Author: Emily Collard

Vector Graphics for ‘Homegoing’

This term, I undertook a range of design tasks for the TY1SK module with the aim of improving and building a better understanding of skills and techniques with Adobe software. In this blog post, I will discuss the ‘Drawing Vector Objects’ task, where I designed a social media banner for the book ‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi. I took screenshots throughout my design process to aid my explainations.

This task was based in Adobe Illustrator. Last term, I had never used Illustrator before and so focused on basic skills. Over the winter break, I practiced more with this software and picked up some important shortcuts using the keypad and I became much more confident with Illustrator. This allowed me to be more efficient while designing the social media banner for this task.

My Design Ideas and Process

Before I began designing, I created a colour palette based on colours featured in the example book covers that I found as inspiration (more on this later), as well as from the Ghana flag. To select these colours, I used the eye-dropper tool in Illustrator and made a selection of swatches to be used for my designs.

Final Outcome 1

Below is my first banner design. Overall, I think this was also the most successful outcome.

To create this design, I began by using a combination of the pen tool and the circle shape tool,  to outline the shape of the silhouetted woman. I then used the shape builder tool to merge these shapes into one element.

I then wanted to incorporate a traditional Ghanaian pattern. I utilised the rectangle tool and used the white arrow tool to manipulate them to make them rhombus-like shapes. I used the pattern builder to create a repeating pattern of this design.

I then added colour into my pattern, using the colour palette I had previously created.

Next, I layered my silhouette on top of my repeating pattern, as well as an orange background colour. To make these layers fit perfectly to my artboard, I created a clipping mask.  I then used the offset path tool to add multiple coloured areas around the edge of the silhouette, creating border-like outlines. This idea was inspired by flames and fire.


Finally, I added the title ‘Homegoing’ in all caps text using the typeface Menco, a san-serif, which is similar to the type used on the book covers. I added this type to a path, which matched the edge of the silhouette. I also offset this, so it stood out better from the background pattern.


Final Outcome 2

Below is my second banner design. For this design, I used the same colour palette as previously mentioned.

For this design, I wanted the title of the book to be the most prominent element. I used the Menco typeface in both all caps and normal for the text to create typographic hierarchy. I wanted to try a different approach to incorporate the idea of flames and fire. I made a straight line stroke using the pen tool, before outlining the stroke and using the ‘distort & transform’ ‘zig-zag’ effect, to give a smooth wave affect inspired by the flames.

Next, I added the text on top of this pattern. To incorporate the silhouetted shape, I removed the ‘O’ of the ‘Homegoing’ and replaced it with the figure. I also made the outline stroke of the text and the figure white to make it stand out more from the background. To help make sure each element of the type was aligned, I used the ruler tool. I also used the clipping mask tool once again, to neaten my art-board.


Final Outcome 3

For this final design, I wanted to find a way to incorporate the cotton plant element that featured on several book covers that I had found during my research.


To illustrate these cotton plants, I drew circles and used the shape-builder tool to combine these shapes into one element. I also used the pen tool to create the stems of these plants. I used the same silhouette shape for this design too.

I wanted to play around with another way to add the title of the book and so I used the ‘text in shape’ tool to fill the silhouette with ‘Homegoing’.

Finally, as another way to add the idea of flames and fire, I played with the gradient tool to create the blur between orange and red to act as the background. To finish my design, I offset the silhouetted shape once more.


Software tutorials

Before I began my design process, I watched several video tutorial to help me use Adobe Illustrator and the tools and effects available in this software.

Firstly, I looked on the Adobe website and found the videos: ‘Create with drawing tools’, ‘Create and edit shapes’ and ‘Start making artwork’ all extremely useful. These videos helped strengthen my knowledge of the basic tools and techniques within Illustrator, before I could then explore some of the more complex and detailed skills.

I next searched on Youtube to find some further tutorials and demonstrations.The video: ‘How to use Shadow and Highlights in Adobe Illustrator CC 2018 , Fast Hot dog vector tutorial’ by Niko Dola was really fun to watch, as he showed how to create a hotdog using the different effects available on Illustrator, such as the warping tools and the distorting tools. I decided that I definitely wanted to play around with these effects when I created my designs.

