This exhibition, now open in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, explores the concept of the male gaze in twentieth-century British illustration, and is curated by Cătălina Zlotea.
The exhibition analyses the work of the British illustrator, Charles Mozley (1914–1991), through a contemporary lens. It does so by foregrounding two female stereotypes depicted in advertisements, ephemera, and fine art lithographs made by Mozley between the late 1940s and the early 1980s. The exhibition arrangement creates contrast and conflict between the image of the middle-class “virtuous” woman – a virgin goddess placed on a pedestal – and the “loose” woman – an anonymous sex object signalled through hair colour and scanty clothing. This female presence, recurrent in Mozley’s work, demonstrates the quality of the artist’s draughtsmanship while connoting middle-class masculine virtues, follies, and sexual desires.
The exhibition is open weekdays, 10 am to 5 pm. Closed bank holidays.
About Charles Mozley
Charles Mozley was born in Sheffield where he studied painting and drawing at the Sheffield College of Arts and Crafts. In 1933 he won a scholarship from the Royal College of Art and moved to London to study painting. After graduating, he taught life drawing, anatomy, and lithography at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. Following the Second World War and for the rest of his career, he worked as a freelance artist.
Prolific and versatile, Mozley was among the artists commissioned by Frank Pick and Jack Beddington for prestigious London Transport and Shell-Mex advertising campaigns. He also created designs for the advertising agency Colman, Prentis & Varley, for theatre and film production companies, and for many British publishers. He painted a mural for the Festival of Britain, contributed to the popular “School Prints” and “Lyons Lithographs” series, and produced ephemera for restaurants and the wine trade. Alongside commercial work, Mozley continuously painted, made prints, and exhibited in solo and group shows.
The long list of commissions, as well as the works held by the Charles Mozley Trust, provide evidence that Mozley’s pictures were widely seen in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century. As Nicolas Barker has remarked, Mozley’s work is “a graphic-mirror of the post-war era”, making it a valuable resource for the study of visual culture.
Curator: Cătălina Zlotea
Exhibition design: Cătălina Zlotea, Hannah Smith
Exhibition consultant: Eric Kindel
Archive consultant: Sallie Morris Production: Geoff Wyeth
Thanks to the Charles Mozley Trust, which has supported this exhibition and the doctoral research by Cătălina Zlotea that informs it.
Photoshop is arguably one of the most popular pieces of design software, used by over 90% of professionals. In the industry, photoshop is primarily used for small clean-ups and corrections, but what can we do with it when unrestrained and opened up to a new plane of imagination?
Design ideas and design process
For the first edit I wanted to make sure I had a good grasp on the tools I learned from the ‘Editing Images’ task. I decided to make a collage style image so that I could focus on each of the individual elements, and then putting them together. To begin, I created a new fill layer on the document, and set the colour to a dull yellow colour. Then I needed to create the arch shape, in order to do so, I used the shape tool to draw a rectangle and circle then combined them to create the arch. Next, I created a new layer and made the fill a light sky blue and used a downloaded brush to paint clouds, effectively making a sky background. To apply this only to the arch, I masked it by selecting the blue layer and holding down option (alt), which gives the option to create a mask that only applies to the layer below it, in this case the arch shape. Now that the background was complete, I inserted the main subject. I did this by using the select subject feature on the original image, then copying the selection into my main document. To get his elbow outside of the arch, I created a layer mask and used the brush tool to erase the corresponding mask area. For the flowers, I decided to go with pink and white as they provide a nice contrast to the background while also complementing the subject’s shirt. I places the flowers in and arranged them in a way that frames the subject. To create some depth, I repeated the same steps as before the bring the areas of some of the flowers forward. As a finishing touch I added some text as there was a lot of lank space, as the subject is a member of a group I like, I added some text relevant to that aspect.
