Assignment Five: Book Design revisited

You could have followed the horizontal thirds format inside and used a vertical 6 column grid.’ Tutor Feedback

Continuing addressing the issue form my last assignments feedback the next area to address was how I’d arranged my text on the book pages. Retrospectively they seemed okay, but lacked verve. And looking at the vertical six column arrangement I went to further consider my options.

I played around with the original format to see how may variations I could generate before settling on the one that I felt visually comfortable with.

The final format sees the two points of interest move to the top, the heavy yellow boxes replaced by a lighter yellow border and the text box centred within this with the main text body formed below by two drop down columns. This seems to be more balanced and keeps the visual layout cleaner and less confusion. It also eliminates any hierarchy in the information chain. Hopefully.

Assignment Five – Book Design: Feedback and Reflection

So here is my final Assignment Feedback. First off I have to say OCA’s new Feedback form is far easier to navigate for both parties I imagine. Regarding the course from my perspective as student and one with an TBI that affects cognitive functioning then there are a few observations and points I’d like to make. Please note I’m not using my disabilities as an excuse, more as a point of awareness and how they affect a students learning journey.

If you’re a TBI disabled student do take your time with this course. It’s not the easiest to interpret at times, and I struggled, especially mid point. If anything I would, if you can, do Illustration before doing Graphic Design, as I imagine that would help immensely. Some elements of the course will require you to be on point with your illustration, so fore warned etc. Secondly if you are struggling do ask for help; OCA and Student Services have been great with their support. Thirdly if you feel your tutor isn’t doing their best by you change them. I had to unfortunately, early on and that knocked my confidence in the course and my abilities. If you have a disability you’ll understand why.

If you are disabled and struggling, especially with symptom flair ups, please consider taking time out. I seriously wished I had, but instead struggled through it. Whilst finishing should have been a point of celebration, it was little more than a point of relief. In fact I very near canned the course, writing it off as a bad idea. I’m glad I didn’t as I genuinely feel if I were to start again from scratch I would enjoy it far more, especially with the tutor I was lucky enough to be paired with.

On technology, certain assistive tech will be useful, but in the case of brain fog, as I had to explain to one member of Student Services, its nod all use. I did however find in moments like that pencil and paper actually helped no end. For illustration and imagine production I used the Affinity packages of Publisher and Designer. These seem to be far more forgiving, as I really have struggled with Indesign and Illsutrator. Whilst I used the later for familiarisation during the course, and they are the industry standard, the Affinity programs are equally as good, and seem easier to use. For me at least.

The final thing I’ll say that may help someone who is considering doing the course, which I really do recommend if you like to be stretched, as it is a good course, is this: Illustration is used for pleasure and Graphic Design is used to inform.

Right, onwards and upwards and onto my responses for Assignment Five, which I fell was the culmination assignment So I don’t lose my thread I’ve broken down the feedback into manageable sections. My responses are in Italics.

Overall feedback

Part five of this course has focused on layout through the design of leaflets, flyers and posters. It appears you have responded very well to part 4 feedback enabling you to further develop your creative process through exercises in part 5. The final assignment offered the choice of three briefs, you chose brief 1: A series of book designs for Penguin Books new range of colour, typography, photography and A is for… books. You demonstrate a sound understanding of the basic principles of graphic design, as shown in work produced for your book covers. Your design would have strong shelf visibility with yellow as the corporate colour and the banding device drawing attention to each subject. The double page spread is less resolved than the covers. You could have followed the horizontal thirds format inside and used a vertical 6 column grid. This would allow the top third space for headings and subheadings and bottom two thirds for main copy. The images are in 3 columns but require more formal structure. Refer to you magazine analysis.

Is it far to say I completely overlooked the 3-grid system for the interior sheets at his point as I was seeking to create a more aesthetically pleasing image to reflect early Tcshichold horizontal covers, versus a balanced representation. Which given my reading of Muller-Brockmann as well as the information, exercises and research points in the course, is inexcusable.

Regarding the other comments they are fair and kind. I really enjoyed this Assignment as Book Covers hold a great appeal for me. So am happy with the encouraging feedback and will look at the points raised.

Overall your response has been good, and in places such as publishing shows this is defiantly where your strengths are in graphic design. I hope you’ve enjoyed doing the Graphic Design 1 course.

