Category: Drawing vector objects

Homegoing

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’, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n34-YmNJMrc .

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  https://www.bookbrowse.com/reviews/index.cfm/book_number/3418/homegoing 

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)’, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9vzcdbPMOs 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’ https://email.uplers.com/blog/most-appealing-banner-fonts/ ,and from this blog I found the typeface ‘Avenir’ which I found  very suitable for my banner design.

Homegoing, and not by choice

Design ideas and design process:

To create the wreath, I started with composing the cotton vector.  I drew a symmetrical cream circle and drew a leaf using the pen tool. I adjusted the leaf to be more symmetrical with the anchors.

Using snapguides I placed the leaf onto the intersection of the circle, but later adjusted it so that it was larger than the cotton bud, so it looked like the cotton was really encapsulated. I duplicated and reflected the leaf vertically and placed it behind the first leaf and added a stroke to the shape so that it was visible, but only just darker than the fill green so it wasn’t harsh. To make the cotton appear fluffy and less flat i made semicircles by removing paths from a circle and gave them a slightly darker stroke in a similar style to the leaves for additional detail. I arranged the additional cream circles behind the leaves and grouped the entire shape after selecting it to complete the cotton plant. I drew a curved line for the stalk and duplicated and arranged the plants into a wreath but found that I would have to edit some of the stalks to prevent awkward gaps. I also resized some of the duplicated plants to give the wreath some variety.

For the background I followed the original book’s artwork and used a similar colour scheme. I used the rectangle tool to create blocks to represent the land and sky. For the red path, I built a trapezium by adjusting the paths of a square and drew two rectangles that crossed at the centre of the trapezium as the fork in the road. I removed one of the paths by accident and found that a triangle created a better perspective effect than a long rectangle. I resized the wreath and adjusted the font colour (white on bright colours for better legibility) once the background was complete and used snapguides to centre it.

 

Software tutorials:

Most of the tutorials covered similar ground, primarily how to create complex shapes by combining simple ones, which helped me visualise how to break down images, so I don’t need to draw them. Other tutorials assisted me with my path and anchor tweaking skills as I have had difficulty with adjusting drawings to be less harsh. I do need more practice as the merge options are still confusing and I opted to multi-select my shapes and group them instead of combining them as there were difficulties.

Drawing the leaf and adjusting it for symmetry
combining the leaf shapes and giving them an outline for detail
Making the bud more complex by adding detail
Finished cotton plant
simple background made of geometric shapes
Initial attempt at drawing the paths with the pen tool
More accurate perspective shown with the triangular path shape
Adjusted centrepiece with additional information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources for research and inspiration:

I used the original book cover as inspiration for the colour scheme and the images I made. As the design was for a Facebook banner, I wanted it to be simple whilst still displaying the core themes of the podcast. I chose the paths to represent how despite being sisters the main characters were given very different lives- the destination of each path isn’t visible as the sisters didn’t have that foresight. It does kind of spoil it on the blurb, though.

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’:

Evaluation

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.

Homegoing Banner

Design Ideas and Design Process

This is the vector drawing I created in response to a brief asking us to design a Facebook banner for the book “Homegoing”.  The task required us to base the banner of the existing cover for the book. In order to start generating ideas I pasted an image of the book cover next to my art-board in illustrator.  I wanted to have a deeper understanding of the book in order to guide my design ideas. To do this I read about the book on a BBC webpage which gave a brief summary of the themes conveyed in the book. This allowed me to keep my work relevant to the story. I decided to create a sense of duality in my banner as the story is based on two sisters leading very different lives lead and how this effects generations after them. I had the idea to create a banner with two silhouettes (as this would create a similar effect to the existing book cover), facing each other. I also looked at photography of west African women and found photos I could trace to make the banner contextually accurate to the setting of the book. 

 I started the design process off by using the eyedropper tool to grab two of the colours from the existing book cover and created two rectangles on each half of the art board in these colours. I pasted the images of the women in and flipped one round so that their was a ‘mirroring’ effect. I then began to use the pen tool to trace around the images, I used the command key to edit the handles (fig1). I then filled in the outline with the colour of the mirrored images background, creating a kind of cut out mirror effect (fig2).

