Category: Student work

Expressing Through Monograms

Design Ideas and Process

Logos are something that helps users identify the brand’s or the individual’s identity, therefore, it is essential for it to be effective and reflective of the brand/individual. Through this task, I was able to create letter logos using my initials and thus, apply perhaps my interests as I took inspirations from my hobbies and interests to express myself through logos.

Firstly, I started off by looking at Behance for inspiration and made a moodboard containing all the designs I liked. Then I took screenshots of the typefaces used in those designs and used the adobe font visual search to find out the possible typefaces that has been used to give myself possible ideas for my own designs. Using these as inspirations, I drew up sketches for how I wanted my logos to look like, nothing down typefaces I would like to use as well as creating a colour palette I thought would best suit for these typefaces.

Inspiration Moodboard
Design 1

01 – typing the text
02 – adding and experimenting with gradient
03 – choosing fill and stroke colour
04- creating outlines
05 – manipulating the outlines of the letters
06 – using the smooth tool
07 – applying the same steps on the other initial
08 – combing typefaces
09 – adding a painted background
10 – using the envelope distort tool
11 – results of using envelope distort
Design 2

For the second design, I combined the typefaces ‘Interstate’ and ‘Rama Gothic C’. Using my colour palette, I added colour to the text using the eyedropper tool. Then, I created the text into outlines (03) and using the direct selection tool, I dragged the bottom of the letters using the anchors in the vectors of the letters (04). Once I was satisfied with it, I used the pencil tool (05) to draw a swirl around the letter logo and increased the stroke and added a contrasting colour to it. I smoothed out the curves using the smooth tool (06). Then, I used the arrange option to keep the swirl behind the letter logo (07,08 & 09).

01 – choosing typefaces
02 – combining typefaces
03 – creating outlines
04 – manipulating with the text using direct selection tool
05 – using the pencil tool
06 – using the smooth tool
07 – arranging the position of the swirl
08 – bringing the swirl forward
09 – fixing the position


Design 3

Software Tutorials

From the tutorials provided, I learnt how to modify letterforms by creating outlines of them. Since I am fairly still very new to Illustrator, these tutorials helped me a lot doing the basic steps of creating monograms. Converting the letters into outlines was helpful as it allowed me to easily and quickly manipulate letters however I wanted, which I believe I would struggle with if I hadn’t known and would resort to using the anchor tool, which would result in me having to figure out the anchor points of the letter and would be difficult to use and also create inaccuracy. I also learnt how to use the envelope distort tool this was a very cool tool to learn about as I got to know another fun way to warp my text using any shapes, which would be helpful in future projects. Watching these tutorials, I further want to develop my overall design skills in Illustrator as it is a software I am interested in.

For my third design, I wanted to have a gradient as the fill colour for my initials and quickly learnt that Illustrator doesn’t allow gradients for that, so I found this tutorial on YouTube on how to achieve this effect and was able to use it in my design. This tutorial was short and straight to the point, which helped me grasp the skills quickly and apply it on my own. Using the appearance tool was the main element in achieving this effect as in order to do this effect, you would have to get rid of the fill and stroke colour of the text, and using the appearance tool, you would be able to add a new fill or stroke colour, and when doing so, choosing the gradient tool, applies the gradient you choose. This helped me give a seamless gradient without any harsh outlines around the edges of the letters.

Another tutorial I watched on YouTube was on manipulating and customising typography. This tutorial introduced me to the width tool and the pencil tool, which helped me add some flair to my design and I also got to learn how to open up the glyph tool to look at other variations of the typeface and use them in my design. I was particularly fascinated with the width tool as I really loved the fact how easy it was to change the width of a single stroke within varying points of the line/stroke.

Design Resources and Articles

Inspiration 1
Inspiration 2
Inspiration 3
Inspiration 4
Inspiration 5

The first two illustrations from Behance were the inspirations for my first design and the colour palette. I really liked the aesthetics of these illustrations as these have a very fun feel to them and therefore, I tried to create something similar to it in my own designs. The third and fourth designs were inspirations for my second design. I replicated the swirl from the third design, which i really liked and wanted to include in my own design. In terms of the typography, I tried to blend both styles and merged them into one in my own design. The fifth typography design was the inspiration for my third and final design. I really liked the manipulation of the typography in that design and was something I have never done before, so i decided to try it out myself. I chose all of these designs as inspirations as each of them used techniques and tools I have never used before and therefore, saw this as a way to move out of my comfort zone and try out and improve my skills. I hope to improve on these new found skills in future projects.

