Author: Hannah Smith

Colour melt

DESIGN IDEAS AND PROCESS

  • In my research I noticed stickers often had one main focal image, with the text being an accompanying feature. One of the most distinguishable features of my previous work was the hand holding the earphone. Therefore this would be recognisable and relevant for the consumer, and easy to relate the sticker to the podcast.

  • I inserted the image into the document and cropped out the blank space around the hand. With the image selected, I used the ‘image trace’ tool and selected ’16 colours’ followed by ‘expand’ to change the image into a vector, where each shade is isolated to its own shape with adjustable colours.

  • With the now vector selected, I selected ‘recolour’ to adjust the colours to those inspired by my podcast cover. So that I could have whatever background shape and colour I wanted, I ungrouped the vector to delete the background. I could then group the remaining shapes and locked them into place to prevent them moving around.

  • To create the colour stretch at the bottom of the image I used the rectangle tool to create a rectangle the width of the corresponding patch of colour. Because I cropped the image, the bottom of it was flat which meant the rectangle fit flush against the image without gaps or overlap. To duplicate the rectangle, I selected the rectangle and holding down ‘option’ I could click and drag the next rectangle into place. To ensure they lined up neatly I also held down the shift key, this kept them level horizontally. Using the adjust tool I could change the width of the rectangle to match the image.

  • Once the rectangle was in place I changed the colour to match that of the image.  I made sure the rectangle was selected, then using the eyedropper tool, I clicked in the colour block from the image that I wanted to rectangle to match. I also found moving the rectangles to the back of the layer, through pressing ‘command-shift-[‘ made the overall appearance a little cleaner.

  • For the cut lines, I used a range of tools. For larger spaces I created rectangles and circles and using the direct selection tool I could adjust the shapes to fit the space needed. For these shapes I created them on the top of each layer at 50% transparency, so that I could see the image beneath.

  • I had made this for a different sticker design that used the whole hand, I was able to import it into this file and use the ‘direct selection’ tool to adjust this shape and use further tools and add any new lines or shapes needed.

  • Using the ‘shape builder’ tool I was then able to delete any overhang or unnecessary fill areas. Once I had the desired shape I combined the shapes into one using the ‘pathfinder’ tool. Having practiced with the pen tool as part of my research, I was able to make the cut lines quite clean.

  • As a single shape, I was able to remove the shape fill and apply the relevant colour preset to the outline. I also used the ‘pen tool’ to help me build my cut shapes where helpful. The last touch was to use the direct selection tool to make final adjustments to the position of individual lines and to curvet edges.

SOFTWARE TUTORIALS

Though I was most familiar with illustrator, I found many of these tutorials very helpful in identifying and explaining the use of some tools that I had not got to grips with before. I particularly appreciated the demonstration on the shape builder tool. Previously I have tried to use the pathfinder tool in shape creation; partnered with the shape builder tool some tasks are made much simpler and easier. This is a tool I experimented with a lot this week and feel very comfortable using now. To use the shape builder tool to delete unnecessary shapes, I selected the overlapping shapes > selected the shape builder tool > hovered over the line or shape that I wanted to remove > held down the option key and clicked on the path I wanted to remove. This made a very clean and easy removal of an unwanted shape.

Other tools which I found really helpful in these tutorials were the lasso tool, the ‘create outlines’ tool and, especially for this task, the image trace tool. I have used image trace before, but not in illustrator. I found this tutorial helpful and used it in all of my designs this week to manipulate my chosen image into a vector. Once in a vector I could use ‘recolour’ to adjust the colours to imitate the predominant colours in my previous designs on the podcast. I decided against using any gradients, however, the simple tutorial was also very helpful and it is something I would like to explore in further designs.

One of my additional resources this week was The Bezier Game:  https://bezier.method.ac/
This website is incredibly helpful to develop ones skills with the pen tool. Each level is different and has a number of ways the shape could be completed. It is great for understanding how shapes are made and for learning to control the pen tool. This was particularly useful on this project when it came to making the cut lines for the sticker. I found also that understanding the pen tool better also translated to understanding how to edit and adjust shapes and lines.

