Author: ChristiVan Heerden


For the TY1SK module, we were allowed to choose four tasks to complete over four weeks, and one of the tasks was ‘creating vector objects’ in illustrator. We had to create an illustration for a social media banner, to accompany  podcast for the novel ‘Homegoing’, by Yaa Gyasi.

I chose to complete this task because I wanted to further explore illustrator, and I wanted to increase my skillset. I was also really fascinated by the theme of this novel and that is why I chose this task for my blog post.

 Design ideas and design process

I decided to use the same colours seen on the ‘Homegoing’ book cover, in my banner design, which I think would allow the viewers to see the banner and immediately recognise the book cover. I also kept the hexagon element in the centre of my design to hug the African continent, while pointing to the sisters either side. The African continent immediately offers context with Ghana to the viewer, with Africa being at the centre of heartache and home-going. I kept the symmetrical layout, suggesting a mirrored image. I think portraying the half sisters in a silhouette form makes the depiction universal. I wanted to portray their cultural connection to Africa and each other, and their vulnerability.

I wanted to create my own pattern, but still keep the geometric shapes found in African designs. Using the shape tool, I created a few rows of connected triangles and filled them with red and orange, similar to the book cover. Then I duplicated my triangle rows to create a pattern for the background. A useful video helped me to turn my pattern into a swatch which I could then place inside any shapes/outlines of my choice. I selected my design, trimmed it into a square shape, opened up pattern options, and  chose ‘make pattern’. This turned it into a swatch.

A screenshot showing the first step of creating my pattern


A screenshot showing the second step of creating my pattern


A screenshot depicting how I turned my pattern into a swatch

I drew the outline of Africa, and placed it in the centre of the banner, filling the shape with my pattern. I also placed the pattern around the edges of the banner, leaving a white hexagon around the outline of Africa.

I decided to incorporate flowers with a similar appearance to those seen on the cover, but gave them less visual impact so that it doesn’t distract from the sisters. The flowers are also mirrored symmetrically, and lean in towards the centre, guiding the focus of the viewer to the place of home-going.

A screenshot depicting the flowers that I drew and included in my illustration

To depict the spiritual side of the novel, the belief of death allowing a slaves spirit to return home, I decided to fade Esi by reducing the capacity. I think it shows the distance between her and Ghana, but also her soul. I kept Effia’s opacity 100%, and I tilted her head downwards to show her shame and sadness for being married to a slave trader.

I experimented with a gradient background, however it  did not compliment the other elements of my design, so I removed it. I still incorporated the gradient effect on my Africa outline, fading it in from the left. I think this depicts the lost cultural connection and identity of the displaced slaves.

A screenshot displaying the outline of Africa fading in, and the two half sisters, Esi (faded) and Effia (head tilted downwards)


A screenshot displaying the attempted gradient background

To emphasise the complexity of ‘love’ and brokenness of slavery, injustice, greed, and racism, I placed a broken heart on the African continent, where Ghana is located.

The typeface ‘Avenir’ is a geometric typeface which fits with my geometric design, but it also has a human touch which relates to the circumstances depicted in the novel. It is very clear and easy to read.

Software tutorials

The essential and recommended videos that were provided, were very insightful and useful.  Watching the videos reminded me of how to use the pen tool, shape tool, direct selection tool, and the shape builder tool in my designs.

The ‘Combine shapes’ video taught me how to combine shapes, by selecting the objects you want to combine, and using the shape builder tool, drag across the shapes to combine them into one shape. I did not use this skill in my banner design either, however it is something I could use in future designs.

I was unfamiliar with the Image Trace command, so that tutorial was insightful and I will definitely be using that skill in more of my designs in future, especially if I hand draw an image that I want to bring into illustrator.

I was not sure how to turn my triangles pattern into a swatch which I could then place as a fill into any shape/outline, so I found a useful video to help me, called ‘ How to Create Patterns in Illustrator Tutorial’, .

Dansky showed two ways of turning a pattern design into a swatch/pattern. I trimmed my design into a square shape, selected the whole shape, went to window, pattern options, and at the drop down menu I just selected ‘make pattern’.

Resources for research and inspiration

To help me with my illustration for the banner, I read a summary of the novel on 

It helped me to understand what the novel is about, and to gather my ideas of how to portray the two  sisters.  The summary gave me insights into the existing book cover design choices. It gave me ideas about how I could portray the two women in ways that depict their similarity, differences and connections.