Learning Across the Module

In terms of using  design softwares appropriately, I believe I have improved and learnt which software is suitable to use for a specific task. Through this module, I was able to learn certain facts in terms of printing, which I wasn’t aware of previously and it has helped me in understanding the softwares. I most definitely have grown more confident in using the softwares as compared to at the beginning of the module, when I was new to everything. In terms of design skills, I believe I have improved in using Photoshop and Illustrator specifically. I was able to improve my Illustrator skills through this module and learn new tools within the software. I believe I feel more flexible using Photoshop. Through Illustrator, I was able to improve my typography and drawing skills, in terms of drawing vectors and creating bezier curves.

Creative Images in Photoshop

Design ideas and design process

Combining black/white and colour

For my first design, I selected an image of a girl with paint on her hands and face. I wanted to make the paint the main focus of the image so I decided to keep only those parts in colour.

I used the quick selection tool to select the parts of the image I wanted to keep in colour (the paint on the girl’s hands and face)
I then refined my selection by pressing the ‘select and mask’ tool where I could select or unselect the detailed areas around the fingers to make sure everything was selected
I then pressed cmd+j on my laptop to create a new layer with my selection
Then I locked the new layer, went back to the first layer and selected the ‘black and white’ option to change the background.

Overall, I was happy with this result as the colours of the paint, being the main focus really stands out from the black and white background which is effective when drawing the viewers’ eye. This task helped me to understand how to use the quick selection tool and to see how I could refine my selection by clicking ‘select and mask’ to include the fine details of the hand and face.

Altering the background of a photo

For my second design, I took an image of a dull landscape, where I wanted to replace the sky for a bright blue sky.

main image to change background of
background I want to use
Using the quick selection tool, I selected the sky, then clicked on ‘select and mask’ to refine my selection so that every detail is captured
I pressed cmd+j on my keyboard which created a new layer for my selection
I then moved the new layer over the original one so that it could be seen
I then adjusted the hue/saturation and brightness/contrast levels to maintain the same colour, light and shades throughout, matching the foreground with the background

The results were successful as the image looks realistic as if it had a bright blue sky to begin with. This task helped me to become more familiar with the quick selection and ‘select and mask’ tool and to adjust the hue/saturation levels to match with the original image. To improve, perhaps I could have moved the sky down or enlarged it as you can see the foreground of the background image which does not match the colours exactly.

Altering reality of a photo

I selected an image with a doorway where I could replace the entrance with another world to alter reality
I chose this image of a road with a vibrant sky to contrast with the white of the original image
I cropped the image to fit into the size of the door frame

From here onwards, I experimented with different ways of seeing how I could create more depth into this frame as it seemed to look too flat and simple.

I first tried selecting the frame to create a glow/shadow effect, however, it did not match with the different tones and lighting the image in the door had
Next, I wanted to create a beam of light using the pen tool, filling it in and changing the opacity, however, the lines seemed too sharp and again, there was the issue of flat tones and lighting which did not match the scenery
So instead, I experimented with the brush tool, matched the colours to the ones in the scene, reduced the opacity and drew over the door areas where the image touches to create a reflection as if the door really does lead you into that road
I also created highlights over the floor to create a grand entrance towards the doorway


The results of my third design were quite successful as the brush tool enhanced the features of the sunset as if it was really projecting outside into the room, however, I do think with some more detail, for example, adding more shadow around the door frame could bring a more in-depth alter reality.

Software tutorials

These tutorials were very useful in the fact that they were quick and easy to follow. Even though I have use photoshop in the past,  I was not familiar with all the tools so these tutorials helped me to get more familiar with the quick selection tool when changing the colour of a specific section or changing the background of an image.

How to Color Part of an Image in Photoshop! Partial Black and white in Photoshop! Partly B+W

How to Use Layer Masking: Photoshop | Adobe Creative Cloud

I did not use the third tutorial in my final design, however, it did help me to understand more about lighting and the direction it travels which I incorporated in my third design.

I would like to further my skills and knowledge of using the drop shadow tool in photoshop as this could have brought out some of my designs more and add more depth to it.

Design resources and articles

This page inspired to me choose an image with a variety of bold colours to make them stand out more by making the rest of the image black and white.

I was inspired by this page to enhance the background by changing it entirely to a bright blue sky and match it to the same tones as the original image.

I was inspired by the first two images on this page when creating an altered reality of overlapping a scene on top of another one to look like you could walk through it.

Learning across the module

Across the module, I have improved my skills in photoshop such as using the quick selection tool to remove/change backgrounds. I have also learnt how to use the clone stamp tool to help me remove unnecessary objects in the background. I have also improved my illustrator skills in creating a variety of different shapes for my text using the effects tool. Furthermore, I really enjoyed creating the gifs in AfterEffects and since I had never used that software before, the tutorials I watched were very useful and I feel confident in using this software again.

