Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Marie Antoinette image I was originally considering incorporating into my presentation for the "let them eat cake" finale (when I give cakes to everyone, naturally...) but I've been stuck in such a rutt for the past few days. Since coming to Uni my confidence in my own abilities has been pummeled, and when I create a drawing I actually like, I can never edit the colours properly. Grr. I am destined to a monochrome life forever. I feel so stuck, like I have so much to learn but no time to learn it. Like I'm so far behind in my skills set comparatively to the rest of the ~design world~. Boo hoo to me. Somehow, I need to make money for a WACOM tablet, a Mac, a proper scanner, and the Adobe Suite for a Mac, to convince myself I have all the tools necessary. Might harvest a kidney over the summer.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Speaking from Experience: Tea Towel Designs.

In the past week, I have set about making my tea towel designs a reality by applying the Illustrator- based designs through the digital textile print process.

On Monday evening (the first oppurtunity I had to print), I went down to the studio where technician Gareth kindly helped me set up my designs onto the printing programme, and helped me choose the cotton satin fabric to print on. Unfortunately, the didn't have a cotton canvas fabric (as previously discussed) so this was the best alternative- probably a little too "luxurious"- though still usable as a tea towel.

Originally I was quoted £32 for the three designs (I wouldn't have time to print the rest, at 1.5m print/ph rate), though after a little manvouering on the design programme, the price was reduced to around £6.30 per tea towel design.

The tea towel was printed, took one day to dry, and then half an hour to steam- after being pinned to hessian sacks for a protective covering. I would have liked to have been more involved with this process, though the room was very busy, and technician Caroline kindly helped me out.

The utensils for my tea towel designs- the tea towel prints, bondaweb to seal the hem down pre-stitch, gutterman ecru coloured-thread, needles and fabric scissors. Ready to cut and sew.

The printed designs- all laid out on the one sheet of fabric, ready to cut. I was particularly happy with the kiwi designs. The colour of the fabric (unusually) made all of the colours a little greyed and de-saturated (with more time, I would have experimented with various material samples)- however, the kiwi design was still bright enough.

A little frustrating unforeseen circumstance- the printer left a few blemish marks on some of my designs. Rather frustrating, comparative to the high quality of the rest of the print. As well as due to time constraints, I chose to use the best print, the kiwi design to make my tea towel to present with my final "Designer Diet" pack with the module hand-in today.

I used the Guterman thread from past experience- certainly one of the best quality threads, it is strong, soft and doesn't break easily- essentially for the "wear and tear" tests that the tea towel would undoubtedly be put through.

I decided to create a double running stitch throughout the design- obviously, this would take twice the time, but would create a much stronger, reinforced hem. 

Really happy with the printed design- the texture is soft and almost a little fluffy- giving the kiwis more character, almost creating their notable fuzzy- skin texture. Would be good to apply this material as an overlay in Illustrator to see the effects of an overlay.

Unfortunately, due to massive tiredness of a six-hour stitch session, the quality wasn't as great as I would have liked. Unfortunately, I decided not to bring my sewing machine with me when I moved up to Leeds so hand-stitching was the result.

To finish the package, I wrapped simply in a cellophane wrapper, with the tea towel tied up with the mint-green ribbon and appropriate label.

To finish the package, I attached a kiwi sticker- evidencing the tea towel contained in the package. For the final distribution, I could create a tea towel "Designer Diet" pack for each of the new Graphic Design students, each with one of the ten tea towel designs for a varied and "collectable" feel.

Ideally, I would have liked more time to work on this design, though I severely underestimated the length of time and preparation in would take. Although I am not overjoyed with the quality, I'm really glad that I could to experiment with something new, and learn about a whole new process which I'm sure I'll be utilising a whole lot more in my future at the University.

Speaking from Experience: Paper Craft Plans.

A couple of sketches and quick designs for the stage of my project whereupon I was still focused upon Paper Crafts. Recently, I have been re-sketching the images with pen for a more professional and defined drawing style- not got through as many as I would have liked for the module hand-in, but still have a wide variety of pencil sketches shown.

Monday, 23 May 2011

InDesign Project Evaluation.