It made me aware of their lost identities and also a sense of disconnect, because they are not even aware of each others existence. Reading the summary made me realise that there is a much deeper meaning behind the novel ‘Homegoing’. It is not just about the two sisters, it is also about so many other women and men, and slavery, greed, racism, and injustice. However there is also hope for reunion and home-going.

I found a very inspiring video tutorial called ‘Illustrator Tutorial | Web Banner Design (Shopping)’, Graphic designer, Kaukab Yaseen explained a variety of different skills and techniques to use, and showed how to create gradients, as well as blending an image into the side of his banner design and making the image to appear like it was fading into the rest of the banner.

Although the gradient background did not work with my illustration, I did still take inspiration from this video, by fading in my drawing of Africa. It also further inspired the idea of fading away Esi’s body by reducing the opacity, which I did to depict the idea of death allowing a slave’s spirit to return home.

I researched for appropriate typefaces for banner designs, and found useful information in a blog called ‘Most appealing Banner Fonts to use in 2021’ ,and from this blog I found the typeface ‘Avenir’ which I found  very suitable for my banner design.

World of Type

For our TY1SK module we were asked to create a typography podcast cover  in photoshop.

Typography has a diverse audience, so I decided to create three very different designs to try and engage different age groups, who have different visual needs.

I started off by brainstorming short phrases including the words type and time. Designing for a podcast implies that the user needs to take time out to engage with the content of the podcast. For my first design I came up with a few phrases like ’Time for Type’, ‘Type talks’, ‘It’s Type ‘o Clock’ and ‘Whats the Type?’

Design ideas and design process


 Time for Type



Original two images used to create design                                                                              


My final podcast design


For my first design I decided to use ‘Time for type‘ and chose two rather classical images from Pixabay, a clock and an hourglass. These images would appeal more to a more mature audience. Using the clone stamp tool and spot healing brush tool, I removed the numbers on the clock face and replaced them with letters instead, forming the words ‘Time for type‘. I also added the hourglass to the clock to fill the 11th hour space.

Experimenting further with the filters and adjustments, I landed on the word ‘posterize’. It opened up a variety of vibrant colours and gave me options to manipulate the mood of my design, adding an old world charm and warmth.

By posterizing the image I gave the old school clock a little contemporary edge. I also chose these rich colours because it is warm, welcoming and energetic. I placed the type clock wise on the clock face, which reads easily up to the 7th hour point where the type seems to be read in reverse. From that point the conventional way in which we read a clock, leads the eye to still make sense of the type. Although the overall appearance is unusual and challenging typographical conventions, I feel that it makes the reader think and engage a bit, suggesting that type is worth thinking about. I added visual texture through contrasting, but complimenting colours, which enhances the effect of distressed wood in the foreground. The orange colour suggests a border above the clock and helps define the space in which the clock stands. The type is in white to make it stand out and easier to read. The overall use of curvilinearity compliments the more classic atmosphere of my design.

 Stepping into Type 



Original two images used to create design



First attempt at my design                                         Second attempt at design 


My final podcast design


My second design is more focused on a younger audience, and came to life from visualising someone stepping out of their usual day and into a space of type. That is how I came to the potential titles for this podcast; ‘Stepping into type’, ‘Into type’, and ‘Type flies’.

I decided on ‘Stepping into type’ because it is a bit more playful. Expanding the idea of playfulness and fun, I imagined  stepping through a floating door to meet some flying type. That would give it a whimsical and mysterious feel with a door up in the sky and footprints in the air approaching an encounter with Type. I used scattered type in various sizes and boldness to create visual texture in the sky. The footprints achieve the same effect by breaking up the plane in the foreground, and suggest the way to reach the door. ‘Stepping’ stands out on the line that suggests the two different planes, which separates the ‘usual day’ from the ‘space of type’. The analogous colours I chose are light and cool, and suggest a sense of serenity and airiness. I also used colour to create interest with line and suggestion of shade to strengthen the idea of the door hovering above the ground. I stuck to geometric shapes. I decided not to frame my design to enhance the sense of free and floating text in space.

My approach to this cover is actually quite abstract in appearance. I found an image of an open door in a room, cut it out and placed it on a clean background. I then inserted images of footprints, positioning them in a way that leads your eye towards, and through the door to all the type. I tried to create a sense of depth by using larger footprints in the foreground which then gets smaller towards the background. I feel it creates distance and gives a dynamic feel to the image.