Making Tables in InDesign – Going ON the Grid


I think it’s important to start off by saying I had no idea how to make tables and grids in InDesign. Other than my limited use in the book design project and making work files, I haven’t used the software before. I was well aware that I’d have to start with the basics, but I’m glad this module gave me a chance to do this.


Software Tutorials

I, therefore, had to begin with the software tutorials, needing this information to progress with this challenge. I began with a YouTube tutorial by Amy Maher, which allowed me to grasp the basic technical aspects involved in grids and tables. This focussed on the foundational skills, a complete beginner’s guide to this tool which was perfect as I currently didn’t know anything about this.

Using my newly-gained knowledge, I opened InDesign to begin this project. I decided quickly that my first design would be an incredibly basic but functional table, making sure that I could adapt this to suit my needs, before moving on to a better designed and more visually appealing design.

Amy Maher’s video ‘Working with Tables in InDesign cc’, showed me the basics of tables in InDesign and how to amend sizes simply.

Design Ideas and Process 1

The process of creating a table and adjusting its characteristics to suit my information
My initial table with consistently sized cells – obviously not appropriate and taking up unnecessary space.

I started by closely following the tutorial – I used the ‘Create Table’ tool to add a table to my page I was then able to specify the specifics, altering the rows and columns to my requirements. I did a simple, linear format for these, not wanting to overcomplicate the design. This tool worked well (other than me needing to add an extra row to the top for the titles), allowing me to input the data into each cell.

As the tutorial said, I was then able to adjust the size of my cells, selecting a row or column to adjust a group at the same time, a quicker and more consistent method. Having done this, my simple table was complete and I was able to move on to the design aspect.

Having adjusted the cell sizes, I then added a title and began to style the page.
I then began adding other elements, creating visual hierarchy but attempting to keep the table as the focus.

I placed this table along the bottom of the page, adding text initially to create a clear hierarchy. I used knowledge from the previous terms InDesign class to allocate clear paragraph and character styles, while also knowing more about the alignment and structuring that would benefit my final design.

Finally, I added an image of the book and quotations along the right-hand side, allowing a more balanced design to be achieved and having typography and layout separating the different layers of information.

I am happy with this design, clearly a simple beginning, but allowing me to test this tool for the first time and gain more experience in InDesign, both technically with the software and enhancing my skills as a designer through more practice.

My first table design – a relatively simple but conveys the necessary information in a well-structured, visually appealing manner.


Software Tutorial/Article

Coming off the back of that example, I wanted to explore the styling aspect of the table more, breaking the conventional, linear structure. I began looking at articles and resources, finding a post by ScienceEditor about the best practices for table design. This added to the foundational knowledge, informing me of conventions of table design – these included the increased ease of comparing numbers when in columns rather than rows and the benefits of breaking up a long, linear table.

I also had to consult an article when hitting a problem – when having trouble adding a row into the table, I used a blog by Adobe to fix this minor issue.


Design Ideas and Process 2

The basic grid structure that my table will follow.
The same structure, now with the relevant data filled in.

I began by creating a more visually interesting layout for the table, stacking the two parts on top of one another and right aligning it. I then filled in the same data, ensuring that each entry has a consistent size to the next.

I was much happier with this structure for the information; although not linear, the information is still clear and creates much more interest through this less conventional shaping.

The ‘Table Options’ menu, allows me to adjust the colour and weight of the table
The result of my styling experiments – a much more engaging appearance with some clear areas to be altered, such as the black lines between the cells.







I added this coloured shape as a background element using the pen tool, looking to make something fluid-like but not overpowering. I used the colour picker to select an orange from the book cover. Looking at this with a black table, I knew I had to invert this to white, the contrast making the table and its data more readable.

However,  this was not as easy as I thought – I had to use the ‘Table Options’ menu to adjust the colouring, also allowing me to alter the line weight. The results of this were much more successful, with a clearer contrast helping the table stand out from the background.

The addition of these reputable quotes helps balance the positive and negative space.
The use of colour and font weight helps to create a clear reading structure and a better visual appearance.

Now being happy with the layout and colouring of the table, I moved on to the rest of the design. I began by adding two quotes into the remaining orange space, testing all three and deeming this too much.

I then went on to add the text (sources from the book’s summary) and the title to the top, again using size, font-weight, and spacing to create a structure and deliberate relationship between the levels of information.

