Exploring tools in Illustrator

Design ideas and design process

3D text using the 3D transform tool

Previously, I had never used illustrator and thought that it was useful for illustrating using pen style tools rather than the wide range of varieties available through the many tools and effects. I decided to counter my expectations of this software with my approach by focussing on what effects can be achieved with text rather than drawing my design manually. Straying away from the “pen” type tools allowed me to discover elements such as the transform effect which has a spectrum of possibilities. For example, using the transform tool I was able to create this 3D lettering effect.

The original letter form
Initial use and experimenting with letter depth
inflate tool experiment
revolve tool experiment


Altering the colours to emphasise the structure

The experimentation of this tool demonstrated to me that there are much simpler techniques to develop a design similar to this than I previously would’ve used; layering various shapes in a similar, but ultimately less effective fashion.

spiral text effect, using the transform feature

The transform tool was also used to create this spiralled text effect. Again, I would have developed a similar design to this but using a much more long-winded process of manually layering texts. Steering away from using copy and paste as well as pen tools has encouraged me to be more experimental and therefore more efficient with designs.

Selecting a heavy font and laying my text in a way which compliments the intended outcome
Initial transform effect before adding a rotation
Restyling: adding a rotation to the inside text and editing the colour choice


My third design was created staggering 3 layers of coloured texts and using the tweak tool to create a glitch appearance. I found this design to be more simple but also quite effective and clear.sticker 1

creating texts
experimenting with the ‘tweak’ feature


Software tutorials

The tutorials i used largely introduced me to many tools and what their uses are. Many of the tutorials I experimented with covered tools I ended up not including in my design, but led to me having a better understanding of the layout and features of Illustrator as well more confidence in my use of the software. As well as my own research, I found using the Adobe introduction to the software very useful to me as I was explained and displayed how to properly control tools before I began experimenting. As I wanted to see what Illustrator offers aside from the drawing features, the tutorials I used focus on these aspects. While this helped me find more uses from illustrator, I realise that I’ve neglected refining and experimenting with digitally drawn designs and this is a skill I aim to develop as I venture into using Illustrator more frequently. I found the following¬† tutorials useful due to their short and simple nature as well as a clear visual demonstration which I find beneficial. https://www.tiktok.com/@margheritavox/video/7031983953347235077?lang=en&is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1


Design resources and articles

I personally find that I learn best through watching demonstrations rather than reading, however I did find reading a number of articles were useful in influencing my styles. The example linked below was interesting to me and inspired me to experiment with the typography I used, allowing myself to bend the boundaries of legibility which I would’ve otherwise been hesitant to experiment with. I found many articles important when considering what I was making and the features which determine the quality of the completed design. For example, considering the shape and outline of a sticker in relation to its size. However, with a lot of articles expressing the importance of breaking some design rules, I enjoyed using unconventional shapes for my sticker outline along with the legibility of letters.






Practicing letter forms

I found this task was surprisingly difficult compared to how I had assumed it would be after reading the brief. I had thought that I had quite a precise hand for drawing and sketching, but the reality of the project showed me that I was not as detail orientated as I’d thought. There were details within the letters which I did not observe until they were pointed out to me.

The first task was to fill in the gaps of letter parts of the typeface ‘Skolar’. I feel that I achieved the same style across the majority of areas but on seeing the original font afterwards could see that my ‘a’ was quite far off and some areas are a different weight than to the original.

We then were tasked to replicate what we thought the letters of a different font with letters that we’d not seen would look like.¬† I found the rounded parts of the letters the most challenging, but focussed on creating a balanced weight across the letters. I, again, found the ‘a’ the most challenging shape to achieve but found evidence from the letters we were given to create the shapes across the other letters.

Listings for young adults

My original sketches were designed based on varying users, but the two final sketches I landed on were based on working for teenagers, couples and young adults. I chose to achieve this by having the actors, titles and times of the highest hierarchy as these are the things which appeal most to these categories without the presence of a trailer, poster or synopsis due to the familiarity of names or attention grabbing titles. I decided to highlight these elements through the use of all caps, italics, weight and varying colours. I also chose two different text alignments to style the information.