After refining my skills with my first edit, I decided that I wanted to try and create something more complex and more diverse in terms of the tools that need to be used. Whilst looking for tutorials I came across one on how to make a flower face cut out image and chose to follow this one. I started by importing the photo into photoshop and using the pen tool to draw paths around the areas that I wanted to cut out. Then I right clicked on the path and chose ‘make selection’ then pressed M for the marquee tool make the path into a selection, after this I right clicked again and chose ‘copy via cut’ to separate the selection from the main photo. I also created a solid black layer under the original photo to serve as a background for the cut out areas. Next I used a bevel & emboss effect in the cut out areas to give them more depth. I then placed in the flowers I wanted to use and changed the hue and saturation of them so that the colours and brightness would match well with the purples and blues in the photo. I arranged the flowers as I wanted them to appear in the edit, then went to the main photo layer, held down control and clicked on it to create a selection, then went to my flower layer and created a mask on it and pressed control + I to invert it. This allowed me to then use the brush tool to paint over parts of the flower that I wanted to appear i front if the photo, to create the effect that the flowers are growing outwards. To finish it off, I reselected in the visibility for the cut out parts and readjusted them in a way that was distinguishable from the rest of the face, but not too isolated.
This edit is far simpler in comparison to the first two, however I thought it was important to not only focus on changing the main subject if the image, but also pay attention to the background and how it can alter the impression a photo makes on us. I started this edit by cropping the original image and placing it into photoshop as well as the new background on another layer. I then went to Select > Select and mask, then pressed select subject, this selected the person in the image, I could then use the sliders to refine the selection if I wanted to. This then created a mask which isolated the subject and brought it in front of the new background. Now I had to change the lighting of the subject to match the background. I did this by going to Filter > Neural filters > harmonisation, which analyses the two images and adjusts them to match. However after applying the filter I wasn’t satisfied, so went back and adjusted the saturation and CMYK sliders until I was happy.
As I have no prior experience with photoshop, I mainly used lengthier Youtube tutorials that went into more depth and explained each tool. I had no confidence with the tools, however after watching and following the tutorials, I feel that my skills have made a significant improvement.
As the first edit built practised knowledge I learned from a different task, I did not use a tutorial so that I could make sure I actually understood what I was doing.
This tutorial on how to make a flower face image guided me through the second edit. It mainly utilises creating masks from specific selections so that they can be added to or subtracted from, for example when choosing how much f the flowers I wanted to have ‘outside’ of the face. The tutorial was very clear and showed the progression through each step well, so it was easy to follow along and see the effect of each step which was a major aid in learning about what he use of each step was.
Changing a background of an image was much easier than expected thanks to Adobe’s analysis software, Adobe Sensei. This has made things such as selecting the main subject or the background of an image much easier, and needing less fine tuning from the designer themselves. This also applies to matching the lighting of the subject to the new background using the neural filters. Even though this technology is making these editing process much easier, it is still important that we implement our own flair and opinion, for example when using the harmonisation filter, I did not think Adobe’s result worked, so had to make adjustments myself.
In future projects, I would like to begin using tools that I have not used in this task, and explore further into the full range of photoshop’s abilities.
Design resources and articles
My sources of inspiration for these edits were these projects that I found on Behance while looking through the ‘Photoshop’ tag. I really liked the first two images as they caught my eye straight away with the bold colour palette and layering of the different layers. This helped inform my decision to implement this effect in my own design, as well as the the bevel and emboss feature that is used on the skin cut-outs.
The second two photos are my inspiration for my third edit. I found the one with the mushroom was so fun and really tells a story just from one picture. On the other hand, the cloud edit is dramatic in a way that leaves you to think, and the way the lighting matches both the person and the background made me want to try and achieve that effect in my own work.
Learning across the module
As a whole, this module has immensely improved my design skills and sparked new interests in different softwares. The first part of the module began to develop our understanding of each piece of software, and now we have developed our skills and are practicing them as professional designers would. I think this development is really shown throughout my work, not only in the final piece but especially in the process, the steps that I am taking to reach the end goal have become more refined. This shows me that I have achieved one of the goals I set for myself at the end of the first submission: “I feel that I need to improve my efficiency in using the program by learning more keyboard shortcuts past the realm of basic ones like the selection arrows and the pen tools”. The other goal for myself, “I would also like to improve on the way I view my own work, because at times I find myself being caught up in details that don’t end up being necessary, and trying to overcomplicate designs to make them look more complex when they don’t need to be.”, I think I have improved on this, but have yet to fully conquer it, though this only means I have more opportunities to learn.
