Category: Uncategorised

HMP Huntercombe Prison poster design


Huntercombe Prison have worked alongside Reading University’s typography students to create communication materials for the prisoners for many projects. Huntercombe is a Category C, foreign national deportation prison for adult males in Oxfordshire. The client wanted to improve the attitudes towards violence and make the inmates aware of the consequences in a clear, structured way that would be understandable even for inmates with poorer linguistic abilities. In order to ensure this, we collaborated with two English Language students from Reading.


The brief for this project was to create an A0 printed poster on violence reduction which would replace an existing board of text heavy information that is regularly dismissed. The poster would aim to educate inmates on the importance of avoiding and resisting violence. Principally by explaining the consequences of committing such offences and provide information on who they can speak to in the prison for support or help.


All communication to the prison was done through Suzanne Portch, a teacher for the University’s Linguistics department who had previously worked at Huntercombe Prison. Suzanne supported us with the design of the poster and was readily available to answer any questions as communication to the prison is very slow. We also conversed with our supervisor about design and typographic features, though he admitted that most feedback about the suitability and content had to be done by the prison staff.

Visit to the Prison

On 30 January, we went on a trip to visit the prison to talk to the staff and inmates about what specifics they wanted from us. Upon our visit to the prison, both inmates and staff highlighted some features we needed to consider when designing the poster:

  • No complex language can be used due to many of the inmates having very limited language skills.
  • Inmates are not allowed to loiter in the corridors so therefore cannot stand and read the poster for a long duration of time.
  • Prison staff mentioned avoiding colours and imagery of a stimulating nature.
  • The inmates expressed a wish for the new design to be visually engaging as it is to replace the existing, boring notice board. This was made up of A4 sheets of white paper with large blocks of all-caps, black and red text.
  • The correct prison specific terminology must be used.
  • There must be an area of the poster not designed on, allocated for the staff to stick their own images on of people the inmates can turn to for help.


After visiting the prison, the team discussed the angle we wanted the poster to take. The poster needed to explain to inmates how their violent actions have consequences, such as impacting time they are serving or having their privileges removed. However, we decided that the poster would aim to connect with the inmates on a more emotional level which would help them properly understand the consequences of violence in a more human context. During the visit one of the inmates had made a comment saying avoiding violence is a choice that every inmate can make. This decision not only has an effect on them, but their family too as visiting privileges could be removed, or more severe punishment may be implemented. We decided this is a really important message to convey, particularly as it was bought up by the inmates themselves. It was therefore decided that we use this concept of ‘choice’ to inspire the design and the direction we took not only visually but linguistically.

Both design students brainstormed and sketched out a few ideas and as we progressed made sure to compare and discuss our potential ideas. Together we decided on our two strongest ideas which we presented to the rest of the group [fig.1&2]. Ultimately we decided the signpost concept was more effective [fig.1]. Though this design does not directly illustrate violence, it focusses more on the idea discussed previously of the inmate having the ‘choice’ to take the correct path for them and their family. Though the second idea [fig.2] of the fist is more obviously linked to violence, the imagery has the potential to be inappropriate or even stimulating for some inmates. This could risk encouraging violent tendencies and having the opposite result to the purpose of the poster.

Figure 1
Sign post concept: Representing the idea of choosing the right (non-violent) path.


Figure 2
Punching concept: Fist punching the text, symbolising the idea of breaking the norms.

To combat the poor language skills of some inmate’s and the fact they cannot loiter, we tried to use as little text as possible, in the simplest terms. This was challenging however as we were required to use the correct terminology. Therefore, in order to aid understandability of more complex terms we experimented with the use of icons. We designed them as simply as possible, so they were easily recognisable yet conveyed a lot of meaning. As the poster is so big there was room for the icons to have some detail and still be clear. Meaning the finished icons were both useful and visually interesting. We experimented with colour pallets to see what worked best for the text and icons to be most legible. Eventually deciding on a background colour scheme representative of a sun setting, which was chosen due to the calming manner of the tones. The text is largely set in navy blue as this colour is dark enough to be legible but not too harsh against the background.