For me the course finally came together with Part Five, and I’m glad I held out. I won’t deny I was flummoxed, infuriated with not seemingly being able to ‘get it’ and have a brain stuck in neutral, and in some cases on another planet at times. I have to admit I’m drawn more to publishing than Typography, No idea why, but it certainly seems to be comfortable ground for me to work in.

If you decide to submit your work for assessment you’ll need to select a cross-section of the work you’ve done on the course. You’ll also need to submit your learning log, sketchbooks and tutor reports. Please refer to OCA digital submission guidelines. In terms of organising your work for assessment please refer to all feedback provided to help you present a portfolio that showcases your strengths in graphic design.

At this point I’m a little worried as earlier work wasn’t too great, so some consideration and reworking is required.

  • develop your creative and visual abilities in your practice as a graphic designer

You produced a good range of ideas for ‘The French Hen’ branding, which you tested on a product range. Do you believe you selected most appropriate idea for a bar aimed at younger women and sophisticated men? Your illustration is of a brooding hen nesting her eggs, not a sassy hen with sophisticated confidence. You show an idea in 50s style illustration that could look great developed in a retro style and the other strong idea in the wine ring/hen logo design that could also look very contemporary.

Sassy Hens? What fresh hell is this? Okay joking aside this is where sub-cultural bias come in and shows how easily it can influence our design processes. The more I think about it the more I’m seeing aging Yuppies, as opposed to bright young things flocking (pardon the pun), to my French Hen Café and Bar. But then again are the bright young things like to go to a Café and Bar? That said the strong hint around the wine ring/hen should be revisited and developed a little further. If only to now appease my own interest.

Again a sound range of ideas for ‘Chance Housing Association’. In many respects you over-complicated the solution by adding door illustration therefore your logo design has two illustrative features; the word ‘association’ doesn’t merit emphasis. The craft of a good designer is recognising when to pull back. There is potential in this idea that just requires solution refinement. The ‘judging a book by its cover’ exercise is the most accomplished work of all the exercises.

On this one I agree 100%. Why did I add the door? I certainly veered away from my own KISS principles there somewhat, and it didn’t add anything really, if anything it served as a clichéd trope really. So a return to form and simplify that particular logo will hopefully fix that.

‘Judging a book by its cover’, I believe that was where it all came together and my tutors feedback is reassuring. One for submission for final assessment I believe.

  • use creative problem solving and research to generate visual ideas

Country Life for the ‘magazine pages’ exercise was a good choice to analyse as it is a well designed established publication. You analysed and measured grid accurately but next time you also need to analyse and trace typographic detailing. Evaluate your layout in context to Country Life, which uses paragraph indents not line breaks, there are slightly more words per line causing fewer rivers, doesn’t use hyphens, ensure you use baseline text alignment.

Your investigation into different fonts and sizes shows you are developing a good awareness of typography for publishing, but check the fine details. Exploring font styles in context to narrative and image selection evidences your awareness of how important the visual of a design aids communication of message. It was good to see you research Newton and Ridley applying their company colour plan to your branding ‘The French Hen’. This demonstrates you have a clear understanding that research of organisations commissioning design work must inform your ideas generation.

You also conducted solid research of housing association branding, however you need to really analyse which communicated affectively and which less so, note your findings with more clarity. Excellent range of information design examples, OS maps being such a brilliant design. Why did you then use words on your design rather than symbols as on an OS key? You need to translate what you see to what you do.

Great feedback and some very useful tips there, I also enjoy research so I’m chuffed to see I wasn’t over thinking it. Excellent point about analysis and the important of considering what works and what doesn’t. Again a section to review.

‘Why did you then use words on your design rather than symbols as on an OS key? You need to translate what you see to what you do.’ – Exactly? Why? I’ll revisit this exercise and adapt the map, using symbology and generating a key.

  • demonstrate your use of design and technical skills for graphic design

Always design pages for publishing as double page spreads. Your design and technical skills are clearly evident in your branding for ‘The French Hen’ but don’t get too carried away with an idea because it looks professional, ensure idea first answers brief so solution is fit for purpose. For ‘Chance Housing Association’ branding be cautious of digital techniques that don’t add value to the visual communication, for example it appears you may have altered original typeface selected rather than choosing to use complimentary fonts as in the magazine spread. Good to see you mastered how to make digital mock-ups. The ‘Birthday List’ exercise appears to have really helped you develop further digital skills using different program.