The tutorial ‘Adobe Illustrator Tutorial: Create a Vector Pizza from Sketch’ by Dom Designs was also really useful, as it explains the process of turning a pencil sketch into a vector illustration. Finally the video: ‘Using Adobe Illustrator: 10 Tips for Beginners’ by Alice Thorpe, was valuable, as it outlined the basic tools and techniques I will need as a basis to develop my Illustrator skills further.

Youtube Tutorial Links:


Resources for research and inspiration

Before I started designing, I undertook some research into the book ‘Homegoing’. I read summaries, blog posts, reviews and watched introductory videos. These all gave me a better insight into the novel and its plot, which I thought was vital, as I wanted my designs to accurately capture and represent ‘Homegoing’. I also had a look at the different cover images used for this book. I noticed that all of the book cover variations that I saw featured bright orange, red and yellow colours. A lot of them also incorporated the silhouetted figure of a woman.

After reading reviews and descriptions of this novel, I discovered that fire appears throughout story as a symbol of the curse that haunts the family for generations. Finally, I found that this story is set in Ghana and features a cotton-picking plantation. Doing further research into the country Ghana (Republic of Ghana), I found that the flag features the colours red, yellow and green. At the centre of this flag is a black star. I also did some research into traditional patterns found in Ghana.  I decided I wanted to incorporate these ideas into my final designs in some way or another. Taking this all on board, I decided that the main elements I wanted to incorporate were the silhouetted woman, the idea of fire and traditional patterns from Ghana .

Below are a few covers that stood out to me during my research.

Below is the Link to the Youtube video that I found extremely valuable when conducting my research into the book ‘Homegoing’:


Overall, I really enjoyed this task. I feel that I was able to gain a better understand of the tools and techniques available in Adobe Illustrator and as a result, I feel much more confident using this software. I was able to explore different tools, techniques and effects, and I am really pleased with my final results. My favourite design was my first outcome with the pattern background and the offset colours around the silhouette. I think this might be due to the addition of contrast between the brighter off-white shade and darker navy-grey shade. On top of this, I think the repeating pattern element makes this design eye-catching and will allow it to standout when used as a social media banner.

Currently, Illustrator is my favourite software, but I definitely have room to grow and gain more knowledge and skills using it. I hope I become even more confident with design tasks to come.

‘Counterfeit’: A Typographic Podcast (Postcard)

For the TY1SK module, I designed a podcast cover (which can be seen below) and a podcast postcard. In this blog post, I will be discussing how I used Adobe InDesign to create my podcast postcard designs. While designing the podcast covers, I came up with the name Counterfeit for my podcast. I chose this title as it incorporates a typographic term counter, which are the enclosed or partly enclosed areas within characters, such as in the letter ‘d’.

Design Ideas & Design Process

I began by creating a more collage-like outcome, incorporating images I downloaded from the website Pixabay, with solid colours within my colour scheme of red, dark brown and beige.

I used Photoshop to design a podcast logo inspired by images I had seen online. I incorporated this into all three of my podcast postcard designs.

After adding the podcast logo to my design, I then layered text over the top of the solid colour. After this, I incorporated a few geometrical shapes to the design. These shapes reflect the counters of letters and characters. The font I used for all my designs is the Adobe Gala font, with a shadow, which almost highlights the counters of the letter within the name Counterfeit.

For my second design, I decided to explore the more geometric style that I used in my podcast covers. I used layers to add shapes in the same colour scheme as the previous card design. For all of my designs I made sure to exploit the bleed space on InDesign, to ensure a sleek postcard without a white border.

I also incorporated the podcast logo as seen in my previous design, as well as the title Counterfeit in the Gala font, with a shadow. The subheadings are also in the Gala typeface. I played around with typographic hierarchy, using different weights and sizes of text, to create a visually organised podcast card.

I felt that my second design was more successful, and so I wanted to develop the geometric style further. I created a third design, taking aspects from the previous designs to create an even more visually appealing and successful outcome. I decided to add more contrast to this design, and so instead of the pale beige background, I used a dark brown colour with lighter text. For this design I played more with alignment and hierarchy. I centred the main title of my podcast, but I right aligned the subheadings as well as my podcast logo.