In a further effort to increase readability we had to carefully consider the typeface used. During research we looked at typefaces used for education purposes that are highly legible, created for children who are developing their language skills. We considered using one of these to improve the readability of text. However when testing these typefaces found they were too juvenile and considering the subject matter and the adult audience would be inappropriate. The font we used for the final design is a bold sans serif typeface called FatFrank Heavy. This font has a similar feel to the educational ones we researched as it is quite thick, rounded and clear, yet it is not childish.

Working with linguistics students presented some challenges as well as benefits. It was useful to have more people with ideas and to get feedback from, but their job was far simpler and at times felt unnecessary. However, it was good to get experience working with and organising a team of members from multiple disciplines. Particularly as we gained valuable skills in communication both with clients and team members who are not designers.

Final design

The poster aims to make the prisoners think twice before lashing out or getting involved with violence. We hope this will make them consider the consequences and result in a reduction of violence at Huntercombe. The use of colour and imagery will make the poster stand out from the dull prison walls meaning the information is more likely to be read and absorbed by the inmates. We placed A4 rectangles at the bottom of the poster where images of staff members can be stuck who can support the inmates in dealing with violence. Having these areas blank mean that the images can be easily changed so the poster does not go out of date so fast. In comparison to the existing notice board of text heavy sheets of information, this poster embodies that same information in an interesting, calm manner that is useful and understandable for the inmates.

Final poster design


Once the poster was finished, we had hoped to go and visit the prison again to showcase the design and receive feedback from the staff and inmates. However, due to complications with COVID-19 we were unable to deliver it in person. Despite this we still received positive feedback from Suzanne who thought the emotional direction of the poster was thoughtful and more beneficial for the prisoners. In addition, the overall design succeeds in presenting violence in a calm manner and bringing an element of colour and life into the prison. The feedback implies that the poster will be effective in this way and benefit the prison in tackling violence. 


We found that working in a team of multiple disciplines was challenging at times, but it gave us the opportunity to learn communication skills and the importance of properly organising a team. We learnt that working with people other than designers means adjusting the design process slightly and being sure to articulate ideas and concepts as well as possible.

In terms of difficulties we faced when designing, tackling prison terminology was challenging, especially for programmes that are specific to Huntercombe. For this we communicated a lot with Suzanne, who had some knowledge of this, and the prison staff who were very helpful and ensured that the information on the poster is accurate. This element of the process was a good experience of designing within strict constraints, considering the appropriateness of all design elements and keeping good communication with the client.

We found that talking directly to the inmates was the most effective way to discover how the audience would respond to the poster. Male prisoners with limited language skills are an extremely niche audience to design for, meaning we had to consider things that other projects simply never present. By talking to the inmates, we learnt about prison life, the rules there, and how some inmates manage their mental health in an effort to avoid situations of violence and other offences. The group of inmates we worked with were of the highest level of education and comprehension who explained that they are more conscious of getting out of prison to see their family than committing any violent act. However, they explained that this is not the case for all prisoners and that is why this poster is so essential. This experience was extremely insightful and gave us an opportunity to design something that has the potential to educate and make difference to someone’s life. Encouraging and informing someone who has made mistakes to make good decisions and take steps for a better future.

MA Communication Design Open Morning: Thursday 25 January 2024

Interested in MA Communication Design? Join us at our Open Mornings and discover our 4 study pathways. Visit the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, chat with lecturers and current students, and get advice about how to apply.

Dates: Thursday 25 January 2024

Time: 11:00 am to 1:30 pm (UK time)

Where: Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading


After a welcome from Dr Ruth Blacksell, Department Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies, a presentation about MA Communication Design will focus on our 4 study pathways: Book Design, Information Design, Graphic Design, and Typeface Design. This will be followed by a walk around the Department and a look at our studios, special collections, and printing workshop, ending with a tour of the current Department exhibition.