Overall, I feel quite happy with the progress I have made through the InDesign and type and grid workshops throughout this module. 
Before I joined the course, I had rarely considered the type and layout of a magazine or publication, let alone designed and structured one for myself, so this was a great oppurtunity to be "lead blind" into a project, and try to make the most out of every tutor session and online tutorial advice, to ensure that I could achieve the best possible results from little or no knowledge of the software.

In my final design, I have been a lot more experimental with my layout, composition and imagery than I have previously been- even a few weeks ago, in my initial design, it is amazing to see the progression and the development of my work, and I'm really pleased to see how much affect such a short amount of time can have. 

Although, with more time, there are certainly points I could improve upon, I am reasonably pleased with my final design- using an eight-column grid helped to give my design enough flexibility without being messy or illegible.

I am also very glad that I have been able to encorporate a personal interest, portraiture photography in the design, spending the time to photograph Beth in the mezzanine with studio lighting was certainly worth the effort and time spent, as I feel it gives the design a far higher-quality aesthetic, and with a bold, sophisticated backdrop colour which works well with the reversed-out type.

Although motivation hasn't always been necessarily easy to find through the InDesign project, once I had got started with my designs, and the experimentation of combinations of type and colours, etc, I really got into the process, and found it very fun and stimulating- InDesign now is certainly a programme to which I shall apply all my future design work- I don't know how I made it this far without it!

InDesign Brief: Argh II.

After taking a closer look at the brief, I've realised that the requirements for the DPS are a minimum of 2 images- darn. So now, time for a re-design...taking elements and images from Beth's own design work, and incorporating them into the layout.

A few points or notes to consider:

-2 images
-300 words+
-minimum of 8 column-grid
-"truly scrumptious designs" (new idea for title, incorporating Beth's love of cakes and tasty treats, along with her recent food-related project (images from which I am most-likely to use).
-"full time designer, part-time gourmet muffin shop owner"

A few thumbnails to inspire me, before I go back into designing in InDesign...

Just a few quick sketches...I would have liked to have done a few more, but sadly, time is not on my side! Time to get re-designing...

InDesign Final Design: The Design Process.

The final stages of my InDesign project brief. Having taken a closer look at the brief, and realising that I would need to encorporate at least two images into the design, a bit of "re-gigging" was needed...a great oppurtunity to get more experimental with my layouts and designs...

Because, frankly, I am an idiot, this time I remembered to add gutters to my grid (a little too enthusiastic to get started before, obviously)- 3mm gutters to divide up my page and help the readibility of text-heavy pages.

Although I considered re-designing my layout completely, due to the realisation that I needed at least two images in my design, I decided against it. I was happy with the photographic image of Beth, and I felt the text content was suitable too- it just needed a little re-arranging and manipulation...

Considering a double-sided colour page- encorporating the white onto the other page with the white title header bars and reversed-out white text content- perhaps could have the teal-backed image of Beth, along with similarly coloured designs (from her portfolio) on the other?

Decided to keep the page formats the same- but switch them around. Keeping the originally formatted image of Beth, but larger, and to the original scale dimensions- with a crop. Keeping all the attention to the right-side of the page, with text framing the portrait.
Here, using a section of "pull text" from the written content to act as a hierarchy on the page and attract the attention of the reader- the right page is the main focus. Using my favourite quote from Beth's written segment. Inspiring stuff!

I chose the new title, 'Truly Scrumptious Designs' to reflect Beth's quintessential charming attitude to design, along with her secret yearnings to become a gourmet-muffin chef (naturally)...of which I have highlighted and touched upon in the subtitle. Chosen to right-align the left-hand page, and left-align the right to keep a balance in the centre- also a visual trick, bringing the attention in to the inner margin, and keeping the size of the outer margin wide gives the appearance of more paper, and therefore, content- a visual trick that Lorenzo discussed with us in a workshop that is commonly used by high-end magazines.

Trying to encorporate the multiple images into my design- with quite a geometric, framed and "regimented" layout, I decided to use the white circles as a background layer for the images- ensures that the colour scheme is kept consistent and minimal- the teal green palette of the portrait, along with the white body text.

Along with the title 'Truly Scrumptious Design'- I decided to focus upon a food-inspired project, Beth's latest, for the 'Speaking from Experience' project, which I felt summarises her style, and herself, wonderfully well...