For ‘Chance Housing Association’ I embossed an element, which I shouldn’t have; let the design of the font speak for itself.

Digital mock-ups were the last hurdle for me, so I’m pretty chuffed I mastered it. I would say that perhaps links and a small exercise should be included in the module, just to help introduce the concept. I used which is free.

  • articulate an understanding of the contexts of graphic design practices and reflect on your own learning

Really good to see you revisited the ‘vernacular type’ research task, extending your search to gain a broader understanding of type and its origins. Research points ‘branding’ and ‘posters’ show an excellent range of examples with some good analyse and notation.

Again very kind feedback.

Action points based on Learning Outcomes

develop your creative and visual abilities in your practice as a graphic designer

Be consistent with your creative process: research (primary and secondary), ideas generation (spider diagrams and thumbnail sketches and mood-boards), selecting most appropriate idea for development, planning (re-visit research), testing digital iterations, rationalise concept, refinement of outcome.

Early on I was particularly poor at this; however this habit has developed over time. It still needs refinement and is something I should be focusing upon in future.

use creative problem solving and research to generate visual ideas

You had some good examples of poster design for the ‘Sing Out’ exercise but it doesn’t appear you really analysed the layouts and compositions. This is evident in your design that resembles a leaflet rather than a poster. You need to consider how different fonts, sizes and colours can help to visually organise hierarchy of information; your design shows very little differentiation in the text. You started exploring idea of ‘sing out’ in speech bubble but it got lost in translation to standard upper/lowercase sans serif font; a missed opportunity to explore script flowing hand-drawn expressive type for this design. Always use research to inform every aspect of your creative process.

Excellent points made. I’ll have a review as I’ve never felt comfortable with how this exercise progressed or finished.

demonstrate your use of design and technical skills for graphic design

Ensure you use appropriate programmes for the task, in general: Photoshop for image manipulation; Illustrator or logo design, drawing type and illustration; InDesign for layout design

Affinity packages are good, and I can understand the need to use the adobe packages, so carry on sharpening up my skills there I think.

articulate an understanding of the contexts of graphic design practices and reflect on your own learning

Always refer back to research in order to evaluate your ideas against examples of professional practice, ensuring your solutions are fit for purpose in context to differing organisations and audiences.

Something I need to do a little more of; reflection. Though getting there.

Assignment Four Feedback and Reflection


Receiving feedback can be both challenging and nerve wracking for me. The constant desire to want to progress hampered by a particularly long bout of brain fog that has lasted almost a year, married to frustrations that have been hard to communicate, have almost led to me leaving the course.

A TBI’s impact is hard to appreciate and bout of brain fog can suddenly descend, without warning, leaving me struggling with ever more severe cognitive impairment. I mention this not as an excuse, but moreover as an insight into my work. In retrospect Assignment 4 is by far the worst body of work I’ve submitted. Not because of indolence, but because no matter how hard I tried nothing seems to click, and the hard I tried the worst the disconnect and overwhelming feelings became. What I should have done was take a year out, get over this and approach renewed. However I am stubborn and so I struggled on. Not enjoying the course, feeling as though nothing was really happening and my work become chaotic and without form.

It was only recently that things began to fall into a place, very slightly I hasten to add, and I relaxed a little, then the work flow improved and my final catch-up exercise Hierarchy was enjoyable.

Now because this was submitted after I submitted Assignment four, as I said I have been chaotic in my thinking, my approach is a little more refined, and hopefully between finishing the course and submitting work for assessment I can polish my assignments up somewhat. In the mean while, for some reason using Illustrator and InDesign remains problematic so I’m continuing to use Affinity’s Designer and Publisher.

As an aside I really need to get my WordPress page in order. It’s a mess.

Onto the feedback, my responses are as always in ordinary font.

Overall Comments Part four has focused on typography’s history and application. Overall your response has been quite limited. You need to refer to all previous feedback provided to help you move forward and progress. Apply yourself to each task with a greater degree of commitment to learning new skills, that way you will undoubtedly see your work developing to the standard you are clearly capable. By taking a more rigorous approach you will become more confident with using type and layout. You have the opportunity to put into place all that you have learnt to date and apply to your work in Part 5. – See above, which is not an excuse more a explainer.