RESOURCES FOR RESEARCH AND INSPIRATION

I have previously worked with a company that designed stickers for their merchandise, though I did not design any myself, I appreciated how a sticker was much more interesting and appealing when it wasn’t a conventional shape. This is something I notices in many of the resources and something that I wanted to include in my design. It had the benefit of giving me the opportunity to develop my skills with the pen tool, but also produces a much more engaging product for the consumer.

I really enjoyed Javier Garcia’s videos on branding. It was interesting to learn how he valued geometrical shape design and enjoyed exploring the impact of colour on the design. Though I did not choose to make my design geometrical, I did also enjoy exploring the effect of colour and how this can change the tone of the design. Many stickers that I have researched are often very colourful as this grabs the viewers attention. If they are less colourful, it is always a specific design choice. Either to set a camper tone or to make a point.

For further inspiration, I looked on sites such as etsy, where it is common for people to purchase novelty stickers. Ads also often pop up on instagram and other various social media platforms. Going to a store website, rather than a design website, showed me what customers are actually consuming. I discovered many stickers are very simple. They have a focal image, often with very little text. When text it used many times it is the main element. This is due to the average size of a sticker; they are generally quite small and so there isn’t enough space to cram the design with image and text as one or the other, or both, may end up so small that they are unreadable. This is something I kept in mind when designing my stickers, though the image is nice and big on my screen, I must consider the final product.

etsy example

Print it out

Brief

Design a programme flyer for the Reading Film Theatre. The flyer must be single sided A5, with two columns of text, unsing a maximum of two colours and two typefaces.

 

Process

  • First, I went through the text and removed things that I considered to be unnecessary or repeated information. I also researched missing pieces of information to add things that I felt would be helpful or bring consistency. This was to remove noise on the page and to communicate as clearly as possible.
  • I decided to use the branding of the theatre for my colour scheme. As we were only permitted two colours, I took the darker red and grey from the logo and tinted them to 74% each for the lighter numerals.
  • Because of my design I didn’t have space to put a short summary of each movie, which upon reflection is a bit more style over substance. However, in our feedback session the large numerals to convey the date were appreciated as a style choice and the lack of summary was not mentioned.
  • To display hierarchy I chose to stick with one typeface but to use different font weights, type size, and use of spacing to differentiate key pieces of information.
  • For my columns, I separated information by month of screening. This meant I only had to put the date of the month and it also opened up space in the October column to add general theatre information such as address, ticket price etc.
  • In my first draft I had lined up each section so that the top of each movie section was level. This meant inconsistent gaps between the showings. After the feedback session, it was suggested that unequal spacing indicates hierarchy. Therefore I adjusted my design to priorities equal spacing between each showing. I had to widen my margins to do this, but I this improved the overall design.

 

Reflection

This task emphasised how important it is to be aware of the purpose of the finished product you are designing. If the final product is in print, throughout your process you should be printing physical drafts to know how your ideas translate from screen to paper.

 

The Devil’s in the detail

Brief

1) Choose one of the three suggested fonts. Using the letters ‘c a d b u r y’ draw how you would expect these letterforms to be presented in your chosen typeface.

2) Choose one of the three suggested fonts and complete the partially hidden letterforms.

 

Process

  • Task 1: When recreating this typeface it was really helpful to have a scaled example directly above it. I was able to draw many measured reference lines which helped me to get proportions such as line width and x-height as accurate as I could. Where this helped me with general dimensions such as x-height and tracking, there were some elements of each letter which I did not figure out accurately. For example, I provided the ‘y’ in the first task with a very round and curved descender but this typeface actually has a much more straight descender such as is presented in this blog post. Furthermore, I drew a single story ‘a’ as opposed to a two story ‘a’, which was incorrect for this typeface. Though not perfect, I am quite pleased with the contrast on each of these letters and I think they are rather well proportioned to one another.

  • Task 2: This task I found much simpler. Different sections of each letter were removed and we had to fill in the gaps as accurately as we could. Having observed what many of the letterforms should have looked like after finishing the first task, I had a much better idea of what to recreate here. Similarly to the first task, I drew out reference lines after measuring the scale of these letterforms. Whilst the proportions are quite accurate, I missed some very simple but key details within the letterforms themselves. The crossbar of the ‘e’ is presented slightly too thick. This could have been an error in technique when going over my sketches in fine liner. I also managed to overlook some subtle detail in the letter strokes of the ‘d’ and ‘n’. When compared to the official font, the strokes taper inwards slightly at the ends of the stroke next to where the shoulder joins. Additionally, my letter ‘a’ is too a-symmetrical. This typeface also adds a spur to the ‘a’. I found this to be quite uncharacteristic compared to the rest of the typeface which is why I unknowingly missed this detail.