The first image used, her collective illustrative vector foods- not too sure about the colours though. Not very consistent with the design...

To add extra interest, I added another element to the design (which I had considered in my previous experimentations)...adding a dashed line from Beth's portrait to the edge of the page- again, creating more of a grid-like, formal structure.

With the additional images, I decided to stick to a green colour palette to ensure consitency with the rest of the design- with "salad man" and "wrap man" designs. Wasn't too sure about composition of the characters- but I felt both "looking inwards" worked best- almost a reflection of Beth's face...keeps a balance over the two pages.

Satisfied with the design, and confident of it's completition, I went on to save the file as a PDF to print in CMYK. However, frustratingly, when I saved, the image kept coming up with fine lines over the text. Wasn't too sure if this was due to textbox overlapping or pt size- experimented for a while, but not much seemed to change. Very frustrating- definately one to ask technician Mike about tomorrow morning (If I get the chance)...

Again, more experimentation with the design to remove the fine white lines in the PDF document- comprimising on the design, but at this stage, I'm still reasonably new to the programme- hopefully it will be a learning experience.

One last detail was to expand the text box's away from the inner margin- not too much, but enough to ensure that none of the content would be lost if the stock were to be creased (as an actual magazine would be). 

Considering some of the skills constraints for this project, I really am quite pleased with the final result (above). The design is far more abstract than I would normally design, in terms of layout, so the design development has been really exciting and educational.

I feel pleased with what I have achieved, but, most of all, am very glad for the structure of the brief- stretched over such a long duration of time (around two months?!), it really gave me a chance to go back and review my work, to analyse it more carefully, with a rational, as opposed to a nervous or frantic state of mind.

I look forward to more experiments and uses of InDesign in the near future.

- Gill Sans MT Regular
- Gill Sans MT Italic
- Franklin Gothic Medium Italic
- Franklin Gothic Book Italic
- Franklin Gothic Demi Italic

Printed designs

Test prints and my final design for module hand-in...

1. First test print from saved Adobe Acrobat Pro PDF- checking the visual output in B&W.

2. Test print- checking the accurate dimensions on the A3 sheet, suitable pt sizes, etc.

3. Test print direct from InDesign (for curiosity's sake!). Really terrible photo quality, very pixelated photograph. Needs to be a PDF print to retain the high-quality CMYK print.

4. Again, another test from InDesign- awful quality, substituted text quite frustrating- not differentiating quoted speech and introduction with such similar typeface style.

5. Print-test of the dimensions and accuracy of my griding structure- good fold, directly central- works well...no type falling into the inner margin, etc. Gradient on the left page doesn't look to obvious. Good stuff.

6. Final print from Acrobat PDF, really happy with the quality and printed outcome. Textures and definition in the photograph not picked up as much as I woulkd have liked, though it's pretty accurate.

Printing onto high-quality 150gsm glossy stock. Unfortunately, this is only an A4 copy from my home inkjet printer- but the quality is brilliant- really good colours and clear, defined lines. Really happy with the quality- I wish I'd of got into digital print in time for the hand in tomorrow, but I severely under-estimated the bookings at the end of the year. Won't be doing that again.

Speaking from Experience: End of Project Evaluation.

This 'Speaking from Experience' brief has given me a lot of insight into my own, and other design practices. I feel as though my work has evolved greatly, and I am now able to analyse my work more fluidly as I design, as opposed to afterwards in reflection.

My initial plan was to create photographs which depicted high-energy diet recipes, constructed from paper food craft items. Whilst it was an interesting experience creating the nets and experimenting with different colours and stocks, I couldn't achieve the quality of design I desired in the short time frame.

Fortunately, this time, the realisation came soon enough to turn my project around- creating a series of vector-based designs for a "designer diet" information and advisory pack, including a swatch book of recipes, nutritional information cards, and printed tea towel designs.

Whilst I'm disappointed that my initial design plans and method of delivery was compromised, which led me to fall back into my illustrative "comfort zone", the kind and positive feedback I have received from fellow students and classmates has led me to believe that my project is a suitable, and of viable use to a first year Graphic Design student, in accordance to the project brief.

