanted the appearance to look very abstract as it would be completely pointless, to set restrictions to this effect. Finally, after much consideration within colour schemes, I created a wavy, lavender background too ensure that my marbling effect would stand out more prominently. [caption id="attachment_15752" align="alignleft" width="236"] Image 14 - An alternative experiment with outlined text[/caption] Once I was satisfied with the way the colours looked, I decided to tackle typography next. ‘Ambroise Std, ExtraBold’ was the typeface that I made use of, as it seems to fit and compliment the background very well. I also wanted the composition of the text to match the playfulness of the background, so I went ahead and sectioned out the word before placing them asymmetrically. Initially, I wanted the type to be in an outline (refer image 14), but after trying it out, it looked incomplete, so instead I decided to fill in the word and then layer the outline behind it, which ended up with a much better result. Idea 3 (favourite design idea): Exploring Type Manipulation [caption id="attachment_15755" align="alignnone" width="960"] Image 15 - A final version of design 3[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15757" align="alignleft" width="300"] Image 16 - A still capture from a kinetic type video, taken from a Wix Blog[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15756" align="alignleft" width="216"] Image 17 - Repetitive text example, designed by Carlos de Jesus, that was popular in 2019[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15759" align="alignleft" width="205"] Image 18 - This type of variation within text was also popular in 2019 design trends. These types of designs tend to have outlines and bold colours[/caption] One of my best design ideas was derived from a mixture of design trends, that took place between 2019-2020. In the year of 2019, kinetic type, type moving around in 3D space (refer to image 16) and repetition type, with repetition being a 2D version of kinetic (refer to image17), was extremely popular and almost all designers seem to be making the most of it. Whilst I was looking for some more examples, I also noticed another popular trend, which consisted of outlines and repetition but within ‘one unit’ (refer image 18). This was very interesting to me, especially since I felt that these ideas would fit in very well with my personal aim, that being to explore movement. Upon finding a YouTube tutorial (and a few articles for assistance) on how to create the repetitive, wave type, I started to experiment with a single letter at first. Once again, I decided to use Helvetica for this experiment, as from my previous testing, round fonts did not actually work as effectively as it was suggested. [caption id="attachment_15762" align="alignnone" width="960"] Image 19 - One of my first design ideas that was inspired by collaging of individual letters[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15763" align="alignleft" width="300"] Image 20 - This was the first variation that was produced using a curved path. Overall, I was not really fond of the optical flow that this design had, but it was still a good starting point to visualise my design.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15764" align="alignleft" width="300"] Image 22 - This time around, I decided to change the spin of the effect (drawing a new curve path, in a different direction), before individually re-arranging the letters to experiment with layout within an individual word[/caption] Image 19 shows one of my initial design ideas, that was inspired from collaging and spacing, but in the end, I decided to discard that one, as it just did not feel right. Instead, I decided to simply spell out the word ‘type’, before following all the steps to create the repetitive, wave type. Soon after, I experimented with different placements of each letter and changing the spine of the design using ‘curve paths’ (refer images 20-21). Once I was happy with the flow of the text, then I decided to implement repetitive words (design trend), before layering it onto a solid black background and some freehand abstract shapes. In terms of colours, I decided to stick with bright, warm colours, which are a feature of the design trends that I am focusing on. Adding a black background, enabled all the bright colours to stand out more, whilst accents of white helped to keep the balance between the both. Software Tutorials: Refer to the additional resources/links at the end under this subheading. I used a fair range of software tutorials for this project, as I wanted to learn new skills and try out new features on Illustrator that I had not known/tested out before. One of the main one being the type variation that I did in my favourite design (refer design process 3). In reality, it actually took me quite a few hours to understand and learn. For the first few attempts, I could not even make past the first part of the tutorial (where the text has grids to manipulate, via the ‘envelope mesh’ option), mostly because of the typeface (even when I was using the suggested typeface or my own choice, hence I decided to skip that step just to move forewords). But once I tried it out with one letter and enlarged it, I was extremely excited to see the potential that the process had. To develop my skills further, I would really like to try out more variations within ‘envelop mesh’ and 3D type, especially with different typefaces. Resources for Research and Inspiration: Refer to the additional resources/links at the end under this subheading. Mood boards: One of the quickest ways for me to visualise a concept or a design trend is to create a mood board, since it is an easy way to dismantle each element that is essential, whether it may be colours, imagery, background/foreground, type setting or other variants. These have been the most effective in my learning journey as I can look at an interesting feature and then look up the way it is done on the software. In reality, all my designs and trend inspirations have emerged from looking at a range of peoples work and how they interpret/explore different attributes, since mood boards work really effectively for visual cues. [caption id="attachment_15771" align="alignleft" width="250"] Image 22 - A generic mood mood board that I created, to help me visualise some of the design trends[/caption] Websites, blogs and articles: Apart from creating visuals cues, I also did a fair amount of reading, whether they may be one person’s opinion or collective. This really enable me to understand what elements were popular during certain design trends and also judge how different interpretations. Aside from judgements, it also gave an opportunity to look at different ideas/concepts that I could have done or could do in the future (inclusive for any project, across all modules). [caption id="attachment_15772" align="alignnone" width="960"] Image 23 - Example of my generic mood board[/caption] Additional Resources/links: Software Tutorials: 3D type: YouTube and website article