Author: NataliaBiegala

Designing in 3D – Illustrator

Design ideas and design process

The use of boxes and geometric shapes was my main concept for this project, as this is not only the style of work I relish engendering but also something I thought of being a personal challenge for myself in this particular task. I was also very keen on utilizing the letter ‘a’ in most of my sketches as I conceived of it as a ‘logo’ for the podcast: letter ‘a’ stands for the word aperture, as well as visualises the concrete feature of this letterform.

Design Idea 01
Figure 01

Albeit quite simple, my first design concept (Figure 01)inspired the rest of my final designs for this task in a subtle way. The sticker features a 3D letter ‘a’, which I have previously utilized for the branding of the podcast, as well as text that I positioned parallel to the x-height of the letter ‘a’. I have made this decision based on the designs I have fabricated for this project before producing the stickers.

Design Idea 02
Figure 02

The second design idea (Figure 02) was a lot more complex and has challenged me in many ways. The design features a block building with text that was carefully rendered on the ‘roof’ of the construction. I have also added geometrical ‘clouds’ to give this image more dimension and indicate some movement, rather than a still object/image. Regarding the colours, I have set with yellow and pink as they not only complement each other but also mimic the appearance of a sunset, decorating this image with more realistic elements.

Figure 03

My personal favourite was the last design idea presented on this page (Figure 03). Although I have had it in mind from the starting stages of the project, It took me a lot of experimentation and development to finalise this concept.

I have first begun by creating flat shapes (boxes) in the centre of the page. I have then used the ‘extrude & bevel’ tool to transform the 2D squares into cubes etc. Using these, I built the ‘box’ part of the design. I have repeated these steps for the letters and type in my design.  At that point, I was quite happy with what I have had produced, and therefore I continued adding more effects such as the pink glow, that’s emerging from the box (Figure 04&05), to add a surreal element to the image. While I was quite fond of what I have created, I still felt like the image looked lifeless and flat, despite being portrayed in its 3D form.

Figure 04

To adapt this design, I used what I learnt – through my research about the program – to create and apply various effects. Firstly, I decided to intensify the glow emerging from the box. Since I made this using a semi-transparent gradient,

Figure 05

I attempted to change the colour to something lighter and more vibrant, but in the end, I decided to simply change the layer style to hard light, which seemed to work best with my design. Additionally, decided to add a glowing rim around the edge of the box, which is seen in the podcast cover and postcard designs. Although there’s an option in illustrator to create such effect within seconds, there’s little flexibility with this tool; therefore, I created the effect from scratch. Initially, I have duplicated outer rim of the box twice. Subsequently, I chose the colours and locked one of the copies in place, while increasing the stroke width of the second outline. Lastly, I applied a gaussian blur to the thicker outline which softened the stroke, resulting in a glowing effect (Figure 06).

Figure 06

To make this design even more vivid, I experimented with the shadows around the box, finally deciding on using a shade of fuchsia pink (Figure 07&08), which I selected using the colour guide tool in illustrator. I feel like this adaptation to my initial design is what really elevated it, and made it look more like the stickers I looked at while preparing for this task.

Figure 07
Figure 08

Once satisfied with the outcome, I added a few more finishing touches including more floating letters, with varied angles and perspectives to make them appear like they are levitating in the air.

Software tutorials

As I haven’t used Illustrator for over eight months, the essential tutorials refreshed my recollection on this subject. Preferably, I fixated on watching a few more tutorials on LinkedIn learning. I probed for videos about logo design, as I considered the sticker as something that can be utilized as a logo for the podcast. One video that I found auxiliary in my studies was Logo Design: Techniques (2016), as it explicated how to produce different effects that we visually perceive in subsisting logo designs. The video, in lieu of explicating how to utilize the built-in implements in Illustrator, gave an in-depth guide on how to create those effects using paths/transformation tools etc. which gave me flexibility within my design. Furthermore, I’ve also watched a few sections from Illustrator Essential Training (2020) to help me become more confident at using the pen tool, which I relied on to create the cutting outlines for my designs. Since my sticker designs were purely typographical and geometrical, I haven’t had the chance to improve my ability to use the pen tool: I’d like to create more complex vector illustrations using this tool, to help me with work on other modules. Over the next few months, I’d like to develop this skill, by watching more creating more logo and sticker designs based on what I have learnt.

Resources for research and inspiration
Figure 10

I have first approached this project by producing a rough plan of what I’d like to-do: where to commence, what existing imagery I should visually examine etc (Figure 10). Once I’ve done that, I began sketching conceptions by hand; these were rough drawings of visuals/shapes I wished to include in my design. I have also looked at existing sticker designs across a popular merchandise website, that sells stickers made by contemporary designers, like myself,  I have also visited Behance and looked at how professional designers create their stickers and artwork, what features, colours and effects they use. Analysing these, prior to the design stage, helped me figure out how I’d like my sticker to look like, in terms of colour and its overall aesthetic. I’ve created a mood board using a few screen-shots of my favourite imagery for reference, to look back at when I’m searching for inspiration.