Project: The visual word Typography uses both written and visual languages, you were asked to explore this by visually representing a range of words. The ‘playing with words’ exercise you explored placing black san serif letters in different positions to express meaning of words. Your print, cut and paste exploration goes some way to showing some interesting results, for example the the word squat or shy. However, overall you have evidenced very limited examples of what could be achieved using this method. For example spacing letters out or crashing them together or overlaying them or splicing through horizontally and so on, the range is much more extensive than you have explored. Next you start working digitally, but why not expand your Helvetica black type exploration further? Adding illustrative elements to the words defeats point of exercise, it suggests type alone is not expressing the word sufficiently. Next you start to use digital techniques for type to suggest meaning. How for example does the word serious in bright colours express its meaning? Some of the further exploration such as sodden are beginning to work, but don’t add the puddle its not necessary. You need to write a self reflection on what went well, what you learnt and what you could so differently next time.

Project: Anatomy of a typeface To explore your understanding of how a typeface is constructed you were asked to undertake a typographic jigsaw puzzle. This is such a good exercise to understand specific characterises of typefaces, in this case Baskerville. This exercise has clearly been helpful to you. A tip when tracing type is to draw in the character baseline and x height tram lines, then the ascender and descender lines. Use a sharp 3H pencil and good quality tracing paper. Practise makes perfect. You may want to follow on IG jeremytankardtypography and look on his website. The film Helvetica by Gray Hustwit is also essential viewing. – I used a 3B pencil. Lesson learned and tip greatly appreciated.

Project: Different typefaces

You were introduced to some of the ways typography can be categorised, asked to create your own sample book of typefaces, and identify fonts you could use for a number of different design jobs. You have not evidenced this work so please use the following feedback as a guide. – Badly labelled by me. Now updated can be found here:

This exercise will benefit from researching what a type sample book should contain and therefore how it’s used by designers. Research Letraset and Monotype Corporation and The Foundry to provide some background information and visual references. A sample type book would usually show a range of font families or at least light, medium, bold, italic and roman. It would also show one example from each font family as a set line of text using all 26 characters: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, refer to earlier exercise. – I do need to revisit this project, as a new approach using this advice and apply myself a little more.

Appreciate this could be extremely time consuming to do for every example shown, however you could choose one typeface, show whole family and set line of text The quick brown fox… In your sample book. Consider production of your booklet, is it to be digital only or a printed version? If printed how does binding work, gutters, grid etc? Try a few different styles of design and structural formats. Start by planning your booklet as double-page spreads and use grid structure see Grid Systems in Graphic Design … by Josef Muller-Brockmann. Once you set master document up in InDesign you can add to it throughout your studies. Grid Systems in Graphic Design now purchased and slowly wading through it.

Flower rota: Not evidenced – Now Submitted

Boys club: Not evidenced – Now Submitted

Engagement party: Not evidenced – Now Submitted

Project: Typesetting This section explored typesetting by looking at magazines in terms of how easy they are to read, and using Lorum Ipsum to typeset text. Not evidenced – Now Submitted

Project: Project: Hierarchy You were asked to typeset headings, sub-heading and body text for three different pages. You have not evidenced this work so please use the following feedback as a guide. – Now Submitted

Research different magazine, analyse examples identifying particular styles that visually communicate content to specific types of audience. Research how graphic designers marked up layouts for printers before digital technology. Use trace method as suggested earlier, this will help you analyse fine detail such as line lengths, words per line, gutter and boarder widths, paragraph spacing, text alignment, changes in fonts and sizes and styles etc. Ensure notation is analytical rather than descriptive.

Thumbnail sketch a range of your designs. Select one or two to develop further, draw accurately, then transfer idea digitally using InDesign. Always self critique what you are doing against excellent published work by professional designers, that way you can check detailing of your design work such as — line alignment across columns, widows, consistent use of paragraph breaks, orphan line from previous column on its own in next, image placement and captions.- The referrals to InDesign are noted please read Affinity Publisher in my own work.

Assessment potential I understand your aim is to go for the Visual Communications / Creative Arts Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. However, from the work you have shown in this assignment, I am concerned that you may struggle to meet the assessment criteria, and recommend that you instead consider taking the personal development route rather than seek assessment (see Conditions of Enrolment, Section 2 a). – This comment was the right one to make by Laura at the time, but now I’m getting there I’m using it as a gauge to show I can gain the required points from assessment by revising work.