I continued with the idea of typographic counters, and so I incorporated the geometric shapes as seen previously. I exploited the layers tool to allow me to play with the relationships between these shapes.

Once again, I used the Gala typeface. This final design was definitely my favourite as I believe it is eye-catching and bold, while still having a minimal, uncluttered feel.

Software Tutorials

I watched Youtube tutorials and read articles to help me discover techniques and tools within InDesign. In particular, the Youtube video ‘In-Design Postcard Set-up’ by Lauren Rabinowitz was useful as it showed how to create the correct InDesign file for postcard design. For more information on InDesign and the tools within this Adobe app, I used the official Adobe website. One of the most helpful tutorials by Adobe was the ‘How to Make a Postcard with InDesign’ tutorial. One aspect of this tutorial that I found particularly valuable was the combination of text and images, using layers to do so.

Resources for Research & Inspiration

The resource that I found particularly useful was an article about Molly Scannell, and her design work, on the Adobe website. This article was called ‘How Molly Scannell created “Taken”’. Although this article focused on Scannell’s use of Photoshop, I was really inspired by her posters and designs. She frequently exploited layers and experimented with the positioning of the elements within her works to create eye-catching collages and composite outcomes. I really enjoyed looking at Scannell’s use of layering with both images, shapes and text, which was something I aimed to incorporate within my designs. This article did show examples of Scannell’s work, but it also gave a step-by-step tutorial on how she created her design ‘Taken’. Although I did incorporate the layering of shapes and text within my final outcome, I would like to further explore collage and the use of images within InDesign. On top of this, I looked at Pinterest for further inspiration on compositional and typographic ideas.


Overall, I was very pleased with my final podcast postcard design. Although my final design was more simplified and minimal, I believe it is eye-catching and effective. This task allowed me to experiment with InDesign, an Adobe app that I am less confident with. It also allowed me to implement my new knowledge on typography, such as the use of leading and the techniques used to create hierarchy within text.

Exploring Typographic Hierarchy

For this project, we had to use Adobe Indesign to create a cinema brochure for the Reading Film Theatre. I wanted my design to be clean and contemporary, using red as the accent colour, to put emphasis on certain elements of text. To continue with this simplistic look, I only used one typeface, but used intrinsic valuables, such as size and weight of the text. This will hopefully allow the viewer to see a distinction between the different elements of the brochure. For example, I put the contact information for the theatre in italic and made it smaller than the main body of text.

Here you can see my initial design sketch:


Here is my first brochure design:

After a blackboard feedback session, it was highlighted that the lack of colour variation removes the importance of the highlights of red. It was suggested to use the tint tool on Indesign and create varying shades of red to allow the largest emphasis to be on the titles of the movies. I also used this tool to add some grey tones into my design to add further contrast. Continuing with this idea, I also incorporated more variation within the main body of text, allowing a clearer hierarchy of information. Finally the alignment of the title in my first design was pointed out as being a little confusing. As a result, I took some steps to try and make this more logical and more visually appealing.  Finally, we had a peer review session in class where we were able to give feedback on each other’s brochures. Taking this advice on board as well, I refined my design.

My final outcome can be seen below.

I really enjoyed this project as it allowed me to explore Indesign and put my new knowledge about typography into practice. I also found the feedback sessions extremely useful and I am very grateful for all the advice I was given from both other students and tutors.

what is your ideal gift?

For Kim’s project we had to design ideal gifts based off of our partners’ interests.

My first partner enjoys playing the violin as well as watching horror films and Studio Ghibli. I decided to design a horror themed violin using recognisable illustrations such as spider webs, bats and skeletons. However, the next stage of this project was incorporating a random word into our designs. My word was ‘bridge’. I decided to make the violin a ‘bridge to the other side’. I represented this through the ghosts appearing from the bow of the violin. My final gift can be seen below.