Design Resources

Finally, I added the BBC Radio 4 logo (an online resource) to the design, feeling this provided some visual balance to the design and helped to complete the layout. However, the rest of this design was simple typographic work and shapes created by me, not wanting to overcomplicate the design with external images and resources.

My final design, adding the BBC Radio 4 Logo into the top right, helped to balance the design and make it a more realistic piece of promotional material.

This second design is a better design – visually, the page is much more striking and provides much more interest to a viewer and potential listener. The table itself is much more fun and unconventional layout that helps to draw the eye to this vital information without it dominating the page in size.


Learning Across the Module

I began this project with no knowledge of using grids and tables in InDesign. Although my first attempt was relatively basic (and not without issues), my second design is a visually engaging and effective table, working as an element within a successful and balanced full page. While I am sure there are more nuances to this process, I feel comfortable in creating a table, a skill that will certainly be necessary for later work. I have built up from nothing and am now able to use a brand new tool in InDesign, an integral piece of software I will likely use for the rest of my career.


Exploring Photoshop

Explore, verb: travel through (an unfamiliar area) in order to learn about it

Software Tutorials

Coming into the Spring Term I’ve built on my knowledge and skills in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. I’ve also met new software along the way, After Effects, Adobe XD, and Premiere Pro.

I have been exploring Photoshop in a more thorough way, rather than just an initial first look. For instance, the clone stamp tool is such a fundamental part to photo editing, but I didn’t even know it existed! Only by this in-depth exploration can I progress from just familiarity to a higher, more professional usage of any software.


Design Ideas and Design Process

Cutting Things Out

I started with the intention to change the background, following along with this given tutorial.

Previously I have used the ‘quick selection tool’, but the tutorial spoke about using the ‘object selection tool’. This was something that I’d never come across before, so I searched up how to use the this tool and came across this tutorial.

Firstly, I located the ‘object selection tool’, Figure 1, which was in the same place as the other selection tools. With the tool selected, I drew a box around the selected object, Figure 2. The computer then shrinks the line down to a shape it thinks you’re trying to select, Figure 3. This tool was pretty good at selecting most things, but I cleaned this up using the ‘quick selection tool’.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5  














By holding down the option key (⌥) you can toggle between adding a section or subtracting a section, Figure 4 & 5.

In the tutorial I was following, it also showed how to change the background to a black & white image. I kept the cut-out flower on another layer and applied the filter to the original image. This effect makes the foreground pop and is something that I would use again for photo manipulation.

Figure 6












Clone Stamp

I explored one of the given tutorials, which was a useful introduction to the ‘clone stamp’. It looked like magic, until you understood the logic behind it; of copying similar parts of the photo to erase unwanted sections. I used a photo of some ducks, Figure 7, to begin with.

Figure 7
Figure 8







I created a new layer so that the edits could be toggled on and off. The ‘clone tool’, like the ‘object selection tool’, is located on the left-hand toolbar, Figure 8.

Figure 9 
Figure 10

To choose which part to copy, hold down the option key, and you will notice that the cursor changes to a circle with a cross inside it, Figure 9. The selection is the part of the image which you are copying. When pasting this new selection, a small cross, Figure 10, shows you where this information is being copied from.

I  put this into practice and edited out some unwanted parts of a picture I took at the beach. I removed the dogs and wooden structures by copying other parts of the photo. I think it is successful because it’s done seamlessly, you can’t tell that I’ve copied other parts.

Figure 11

Content-Aware Fill 

Figure 12

I explored one last tutorial for my third design idea, which was how to remove objects with the ‘content-aware fill tool’. Firstly, use the ‘lasso tool’ to select the part you want to remove, this can be quite loose, in my case, it was the hand, Figure 13. Then locate the fill option, which is in the top menu bar, Figure 14. Choose content-aware fill, Figure 15, and this is the result, Figure 16.

The software does all the thinking about which parts to copy, similar to the steps taken in the clone stamp tool.

Figure 13
Figure 14

Figure 15

Learning Across the Module

I’ve found this module particularly helpful to my development as a designer and as a professional. I’ve been able to lead this module in ways that have been useful to me, in terms of learning new skills.

The skills that I have learnt across the module include: the clone stamp and content-aware fill in Photoshop, 3D text effects and the envelope warp tool in Illustrator, and making tables in InDesign.

However, the biggest thing I have learnt is how to use new software. This term I have had to learn three completely new software: After Effects, XD, and Premiere Pro. So, you get quite used to the process of accepting scary new software and simply just opening it. Thankfully the Adobe software is all fairly similar, which has made this process easier.

