Carrying on from my previous Illustrator task, where I initiated my exploration with mesh and pattern tools, I wanted to further develop my skills and experiment with typefaces, this time, with monograms.
I was also interested in taking inspiration from past design trends, patterns and angles, primarily to help me visualise and aid me in my creation/experimentation phase.
Design Ideas and process:
Influenced from the popularity of social media apps like Instagram, a fusion of retro-kinetic (more popularly seen in Japanese Design trends) and retro-serif typefaces have taken over, paired up with minimalistic colour (like neutrals and pastels) and styling (in regards with packaging and branding). I was also curious to see if there could be a possibility to embed a 3-dimensional element to
This was something that I was really interested in carrying over, in my creation of monograms, with of course a hint of my own style and personality.
Some of my initial design ideas leaned towards the more retro-serif style, with elegant and curvy serifs, paired up with smooth cursives. Something that would be considered a lot more ‘trendy.’ But I also loosely sketched out some designs with a focus on height and patterns, with an element of movement in it. I also envisioned the use of sans serif fonts, but this was something that would require a lot of experimentation and exploration.
Soon enough, I was not really pleased with some of the results that were being resulted with retro-serif experimentation, so I decided to shift my focus to the retro-kinetic approach more (plus it would flow beautifully into my previous sticker-based design project).
One of my first design ideas was achieved through the use of the pathfinder and envelope distort tool, where I proceeded to create an outline of the letter ‘r,’ with the typeface Base Mono Bold, before using the rectangle tool to create parallel lines until half of the page was covered. The next step was to use the pathfinder tool to ‘divide’ all of the lines created and sending them to the ‘back’ of the page. All that was left to do was to combine the outline of the letter with the pattern that I created.
To assist me with my basic understanding on how the mesh tool works with typefaces, I decided to browse through a selection of videos on YouTube, just to get a glimpse of the process and understand any additional tips that could have been provided. Apart from using the mesh tool, I also wanted to develop a small portion of skills in regards with the warp and 3D tools and also generally see how different people approach the creation of monograms. Some of the mesh tutorials, especially with the combination of the pathfinder tool, took me quite a while to practise out, since despite it looking to be a fairly easily process, turns out there were small little details to focus upon, in order to have the final outcome (which was a really encouraging challenge for me).
Resources used for research and inspiration:
As established previously, most of my design work has been inspired from previous/existing/upcoming design trends and to ensure that I stay true to some of those elements, I always begin by creating a mood board consisting of other designer’s work, textures, fonts, colours and shapes, before constantly referring to this visual aid. It is a great reminder about some of the elements that could have been forgotten about. In terms of researching about design trends, different websites and blog posts reminded me about some of the features that I had previously seen on social media platforms.
A sticker design project.Created using Adobe Illustrator.
Personal Aim: experiment with movement and flow within Illustrator
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
What is a book? Why are we so scared to damage them? Why is this format invincible?
This mini brief required us to question the ‘concept’ of books, alongside with their composition, layout, binding etc. True enough, I had never thought or even considered the importance of visual dimension within books. We have all become so accustomed to flipping the pages in a certain pace, holding the spine in a particular manner and feeling the repetitive texture of paper, that all of these aspects are almost ‘forgotten’ by our conscious self. And bringing in this element of ‘connection’ to a reader, can help to create powerful and immersive experience.
With ‘loop’ as my chosen theme, I decided to narrow down some factors aside from the provided storyline/narrative (which is based on a female, that hired to kill her partner, with the help of an assassin, who is reading a book about, female, that hired to kill her partner, with the help of an assassin, in reality).
The creation of loop sits on-top of the temporal dimension: time. Without the fourth dimension, a loop wouldn’t exist (whether it may be in the narrative or in reality). Instantly, I knew that alongside with the murder narrative, the blend of time could add in an interesting imagery.
I have always been extremely interested with texture and the sensations it can provide, therefore I wanted to draw severe attention towards it. But the material couldn’t just be anything. It also had a make a connection with loop or the narrative of murder. After some quick research, fabrics, especially threads seem to have a portrayal of ‘loops.’ With their never ending entwining threads curling each other, they almost seem to reflect some aspects of loops and temporal dimension. Thus, the need to experiment with threads seemed very important. Whether they may be glued on or stitched into the texts.
For one the ‘main’ concept page, I decided to create a collage based on the predator (who is a female and hired to kill her partner, with the help of an assassin, in the book he is reading, in reality) before linking it with the prey (who is the man). Of course, I also wanted to created some repetition from the cover, so I brought in the element of time (and day) to mimic the loop of reality and fiction. Lastly, I paired it with some sewn in lines, to support the madness, that a loop in time could create, especially with a murder.
The ‘taboo’ of not destroying books. The page flipping pace. The feel of paper.
These ideologies can easily be altered through movement, sound, pace, time, involvement, shape, space, 3d, scale, texture etc and in return, they can make the reader more connected with books physically and realise that we have all been missing out a lot on the ‘experience’ of reading.
During the briefing of this mini brief, we were all asked to experiment with our own initials and transform them into a monogram.
Then, a question struck me. Why do we always tend to write monograms with uppercase letters? Many brand/companies prefer uppercase more than lowercase in their identity.
Is it due to our approach to grammar? Perhaps it’s the history? Or it just looks ‘nice?’
Keeping this as the core idea to my project, I began to draw out my initials (R and V) with lowercase letters, referencing the ever so popular Garamond typeface. Sure, it did seem very strange when I was sketching, almost inaccurate, but it also made me realise how deeply this concept resides within us. Subconsciously, our approach to grammar has enabled our minds to form this complex layer of psychology that instantly ‘corrects’ our approach to lowercase lettering, making it seem/feel ‘wrong’ if it’s(lowercase lettering) on its own (i.e no uppercase).
Along the journey of experimentation, I accidentally discovered the beautiful contrast that black and white offers, especially in lettering. This was also something that caught my eye, therefore I started to build the core of my project around the basis of ‘contrast.’
After much confusion, on terms of layout and placement of the letters, I looked back at my initial sketches and found an idea that I liked the best, because it had the potential to fulfil both of my main focuses.
This piece above, embodies the usage of lowercase lettering in monograms, yet also provides a beautiful balance of contrast between black and white. It’s simple and elegant at the same time.
After all, it’s enjoyable to break the norms that can sometimes bind us.
Walking aimlessly around, I never really realised how recurring the lettering around the campus could get. Almost every sign(board) had the same generic, bold San Serif font. The only factor that was changing, was the background colour of the subject, depending upon the importance of the information.
Soon it became clear that it was easy to look at lettering in environment from a stagnant point of view. Instead of focusing on purely sign(boards), which were predominant around the campus, it was time to look around various objects, even if all of their lettering style was similar.
As you can see above, bold text is still widely popular, but what makes it different is the texture behind the lettering. The materials, whether they are heavily industrialised or natural, end up creating a different visual image each time. This could suggest that even if much simpler or bolder texts are used more commonly around us, the texture and the material can provide a different feeling and effect.
It’s all about looking closer at lettering in an environment, breaking it apart and considering every single material that supports it.