Feedback on assignment

Creative and analytical thinking, Visual and Technical Skills For the Show Me… assignment you produced a cover and short article for a magazine on typography. Research: Did you start by researching subject specific magazines in this sector, such as Eye, Baseline, Creative Review etc? If so you need to evidence with notation of critical analysis using skills learnt to date. If not consider what they could tell you? How could they inform your understanding of graphic design in context to this assignment brief? Consider how your design of magazine needs to stand out in the sector. What point of difference do you want to focus on? Ideas Generation: Good to see you exploring type style for masthead. What other previous exercises did you use to explore ideas such as spider diagrams, doodles, thumbnail sketches? Use research to inform your ideas, push the boundaries of what this sector would expect. Development of concept: Good to see you have developed two ideas, next time explore a broader range of different typographic arrangements with different images. All your ideas show full bleed image, did you consider cropping? The wood and metal type image is totally relevant, consider researching a selection of images with this content, to provide you more choice. Digital iteration of solution: Final cover design shows potential to develop further. The typographic arrangement requires refinement. What program did you use? Consider alignment of text, use columns and gutters as guides? Consider sizes of type as it looks really large? Use various sizes and wights of type to differentiate between headings, sub headlines, and descriptions? Final spreads again show potential, layout just needs a few adjustments. You choice of font for body text is too large and the style too round for such a short measure. Always work to approx. 8-12 words per line. Try reducing by 1pt might make enough difference. There is not quite enough difference between main text and captions so try using a different style such as italic or font or colour or weight. When using italic use from font family do not just italicise a roman font. Also review text alignment across columns and use baseline grid, always either indent paragraphs or line space. – The one thing I have been consistent in doing over the past years is panicking. By attempting to meet assignment deadlines I have deliberately missed important exercises, leading to a very chaotic approach, which has helped no-one. Now things are calmer in my mind this skittish approach will be easier for me to manage and control.

Sketchbooks Research and idea development, Context Continue to practice drawing letterforms, character spacing and leading. Refer to research examples past and present, to help your thumbnail sketches and develop layouts using grid structures. Consider how your log/sketchbook evidences all that you have done. – Sketching has been harder to do due to my fluctuating motor skills and muscle capacity the ability to manipulate a pencil is hard at times. However I do have a body of work and have found that using DTP has helped.

Learning Logs or Blogs / Critical essays

Research and idea development, Context Your research points asked to find out more about an area of typography that interests you, as well as documenting some vernacular typography. You must title your blog posts the same as in your course handbook. All exercises should be worked through in sequential order, as the course is designed for you to accumulate learning skills to use when answering the assignment brief at the end of each part. By skipping some exercises you have missed vital parts of your learning. Please delete advertising as your blog must look professional. Next time also upload to blog your assignment back-up work and final solution. – The one bug bear I have about this statement is the assumption I can afford certain luxuries. The idea of a WordPress site, for me at least, is to provide the tutor with information. The advertising remark comes across as peevish as it costs to remove advertising. I managed to pay for the upgrade for a year, but perhaps tutors need to realise that some of us aren’t awash with money and we must make decisions on where to spend our precious financial resources accordingly. Having a few advertising bars really is not the end of the world. Rant over. My WordPress site really does need some work as mentioned previously and that will be arranged in the next week or so.

Research point: fonts. First you should do a bit of background research on magazine design. You would discover that most mastheads have been specially designed for that publication and are drawn from the basis of a typeface but will not necessarily belong to a font family. Next identify all text fonts and group as sans serif and serif fonts, then sub-divide those into style and weight. Next, get some tracing paper, a sharp 3H pencil, a ruler and trace the typefaces to discover key characteristics of each font such as the shape of bowl or point of the foot or descender of the y g q j and ascender of f p etc. Refer to Anatomy of a Typeface exercise. Using your analysis of fonts in each publication you will then find it easier to identify each. Then show an example to compare and contrast the magazine font with your match. Your notation should be more analytical focussing on what you are discovering. – Noted

Research point: vernacular typography. You have shown some interesting examples of type found in public places. What is your understanding of vernacular typography? What typestyles relate to what periods of time? What techniques have been used? What technologies have been used? Be careful you don’t conflate the idea that all type in public spaces is vernacular. Research some more modern day versions such as the market stall, for example parish notices, farm notices and so on. – Time to go out with the camera, and avoid belligerent locals.

You need to critical analysis your examples to a greater extent, consider shape/form/structure of letterforms in context to graphic design, show a much better understanding of how type and typography communicate a visual as well as written language. Ensure you Harvard Reference all sources and produce a bibliography.