Skills I have improved on this module include: cutting things out in Photoshop, and using the pen tool and creating gradients in Illustrator. Other skills have been using Adobe fonts more, for instance I now know how to search by an image in order to match fonts. Finally, I have been able to build upon my time management and staying on top of the independent tasks, even when no one checks upon it!

Skills to continue to develop:

Two skills that I would like to develop are being able to make screencast and using Adobe XD in a fluent way. Making videos is a fundamental skill, especially in increasingly digital world, and is something that I’d like to build my confidence in.


Design Resources and Articles

In my current design work, I hardly use Photoshop. However, being able to use it to a higher standard would enable me to have a wider skill set. How to get to that stage? A wider exploration of the software, for instance opening up all the menus to see what everything does.

I could do a thorough LinkedIn learning course, which  would enable me to learn pretty much everything there is to know about Photoshop. Or I could continue to set myself design challenges, similar to this module, where I carry on with a strict regime of learning new skills. We never stop learning, even more so with software that is constantly changing and adapting.


Social Media Banner for ‘HOMEGOING’

This term we were given a new set of design tasks to complete. In this post I will be discussing my design process and ideas on the ‘drawing vector objects’ task in Adobe Illustrator. This task involved designing an illustration that will be used as a social media banner to accompany a podcast for the book ‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi.


Design Ideas and Design Process


Creating swatches
creating swatches

To start of my design process I began by researching the original book design, as I wanted to make sure I incorporated parts of it in the banner design, I thought that if I did this it would allow the banner to be recognisable and link to the book cover. I used the eyedropper tool to select colours from the existing book covers, I then created my own swatches so that I could use them throughout my design quickly without having to use the eye dropper tool again and again.




Using the pencil and pen tool

I used the pencil tool to create a rough outline of a women. For this task I created two final outcomes. For the my first design idea that you can see on the left I used the two women that were on one of the covers of the book. I used the pen tool to roughly outline making sure to make trace as accurately as possible. For my second design idea I decided to use a completely new image that I took from google. For this image I did the same, and used the pencil tool to outline her side-profile as accurately as possible.

Mapping out an outline
pencil tool
Pen tool, discovering paths and curves

The next step was to use the pen tool. The pen tool is a tool that due to this task is something I now feel a lot more confident with and believe that my skills when using this tool have adapted a lot. Reflecting on last terms work, where I learnt how to use the pen tool, it is evident to me that I have now improved a lot using this tool, as last term I was just getting started and using it still needed more practice. I used this project to adapt these skills further. As you can see on the left I used this tool to make slight adjustments to the outline before I created a fill.

As shown below, you can see that I added a black fill, this was to create a ‘silhouette’ effect which most of the existing covers seemed to follow. If you look closely at my first design (on the left) you’ll see that I added a small curved line that followed the outline of the woman’s hair, this was to separate the two silhouettes slightly, so that they didn’t merge together and lose the outline shape.



Fill image






Next I used the pencil tool again to create a sort of ‘cloud’ like shape for the flowers, I then used the keyboard shortcut to copt and paste this 3 times and I filled them in white and created the flower stem also.

Creating a flower outline
image fill

Initially I decided to place the flowers on each side of banner. However, later you will see how I decided to change this because there was no space for the text.

deciding layout
combining shapes and creating patterns
Discovering pathfinder
combining shapes
pathfiner ‘trim’
Final shape

The next stage of my design process, was to use shapes to create an African style pattern the book cover includes diamond shaped patterns so I wanted to include something similar. For my first design I just used the pencil tool and hand drew some triangles which unfortunately didn’t turn out as straight as I would have liked them to be. However I noticed that because they had curved and uneven edges it looked more authentic and African style. However for my second design I decided to experiment with combing two shapes together with the pathfinder tool to create straighter edged triangles. As you can see bellow I used the rectangle tool to create one square and one rectangle I then used the pathfinder tool to be left with half the square, a triangle.




Final Touches

Finally I needed to put everything together I payed around with the placement of the pattern and decided that two strips one running along the top and one across the bottom looked best and also complimented the silhouette figure in the centre of the banner as well as leaving room for the title and author. I experimented with a a few different typefaces as well before deicding on my final two. I chose two different ones for each of my final designs.

Final product
experimenting with typography and colour
experimenting with typography
Final product

Software Tutorials

Before designing, I made sure to look at a few tutorials to help me undergo this task.
Some of the first things I looked at were the tutorials and links that were given in the brief for this task, This first one I looked at was from the adobe website and it focused on teaching how to use the pen and pencil tool, which was something really useful, and a core starting video to the basics of the tools function.

