Undulating Type.

A sticker design project. Created using Adobe Illustrator. 

Image 1 – An overhead mockup with two designs

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.

Image 2 – An overhead, mockup shot of the strongest design idea (refer to design 3 below)

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.

Image 3 – A 3D video by Antoni Tudisco, that got popular over Instagram in 2019, https://www.behance.net/antoni
Image 4 – Another 3D animation seen trending in 2019 by BastardFilms, https://www.instagram.com/_bastardfilms_/


Image 5 – A collage showing the popular use of 3D type, softer colours and curves, derived from Pinterest








Image 6 – Final design 1, inspired from certain elements of the 2019 design trend

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.

Image 7 – A screenshot showing the process of creating a soft brush pattern
Image 8 – Representation of what the pattern looked like when layered onto the background
Image 9 – The ineffective dotted pattern layered in the background

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

Image 10 – Final version of design 2
Image 11 – Stationery designs like this, inspired me to try out the marbling effect
Image 12 – A recreation of the texture that marble resembles









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.

Image 13 – The end result of the twirl effect, which worked out effectively

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.

Image 14 – An alternative experiment with outlined text

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

Image 15 – A final version of design 3
Image 16 – A still capture from a kinetic type video, taken from a Wix Blog
Image 17 – Repetitive text example, designed by Carlos de Jesus, that was popular in 2019
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










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.

Image 19 – One of my first design ideas that was inspired by collaging of individual letters
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.
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

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.

Image 22 – A generic mood mood board that I created, to help me visualise some of the design trends

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).

Image 23 – Example of my generic mood board

Additional Resources/links:

Software Tutorials:

3D type: YouTube and website article

Envelope Mesh: website articles

Resources for Research and Inspiration:

Website articles:

2019 Design Trends

2020 Design Trends

 Mood Board (generic):