Contact email:

Register here to attend

Before that, discover more about our Master’s programmes and see our students’ work

Testing beyond Covid: Our point of use instructions at IIID Vision Plus 2023

At the 2023 IIID Vision Plus conference, Josefina gave a presentation about her, Sue Walker, and Al Edwards’s work on the project ‘Information Design for Diagnostics: Ensuring Confidence and Accuracy for Home Sampling and Home Testing’, which looked at the design and usability of instructions for point of use Covid-19 lateral flow rapid tests.

The talk focused on Josefina and Sue’s experience of applying the research findings and the design approach to a set of documents explaining how to use a test for viral flu. The team developed a toolkit to support the creation of point-of-use instructions, taking account of views from diagnostic industry members to inform an understanding of how instructions are produced currently and what guidance might be helpful.

A person presenting at a conference with a presentation slide behind them

Plus, the IIID award ceremony closed the conference, and Josefina won an award in the Healthcare category for her work with CwPAMS on their Antimicrobial Stewardship Toolkit. Congratulations to Josefina!

Way of type – Evolution of Chinese typeforms

17 April – 21 July 2023

An exhibition in the Department charting the development of Chinese type and type-making technologies.

Chinese typeforms are the visual form or shape of Chinese characters in a typeface. They reflect the function of reading Chinese and the aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy. Compared with Latin typefaces, the larger Chinese character set and the complexity and diversity of its typeforms have always presented a challenge to type makers, typeface designers, and typographers.

This exhibition charts the development of type and type-making technologies in China, from the invention of movable type in the eleventh century to the design of digital typefaces of today. It documents the rich variety of Chinese typefaces created in different eras using varied techniques and technologies, presented in high quality digital reproductions.

The exhibition is an abridged version of ‘Way of Type – Modernisation of Chinese typography’, originally curated by Jieqiong Yue and Zhao Liu, and is a collaboration between the University of Reading and the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing. It represents the first exhibition in the UK featuring Chinese typeforms and type design.

Open weekdays, 10 am to 5 pm. Closed bank holidays.

Installation photos

‘Way of type – Evolution of Chinese typeforms’: introduction panel.
Main exhibition. Early Chinese movable type (left wall), Chinese movable type in Europe (right wall).
Main exhibition. Chinese founts of missionaries (left wall); Chinese typewriter (end wall), based on posters by Thomas Mullaney; Type design in modern China (right wall).
Main exhibition. Double Pigeon Chinese typewriter. Donated to the exhibition by Mr Xing Li.
Main exhibition. Typeface specimens and font production materials.
Contemporary Chinese typography. Typeforms shown on screen and in Chinese-language portfolios.
Contemporary Chinese typography. Fifteen-piece puzzle for constructing typeforms.
Exhibition window graphics.


China team
Academic chair: Di’an Fan
Curators: Jieqiong Yue, Zhao Liu
 Xi Yang, Ping Ju,
Liping Du, Yanan Zhang
Assistant designers:
 Kui Zhu, Yue Chen, Peilin Song, Congyu Zhang, Kushim Jiang, Yangzhi Duan, Tengqi Zhaoxu

UK team
Academic chair: Eric Kindel
Curator: Xunchang Cheng
Visual designers:
 Xicheng Yang, Huati Wulan, Ahmet Berke Demir
Production: Geoff Wyeth

Special thanks
Thomas Mullaney, Yiyuan Ma, Li Xing

Texts by
Min Wang, Mingyuan Sun, Zhongxiao Cong,
Xunchang Cheng, Guoyan Ji

Guided by
China Foreign Languages Publishing Administration

University of Reading,
Central Academy of Fine Arts,
China Center for International Communication Development

Department of Typography & Graphic Communication
Co-Innovation Center for Art Creation and Research on Silk Road of CAFA

Special thanks
Hanyi Fonts,
Arts Committee (University of Reading),
Shenzhen Graphic Design Association,
TypeTogether, LiuZhao Studio

User-friendly point-of-use instructions for home use diagnostic tests: guidance and tools

Sue Walker and Josefina Bravo have produced guidance in the form of a toolkit and a dataset for the design of instructions to support home and community diagnostic testing. This derived from the AHRC-funded Covid Rapid Response project ‘Information Design for Diagnostics: Ensuring Confidence and Accuracy for Home Sampling and Home Testing’. The work was also support by funding from the University of Reading’s Rapid Response Policy Engagement funding from Research England, which enabled consultation with research users and implementors of the toolkit.