(fig 1-2) showing the use of pen tool to create a mirrored SILHOUETTE effect

 

To add some detail to the silhouettes, I added a headband to one women and a hoop earring to another, I feel like this also added to representing the characters more accurately with them being of opposite classes in society. I used the shape tool for the earring and edited a circle to fit the shape of an earring and I used the pen tool for the headband. (Fig3-6).   

 (fig 3-6) showing the use of the shape and pen tools to create a hoop earring and headband 

 

To add some further detail to the banner. I replicated the plants seen on the book cover I did this by using the pen tool to create the rounded white shape, I then used the pen tool again to create half the diamond shape and duplicated this using the option key and dragging my mouse. I then flipped this and combined the  two shapes using the shape builder tool. (Fig 7-9). I then used the shape builder tool again, this time pressing the option key for remove, to remove the overlapping shapes going off the art board.(fig 10-11)

(fig 7-9) using the shape builder to create a diamond shape by combining two halves
(fig 10-11) using the shape builder tool to remove excess shapes

 

I decided that I wasn’t overly happy with the colours that I had used so I changed the silhouette shapes to match the dark navy colour that is used in the plants. I also wanted to add some more repetition to my design so I duplicated the silhouettes and made them larger behind the first ones to add an outline effect. (Fig 12-13) 

(fig 12-13) adding last touches – changing colour SLIGHTLY and adding a coloured outlines to the SILHOUETTE

 

Software Tutorials

For this task I found two tutorials. One very broad tutorial/course (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib8UBwu3yGA&t=10918s) which helped me to understand the software as a whole and was a good outline of the features it has to offer and how these can be used. I also found a shorter and more specific tutorial on how to create a silhouette in illustrator (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EquA6Xje4g&t=443s). I found the illustrator course video on YouTube really beneficial as I feel like it took me through all the tools I needed to get a good grasp of the software. It demonstrated how to use the shape and line tools, the shape builder tool, the curvature tool, the pen tool, the pencil tool, brushes, gradient tool and the pattern tool as well as other features such as liquifying and distorting and bending and warping shapes. I think the most useful part of the tutorial was probably learning about the shape builder tool. This really helped me to realise that I could create any shape I wanted quickly and easily within this software. For example for this task I used the shape tool when creating the navy parts of the plants. I feel like this tutorial taught me that I really needed to practice using the pen tool, which I had aimed to do in this task and I feel as though my use of it was effective, especially in creating the silhouettes of the two women. The second tutorial helped to reinforce the importance of the pen tool in creating complex shapes and this is where I got the idea to trace an existing image.

Resources for Research and Inspiration

One of my main inspirations for this task was the original book cover for “Homecoming” as well as the actual story itself.  I wanted to create a social media banner that really represented the themes of the book whilst associating with the style of illustration used on the existing book cover. I learnt more about the book through reading (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/341QFdHDQGDqQzzx5P1BMmc/vote100books-7-novels-by-women-that-deserve-your-attention). I did also take a look at the different covers that had been previously designed to see how other designers had approached this book and its themes. Another strong influence on my work was researching photography of west African women. This allowed me to depict the characters accurately in terms of the hairstyles they would wear. It was also inspiring to see their clothes as this made me think about different patterns I could have used. The last thing I did to gain inspiration for this task was looking at a website that displayed different ways to create a Facebook banner (https://www.canva.com/learn/50-creative-facebook-covers-to-inspire-you/). This website displayed 50 different Facebook covers and was a really good insight into all the possibilities when designing a social media banner. It also helped me to consider things like where the banner wouldn’t be visible behind the profile picture. It was really useful to look at what worked well and what didn’t work well and apply this to my own work. Although it was not related to this particular task it did also help me to consider how the profile picture and banner need to compliment each other and the different ways this can be achieved. Overall all of these things were really influential in my final design.

Exploring vector objects with Yaa Gyasi

Design process

The first step of this whole task was to find an appropriate background or pattern that I thought would look appealing to add the rest of the designs in. This would be with this pattern that I found on google, the colours match Yaa Gyasi’s pallet for her book.