Figure 11
Figure 12
Figure 12





Collaboration piece, Movies Monsters 2:
Anastasiya Brykova. Acer x Skillbox Sticker pack #1:
MIGHTY SHORT, Le Sticker pack #1:

Sérgio Bergocce, Sotaques:
Juan Afanador, Fat and Ninja:




Managing space – Flyer Design

Movie flyer, print-ready

By far one of my most favourite ‘mini’ project we had so far. Unlike other projects, this one was all about arranging and organising information, which is something I enjoy doing and hoping to do more in the foreseeable future. At the beginning of this task, I received a list of movies and information that needed to be embedded stylistically. Having first looked at the sheet it was quite clear that there was a lot of minor ‘flaws’ that made the text difficult to read and comprehend. Ranging from various time and date formats to misused hyphens.
Due to the limited time given to complete this task, I had to work under pressure; however, having seen existing movie flyers and work of other students, I had an idea of what I wanted my outcome to look like.
My aim for this project was to create something simple, clean and organised. This gave me an idea to embed the key information (according to my judgement) in small boxes, staring from time to the age rating and any other extra information. While designing the boxes, I also wanted to highlight the language and whether the movie had audio description/subtitles. The reasoning behind my decision was that I thought these features affect the movie directly.
In terms of the hierarchy, It was important to me to tailor it to the needs of most adults. As a lot of us live a busy life or work, it was important to me to make sure that the time, date and place are clear and obvious, as it would be pointless for someone to read all the information about the movie, if they can’t attend it.

Although the feedback I received was mostly positive, I introduced some changes in terms of space:

  1. added extra space between the vertical bars and the text, so that it is not mistaken for a letter
  2. changed the colour of the text, for further differentiation between the text and the vertical bars
  3. re-aligned the text boxes
  4. made sure that the names of the actors were not separated


COVID-19 – Blue or Yellow?

Sue and Emma’s project was all about gathering real-life examples of COVID images around us. Since it’s been months since the first Corona outbreak, it’s fair to say that we all got used to the repetitive posters and announcements that routinely remind us about the laws put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus in the UK. Having said this, a lot of us stopped paying attention to the posters themselves. I highly valued this experience as it’s not often that I look or analyse real-life examples of information design. It has taught me a lot about features found in Covid imagery, from the choice of colour to the specific fonts and typefaces.
As expected all of the imagery I collected using a sans-serif typeface. Most likely, this is a result of sans-serif fonts are often considered as cleaner and more serious, while also easier to read from up close or distance. A lot of the posters and images I have found had a centre alignment and used a very limited number of colours (2-4 at most). ‘Keeping it simple’ is the key fact in information design as you want everyone to understand the information you’re presenting. A lot of the posters were also accompanied by icons and vector images that illustrated what was stated on the posters.
Notably, I have noticed that most of these posters came in 3 colours, blue, red and yellow. Blue is quite commonly used in information design as it is a neutral cool colour. While I agree that the posters in blue were effective, I feel like they are more of a guide rather than enforcement of the law. On the other hand, the yellow posters were combined with a highly contrasting colour such as Yellow (in the examples presented on this page). Unlike the blue posters, yellow draw much more attention, as the combination is known in nature for indicating caution.

Typography iSpy in UoR

During the 2nd week of mini-projects I was honoured to meet Eric Kindel who presented me with the brief, that, unlike many others, involved going out and exploring real-life examples of eye-catching type around us. These could have been photographs of logos, singular letters/numbers, 3D type etc. Quite luckily that day the weather was quite good, hence providing us with good lighting and subtle shadows that accentuated any raised type.
While outside I focused on finding hidden type, one that wasn’t visible straight away, or its features weren’t as obvious from the distance, as opposed to up close. I also tried photographing these examples of type from different angles, especially if it was raised, to see whether that affected how we see it. After we have taken the photos in the given amount of time, we were asked to produce visual collages based on the common similarities between the typography we have taken photographs of.

Beforehand, I edited any images I wished to use in this mini project via Adobe Photoshop, which allowed me to emphasise some of the features, and make sure that all images within the collage look visually similar to one another. In some cases, I have also straightened up the photographs, making sure that they have some logical perspective, and are overall pleasing to look at.

Working outdoors really reminded me of what it means to be a graphic designer. Having spent a year in London last year, I learnt that working from home is a challenge, as the best and easiest source of inspiration is the world that surrounds us. During this activity, I also consolidated my skills as a Typographer, as it taught me to explore and type that I haven’t paid much attention to in the past.