 

Reflection

This project taught me to look, look again, then look again harder, especially when something seems rather simple to begin with. There is such a huge variety of typeface available these days, but no two are exactly the same and so it is important to be able to pay attention to the minute detail as it all comes together to create the unique font.

Poster: Icon vs Typography

What are these posters trying to do?

These posters are designed to encourage people to stay at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In both of these designs they have chosen bright colours with strong connotations. Red is often associated with danger and yellow is associated with warning, particularly when combined with black. We also see that both are quite simple yet structured. There is a flow to both designs leading you to the same conclusion, but in two very different ways.

The red poster, titled ‘Stay Home’, has chosen a very stark way of conveying this message. Through focusing mostly on icons this very simply structured scene is almost graph like, implying the statistical impact of each person who chooses to endanger society when stepping out the front door. This poster has a very strong message, stay home or the knock on effects could be disastrous. I found this design to be quite shocking but massively impactful and effective. I especially like that they have chosen to include a very small amount of text at the very end; the two words say hardly anything and yet everything and they leave nothing to be questioned.

In contrast, the message to commuters is mostly text. We do have a few small icons to guide the reader but they are not necessarily the focal point in this design. I found this design to have much more attitude than the first. The choice of wording is very interesting, almost humorous in its bluntness, though I do not think this to be the intended effect. Similar to our first design it has a very straightforward message, unless you are an essential worker you should remain at home. However this poster is challenging the reader to confront their own actions in response to this pandemic whilst in the act. The use of a question here is quite provoking. Keeping the same typeface throughout, the reader is not distracted by decoration or overwhelmed by many different elements. I think it is in the simplicity of this design that its seriousness comes through.

 

Do different approaches produce different results?

I find the implied consequences in the first poster to provoke a stronger response in me than the second. I am not being told what to do or think but I am able to see and understand for myself how my role can affect the society in which I live and I think this greater understanding of context and consequence leaves a greater impression than the second poster which is correcting an action already taken.

 

References

Stay home. Image created by Barış Cihan Peşmen. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives – help stop the spread of COVID-19. Available at: https://unsplash.com/photos/jTK820WUr2k

Subway message for commuters. New York City, NY, USA. Available at: https://unsplash.com/photos/yCk_WyOdzAk

Happy Feet

The class

Through this class I gained a much better practical understanding of the appropriate use of spacing tools such as tracking, leading and space before, and the guidelines with which spacing within text should be considered. I had not used paragraph rules before and so I was very glad to have discovered this particular tool. I also enjoyed learning how to create a template, in this case replicating a classic Penguin book cover and then using this template as the foundation for experimentation.

 

The cover

For my cover I chose to focus on the penguin logo. It has become so iconic but is often not designed to be the focus piece of any cover designs. It is almost always positioned in the middle of the bottom third of the cover on a blank background. The movie ‘Happy Feet’ singles out one penguin from the rest as being different and unusual so I wanted to play around with the use of the penguin, it’s colour and it’s position to create the background of the top and bottom thirds whilst echoing the storyline of the movie.

 

 

Cateye

Brief

Gather three interesting facts about your partner. Use these three facts to design the ideal gift for them, whilst following the ‘Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver’ method from Design Council.

 

Process

My first three words were cat, travel, food. I started looking into what I could create based on the cat, there is so much cat paraphernalia out there however that this on its own wasn’t proving to be very interesting. So I experimented with incorporating the travel and food elements more. One of my earlier ideas was an app that you could use in the airport to direct you to allergen friendly foods for those on restricted diets. This is because one of my partners said they were gluten intolerant.