The next website I looked at was another one from the brief, I found this one most useful out of the two, it focused on understanding paths and curves which I found helpful when creating the outline of the silhouette

Other tutorials I looked at were some that I found on youtube. I used this video to further expand my knowledge on the pen tool. I also found a tutorial on how to use the pathfinder tool, this helped when I needed to combine two shapes togther.


Resources for Research and Inspiration

Before starting my design, I researched a little into the book ‘HomeGoing’ I wanted to make sure I understood the book so that I could portray the same means into my banner as the book cover does. Pasted below are a few of the book covers that I found when researching. They all have similar ‘fiery’ colours which is one of the main reasons why I decided to use the orange, red and yellows that I swatches from the first book cover on the left. Something else that I noticed was all these different variations of the book cover seemed to have the woman as the centre of the design which is something I noted before designing my own. I also followed the pattern of the woman displayed as a silhouette.

Other inspiration I used was Pinterest, I used Pinterest to find other peoples designs. I searched ‘African patterns’ into the search bar and these Images below were some of the designs that popped up and Inspired me to create my triangle pattern.

Task Reflection

Listen typo

TGC Podcast STICKER – Ai Task


Design Ideas and Design process


I started off this project by researching and looking at anything that could inspire me and start a flow of ideas. For me images that have various meaning interest me a lot. I like the challenge of understanding and finding meanings that may not even exist but only you see so I wanted to put that touch of diversity in my project as well. In all my projects (Ps Cover, Id post card, Ai sticker) I use this big bold red bar code. Spotify had a very smart idea, they automatically created bar codes for songs so if you found a sticker or a post with a song code that you liked , you could just scan it and find the song immediately by using the camera on a mobile device. I thought to integrate the barcode in my design so it could be easy to find the podcast and listen to it. The same idea is on the other projects.

For the creation of the sticker it was pretty simple. I created a circle using the ellipse shape tool and inserted text on it by using the text on path tool. I decided to use bold font so it can stand out a bit more and chose to have the “podcast” slightly smaller to prioritize the other text.  For the barcode I used the ellipse shape tool again and created a mask by putting the barcode under the circle.


For my second and third idea I use another image that fascinates. I also used this image in one of my podcast cover ideas. The message that I get from it is how social media has become addictive and fake but it can also mean that you can explore new ideas and find new information that you have never heard or seen before.

Software tutorials

I didn’t really use any tutorials because in school previous years and during Covid I played around a lot with these programs, especially Ai. The most recent new trick I learnt was the one I used on the second sticker which the blur halftone effects. I saw this on an Instagram post by @panter.vison that has tones of videos and images that help you create and inspire.


Design resources and articles

Looking for inspiration is a nonstop thing. I save images constantly so that they can inspire me one day when I need to do a project. I mostly Instagram, Pinterest and Google since they all have a huge variety of different images and themes. The standard for podcast images where studio microphones or headphones so I wanted to design something with a bit more edge to it so that it isn’t something so obvious.

Designing a brand onboarding system with Bottomline Technologies

Amrita Shrilal has been involved in an exciting new collaboration with Bottomline Technologies this past year. Amrita is one of our MA Communication Design Graphic Design Pathway students graduating this week. She’s also a BA Graphic Communication (Hons) alumnus.

Bottomline focuses on transforming complex business payments and processes into simple, smart, and secure systems. They work with financial companies and institutions globally, and are widely recognised as a payment and collections enterprise. They have banking relations with global banks, UK banks and, building societies, growth banks and payment service providers.

A young woman smiling. She has long dark hair and is wearing a striped top.
Amrita Shrilal (MACD class of 2021)

Amrita has a particular passion for user interface design. To develop experience in user interface design for the financial sector, she undertook a design brief for Bottomline’s Head of UX Design (EMEA), Kellie White and, Senior UX Designer and Reading alum, Matthew Standage for her MA professional practice assignment. Dr Jeanne-Louise Moys, MACD Graphic Design and Information Design Pathway lead, supervised her project.

The brief gave Amrita the opportunity to explore approaches to designing a system that allows customers of different-sized businesses to customise the interface design, of a particular product, to match their brand needs. The challenging aspect of the brief was creating a seamless and easy process of designing elements of pages for customers with different levels of expertise on brand and webpage design. It required her to consider ways of presenting complex information and processes in a more straightforward method for end-users. Her design decisions were supported by her research into UX design, market competitors and the development of personas which helped her understand the user and business needs.

Amrita said: “I enjoyed this project as it was different from all the other UX projects I had done in the bachelor programme. It focused on Business-to-Business (B2B) rather than Business-to-Customers (B2C) which is more complex as you need to consider not just the user’s goals but different types of business capabilities and interests. I had to think about how a particular organisation could utilise or benefit from the features of the system to make their process of designing the web interface a seamless experience.”