For the Illustrator task of drawing vector objects, we had to create a social media banner for the podcast by Yaa Gyasi: Homecoming. The first thing I did in the design process was research more into what the podcast was about. After seeing that this novel turned podcast spanned over 300 years following the lives of two sisters and the generations below them and their struggle with slavery, it was important to me to portray these themes in the advert of the banner. I also had listened to the start of the podcast to help me better understand the project I was designing.
My next step was to look at other examples of the cover of both the novel and the podcast. Although there where a couple of different variations of them, one commonality throughout was the use of the warm red, yellow and orange colours, particularly in the herringbone pattern. I decided this was something I was going to implement in my own design as to keep it recognisable to the podcast and to follow the brief whereby it should complement but not directly copy the cover design.
My first idea was to use the cover on a different layer to use the pen tool to create a silhouette of the character on the cover. At first I had just outlined the head, however with the key theme of the podcast being slavery and oppression, I wanted to add in the shackle around her neck as I felt this was an important feature that creates necessary tension within someone seeing the design.
One problem I encountered when using the pen tool was that I was struggling to get a perfect circle. To fix this instead fo using the pen tool I watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZZ0iYmgmvc which details how to use the pathfinder tool to combine objects. To achieve the final look I created an ellipse which I then combined with the illustration of the silhouette.
Although I found this effective, I still wanted to learn how to create a smooth ellipse using the pen tool as knowing how to do a task multiple different ways would come handy in the future. I read this article https://helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/how-to/draw-edit-curves.html and attempted to draw the ellipse and then covert and edit the points to create the same smooth effect which also worked however I find was a longer way of doing this.
Design Resources and Articles
Including the one mentioned above, I read different articles throughout this task to help not only refresh my knowledge on illustrator but to also learn new skills. One of the first ones I read was from the brief: https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/illustrator/how-to/drawing-tools-basics.html which really helped me form a basis of where to being on illustrator and what tools to use such as the pen tool which was the first tool I chose when creating this design.
As mentioned on my Trello board, I struggled with how to achieve my desired output for the pattern of the design. First I wanted to do this by drawing vector objects however realised this would be time consuming and ultimately lead to disproportioned blocks. https://creativebeacon.com/make-easy-grids-in-illustrator/ This article helped me create a grid that I could use to make it look as though the thoughts and feelings of the story are represented in this feature of the design as they are then coming from behind the silhouette of the head, or ‘her mind.’ Alongside this I used this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwaG6n37i2k to help me understand how to fill in certain portions of the grid with the different colours from the original cover.
Learning Across the Module
The skills I have learnt from this module can been seen throughout all of the different softwares. I feel more confident in Photoshop and Illustrator, particularly in Photoshop when it comes to editing and removing objects from pictures. This was the focus in my week 3 plan and I am happy with the outcome I produced whereby the feedback I received from peers was that the removal of the arms from the photos was very successful.
When comparing the quiz results I can see that my understanding of what software to use for each project has improved as this was something I identified as a weakness at the start of the Autumn and Spring term however now I feel I can confidently decide what software to use for when. One thing that the last two quizzes picked up on is that I need to work on are the specific features of the software such as what colour settings are best to use e.g. RGB and CYMK, along with how different resolutions affect the work. I feel as though this knowledge is something that can be easily learnt compared to learning all the different tools and what can be achieved in each of the softwares which will take practise to learn. In the future I am going to read more articles and watch videos on understanding colour schemes and basic document setups for adobe software as I think this will help me.
Whenever I start a new project I like to look at ways that other people have gone about similar projects so i started off by looking on sites like pinterest to see how other people had designed stickers. However when I looked there wasn’t any stickers that were advertising anything similar to what i wanted so i had to experiment quite a bit by myself. I brainstormed a few ideas and the ones that I ended up going with follow,
This was my initial idea for the sticker design. I’m not too sure what gave me the idea to make a sticker of a sunset at the beach for a typography and graphic design podcast but i dont think that it works as well as a sticker as either of the other designs do. I think there is too much going on in this design to be at such a small scale too. these are both things that i keep in mind for my future designs and I think that those ones the mistakes that I made in this designs are less apparent.