I then played around with the different effects, and I edited the footprints with the layer style palette, adding an outer glow to them. Posterizing my image gave it a more abstract 3-dimensional appearance, which is accentuated by the drop shadow. I actually accidentally created the blue and milky purple background whilst experimenting with the different adjustments. I decided to keep it like this because blue and purple are analogous colours, which support each other. The blue is dominant, supported by the milky purple and then white which accentuates the text. The colours work well next to each-other. The blue also gives an airy and light feeling which adds to the whimsical playfulness of my design. The faded purple suggests a more earthy tone which also grounds my design.

I played around with the wording, trying to find a good composition for them. The horizontal placement of the words ‘Stepping into type’ supports the linear structure of the composition, and appears solid amongst the flying letters. The more structured layout supports clear communication, especially because the conventional direction of reading is challenged by the layout. The footprints are key to direct the viewer’s eye from the bottom of the composition, guiding the reading and comprehension in the correct order.

 World of Type


Original image used to create design            The inverted design             


My final podcast design 


My third design came from the thought of how typography is global and how it affects everything. So I came up with ‘Type the world’, ‘Typo space’, ‘World of type’ and ‘Orbit into type’.

I decided to go with a simple title ‘World of type’, and chose an image of the globe, a clear symbol which is always relevant when depicting things that concern the world. To me an image of the globe is old and new in the same way, which will equally attract a young and mature audience.  I like this design the most. I think it will speak to a wider audience because it is very universal. It symbolises the relevance of Typography in the world and clearly communicates how text and typography makes the world go round. The deep blue background is solid, calm and reassuring, and form part of a grounding frame to globe. Visual texture is added by the scattered white type ‘in orbit’. Although I didn’t use formal lines, I did achieve it by a suggested line- the type running around the earth. The circular shape of the earth is hugged at the top with the podcast title written in a curve. This compliments the curvilinear elements in my design and adds visual balance to the centred composition.

I used one strong image to create this cover and removed the background of the image, inserting my own. The inspiration to incorporate the letters into the image came from looking at the planetary ring system around the planet Saturn. This inspired me to create a typographical ring consisting of letters spinning around the earth, reinforcing the idea of communication making the world go round.  So I did this through adding lots of letters in ‘orbit’. I wanted the earth to appear 3–dimensional, so I experimented with the filters and the layer styles, applying the inner and outer glow effects to the earth. I further experimented by inverting my image, however the colours appeared very toxic and unhealthy which would not support my communication.

All my ideas were developed using images that conveyed the key concepts of my design, which I could then enhance by adding type and manipulating the images to reflect what I visualised. My aim was to make my designs interesting, user friendly and appropriate, and I feel that I did achieve that.

Software tutorials


I watched the tutorials on adjusting the image quality in an image, and I applied the ‘Adjust brightness and contrast’ as well as the ‘Adjust colour vibranceto my ‘Time for type‘ image after posterizing it. It helped me to make my image stand out more because it enhanced the strong contrast in the colours that I used.


I also watched the videos on ‘Creating your first design’ and I found the ‘Get to know layersvery helpful, as well as the ‘Adding text and effectsand ‘Exporting and saving the design‘. ‘Get to know layersshowed me how to bring an image into photoshop and then showed me that when bringing another image into the workspace, or other elements like type, it is best to keep all of the layers separate so that it is easier to edit the different elements, without affecting the rest of the image. The video also talked about the magenta smart guides, and they helped me with the alignments of my designs. (applying special layer properties). The ‘Adding text and effects’ video explained how I can edit the text and other elements and apply special layer properties with the layer style panel. It also showed me that I can add effects like drop shadows,

patterns overlays, textures, contouring, strokes, as well as an outer glow.


Two additional Resources


I initially wanted to add text shadow to my ‘Stepping into type‘ design and watching the ‘Photoshop CC– How to add a text shadow’, helped me to understand where I had to go (layer style options), and what I had to do in order to accomplish this. 

I decided to add text shadow to the letters spelling out ‘Time for type’ on my clock face, because it made my letters more visible and I think that the effect gave them a 3–dimensional touch which makes them stand out.


I was not sure how to remove the numbering on my clock image in order to add the words ‘Time for type’, but after watching the YouTube video ‘How to use clone stamp tool in Photoshop CS6′, I found that I could remove the numbers easily using this tool.


Resources for research and inspiration


All of the images I used in my designs, were sourced from Pixabay. 


After watching Amr Elshamy’s video on how he created ‘Round things’, it inspired me to bring in circular shapes into my podcast because I think there is something very visually pleasing about circular shapes. It creates a feeling of continuity and seem softer and more welcoming than angular shapes.  That is why I chose to use the image of the earth in my ‘World of type’, because it is not only spherical and universal, but underlines wholesomeness and harmony.