Whilst I think that my research and development has been of positive effect on my final designs, I really would have liked more time to experiment with the visual outcome, and experimented- testing my own ability and perceptions of the design.

OUGD103- DESIGN PRACTICE 1: End of Module Evaluation.


-Through this module I have learnt a lot about self-evaluation, and the evaluation of my work. In comparison to the beginning of the course and previous modules, I feel as though I am now far more capable to see faults in my work, and amend them sooner for a more refined outcome.

As well as self-analysis, I feel that I am now far more sophisticated in giving feedback. With guidance and support from the tutors, I feel that I could accurately and constructively assess another classmate's work, giving positive and helpful support.

Practically, I have developed my bookbinding and crafting skills, a particular area of my design practice I was keen to improve upon, now being able to make a wide variety of book styles and binds to an efficient and high-quality level.


-My research and source material, I feel, has become far more sophisticated and appropriate throughout this module than any other on the course so far- now researching from specifically design-focused websites, such as the Behance Network, which have really opened up my mind to design and all of it's possibilities.

Through this module I have also expanded my own personal Graphic Design library, purchasing a wide variety of books and magazines of subjects and themes that I particularly falter or have little knowledge of, in hopes of expanding my skills set and capabilities- two recent purchases including 'Computer Arts' magazine, and 'The Production Manual' by Gavin Ambrose.

Because of the wider research, to a more suitable level, my passion for design has really grown- I now have a new interest and fascination for typography which I never really harboured before, and would love to develop this interest in further modules- experimenting with shape and form, as well as material used in the design process.


-As aforementioned in this self-evaluation, I feel that I can see errors in my designs far more easily now, taking a more informed and analytical view as I work- not getting too involved or "falling for" a design too easily.
I have now opened my mind to many new ways of working and presenting my work, with the help of outside sources, research and influence- and feel inspired to try new methods and techniques. 
Taking influence from surface pattern and textile applications with methods of delivery such as screen-printing and digital textiles printing.
These methods help me to gauge an understanding of my design- the methods to which my style is most appropriate; learning what does, and what doesn't quite work.


I still have a tendency to over-complicate my work, and concepts for myself.
Coming from an Art & Design BTEC course, we were very driven towards a Fine Art approach, creating a "deep, meaningful, complex concept"- and this habit is certainly something I need to drop towards future modules- focus on the design, and the concepts will come naturally. Focus on the brief, not being "clever".

Throughout this module, I think I have perhaps pushed myself too hard, and not been realistic with my goals- trying to experiment and push my outcomes too much, and not focusing on the individual quality of the designs. In the future, I shall try to remember that quality is greater than quantity- and whilst it is good to experiment with outcomes, it is a lot more important to focus on factors such as layout, composition, and type.


1. One of the main issues throughout this module has been my 'Speaking from Experience' brief, in which we were "allowed" a little more free-rein, and had the last real opportunity to be experimental with methods and techniques in the first year.
With a great admiration and interest in paper crafts, I decided to follow this route- originally planning a design outcome built upon photographing paper objects. 
However, fortunately, I realised (before it was too late) that the method of delivery just wasn't appropriate for the subject matter, and managed to change my designs accordingly.

I have learnt, especially from this project, but along with others from throughout the module, and the year, that the brief is what matters- not what I want to do. I am designing to meet a need, a requirement, for the client. I need to focus on what best suits the theme- not a style I want to practice, or carve out for myself.

2. Sleep- Through the entire year, though particularly this module, I have been really pushing myself to achieve the greatest quantity of design possible, though the tiredness this has caused, I believe, has affected the aesthetic outcome. With more careful planning, consideration, and time spent brainstorming designs are opposed to "diving straight in", I'm sure that I could produce designs that are to the high standard that I hope for as I progress onto the second year.

3. Appropriate research- Developed more throughout this project, though something I hope to continue to gain from. Researching from specific design-focused materials, books and web-based publications. Taking more influence from practitioners will give me more ideas, and stretch my imagination to see what is possible with my current, or future skills set.