The toolkit, organised in 5 sections provides guidance on writing, visual organisation and how to engage with your users.

User-friendly point-of-use instructions for home use diagnostic tests provides evidence-based guidance and tools for manufacturers of tests, service providers and content and design specialists who produce instructions to accompany diagnostic tests for home and community use.

The toolkit, organised in 5 sections provides guidance on writing, visual organisation and how to engage with your users. A related data set includes templates and illustrations for download and use.

The resource includes templates and illustrations for download and use

An open-access account of the project is in Information Design Journal doi:

Looking at women looking at themselves being looked at

9 June – 9 September 2022

This exhibition, now open in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, explores the concept of the male gaze in twentieth-century British illustration, and is curated by Cătălina Zlotea.

The exhibition analyses the work of the British illustrator, Charles Mozley (1914–1991), through a contemporary lens. It does so by foregrounding two female stereotypes depicted in advertisements, ephemera, and fine art lithographs made by Mozley between the late 1940s and the early 1980s. The exhibition arrangement creates contrast and conflict between the image of the middle-class “virtuous” woman – a virgin goddess placed on a pedestal – and the “loose” woman – an anonymous sex object signalled through hair colour and scanty clothing. This female presence, recurrent in Mozley’s work, demonstrates the quality of the artist’s draughtsmanship while connoting middle-class masculine virtues, follies, and sexual desires. 

The exhibition is open weekdays, 10 am to 5 pm. Closed bank holidays.

About Charles Mozley

Charles Mozley was born in Sheffield where he studied painting and drawing at the Sheffield College of Arts and Crafts. In 1933 he won a scholarship from the Royal College of Art and moved to London to study painting. After graduating, he taught life drawing, anatomy, and lithography at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. Following the Second World War and for the rest of his career, he worked as a freelance artist. 

Prolific and versatile, Mozley was among the artists commissioned by Frank Pick and Jack Beddington for prestigious London Transport and Shell-Mex advertising campaigns. He also created designs for the advertising agency Colman, Prentis & Varley, for theatre and film production companies, and for many British publishers. He painted a mural for the Festival of Britain, contributed to the popular “School Prints” and “Lyons Lithographs” series, and produced ephemera for restaurants and the wine trade. Alongside commercial work, Mozley continuously painted, made prints, and exhibited in solo and group shows. 

The long list of commissions, as well as the works held by the Charles Mozley Trust, provide evidence that Mozley’s pictures were widely seen in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century. As Nicolas Barker has remarked, Mozley’s work is “a graphic-mirror of the post-war era”, making it a valuable resource for the study of visual culture.


Curator: Cătălina Zlotea
Exhibition design: Cătălina Zlotea, Hannah Smith
Exhibition consultant: Eric Kindel
Archive consultant: Sallie Morris
Production: Geoff Wyeth

Thanks to the Charles Mozley Trust, which has supported this exhibition and the doctoral research by Cătălina Zlotea that informs it.


Selected works by Charles Mozley highlighting key projects.
Overview of the exhibition space contrasting the “loose” woman and the “virtuous” woman, as subjected to the male gaze.
Illustrations by Mozley depicting the “loose” woman.
Illustrations by Mozley depicting the “virtuous” woman.

Designing my stickers

Initial Ideas

Whenever I start a new project I like to look at ways that other people have gone about similar projects so i started off by looking on sites like pinterest to see how other people had designed stickers. However when I looked there wasn’t any stickers that were advertising anything similar to what i wanted so i had to experiment quite a bit by myself. I brainstormed a few ideas and the ones that I ended up going with follow,

Idea One

This was my initial idea for the sticker design. I’m not too sure what gave me the idea to make a sticker of a sunset at the beach for a typography and graphic design podcast but i dont think that it works as well as a sticker as either of the other designs do. I think there is too much going on in this design to be at such a small scale too. these are both things that i keep in mind for my future designs and I think that those ones the mistakes that I made in this designs are less apparent.