For this design I decided to go with a very generic image for the middle with circular text going around the outside. I think that this design looks a lot more like a sticker than the original design does and it is a lot better scaled for its use. I also used a lot less colours in this design, limiting myself to just two colours. I also decided to use a very boring sans serif font to make sure that it was legible because I knew that I was going to be putting it along a circular path.
For this design I decided to use a more abstract shape for the outline that I think would work well as a sticker as it is all composed of smooth curves. I was initially going to put the text filling out the whole sticker but I then decided on having a few more layers around the outside that I used a gradient to colour. For this design I decided to use a few more colours than i did for the last design but they all look quite similar because they are all different brightness of the same colour.
I am going to explain the process to making the wavy text effect i used for my last sticker design idea. To begin i make a curvy shape using the pen tool that vaguely resembles the words that i want to fit into it. In this case i had a smaller word between two much longer words so i was going to end up with white space anyway. Once you have created your shape you then need to write out your text. I find the effect to look better when you use text that is too big for the space that you are trying to fill, like in this image.
This means that when you use the effect the space will be filled in much better. You then need to make sure that the shape is above the text so that the effect works. Finally to make your text fit into the shape that you want it to you need to select all of your text layers and the shape that you are trying to put the text in and then select Object > Envelope Distort > Make With Top Object. Then your text should fit itself into whatever shape you had selected. You can then edit the shape using the Direct Selection tool if there are any changes that you want to make to the shape.
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.
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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aJiVJIt-mQ
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.
For my first design idea I wanted to focus on developing my stills with the illustrator pen tool as I have had very little experience working with this before. I wanted to create something that stood out son kept the original colouring of the text and used the pen tool to create both the outlines.
This is a demonstration image of me exposing the two ways I could using this tool and figuring out the most effective method.
My next design idea I took a different approach and incorporate the feature image and the main background for my sticker. I did this by using the clipping master tool and snipped the two images together.
I tried to create different depths using different tones within layers that built up in the middle.
I really like how this design turned out as I believe the design fits well with my photoshop and indesign work.
This sticker design idea in my opinion was most effective as I explore I wide range of different different design process that allowed for an interesting sticker to be made.
For this design idea I wanted to focus on the boldness and making things stand out. I used the pen tool to create the icon and made a really thick line to make it stand out from the circles. One main design process that I used in this sticker was the merge tool as a made the two circles separate and combined them for both the main frame and outlines.
To create most elements within my stickers I used software tutorials to help guide me throughout. The first video that I found really helpful was a beginners video on how to use the pen tool (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j69a3-shkGE) this allowed me to understand the basic features and allow me create lots of experiments with this tool to come to my final sticker ideas. This video did really help but I would like to continue to develop my skills in this area. I started to watch a new video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PilxMhWgW2I)and will continue to experiment and expand my knowledge in this area.
Another video that I watch and found very helpful was one on removing white background (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpswbHB4N0M). Although it was only a simple video it allowed me to master this skill and came in very handy throughout making all my stickers.
One software skill that I would like to improve upon is working with layers as I found it quite difficult to get my head around this. A lot of my layers are just one on top of each other and I would like to develop the skill of intergrading different layers together created more three dimensional effects that are more aesthetically appealing to the eye.
Through this project I believe I have developed my skills a lot from having very little idea I know feel confident using a wide range of tools and methods in illustrate. I look forward to developing these skills more and gaining a better understanding.
Design resources and articles
The main sources that I used as a form of inspiration Pinterest as well as google images. This allowed me to see previous work and gain knowledge of what is effective with a design for a sticker using these allowed me to come up with unique ideas that would catch someones eye when wearing.