Suggested viewing/reading Its good to see you are reading books about the subject of graphic design, especially Type & Typography by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslem, so also read The Thames and Hudson Manual of Typography by Ruari McLean. David Jury is a writer about typography and books in particular Revising the Rules of Typography. Excellent reference and design of Baseline and Eye journals have fantastic articles that you can search online. With regard design sells How to… by Michael Bierut. Have a look at IG letterformarchive. Also search TedTalks.

Research is something I normally enjoy, but the past 12 months have seen me loose my passion for it, primarily because my concentration has simply not been present.. However it is returning slowly.

Pointers for the next assignment

The final part of the course focuses on layout by exploring how to design leaflets, flyers and posters. This is an opportunity to thoroughly investigate the best designers, see all recommended reading, analyse their work and how they craft excellent design. Learn by example and apply what you have learnt when exploring, developing and refining your own work. Always critique your work with comparable professional designs to help you recognise where improvements can be made. Part 5 send by post all of your work. – Last sentence makes no sense, so will clarify.

There’s clearly a bit of work to do, so I best crack on.

Assignment Three Feedback and Reflection

So I don’t lose my thread I’ve broken down the feedback into manageable sections. My responses are in blue.

Overall Comments Part three of this module has focused on the importance of being a visually literate graphic designer by exploring visual dynamics, using collage and understanding how to work with colour. Overall your response to part three has is improved but still has key bits of work we would expect to see from your submissions. – Some great pointers raised here, I have removed quite a few as they weren’t relevant to the assignment.

Assignment three drew on what you have learnt about visual languages and dynamics by producing a poster that celebrates a colour of your choice, using only your chosen colour, complimentary colour and black and white. You have a much improved creative process, with some good development work evidenced as well as sketches from your sketchbook. However it is still difficult to follow where your ideas have originated and what sources you have assimilated from – I am not sure if this was an error on your part but there is nothing on your learning log about your assignment that I could see. This includes no explanation or reflection on your development work and your final pieces although I appreciate you did explain how you practically created these. – I MUST include notes in my sketchbook to help tutors and assessors where I’m going with my ideas. No one is a mind reader!

 The final piece you submitted for the colour Blue is entirely valid as an idea, but does lack some refinement and I think this symptomatic of you diving right in to realise an idea rather than holding back and researching a bit more. – I’m very guilty of this. First idea then… Looking at it I almost wanted to go offline and create the collage by hand by cutting things out before scanning it in to refine it digitally and experiment with the effects you used – this would give another dimension to your work. You did have some alternative ideas, but it is difficult to decipher what they mean – you should think about explaining and reflect on these more in your learning log. – Again very guilty of this.

Sketchbooks  Research and idea development, Context

Some good sketchbook work included in your final piece, but not a huge amount for some of the exercises. Collage seems to be a big part of your work – I think rather than do this digitally always, perhaps use your sketchbook to cut things out and move them around on the page, documenting as you go. Also some reflection on your learning logs about this work would be also improve your submission. – I do seem to have an aversion to cutting out form my work and have developed an over-reliance on electronic media to do the hard work for. Maybe because I’m seeking mastery of the programs I’m working and I’ve grown comfortable in using them. Back to the old school and build my confidence up.

Learning Logs or Blogs / Critical essays Research and idea development, Context Your learning log has improved massively, and it is easier to follow. For your final assignment it is great to see some of the development pieces in the dropbox you shared – however I couldn’t find any reflection on these on your learning log? A bit more more analysis and explanation of why you have done things will improve your submission. – All of these points are valid and something I must get to grips with sharpish to help so the flow of work visually. Taking time to describe these is no hardship and will help in the long run.

 Suggested viewing/reading 

You seem to have an affinity for Russian constructivist posters – below is an interesting article explore the influences for this further. Have a look at some of the ideas and ways of visualisation and research them more – I think its a style of work you might enjoy and that could help inspire your work. 

Pointers for the next assignment In the next assignment you will focus on typography, a must for all graphic designers. This is a good opportunity to develop your knowledge in theory of typesetting and also how to vary communication styles using different types of typefaces/fonts. This is an excellent article and well worth the read.

My Summary – Diving right in and literally putting my ideas through a program, whilst helpful for me, is not helpful for others, least of all tutors and potential clients. This is something I really do need to be aware of.  Whilst, not an excuse, it highlights my lack of resources and this is something  I really need to concentrate on addressing. 