The outcome of this project was a prototype of an interface system that allows businesses to brand themselves within Bottomline’s products. It considers different user design needs and attempts to make the process of designing interfaces straightforward to those who are not familiar with design conventions or terminology. Some of the features within the system included editing the colour scheme, text styles and button styles.

Animation showing functionality within the project
Process of uploading the brand logo and ability to view the placement of these elements in different pages.

Reflecting on the project, Amrita said: “the project was a stimulating experience as I had to think about different user perceptions of design elements. I had to constantly ask myself whether it would be easily understood by someone without any design experience. Despite that, I enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with Bottomline on an ongoing project and it helped develop my understanding of UX/UI design”.

Kellie White said: “Amrita did a fantastic job of taking a complex problem and making it simple, a difficult task to accomplish. She worked well to align to good UX process throughout, from research through to ideation and user testing. I was thrilled with the outcome, she achieved a well thought out design solution and growth in her UX skillset through the experience. Well done Amrita! We look forward to future collaboration with the Department.”

Matthew Standage added: “It was a pleasure to collaborate with Amrita and the Department on a professional practice brief. We were not only impressed with the overall quality of the outcome, but also the thorough research and design thinking that went into the process. One of the common challenges in B2B user-experience is striking the balance between complexity and flexibility. The work Amrita produced solves this problem well, using both visual and interaction design techniques to progressively disclose more advanced options to the user and provide guidance when necessary. We look forward to seeing how we can integrate her work and thinking into future product releases.”

This project is the first collaboration between Bottomline and the Department of Typography & Communication. We look forward to exploring new briefs with them for our postgraduate students to work on in the future.

We also look forward to welcoming Matthew back in January for the two-day “Branding and user experience” workshop that he leads for our MA Graphic Design and Information Design pathway students in the spring term.

The Design Pod

  1. Design Ideas and Design Process:

1st Design:

For my 1st design, I wanted to incorporate different styles of letterforms to build up a word, much like a ransom note. I experimented with the different letterforms by making them up equal in size as well as creating huge variations between them. I later came to the conclusion that having different variations between them was more in keeping to the style of a ransom note. To further develop my skills, I wanted to create a paper-like texture as the background in order to keep in theme with the ransom note. This has consequently enabled my software skills to develop to include the use filters from the filter gallery. Here I discovered how to use the texturiser to create a paper-like effect.

Experimenting with different letter sizing and which I found most effective

Experimenting the scaling and relief options on the texturiser, creating minimal and intense textural backgrounds

2nd Design:

For my 2nd design idea, I took inspiration from the tutorial Rachel offered on Blackboard, experimenting with the hue and saturation of an image. I started by generating a combination of different images, which I then played with under the hue and saturation tool bar. I chose a purple/pink/green colour combination as I thought they were more eye-catching and powerful. I decided not to write anything onto the cover as I wanted to take it into the other design software’s to experiment with an image of my own.

Below is an illustration I made for my collage:

Examples below of the different stages and experiments using the hue and saturation tool:

3rd Design:

For my final design I followed an online tutorial on creating pop art. After experimenting with a range of different colours I decided to go with blue and pink as this is a very well-known colour combination. To develop my skills further, I followed a tutorial on how to warp text as well as make a customise warp. For my design, I needed to customise it in order to make it more legible.

Examples below of different colour combinations i experimented with:

Examples below of different warped text features I experimented with, along with looking at different placements for the text:

Below shows a before and after I my customised warp to make it more legible:

  1. Software Tutorials:

I got the majority of my software skills from watching YouTube videos. Many of the ideas or tools I looked at were inspired by quick viral videos I had seen through social media platforms such as TikTok. For my first design I followed a YouTube tutorial on how to create a paper texture effect. This tutorial helped to give me better understanding of the different effect available of the software, and how using a different scaler can create a drastic change whilst still using the same effect.   On my second design, I experimented with the hue and saturation tool after following the tutorial available on blackboard. As well as finding my own online tutorials, I wanted to follow one suggested by Rachel from Blackboard. The tutorial offered by Rachel helped to broaden my understanding towards the smaller, unnamed icons available not found in the menu bar. Finally, the tools I used on my last design included learning more about different effects available for images, but also different text effects. I enjoyed creating this design the most as I felt I learnt a lot more about Photoshop from it. For this I first followed a tutorial on how to convert an image into a Pop art effect with a combination of different colours. Later I learnt how to distort text by warping it into different shapes and sizes. This is a software skill I would like to develop further, especially as the warp is customisable. Although I customised my text to make it more legible, I think this tool is a really creative way to create your own distorted font.