Idea Two

For this design I decided to go with a very generic image for the middle with circular text going around the outside. I think that this design looks a lot more like a sticker than the original design does and it is a lot better scaled for its use. I also used a lot less colours in this design, limiting myself to just two colours. I also decided to use a very boring sans serif font to make sure that it was legible because I knew that I was going to be putting it along a circular path.

Idea Three

For this design I decided to use a more abstract shape for the outline that I think would work well as a sticker as it is all composed of smooth curves. I was initially going to put the text filling out the whole sticker but I then decided on having a few more layers around the outside that I used a gradient to colour. For this design I decided to use a few more colours than i did for the last design but they all look quite similar because they are all different brightness of the same colour.


Software tutorials

I am going to explain the process to making the wavy text effect i used for my last sticker design idea. To begin i make a curvy shape using the pen tool that vaguely resembles the words that i want to fit into it. In this case i had a smaller word between two much longer words so i was going to end up with white space anyway. Once you have created your shape you then need to write out your text. I find the effect to look better when you use text that is too big for the space that you are trying to fill, like in this image.

This means that when you use the effect the space will be filled in much better. You then need to make sure that the shape is above the text so that the effect works. Finally to make your text fit into the shape that you want it to you need to select all of your text layers and the shape that you are trying to put the text in and then select Object > Envelope Distort > Make With Top Object. Then your text should fit itself into whatever shape you had selected. You can then edit the shape using the Direct Selection tool if there are any changes that you want to make to the shape.

TY1SK – Submission A Blog post

TY1SK – Submission A Blog post

This is my photoshop work where I completed the task as per the brief in making 3 Podcast Covers.

Design Ideas and Design Process

Idea 3

This was my first design where I wanted to highlight the use of books because of their importance to typography and graphic communication, and what better way to represent this is using an image of bookshelves. From viewing covers a black and white background with text over the top is an extremely common trend. However, this looked rather busy so I decided to blur the background to put more emphasis on the text but still can tell what the image is.







Idea 2

This is my second design where I wanted to link the topic of the podcast to something that people always look at and relate to. So just like the book idea above, I created this idea using road signs. However, with this design I feel like the sign I created does not look weathered enough.







Idea 3 – Final Idea

This is my last and final idea and by far my favourite one. Just like the covers above I wanted to make a cover that could relate to a lot of people but because this podcast is of a specific topic, I wanted to really filter down on Designers themselves. So, I decided to take a picture of my desk space because this is where a lot of designers will be sitting to complete their work, even including a MacBook as this is pretty much industry standard. I think by doing this makes listeners more comfortable because it is something they are used to seeing.






  1. Working in layers to create suitable Hierarchy
  2. Cropping & Dragging image across using lasso tool
  3. Choosing a font to match the same thickness illustration
  4. Cropping and colour correcting image






























Software Tutorials

Because I have some experience in using photoshop, when completing the task, I used existing knowledge of the software and where my knowledge lacked, I would look into alternative means in filling those gaps. I did this mainly by looking at tutorials provided on Blackboard but also venturing through YouTube videos.

The one tutorial I heavily used in one of my podcast covers was because I wanted a desired effect of a weathered or distressed road sign. This was because the text and the boxes used to create the overall cover looked very unnatural to me, so I looked at means to make this more realistic. A lot of the road signs I have seen look weathered, rusty and warn down. This tutorial helped me develop my skills further as it is something used a lot in projects, and it also opened me up to seeing and playing around with filters to change images.

I’d like to improve on cropping and using the likes of the lasso tool to make sections look sharper and crisper. This is because I kept finding additional tags when cropping out images which made the image look blurry and messy. It took multiple attempts for me to be happy with some of my cropping.