On the hour each hour for three hours we had to add a random word into the mix. The first word I was given was bird. When I think of birds I think of birdsong, vibrant colours and flight. Flight fit perfectly with the theme of travel and so I incorporated a birds wing into my Cateye logo. I went for ‘cateye’ as a play on words from red eye flights. My second word was game. I realised that this app could be both functional and playful. By expanding the cat theme to become a Pokemon-go style collection game, I could integrate the second word pretty well. The idea being that when you find and scan your vegan wrap, you unlock the Cheshire Cat avatar to add yo your family of cats, etc. My third and final random word was milkshake. So I expanded the game idea and included treats to be earned for the cats you have collected.

 

Reflection

At first I found it really hard to just scratch out a bunch of ideas freely that related to my initial three words. I found I was trying to think of something, rather than just jot down all the ideas that were coming to mind. It was then made much more difficult when throwing in really random words at different points along the process. However, I really enjoyed stretching myself in the idea forming process. This wasn’t a method I had tried before, and though it was a challenge I really appreciated how it encouraged me to push my ideas further and experiment more.

Boris

Brief:

Create two images which convey ‘Politician‘. The first image should convey the word directly. The second image must have one addition to change the feeling or the meaning of the first image. Export into a GIF.

Process:

When I think of a politician the first image I see is a man in a suit behind a podium. It is quickly accompanied by the impression of greed, deception and power. Image is considered everything and so is public perception. This makes many political environments very controlled and staged. I wanted to create something which would pull back the curtain and reveal what people really want to know. We always watch these press conferences and wonder what is not being said, or very much wish they would just say what we are all thinking or know to be true.

My first image is of a political scene as they are often portrayed. My second image has defaced the first with a message we would rather was being shared or admitted.

I was going to create a generic man to represent the ‘politician’, but my classmates suggested a well known figure would make the piece more personable and therefore more impactful, as it relates to this brief. Therefore I chose an image of Boris Johnson at one of the latest COVID news conferences. At first I had thought to deface this image through imposing a monkey over his face, or some other image to suggest foolishness often associated with politicians. However I found this to be too gimmicky and not quite message I was wanting the image to create.

Instead I went for the crude sort of style we often see in text books and on posters. I like how it so effortlessly defaces the controlled and sophisticated front trying to be conveyed by the politicians and brings an element of chaos to the scene. I chose to desaturate the image to further the contrast between their staged presentation and our desire for all the information, however shocking.

To create this loop I first created each image in Illustrator and exported them to Photoshop. In Photoshop I was able to make each layer a 0.5 second clip to play on repeat. From here I could export it as a GIF.

Reflections:

I like how it is as if the message breaking through the mask here is that the podium is saying what Boris isn’t. The simplicity of the design puts the point across clean and clear and I am pleased with how well this has fulfilled the brief. I also learnt how to make a GIF on Photoshop, a function I didn’t know about before.

Never ending narrative

Brief:

A client has written a novel and asks you to work on the design of the book. He wants you to develop a concept that enhances and brings forward the visual dimension of the story. He does not request a traditional design, but a book that helps to develop the narrative through its form and materiality.

  • Loop: a man picks up a novel and starts reading it sitting in an armchair with his back to the door. He sinks into the novel, in which a man and a woman meet in a cabin. They are lovers, but their attention is focused on murder: the man is going to kill the woman’s husband. Following her instructions, knife in hand, the man goes inside and sees his victim: a man who is sitting in an armchair reading a book with his back to the door.

Process:

  • I had the idea to glue the two covers together to simulate the never ending narrative of this storyline, then to draw or cut an impression of the man reading in his chair throughout the pages. However I found that the binding of this book was quite strong and so rather than the pages spraying open evenly in a circular way when the covers were pulled together, instead few of the pages followed. This was not the desired effect so I experimented with removing the cover and slicing strips down the glue of the spine. I hoped this would give it more flexibility and allow the pages to look like one continuous loop. This proved quite difficult to execute and drastically weakened the spine so I decided to adjust the design.
  • Instead I started to cut away the pages to develop a portrait of a mans face. At first I was cutting very carefully a group of pages at a time. But this meant I  had the same design running through the whole book. I quickly realised I could easily carve the pages, as if shaving cuttings off of wood, which made the face more 3D. I played with a few different ways of bringing shape and definition to the face also through using layers.
  • My initial idea imagined a complete head cut out to look 3D, so I had to keep in mind that this would be more of a slither of the centre line down a mans face. Being the section of the face with many main features I was confident that the shape would still be legible and reflect that of a portrait. My ability to bring in definition and round shape was a slightly limited due the thickness/thinness of the book. To adapt to this I cut some block layers from the front and the back of the book for more stark and abrupt shaping. I really like the effect of this, especially when it is played with the light.