Assignment Three: Colour me

The aim of Graphic Design is to inform

Since reading the brief for this particular Assignment I’ve been excited about the range of possibilities that it presented to me. Colour choice was very straight forward, blue. I find it calming relaxing and when combined with the happy warmth of yellow as a contrast it becomes very calming. While I was briefly tempted by contemporary shades of pink and grey, I held my ground and stuck with my plan.

I had a couple of ideas I wanted to play with so set to making my plans, drawing and colouring my ideas. Refining and designing I started to visualise what I wanted to do so set to using Adobe Photoshop CC and Affinity Designer.

Sketches and swatches

I chose to experiment with collage, illustrations and the fonts held by my DTP applications to explore the best way to create a theme. My first task was to create a simple contrast image (Dev Contrast Concept #1) to see how the colours would interact and what would be the best way to represent these.


Blue and yellow watercolour swatches

I then created a series of blue and yellow swatches using watercolour pens, paints and pencils. These were scanned then in Photoshop selected and isolated as individual colour samples. A couple of which were then chosen to have their tints and shades identified as a unique colour samples in Designer for future use.

After a couple of false starts, I settled on a collage effect as this was the most dynamic for me and I was able to utilise stills from my photo library and experiment with colours and arrangements in Designer.

During my experimentation and as I drew various elements together I felt that a Fat Face font would suit my needs. I envisaged the word BLUE as an overlay layer featuring a single example of the colour in its font.

Looking through the font library I settled on Wildfire, designed by the Retro Supply Co. in 2012, as the idea font. Wanting to feature bright colours I chose the stamen of a yellow dog rose and a blue locomotive for the two backgrounds.


After experimenting with the two main coloured backgrounds I found myself favouring the blue background with the yellow overlay of the word BLUE. Initially, the blue seemed to be quite dark, so I set to changing the tone and shade, lightning it enough so that it didn’t smother the font, but bright enough to retain details and not white-out details in the photographs.

I then experimented with how the lettering was arranged and after considering the traditional setting of the font I realised it didn’t do it for me visually. It lacked impact. The factor being that by arranging it traditionally I was unable to resize the word to such a point where it made a difference.

I decided upon boxing the wording up. This would allow for a larger font size as well as revealing some of the patterns of the rose petals. To enable the wording to stand out a little more I experimented with both inner and outer glow as well as shadowing. In the end, I settled with a subtle shadowing effect so as not to make the font look too overly processed yet still stand out.

The final submissions

Assignment Two: Feedback and Reflection

So I don’t lose my thread I’ve broken down the feedback into manageable sections. My responses are in blue.

Overall Comments Part two of the course focused on the creative process of problem solving, encouraging you to explore your own working process and apply it to a number of briefs. Overall your response to part two has been much more lucid, and much easier to follow in terms of journey. I think it really helped you taking my feedback and annotating your notes on it briefly to reference your own takeaways from the feedback. We’re still not seeing the sharp focus, in your final outcomes however in terms of refinement and polish and your ideas are still not informed by visual research.

I really have to tighten up recording my research and focus. No two ways about it. The issue is me, I have or see an idea and just go for it, which does me no benefit. The more I consider these remark, the more undisciplined I look, so I really need to tighten things up on this front.

Focus again come from not consider what Graphic Design is in principle. I have given this much thought and have boiled it down, for my understanding, as art that informs. A simplistic approach, but it works for me.  

Project: Researching and developing ideas The main aim of this exercise seemed to have got a bit lost here, which was to show how your research something and then assimilate that into an idea, and then develop it further by looking around further for ideas that might enhance your piece further if worked into them. There is still not much visual source material to follow from where you have got your ideas.

Use the notebook!! I must jot down any and all ideas, something I’m very bad at.

I understand your aim is to go for the Visual Communications / Creative Arts Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course.

 Its actually Graphic Design, maybe my assessor is dropping a hint 

Feedback on assignment  Some of the cards here did make me smile, were created with some wit and there is some good technical ability on show here.  You have also had a good effort of explaining and rationalising your design journey and the rationale behind the cards. However there is little visual evidence to show us and explain this journey. As this is a visual course we want you to show us things as you go rather than just doing things and explaining at the end. 

Note book… I must complete it… at this point my assessor must feel like banging his head against a brick wall.