Another source that I found particularly useful was an articular on how to make stickers (https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/illustrator/how-to/design-a-sticker.htm) This web articular went through the process of making in illustrator and gave a step my step guide on the process. This allowed me to follow along using some of the process he used in my own work.
One other helpful tool that I used was looking at templates that for example adobe has published. This was useful throughout my hole project but especially the stickers as it allowed me to see what was already out there and understand how colours and layers work well together. (https://stock.adobe.com/uk/templates?)
This is my photoshop work where I completed the task as per the brief in making 3 Podcast Covers.
Design Ideas and Design Process
This was my first design where I wanted to highlight the use of books because of their importance to typography and graphic communication, and what better way to represent this is using an image of bookshelves. From viewing covers a black and white background with text over the top is an extremely common trend. However, this looked rather busy so I decided to blur the background to put more emphasis on the text but still can tell what the image is.
This is my second design where I wanted to link the topic of the podcast to something that people always look at and relate to. So just like the book idea above, I created this idea using road signs. However, with this design I feel like the sign I created does not look weathered enough.
Idea 3 – Final Idea
This is my last and final idea and by far my favourite one. Just like the covers above I wanted to make a cover that could relate to a lot of people but because this podcast is of a specific topic, I wanted to really filter down on Designers themselves. So, I decided to take a picture of my desk space because this is where a lot of designers will be sitting to complete their work, even including a MacBook as this is pretty much industry standard. I think by doing this makes listeners more comfortable because it is something they are used to seeing.
Working in layers to create suitable Hierarchy
Cropping & Dragging image across using lasso tool
Choosing a font to match the same thickness illustration
Cropping and colour correcting image
Because I have some experience in using photoshop, when completing the task, I used existing knowledge of the software and where my knowledge lacked, I would look into alternative means in filling those gaps. I did this mainly by looking at tutorials provided on Blackboard but also venturing through YouTube videos.
The one tutorial I heavily used in one of my podcast covers was because I wanted a desired effect of a weathered or distressed road sign. This was because the text and the boxes used to create the overall cover looked very unnatural to me, so I looked at means to make this more realistic. A lot of the road signs I have seen look weathered, rusty and warn down. This tutorial helped me develop my skills further as it is something used a lot in projects, and it also opened me up to seeing and playing around with filters to change images.
I’d like to improve on cropping and using the likes of the lasso tool to make sections look sharper and crisper. This is because I kept finding additional tags when cropping out images which made the image look blurry and messy. It took multiple attempts for me to be happy with some of my cropping.
Design Resources and Articles
When it came to looking at additional resources around the podcast covers, I mainly looked at various different websites and podcast services/ apps to find what common conventions each cover had. As an avid podcast listener and knowing how to navigate these I found this extremely beneficial as I created a list on what covers had in common. This is the list I created and used throughout my covers:
Use of white (either for background or text)
More illustration than photography or combination of the two
If photography is used it is very specific
Mainly use 3 colours
These really helped me and inspired my designs for my covers.
Type Talk. A title that’s rather straight to the point and quite representative of a podcast. The whole title “Typography and Graphic Communication” is quite the mouthful and not the most catchy for an up and coming podcast, so I decided to use something with a bit more impact– after all, that’s what design is about, right?
I wanted my first sticker to resemble a logo/sub mark to represent the podcast. I decided to try and achieve a clean, modern look. In order to accomplish this, I wanted the letters to come together seamlessly and in a way that looked merged, but also holds distinction between the two letters. This required me to research how to create an outline to then subtract from the other vector. I used the ‘Offset path’ function to create this outline( shown in Screen Capture (SC) 1), I learned that I could use the shape builder tool to eliminate extra parts – this made the letters look combined while allowing a breathable space between which lends a vital hand in making the sticker look clean. After creating the stars (SC 4 & 5), I then experimented with offset paths to create different coloured outlines of the stickers as a solid background (SC 6-7.1). I chose a light blue as it contrasts well with the main elements being black (SC 8).