Tutorial link for warped text:


  1. Design Resources and Articles:

After deciding that I wanted to do a Pop Art design for one of my podcasts covers, I found a website that included a range of different styles of Pop Art. This was really helpful in terms of being able to see the different styles side-by-side and really helped to influence my design choice. Although the website offered a range of different styles, I decided to go for the vectorised version of Pop Art, often used by Andy Warhol. Further to this design I wanted to come up with my own podcast name instead of constantly using ‘Typography and Graphic Communication’. This led me to start reading different articles about how to create the perfect podcast name as well as create a mind map. After reading an article I realised it need to be something short and sweet but also a play on words. As the podcast was for designers, I knew it need to include either the word ‘design’ or something similar. So why ‘The Design Pod’ you may ask? Well, a pod refers to an enclosed space much like a capsule. Therefore, would have no background noise and very much be in the moment, helping to give off the look as an easy listen but also educational which is something a podcast should be.


Web link for additional resources:


My Podcast Cover

Design Ideas and Process

sketch ideas

When planning,  I first researched different podcast covers for inspiration and used them to create a mood board for myself when sketching out my initial ideas. I came up with six different ideas and used three of these to create some covers.

step by step process
final design 1

For the first cover, I was inspired by the pink podcast cover in my mood board of a boy shouting through a mic, and words flowing out through it, imitating the noise level. I first took a picture of a mic I had back at home and used the eraser tool to remove the background. Then I added text and warped it to create a horizontal distortion as if the words are coming out through the mic. To add to this sound imagery, I put in some triangle shapes behind the words to emphasise this distortion and to create a direction of where the sound is coming from. I thought the background was a bit plain so I added some swirls around the centre representing the wires coming out from the mic, however, I thought it was too distracting so I removed it later. In terms of colour scheme and typeface, I went with a retro theme of pastels and a display typeface to make it more eye-catching.

step by step process
final design 2

For my second podcast cover, I thought that both music and podcasts came under a similar category as they both require listening to which is why I was inspired by vinyl and record designs. I first created the basic shape of a vinyl and added details using the shape tool. I then wrote the text for the podcast and used the warp arc effect to make the words fit around in a circle. However, I had a few issues with this as the text distorted a bit too much to the point where it was hard to read, and each of the lines became different sizes, creating a hierarchy I did not intend to make. Therefore, I changed the warp effect to the ‘buldge’ one, creating a fish-eye kind of perspective. This worked out a lot better and now looks more balanced. In terms of colour, I used quite a classic scheme for records: yellow, red and black. Then, I used a hint of green to mention the “podcast” bit, which comes to think about it now, may be hard to see over the dark red, but overall I am quite happy with this design. This piece allowed me to further develop my software skills by exploring and using the tools in Photoshop and arranging shapes and colours to create a visual of a vinyl. This is probably my favourite design out of the three as I like the visual look in terms of shape and colour, and how even and symmetrical everything is.

step by step process
final design 3

For my third podcast cover, I wanted to create a calm and relaxing atmosphere through the use of headphones and a dark background. It was hard to draw headphones free-handedly, so I made use of the shapes tool again to create an overlay of circles and rectangles to make that shape. Overall, I think that this cover could be improved in terms of relating it more to Typography and Graphic Communication, focussing less on atmosphere and more on communicating the actual message.

Software tutorials

Even though I have used photoshop in the past, I am still quite new to all the tools and techniques, therefore, these two beginner links really helped me come to grips with them.

For my third podcast cover, I used this link to help me with my illustration of headphones. I learnt how to use the different shape tools to accurately compose each part, and grasped the process of duplicating, reflecting and rotating in order to make everything symmetrical and even.

Software skills I want to develop further in Photoshop are creating more complex illustrations and possibly freehanded ones. Also, as Photoshop is mainly used to edit photos, I could have incorporated more images which would have developed my photo editing and manipulation skills.

Design resources and articles

How to design a podcast cover: the ultimate guide – 99designs

How to Design Stunning Podcast Cover Art That Stands Out in iTunes

These four links were the main sources of inspiration for my podcast cover designs.  They helped me in terms of colour scheme, layout and imagery that I could include. I particularly liked the ones with bold colours and display font which really stood out to me. I hoped to do the same with my covers, such as using a bright yellow background to grab the viewer’s attention. I also learnt the importance of ‘simplicity is key’ when looking at these existing podcast covers as they all have a common feature of simplifying shapes and text in order to communicate a more clear and effective message to the viewer.