Monograms – Illustrator design task

So far Kim’s project was one of my favourites as it allowed me to explore something that I’ve been putting my free time into – Illustration design. Although the task asked us to design a monogram using our initials, it felt a lot more personal and therefore really allowed me to express the way I work and approach tasks.

As mentioned previously, the aim of this task was to create a monogram – a combination of two letters, using either Garmond or Futura typefaces. I personally chose Futura, as I am more attracted to the ‘orderly’ aspect of sans-serif typefaces.  Initially, I started sketching out some ideas on my iPad, however, I then decided to go back a step and start designing on paper. Personally, I found this a lot more helpful as I noticed that I was generating more ideas while working on physical paper. After generating some sketches in pen etc, I then decided to go back to working digitally. As we were designing monograms (logos for our initials essentially) I decided to use Adobe Illustrator for this task. I first began recreating some of the sketches I have done previously to see what works best alongside the Futura typeface. The first ideas were quite simple and straightforward, a either one or both letters were upright and looked like two letters put together (literally). It wasn’t until I started looking at more abstract versions of my monogram, I began designing monograms that had some interest to them. The 2nd photograph on this page presents the design development process based on one of the more abstract ideas I have created previously. First I started by rearranging the orientation of these letters, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and then once I was satisfied with the result, I began rotating the monogram in order to see if it looks different/more effective when looked at from a different perspective. My hypothesis was quite right, presenting the monogram at a slight angle made it look more stylised, almost like a logo.

Lastly, I added some colour and drop shadow to the monogram I liked the most. I chose mint green as the primary colour and then matched it with a purple tone that I chose using the colour guide tool in Illustrator. Besides the overall look of this monogram and its colours, I personally like how the letters complement each other, without masking what they are; both ‘n’ and ‘b’ are completely readable but have a more abstract aesthetic to it then.

Loop – A book redesign

Today’s session was hosted by Berta Ferrer, who talked to us about books: What they are, what makes a book a book. We have also looked at examples by other artists and designers, who took an alternative approach in creating books. From cutting up pages to rearranging the words to create a novel, I have learnt that a book doesn’t necessarily need to look like a monotonous novel. A book is just an object, and the text within it is its content; therefore, books don’t need a narrative in order to be considered a book. Artists such as Keith Smith, whose work we looked at, replaces content with other objects (thread) to alter one’s experience with the book.
Consequently, we were asked to create our own book, using a book we already have. Since I haven’t found a book I could use, I chose to work with one of the magazines I own and alter it in that way. The title of my book was a loop, and it tells us a story of a man who gets pulled into a book, and re-lives the same memory over and over. Since the book mentioned a female character I decided to work with that instead, as I was intrigued by this mysterious character in the story.
Unlike the works of others, mine differed a lot due to my limited resources available. Working with a magazine proved to be a lot more difficult, as the pages were thin and full of images rather than text. The pages were also thinner which made them a lot more difficult to manipulate them to form different shapes. On the other hand, I quite enjoyed the activity, despite the ‘manual’ aspect of it. As a designer I find myself working more comfortably digitally, so working hands-on was a bit of a challenge. Having said this, however, I really enjoyed working with different media and creating collages, that I would have never thought of making.

Religion – Free the Uighurs

Creating impactful images with Sara was probably one of my favourite activities so far. Creating work with deeper meaning has always been something I felt passionate about, and the activity allowed me to practice my illustration skills.  As part of the brief, I was asked to create two images based on the theme of religion. Based on my own knowledge, I was aware of the current issues in China regarding the Uighurs, an ethnic minority found mostly in east Asia. the idea was based on a photograph I saw of Uighur protests, I have used it as a reference for my idea. I decided to produce my ideas using Procreate and Illustrator, as these are two illustrating software I’m most familiar with.
The first image presents a girl in a hijab (wearing blue, a symbolic colour for Uighur people)  holding two flags: on the left, the flag of China and on the right, the flag of  East Turkestan. I chose to use a young girl for this image for two specific reasons: to portray the innocence of Uighur people and to make a statement on the sexist standards that are still part of the Chinese culture

I think that some of this was communicated through my image, although I could have made the flags more clear and visible so that It is obvious what my work is about. Personally, I have struggled with creating the flags. Due to their weird form and the physics involved, I had no idea how to go about making the flags look realistic but still readable.

In the second image, I was aiming to make the flag seem like its strangling the girl, who’s hanging down from it, showing China’s oppression on the Uighurs. I have also removed the Uighur flag from the image, to create more of downward motion. To add to this, I chose to add a darker filter, to further emphasise the disturbing and menacing theme of the image.