This second design focused more on developing the skills I had learned from making the first sticker, namely using the offset paths. It is much simpler than the first sticker and only makes use of a few tools in Illustrator, however it still benefits me in the sense that it helps me to practice the skills I already have which is just as important as learning new ones. I made a speech bubble using the ellipse and pen tools, then combining them using ‘unite’ from the pathfinder window (shown in SC 1); while adjusting the bezier points as I learned how to do more efficiently using shortcuts in Integrated Design Methods, I saw that the corner point of the speech bubble didn’t fit the look I was going for, so I rounded it (SC 1.1)– creating an overall softer look. I chose the font MADE Dillan, as it had a heavier weight as well as rounded serifs, which added to the soft and welcoming design I wanted (SC 2). After all the base shapes were made, I experimented with the offset path and created outlines for the text and the speech bubble, then changed the colours. I chose Pantone colours 13-1520 and 15-3919 as they compliment each other very well and are quite subdued. Choosing specific colours also helped me to learn how colour swatches in Illustrator work and how to get them (SC 3-6).
For my final design, I learned more new techniques to challenge myself. As I am fairly familiar with the Illustrator software, I wanted to make a sticker using features that either I haven’t used before or am still getting to know. While thinking of the design, I came across my Bauhaus inspired InDesign postcard and thought to bring some of those elements over into this sticker, mainly the angular and abstract shapes as well as the colours being loosely based off the primary colours. I created and outlined the text, as well as making a division in the word ‘TYPE’ to make some visual interest (SC 1). Then I used the effects window, went to 3D and selected Extrude & Bevel; I chose ‘Isometric Top’ to make the text look as though it was facing up (SC 2). To create the effect of depth and lighting, I selected the relevant areas and used the gradient tool to add shading onto the outer edges of the letters and darker colours to the inner gaps (SC 3-4), then to accentuate the letters and add more dimension, I used the pen tool to add white highlights (SC 5-6). Finally, to tie the whole design together as a sticker, I worked on choosing a shape to have as the main base of the sticker and act as its main outline. After experimenting with different shapes, I settled on an ellipse as it creates an even overall shape and plays into the perspective of the type without looking uneven, unlike squares or other polygons. For the background colour I chose a mid yellow to orange, as it compliments both the purple and the blue used.
As I have previous experience with Illustrator, I was able to proficiently use basic features such as the pen tool and pathfinder tool. However I thought that just using what I already knew would not help me develop my skills, thus negating the aim of this project and module.
For the first two stickers, I knew that I could have just drawn outlines I wanted with the pen tool, but this would have taken a very long time and start a long, never ending mission of accurately trying to adjust every curve and line as we were shown in Integrated Design Methods. This encouraged me to look for a way to create outlines without having to draw them myself. A quick search on Youtube lead me to this tutorial which taught me about the ‘Offset Path’ feature; which creates an outline with a specified offset, meaning that it can be as far away or as close as you’d like. Once the outline is created, it acts as a normal stroke, which allows you to alter the stroke weight or switch it to a fill if desired. I used it both ways, however I’d like to experiment with it more to see what kinds of artwork I can create with it, and if different effects could be applied over it to make it even more visually appealing.
For the third sticker design, I wanted some more guidance on the effects panel and the different things it had to offer. While searching for tutorials, this one caught my eye, so I decided to use the basic premise of the effect and add my own flair to make the sticker more original and fit into the aesthetic I wanted. Once the chosen text as outlined, I used the extrude and bevel effect and set it to isometric top. However unlike the tutorial, I used only one layer to make the text look more solid as opposed to the different coloured layers in the tutorial. I have attempted to make an effect like this during my A-Level projects, but I had always used the blending options, and it never occurred to me to use the 3D effects. Creating the gradients and stars were already skills that I knew, but using them again helped me to develop and practice them.
Design resources and articles
My inspiration for the stickers was taken from these three sets of stickers I found while scrolling through Behance. The first picture shows a similar merged letter effect that I aimed to achieve in the first sticker, the second shows the repeated outline I used in the second sticker, and the third picture shows the 3D/isometric view of text that I applied in the third sticker. These pictures all caught my eye because while they’re all distinctly different, there’s an element of fun to them that I wanted to try and capture in my own designs. I also decided to use these as inspiration because they all included features that I had never tried to recreate on my own, which allowed me to develop my skills closer to a professional standard as demonstrated by the pictures above. In the future I would like to explore each of the concepts I created around my stickers further and possibly develop them into unique branding ideas and aesthetics.