4. Online tutorials- Again, something that I have already been exploring which has certainly helped my design practice, though I must take more advantage of. With little software skills to speak of before joining the course, software tutorials (online, via sites such as YouTube) have really helped to develop my understanding of design processes- learning shortcuts, how to apply textures onto Illustrator, etc.
These tutorials have already developed my software skills a great deal, and taking more influence and interest in them will certainly help withstanding the pace of the second and third year as I progress through the course.

5. Group work- Though I felt that the group dynamic was OK through the 'Communication Is A Virus' brief, I felt as though we could have done more to keep in touch, share ideas and, consequently, produce a more solid and successful design outcome. In future projects, I hope to gain more of a rapport with all group members (I'm sure this will come with the familiarity and confidence with other group members) so that we have more of a trust and bond within sharing our design ideas.



Sunday, 22 May 2011

Design is About Doing: Oppites Live Brief- Cress Finals.

Creating further designs in order to meet the brief criteria for the 'Design is about Doing' Opposites Brief.
I experimented with the plant, cress, to represent life and death- my chosen opposites.

After growing my cress, I decided to lay my paper cut stencil on top to see what sort of effect it created.
I put it into photoshop to edit any damp patches where the leaves had soaked the paper, but I still wasn't happy with the shadows that were created by the stencil overlay.

I put my three stages into Illustrator and drew around the type to create a white background on the original photograph- 'life' with the vibrant green, healthy cress...death with the dark brown cress that hadn't been watered for a week, and the 'and' bringing them together for the third image in the other stage of "cress' life"...as seeds. 

I quite like the effect that this created, and was quite unusual with the photograph method, and an interesting way to represent stages of life.

However, when I printed the designs, I wasn't overly happy with them- the cartridge paper I had printed them onto just didn't make enough of an impact and show the photographs off to the best of their ability.

When I printed onto glossy paper, the results were much better. Unfortunately, due to stock shortage I couldn't print all of the images- and the ones that I could were only in an A5 format.

(The one A4 version I managed to print- the photographic quality looked rather good this size!)
Given more time, I would have liked to printed onto an A4 scale, which I believe would have been the most appropriate scale for both the poster and book deliverables that the designs would could have been printed in, had I of had time to enter the competition brief with these designs, as oppossed to my original ones.

Whereas the designs aren't as successful as I originally imagined, it was fun to experiment with new methods. Note to self- use a less pungent material next time. Cress stinks.

Speaking from Experience: Final Designs.

Documenting my final printed designs so far- tea towels yet to be printed- in my 'Designer Diet' freshers pack- a guide to how to sustain a healthy, high-energy diet to support the shift in work load for the first year Graphic Design students.

The comparison between my original prints with the light blue shade (left) and my new designs in mint green (right). I'm really appreciative of the final crit feedback session- I now think that the green is far more suitable, and still remains as eye-catching and bright.

My final swatchbook- complete with an introduction page, explaining the results of tiredness upon the course, as well as ten recipes each for breakfast, lunchtime and teatime- each recipe containing one of the "top ten" high-energy foods I have highlighted.
Although I am pleased with the aesthetic of the design, a few things about it do frustrate me, that I couldn't get quite right given the tight deadline remaining- a few of the recipes don't quite meet the criteria I was originally focusing on- not being able to cook in half an hour, being more expensive than I would have liked to reproduce on a student budget. Given more time, more research and planning would have been taken for sure.

My selection of green products.
Definately a print-based designer, I love tactile objects, and the joy when something prints well. This project has definately taught me that print is the way forward for my practice, affirming it more so than ever before.

Throwing in a few cheeky recipes to capture the imagination of the student audience- for instance, a kiwi martini- as we all have to have a balance between regime and fun!

The green colouring, I found, also works a lot better with the white reversed-out type, bringing it forward, not competing with it- ensuring that it is both bold and easily read.

Considering the amount of changes and alterations I have made throughout the entirety of this five-week project, I am actually quite pleased with the results I have achieved. Whilst there are still many things I would change, it's been a real learning process, and it has shown me that I can produce a vast amount of work in a short time to an aimable standard, and that I should have more confidence in my ability.
From the feedback I have recieved from fellow Graphic Design classmates and students, tiredness is indeed a re-accuring issue within the course, and hopefully, I have been able to take suggestive steps towards a solution, or, at very least, a remedy.