The second step of this task was then getting an impactful image to make the design more relative to the brief. This is why I use a Silhouette of Yaa Gyasi herself. I then used the pen tool to outline her head and neck shape.

The third step for this design was then to remove the background of the image that I selected, which was a white background. I did this to ensure that when I did move on to changing the colour of the outline and the colour of the image itself, it wouldn’t be as appealing.

 

The fourth step of this task was then to include some colour to this silhouette, in my case I wanted to include the same colour palette as the book cover. This is why I have included the exact same blue and the same reds as the cover. I did this by using the eyedropper tool, which was very useful they are very different reds and navy blues. After this, I then used the silhouette as a basis for the main component as the design for this vector task. I also flipped the colours on two of them as you can below, with the red filled and outlined silhouettes above the blue silhouettes.

 

The next and final step was actually adding in the title of the vector design for Facebook.  Which was spefically the title of the book by Yaa Gyasi which was also included in the design. I also included a black outline for the title and for her name which I made white to pop.

 

Software tutorials and Sources of inspiration

Software tutorials

This was the section of this week’s tasks that I did enjoy a lot, due to the fact that there was such a range of material that was out there to find and learn. I do know that there were a couple of software tutroials that I did like which were useful enough to get me started with what I wanted to achieve when I was in the process of thinking of ideas and simple design plans for this vector advert. The first tutorial that I wanted to mention is ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNjxcvvP1Mo ).

This YouTube video did help me with learning how to use the pen tool with letters,  it showed the letter A and the letter S. I then learned how to do it right and curved lines to trace around images or letters in this case.  The tutorials that were given to us in the brief were quite useful as well in terms of getting an idea of what types of work I could create using these tools in Illustrator. This link did give me some idea of the basics as well of using this tool.
( https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/illustrator/how-to/drawing-tools-basics.html ).

The next source for tutorials for me when I was in the process of thinking about where to look for steps in creating certain designs. I went on YouTube again, due to the reliability of the videos. They didn’t give any false information and made everything very clear. If something wasn’t apparent when I was doing something they did explain it. which is what made the experience of trying out these new tools and processes even more enjoyable and peaceful. The video that I used that was amazing for me was
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxcCLan0Yko ).

Sources of inspiration

The main task for this practice was to produce an illustration for a social media banner for a podcast by Yaa Gyasi. The book is called ‘Homegoing’, I did really see this book cover and other art similar to it as very true to itself and more so in tune with the heritage of African people. There were very different shapes, angles and colours behind every layer which did help me with deciding what type of background pattern I was going to end up using, In the end, I did end up using something very similar in terms of colour pattern to the book cover.

I do think that the best source of inspiration was from looking at videos and also looking on Pinterest as well. I used Pinterest to ensure that I could get the most out of people who have already made certain Yaa Gyasi designs already.  With Pinterest I did find a few pictures and posts that people decided to put up, that did seem to look like what I had in mind with designing my own advert design. This helped me with knowing what to design quite inspirational. ( https://www.pinterest.co.uk/search/pins/?q=homegoing%20yaa%20gyasi%20designs&rs=typed&term_meta[]=homegoing%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=yaa%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=gyasi%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=designs%7Ctyped )

The next piece of inspiration that I did find very helpful was a video that I came across when I was looking through YouTube. This video looked at what African heritage looks like and gave a few designs within illustrator. This video showed me what type of colours , patterns , styles and whuch colours compliment one another. Instead of me looking for a set of designs that looked like the ‘Homegoing’ book I wanted to expand my knowledge on certain patterns and also specific meanings. In my case I was looking for a set of familiar designs that I could have gone off of, at the end of my decision-making process of what background, for example, I was going to use. Was quite simple as I learned that watching these videos and looking at posts on Pinterest that these designs are all patterns and the patterns follow a set way of starting and ending.(  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIUHtb14ZhY )

This is why I did go ahead and pick this image. This image or pattern was then duplicated in y final design because, in essence, it could. It was perfect for what I needed to create, in terms of making a simplistic and vibrant pattern. This image was the focal point of the foundation for building up my design from the ground up, starting off with a simple silhouette.

This image was the focal point of the foundation for building up my design from the ground up, starting off with a simple silhouette.