By doing this task I have improved my general knowledge of the program and have used more complex effects. I have also learned that there is more than one way of doing something, and some ways produce different results. I feel that I need to improve my efficiency in using the program by learning more keyboard shortcuts past the realm of basic ones like the selection arrows and the pen tools. Though it may seem abstract, I would also like to improve on the way I view my own work, because at times I find myself being caught up in details that don’t end up being necessary, and trying to overcomplicate designs to make them look more complex when they don’t need to be.
Overall I really enjoyed this task as it had a lot of creative freedom, which allowed me to freely experiment with different styles. Even though I have used Illustrator before, I never looked further into the different features available, however this task let me do that and create designs I am happy with, as well as develop new skills to be used in the future.
As I had rarely worked in Photoshop before, my main aim was to understand the basics of the software and to create a design for my podcast cover. Firstly, I experimented with layering and adjusting and manipulating the photo editing tools to fit my theme for the podcast cover which was originally The Bauhaus. In my second design idea, I followed a tutorial on using the perspective warp tool. I applied this to the text and made it seem like there was text coming out of a microphone. For my final design, I brought everything that I had learnt so far and began create what turned out to be my final cover.
Three design ideas:
My most effective cover was Design 2 as it had the perspective warp tool being used which I learnt in Design 1 and has the most room for development.
I started by adding a textured background, to the background of the podcast cover as it was very flat meaning there was little depth. To do this, I watched a tutorial on how to overlay images in photoshop. (Adobe Asia Pacific, 2021). I then used my knowledge from Design 3, to make the background lose its brightness as it distracted from the main object of the cover. I also decided to change the color theme of the podcast mic. This was because the pink stood against the blue/sand background much more clearly. This design was very successful as it allowed me to utilise all the skills that I had wanted to improve on and learn more as I was able layer images effectively and be able to add type and have it be legible as well as being able to manipulating the photo editing tools to better the design.
Although, all the tutorials given in the brief were very useful, I found the adobe tutorial on adjusting the image quality (Adobe.com, 2021) and working with layers (Adobe.com, 2021) the most important for my particular design for my podcast cover. This is because the adobe page on understanding layers helped me to improve on my skills of layers, the use of them and how to view them the photoshop software. This article taught me about the ability to change the opacity of layers. This was useful for me in creating the podcast mic as I was able to lower the opacity of the background layers which enabled me to see what I was drawing even more clearly than it would have been at full opacity. The article on adjusting brightness and contrast was very useful for me as it allowed me to experiment with the brightness and contrast tool with my background layer and I ended up using this tool to make the background darker so it could push forward and help the main text and object stand out in the podcast cover. This turned out to be very successful and made the overall podcast cover look much more interesting and visually pleasing to the eye.
Another tutorial that I found useful, was the adobe tutorial on using the perspective warp tool in photoshop. I used this tool to have the title of the podcast curve around the podcast mic to give the illusion that the mic is 3D. I feel this was both successful and unsuccessful as although the text followed the curve of the microphone, it does not give the illusion of the mic being 3D. I would have continued to work on this, however, I felt it was more important to look the overall cover.
For tutorials, I mostly used the Adobe website and a couple of youtube tutorials. In this task I wanted to be able to master basic layering (Adobe.com, 2021) and to be able to add text to my design (Adobe.com, 2019) in a way that did not crowd my podcast cover. However, the most important tutorial was on image overlay (Adobe.com, 2021) as this tutorial allowed me to experiment with my background and adding some interest to the overall podcast cover as it was looking flat and plain. From this tutorial, the most important thing I learnt, was how to blend images into the design or images I was working on. This was incredibly useful as I have previously struggled with merging images together smoothly and successfully. In my particular design, I was then able to go into color overlay and adjust the slider to make the textured layer sit in a way that gave the desired finish.