Amr Elshamy’s video also inspired me to create something more abstract, which I did with my ‘Stepping into type’ podcast design. I included more angularity and line for structure, and less texture to achieve a light, smooth and airy background with the floating door.


I realised after reading through the article ‘How to design a podcast cover: the ultimate guide’, that before jumping into my design, I need to think about what I am actually designing, and who is my intended audience. I need to think about what age group I am targeting.

If I use an image, I need to think about what my podcast cover will depict and make sure that it is relevant to the topic: typography. I thought that if I can create a cover that is simplistic but clear and effective, with a catchy phrase relevant to the topic, I can create a design that appeals to the intended audience.

Lastly, the article helped me to think about the use of colour in my designs. Colour can have a big impact on the way that people see and understand things. It can even affect someone’s mood. So, using the correct colour palette is very important. As the article says, ‘warm colours are associated with energy, brightness, and action, while cool colours make you feel calm, serene and at peace.’

I decided to use very bright contrasting colours in my ‘Time for type’ design, to really make the image pop, and the variety in colour allowed me to manipulate the mood of the design, giving it a feeling of warmth and old-world charm.

My ‘Stepping into type’ design mostly uses the colours blue and purple, which are analogous colours that support each other rather than compete.

For ‘World of type’ I did not add a lot of extra colour because there are already so many different tones of green and blue on my image of the earth, so I stuck with a deep blue background which I think pushes the earth foreword slightly, adding to the 3-dimensionality of the image.


Additional Resource


I found another article called ‘8 things to keep in mind while designing your podcast cover art’. The ‘Keep it simple’ section made me think about how I can create a podcast cover that is simple and not overly complicated, but neat and effective. I realised that I do not need ‘complex elements to make something visually appealing.’

The article also stated not to use too many fonts, because writing on the podcast needs to be clearly visible. It also said that using fonts with thicker lines and clear characters help your writing to stand out more.




Eat, Pray, Love, Repeat

In TY1INT Indesign practical session, we had to all create a copy of a classical Penguin book cover. We were then asked to experiment with that book and perhaps change the colour and title of the book.

I chose to change the cover to another classical penguin book.

We were then asked to design our own book/film cover, including an element of wittiness. We had to stick to the basic rules of our first classical penguin book cover.

I chose the book ‘Eat, Pay, Love’, because it is about a woman who had everything; a house, a successful career, and a husband. However, she loses everything, and loses sight of what is important to her in life. She sets out on a journey, stepping out of her comfort zone, and she builds her life back together again, coming back a stronger woman. To me this book conveyed such a powerful and important message.

We can all relate to Eating, Praying and Loving in a very personal and eclectic way, but there are also universal ideas and emotions about these concepts that we can sometimes joke about. In this case I am playing with sarcasm and the notion of food as a comfort, but also as a source of guilt. In a society where women are constantly beating themselves up for wanting to eat (a lot and not necessarily healthy)and always chasing the unattainable perfect body, you have to appreciate the encouragement to eat as much as you can, praying that you don’t expand beyond your most comfortable outfit. And when you ticked the first two boxes, Loving the chef is easy. I added Repeat to highlight the fact that humans are creatures of habit and we sometimes struggle to move away from our repetitive lifestyles and routines.

Safe in space

When studying my images( combination of own photographs and internet images), it made sense to divide them into four categories, Hands, Face, Space and Safe. It links with the meme ‘Wash hands, cover face, make space’ created by Boris Johnson. I felt the need to add ‘Safe’ to it to accommodate a category of pictures that I find necessary.

My categories share similarities in how they communicate, convey information, create awareness and offer warnings. All the categories share the aim of helping people with their decisions based on the information they see. They are similar in communicating information to the same audience/readers, and in how they use a range of verbal and non-verbal elements to convey a message. Similarities are also found across the four categories in how some signs are less effective than others due to overcrowding or illegibility. That reduces the impact and clarity of the message, and would surely cause difficulty with reading and comprehension, so people would move on and miss the message. There are also good signs in all four categories, which are easy to read,  communicate concisely with few words and draw attention. The use of colour is also quite similar is all four categories. Colours that come up mostly are amber, blue and red. That is not a coincidence, but a result of the psychological effect that colours have on people. Amber is associated with caution, whereas red implies danger or warning. Blue stands for informing, trust and building relationships.