I decided to have the age rating at the bottom of each listing, but in solid black as it would not likely be as relevant for my chosen users than, say, a family or someone looking to avoid adult themes. In one of my listings (Title emphasis) , I have used grey text across the actors and directors as well as the additional contexts of the films, to further emphasise the details in black (the title, length, age rating and location and time) which are left solid black. I made this decision to help separate the listings further from one another in addition to the breaks between, but I feel that the placement above the title leaves the actors still high in the hierarchy. In this example, the title is also italic unlike the other of my layouts again to further emphasise this and put them higher in the hierarchy of information.

In the second of my layouts (Actors and title emphasis), I used black for the actors and kept them above the title but smaller in size, to have these two details similar in hierarchy. I also kept the time and date of similar style to the actors as this is likely the next most relevant piece of information for my targeted users.

Overall, I found formatting these details fairly challenging which surprised me since there are so many different combinations which achieve a multitude of effects. However, this task has taught me the impact of such tiny details such as the difference a pt size can make to the whole page. Going forward i will apply my knowledge of these details into my work in varying contexts to achieve the desired effects.

Title emphasis

Actors and title emphasis

Human analysts

One of my favourite pieces in the collections I saw today was this ‘Human Analyst’ ticket, from what I can assume came from a fairground stall, or similar environments. I was drawn to this piece particularly because of its simple format which is designed so efficiently for its purpose, in the way that the exact same design can produce a large number of readings for customers and would also provide a personal experience for the user. The use of hole punches allows a large amount of information to be communicated quickly and clearly which feels optimal for not only the user’s understanding but also business in aiding speed of work therefore enabling more customers.

The Dracula

Since I struggled the most on the first task with creating smooth edges on the cartouche, I decided to further the practice of this technique by creating a blood dripping effect from where the top line is and also to mirror the themes of the book. I also used the pencil tool to draw the rough guide of where I wanted the drip effect to run, which has resulted in a more organic appearance than if I were to use the oval tool to base the shape off of. Again, overall this task has helped me learn how different tools can be manipulated for different purposes.

70’s neutrals

70s retro theme

Initially, I started my logo thinking of mainly curved lines and neutral, warm tones. As I began to work in illustrator, I experimented with curved typefaces and settled on this chunky and organic shape font. I separated letters from my name to create a larger ‘M’ which allowed the letters to fit together better and create a more rounded appearance when alongside one another. I also decided to use a white stroke around the main name, to highlight this above the ‘designs’ below which I wanted to be secondary to the name and then closed off the negative space by using two circles and the ‘blend’ tool, to create a background reminiscent of vinyl records and in line with the curved lines I initially wanted to pull into the logo. I tweaked these variables until i found a balance i was happy with; however I would prefer to use this logo in a circular format rather than a square to eliminate some of the empty space and draw the eye back again to the centre logo.



I chose the obsession brief and decided to take a quite literal approach to the storyline. The beginning of the book appears normal, until a mouse scurries along the bottom of the page, and from here the destruction mirrored in the brief begins through the majority of the book to convey the frantic search for the mouse. This continues up until the tears in the pages reveal a growing blackness, to represent that after all of the destruction there is nothing to be found.

Lettering and the relationships with the colours surrounding them

Signs around Campus

I decided to focus on the relationships between colour of letters and the background they are presented on for this project, where I found that the majority of lettering is white or black and surrounding by a bold and eye-catching colour. When looking at the majority of signs it is evident that this design choice is made to initially capture the attention of a passer by through a large body of bright colour and then have the lettering as the secondary, despite the text being the core of the sign. I found that this technique is more effective than say, a white sign with red lettering, since there is a larger body of white which does not grab the eye as efficiently as a bold colour.