Design Resources and Articles

When it came to looking at additional resources around the podcast covers, I mainly looked at various different websites and podcast services/ apps to find what common conventions each cover had. As an avid podcast listener and knowing how to navigate these I found this extremely beneficial as I created a list on what covers had in common. This is the list I created and used throughout my covers:

  • Minimal/ simple
  • Use of white (either for background or text)
  • More illustration than photography or combination of the two
  • If photography is used it is very specific
  • Mainly use 3 colours
  • Square

These really helped me and inspired my designs for my covers.





Skill For Design Blog Post

Design Ideas and Process

When previously using Photoshop/Indesign/Illustrator I tended to stick to what I knew producing simple and sometimes boring outcomes. I found these tasks challenging as I knew I wanted to push myself to learn new tools in the software however it was sometimes hard to not give up when something was going wrong.

Postcard 1
Screenshot 2

My first design I wanted to try using the clipping mask to create this see through text effect. I layered this onto of lots of images of newspapers as I thought this would show the themes of printing and typography talked about on the podcast (see screenshot 2). It took bit of playing around with to get the perfect balance between the background and the text so that it would still be eligible to read and meant I had to transform and crop the original photoshopped background to make this work.


Postcard 2

Before starting my second design I knew I wanted to try cutting out from different photos on photoshop.

Screenshot 1

By composing this idea with different typography and graphic design elements coming out of a head (as if this is what he is thinking about) would allow me to practice this skill multiple times. I found the smoke in this podcast cover the most challenging. I originally
started by trying to draw the smoke with different colours and blurring this together however after watching some tutorials, I found the most realistic way was to use images of clouds placed into the file (shown in screenshot 1).


postcard 3

My final design started on the inspiration of using an old computer. Originally I wanted things to be coming out of the computer almost as new tabs opening before I chose to incorporate the speech bubbles. I believe this was my least affective design as they are only basic components and mainly used skills that I had developed on my last two covers



Software Tutorials

A helpful tutorial I watched on YouTube explained how to create smoke on photoshop. I found this particular video useful as it talked through three different ways to do this, all of which I tried before deciding which one worked best for me. I chose to import an image of a cloud and use the lasso tool to clip this. I didn’t think about this way before as I wouldn’t have thought to change the levels of the image to create white smoke on a black back compared to a cloud on a blue sky. The tutorial can be found here

I knew before starting the sticker tasks that illustrator was the one software that I felt the least confident in so before I began I watched different videos on the basics of illustrator, this also helped me understand the terminology such as anchor points for when I watched more specific tutorials. When I first started drawing the microphone on the postcard cover 1, I was struggling with getting the curve of the line smooth so I watched this tutorial ( which allowed me to realise I was using the wrong anchor points for what I wanted to achieve and I could easily fix this by using the covert tool.

Design Resources and Articles

Before all of my tasks, I would start by looking on Pinterest at other podcast covers or stickers etc to give me a general starting point. This is where I first saw the concept of objects flying out of someones head like in my second podcast cover.

The website was also interesting to me as I could see how the use of colour affected the design. Most of the covers on here were very colourful and eye-catching which inspired me to use more varied colours when design my own such as the use of purple and yellow in my third sticker.

For my first podcast cover, the idea included a lot of emphasis on the typography of the design. I used skills I had already developed from other modules on the course as to how to efficiently alter a type face to produce the best outcome. However designing this cover showed me that there were gaps in my knowledge such as the kerning of the writing which is why I found this article useful to read.



Zee Graphics

For this mini-project we had to brand ourselves and create a logo, with research from a particular theme. I was struggling with my own theme at first as I chose 90’s. It was a lot harder than it looked. There were so many different themes and colours, styles and fashion so I decided to choose something a little more simple.

I was going for a “groovy” or “hippie” kind of aesthetic where the fonts are  a little loose and wavy. The theme, as a whole, is very colourful and I loved how the words are distorted to fit into or create different shapes.

I found these movie tickets while researching my theme, and I thought I could use them as part of my final outcome for my logo. They matched the theme in my opinion as they shared similar aesthetics, colours and typefaces.