Differences between the categories are seen when it comes to the specific areas of focus. The Hands category emphasises the importance of washing hands and using hand sanitiser to protect ourselves from getting or spreading germs, whereas the Face category concerns itself with face coverings and protecting others. Space has the biggest variety of signs and its aim is to discourage physical contact. They vary from markings on pavements to socially distance, to road signs and various forms of signs in shops, all directed at encouraging consumers to distance from others. The category Safe is different from the rest in that it plays on the notion that people are unified through circumstances that affect everyone, and that we all play a role to keep ‘us’ safe. I also like that some of the images are more personalised and encouraging when compared to those that are purely functional and impersonal.


References for Face images:

Wear a face covering (electronic display)

Look after one another

Kissing masked

Wash hands, cover face, make space

The five other images were taken by me on campus and in the Oracle shopping centre, Reading.


References for Hands Images:

Coronavirus Prevention

Please Sign before entering

Keep calm and wash your hands

Wash and sanitise your hands

Please use hand sanitiser

The two other images were taken by me, also on campus and in the Oracle shopping centre, Reading.


References for Safe images:

Covid 19 Decision making tool

The sun will rise again

Community Spirit, be kind

Stay alert, control the virus

Your grandparents

Help prevent coronavirus

The two other images were taken by me in Reading town.


References for Space images:

Please do not hug

Stop Covid-19

No standing/socialising anytime

Covid-19 Keep apart

Pedestrians Reminder

Keep 2 metres apart

Two of the images were taken by me on campus and in the Oracle shopping centre, Reading.










CH monogram

In today’s class we were provided with two fonts, Garamond and Futura. Using one of these fonts, we had to use our initials to create a monogram.

I sketched out my initials, CH, and then photocopied them at different sizes, playing around with the scale. I mixed the two initials to see which shapes I could create with them. I found that I was getting lost in my own ideas, making the initials blend in such way that I could not tell they were a C & H anymore. I wanted my monogram to be a clean and clear presentation of my initials, and that is why I chose the final design that can be seen below (the last three drawings on the page).

I thought it would be fun to add some colour to my design. I chose green because it is a calm colour that is associated with nature and good-luck. It is fresh and cool, and to me it holds the idea of hope and new life.

Yellow is a happy colour. It is fun and youthful, and adds energy, just like the sun .



The word I was given to work with, was the word ‘Britain’.  Immediately these images popped into my head; the Union Jack, the Pound Sterling, the Queen, Scones and tea, red telephone boxes, black cabs, the Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace.

However, I wanted to stick to simplicity. I wanted people to immediately recognise the word ‘Britain’ in my work, and to me that meant using the map of Great Britain, and the Union Jack, which symbolises the union between the four nations. I did not want to overcrowd my image and make it confusing. I wanted my work to be simple, yet effective.

The stitching within my first image symbolises that the four nations were sown together in the past to form Great Britain, but in recent years and since Brexit negotiations started, there has been tension, and so the stitches have come undone in places (seen in image two with the scissors).

I placed the scissors at the left top corner between Northern Ireland and Scotland, because that is where the most tension lies within the union of Britain due to Brexit negotiations. It also visually balances the weight of the strong Union Jack on the bottom right corner.  The scissors depict the looming threat that Britain as we know it, might look different in future if some of the nations cut themselves loose to be independent.

I created my first image on tracing paper with paint, which did not work very well because it made the tracing fold, so I created the second image on normal paper. The paint also didn’t stick to the tracing paper very well and therefore the second image appears darker.



‘Riches to Rags’


I chose the theme noise because I liked the idea that the sibling’s comfort zones were disrupted. They start off with a big house that they inherited from their parents, and they are living a comfortable, care-free, and quiet life. However their lives then become very disrupted and unsettling. Towards the end of the process they have less and less of the house, until they are forced to escape out of a window and into the bare street with nothing…..stripped away of everything, living on the street, going from ‘riches to rags’.

I was inspired by Jonathan Safran Foer’s ‘Tree of Codes’, however instead of cutting out unnecessary words, I chose to draw lines through the unnecessary words. I left the words that symbolized blissful, domestic life.

I chose to symbolize the noise by drawing sound decibels, getting greater and greater to show that it is a threat to the siblings peaceful existence.

The door symbolizes their escape into a smaller part of the house, and the lock symbolizes the siblings trying to secure themselves away from the noise.  The sections of the house that they escape to get smaller and smaller, and I have depicted this on my cover page.

On the last few pages, the siblings escape through a window and into the empty street, left with nothing.

I decided to change the shape of my book to depict a house, which allowed the characters to move through the house (book), until they escaped out of the house, and out of the book.  This action was inspired by Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Your House’.

Some photos I have taken of my book pages (view them in order: from top row to bottom row) :