My second partner loves sparkling water as well as watching Disney and Marvel films. I decided to design a bottle of sparkling water that has buttons on, to allow you to change the flavour of the water. However, my random word was ‘aeroplane’. This gave me the idea of how to make this bottle more easily transported. I combined this concept with the prompt of Disney and came up with a bottle that can shrink and expand, taking inspiration from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. My final design can be seen below.

I was unable to decide which design, out of these two, I preferred and so I decided to experiment with both and create final outcomes for them. They are both so different, and so I found it hard to compare them!

Overall this was a fun project as I was able to spend time creating many ideas and concepts, before experimenting with my two favourites. It was also a great opportunity to get to know my class mates, which has been difficult due to the current situation of Covid-19!

Hands, Face, Space: Covid-19

For Sue and Emma’s project, we looked at the graphic language of Covid-19 signs and posters, both on the Whiteknights Campus and from the internet. I began this project by exploring campus to take photographs of all the Covid-19 signs that I could find. I then used social media and google to find some more examples of posters that use imagery and typography to convey information or messages about the Corona Virus. It became clear to me, that there was a wide range of approaches that could be used to create eye-catching and visually appealing designs. One technique most of these signs and posters adopted, was the use of colour. Vibrant reds and bright yellows are often associated with danger and warnings, hence why these colours appear frequently in the Covid-19 signs.

To organise my images, I created powerpoint sides, grouping the signs into the following categories: hands, face, space.

Typeface Design

For Gerry’s project, we had two tasks.  Firstly, using the provided letters ‘h e s i o n’ , to give us clues on the characteristics of the typeface, we had to draw the letters ‘c a d b u r y’. We had to pay attention to the contrasts of stroke sizes as well as the x height and many other aspects of the typeface. Overall, I was pleased with my outcome for this task, all though, there are definitely a few letters, such as the ‘aand ‘b’ that needed alterations.


For the second task, we had to draw the missing parts of the letter forms. My outcome for this task can be seen below.

I found this typeface design project interesting as I was able to look at letter forms in more detail. I inspected the dimensions and angles of each character and discovered the relationships between different letters.

Bang! And The Dirt Is Gone!

As part of the TY1INT1 module, we were asked to explore Adobe InDesign and create our own Penguin Book covers inspired by a book, movie or quote. I landed on the idea of the cleaning products Cillit Bang which are manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser. I used the colour palette from the limescale remover range to design my book cover. These bright purples and oranges allowed me to create an eye-catching and bold design. I wanted to stray from the simple lines and shapes used in classic Penguin Books, and so I came up with the idea of using an almost star-like, explosion shape to highlight the ‘title’ and ‘author’ of my book.  Below is my initial sketch which I used to plan out my ideas.

I am new to all Adobe apps, so this was a fun experience, trying out the tools available to create each element of my book cover. I am pleased with my final outcome, however there are a few areas that I could improve on. I look forward to gaining a better understanding of InDesign and other Adobe apps in the future.

Initial Transmogrify

For Kim’s project, I created a monogram of my initials in the Garamond font. I experimented with layering and played with the different interactions between the letter forms. I initially came up with this design:


I decided to experiment further and explore flipping the letter forms. This almost removed the readable quality of the letters and created more of a visual image.



Finally I wanted to include colour and add some depth to my piece. I decided to add a drop shadow as this would also incorporate the dimension I wanted.




The two-tone drop shadow also adds an almost ‘trippy’ element to my outcome, further distorting the letter forms and creating an eye-catching image. However, I decided that the black background was too harsh in contrast to the white. I changed this to blue, which created a more monochromatic outcome. Overall, this made a more cohesive image. To illustrate the journey that I undertook during this project, I created a short video almost like a digital flip book, with my images in order.



Exploring Lettering Forms Found on Campus

For Eric’s Project, I captured the different forms of lettering found on the Whiteknights Campus. I aimed to photograph a variety of sign types, ranging from older and more worn signage to new and more pristine examples. On top of this, I wanted to capture different textures and surfaces of and around the signs. I used photographic techniques such as vantage point and depth of field and exploited the light and shadows to create intriguing images. Finally, I presented my selected outcomes on PowerPoint and categorised them into small groups. For example, metal surfaces and peeling vinyl stickers.


Lettering in the Environment – TY1DP1 (PDF)