Another tutorial that was very helpful for my design, was an adobe tutorial on how to apply a gradient fill to a shape (Adobe.com, 2021). I decided to include a gradient fill to my podcast mic shape as I felt it give the cover some depth and help it stand out from the textured background. This tutorial helped me figure out how to change the appearance of my gradient as I felt having an angular gradient would add some visual interest.
I would still like to improve on my use of more photo editing tools and using them to adjust or manipulate images as feel I have not showcased them in this final podcast cover and am not too confident on how to use all the tools apart from the brightness/contrast tool, hue and colour saturation. Although, I was able to use the brightness/contrast to make the background darker so that it would not distract the eye from the main text and object of the podcast cover.
From my previous experiences with photoshop as a hobby and during school for small projects, I was always inspired to create ethereal images with the backdrop contrast of light in the dark. My inspiration for this preferred style was from the many YouTubers that made tutorials of such styles – such as ‘Benny Productions’ and ‘rafy A’ – whilst also having a great appreciation for 80’s retro futurism from movies such as Blade Runner and Tron. The combination of these two lead me to create ideas 1 and 3 using light adjustment, blending modes and gaussian blur to create the ideal lighting conditions for my podcast covers.
However, as this ethereal neon environment is my favorite and most comfortable style to work in, for my second piece I decided to reach out of my comfort zone and attempt to reach from a bubblier and color saturated 50’s retro inspired style that I never attempted to work with before. My inspiration for attempting a style like this was weirdly enough through a browse of Upsplash – a website gallery full of free usable high-quality photography – where I stumbled across the image that you can see present in my second podcast thumbnail of the man with the circle glasses. From this I began to think of a way of continuing my retro theme without continuing down my comfortable neon path.Eventually I found a tutorial by YouTuber ‘Envato Tuts+’ where she showed how to create the image of a model into that of a retro comic book using many ‘filter tools’ and ‘filter gallery’ effects. I was hooked.
Even though the image of the man didn’t come out as shown in the tutorial due to the difference in lighting conditions and photo resolution, I came to appreciate the way it evolved after the placement of the background, the text and overall lighting adjustment.
As I have worked with Photoshop before coming to Reading University I was able to use my prior knowledge to guide my way around most problems I faces – an example of this would be the use of the magic wand and mask tools to cut out images from there backgrounds and edit said masks with the black and white brush tool that I learnt in secondary school. However, when I did run into problems regarding the venture that I had never encountered before such as manipulating type in a more exaggerated and curved manner, I made my way to YouTube in order to find an answer to my problem. From this I came across ‘Adobe Photoshops’ own channel where they made a video on how to ‘How to Distort and Warp Text in Photoshop‘ where I learnt that converting a text layer into a smart object, you are able to right click and ‘warp’ the text into your desired configuration by either using the dropdown menu of presets, or by moving the individual point around the image to different locations.
Another tutorial I used in order to get the retro style I was looking for was a tutorial by YouTuber ‘Envato Tuts+’ called ‘How to Make a Retro Comic Book Portrait Effect Action in Photoshop‘ as mentioned in the previous section of this blog post. This video allowed me to create a more retro comic feeling image, however the difference in images from the tutorial image – being very bright with defining lines – to my image – being dark with lines fading into the shadows of the face – made the outcome very different from the tutorial image in a more grudge like fashion. Even so, I came to appreciate the outcome after playing around with the concepts given in the tutorial in addition to my own lighting adjustments, giving the image a more sharpened tone that I was able to works with through the rest of the podcast cover.
Design resources and articles:
Additional resources that I used in order to create my podcast thumbnails were DaFont – in order to find the retro bubbly font named ‘Abstract Groovy’, and the broken serif font named ‘Qualy‘ that I wanted to use for my designs – Upsplash – where I got my high quality images by ‘Quinn Buffing‘, ‘Melchior Damu‘ and ‘Dan Freeman‘- and of course the many YouTube tutorial creators such as ‘Benny Productions’ and ‘rafy A’ whom I name dropped above. These resources helped my greatly gathering content to create, and watching content to connect the pieces.