Reflections:

I really like how the light plays with the shapes of the pages in this book to enhance the design and mirror the storyline. As each page is turned, the shadows echo the message of the book and the intended design. To further this design I would like to explore the impact of colour and shading applied directly to the pages to make each page turn more intriguing to turn. This would also aid in bringing more detailed definition to the structure of the face.

Hannahsmithosis

Brief 

To create a monogram, a graphic representation of your name. Develop ideas of ways your first initial could transform into your second initial – a metamorphosis.

Process

We had the choice between Futura (san serif) and Garamond (serif). Though I began open to both fonts, I was drawn to Garamond because I really like the added detail in the serif and found that the letters created more interesting shapes to play with. My early ideas were playing with the H and S in capitals, however I quickly found it was hard to blend the two together. Therefore I explored the option of using the lower case of each of these letters.

(Preliminary sketches)

Garamond is quite a round font and so when I put the lower case ‘s’ inside the lower case ‘h’ I found they blended really nicely. I had thought I’d need to scale down the ‘s’ for it to fit the ‘h’ counter but both letters were consistent with the x-height so no alterations in size were needed. Once paired, I thought it would be interesting to play with the negative space as a means of forming the monogram. My idea was to keep it quite simple and minimal but my first draft proved to be too abstract for this brief. The ‘s’ was the only prevalent letter. To rectify this I added a rectangular block to represent the negative space to the left of the stem belonging to the ‘h’, this gave me the opportunity to display the serifs.

Another modification which increased the readability of the ‘h’ was that I decided to follow the shoulder of the ‘h’ rather than the ‘s’. This is why the top of the ‘s’ is thicker than that at the bottom. However I think it works well in this design as it blends the two letters together nicely and is not too noticeable.

As a final exploration I wanted to experiment with adding a matching block to the right side of the monogram, to mirror that of the left. I did this because I wasn’t sure if it looked unfinished having it on just the one side. Adding the second bar however created a black box around my monogram and in some ways made it too obvious. It gave the whole shape away. I really like in my final monogram how you get to look for the finished shape a bit. The eye is taken down the right hand side of the shape through the point and so naturally completes the shape. This I found to be a much better ending than to simply box in the monogram.

(block vs box)

 

(Final monogram)

Now you see me?

 

For this project we were tasked with noticing and capturing letterforms in the environment around us. We are used to being bombarded with messages on signs and posters, but we often fail to see the more subtle ways letterforms are guiding our steps and our thoughts throughout the day. When walking around campus with my camera in my hand, ready to capture all the letterforms I could see, I was quickly overwhelmed by how confidently set they were on near enough everything I encountered. Being aware of how much I was seeing, I was sure there were many more I wasn’t.

I chose to take a series of photographs that explored the shape, function and setting of the letterforms I came across on campus. Some were of interest to me because of how they played with, or were reliant upon, the light to communicate clearly. In others I enjoyed the often bold, and sometimes mysterious shapes that combined to create legible letterforms. Then there were those that were seeking to clearly convey a message. As fun as I found it to explore light and shape, I was particularly interested in the letterforms wishing to convey a clear or instructive message. The letterform itself was not sufficient in and of itself to communicate the desired message, perspective and positioning were also key factors in having these letterforms produce meaning in a given context.

After collecting our photographs we were to organise them into a system that made sense to us. I went for three groupings; shape, light and message, as these were the three things that stood out most to me as I was observing the use, function and creation of these letterforms. In allocating my photos to each of these groups I found light and shape relatively easy to assign, whereas ‘message’ was rather ambiguous. Most of the letterforms that have been created and installed in our environment could be argued to have a message, or a purpose for being where they are. I suppose what I meant by this title was looking at the combined letterforms in their context. Going forward I would take more time to consider my choice of words when organising my work to ensure my system still makes sense to me when I come back to it later, and anyone else who many need to understand it.