I think you still jumping to the solutions too quickly and lacking focus when creating your outcomes.  I would like you to think more conceptually and focus on creating a more complete idea/world in your head first before comitting to an idea. This means you really need to focus on exploring in your research and documenting this visually. I think if you use the structure I have suggested in the “learning lo” section below, it will help you focus on your aims  at each stage of the process when you are approachin your exercises and assignments as well as what you are trying to achieve overall with the brief as a whole. Particularly for assignments you need to really dive deep into each part – 60% of your marks are for the research and development, in essence your design journey, so this is a crucial part of your work.  It is ok to try things and for it not work, as long as you document it and reflect back on it – in fact this adds to your work and shows that you have tried things.  Its also about contextualising your work in the world – this is a good brief to look what else is there already in the world. For example could you have looked at exisiting greeting cards? Is there a gap in the market? What are trends in greetings currently? Who would your cards be for? What kind of cards do these people like? All of these questions are things you should consider

 Slow down and consider. Hopefully I’m getting there with Assignment three.

Sketchbooks You started to do some sketches of initial ideas, but I would like to see you make use of thumbnail sketches more (see above for comment under “Visualising your ideas”.  This is a good way to quickly layout your ideas in space to see if they might work before taking them further. If you also a natural drawing person, perhaps cutting things out and collaging might help to quickly test ideas? You can then cut elements out and move them around the page and photograph them at various points that you think maybe viable ideas.  These are just suggestions to get you to document your work better but I am open to other ideas if you have alternatives. Learning Logs or Blogs / Critical essays.

Great pointers and a great help.

– “What is the brief asking me to do?(followed by bullet points setting out the aims of the exercise/assignment submission),

 – “Visual Research”(a body of collected visuals organised into moodboards based on a theme), 

– “Intial ideas”(quick sketches, as many as possible”, 

– “Chosen ideas” (Choose at least three which you then experiment with and develop each further eg. Could it work with a different font? What about colour? How about placement of the text? Etc etc

– assimilating further research into it if appropriate”)

  • Final ideas (show us your final pieces and explain why they are the way are and reflect on their strengths and weaknesses)

 For the exercises these don’t need so much depth but you should definitely go deeper into these for the final assignments.

 This advice should be in the student notes (most probably is, but well hidden).

 Pointers for the next assignment The next part of the course encourages you to become more visually literate by exploring visual dynamics, colour and visual language. This is an opportunity for you to really experiment and play with your ideas – we haven’t seen so much of this from you so far, so I really want you to focus on experimenting and trying various things, even if they don’t work – we want to see it, and see you reflect on it and explain to use why you don’t think it has worked and to find something that you feel does work

 Down test and adjust as they say. This is going to be interesting.

Assignment Two: Thinking of You

Another assignment I really enjoyed, spending a lot of time considering themes, formats, subjects, and presentation. Having moved home and my wife celebrating a success we’ve had more than a few cards, which proved invaluable regarding suitable sizes, how they’re formatted regarding the commercial aspects and the most suitable font to use. Like most cards, when folded appear to be A5 size, the C5 envelop would accompany these.

The brief was succinct and gave me a huge amount of food for thought. After much thought, rumination and caffeine consumption I sketched out my initial thoughts in my notebook and settled on four areas:

  • The new car
  • Cheeky Bear
  • Literary reference
  • Children’s Friendship Card

Admittedly some developed into other themes as I worked my way through the project but the final themes were:

  • The new car – Volvo
  • Cheeky Bear – Goes Camping
  • Literary reference -1984
  • Children’s Friendship Card – Faerie Friends

Each design was pretty straightforward as I’m not quite yet technically proficient in creating pop-up cards, though this is now on my ever-growing list of stuff to learn. Isolating the key words was straight forward enough and allowed me to home in and develop a theme. For example, the new car image was going to settle on a BMW, focusing on the indicator with a sarcastic comment involving indicators inside.

However, I felt that it came across as passive/aggressive and detracted from the fun element of the project. I do, however own a Volvo estate, the acknowledged safe king of the road. The rear windows are blacked out so I can post-process stills on-site when out and about and not have to worry about sun glare.

Another upside was the daughter comment that the Volvo looked ‘Gangsta’ (is this even a thing?). So using my life experiences of language I recall ‘Safe’ was a term used, to sum up so many things, and it seemed somehow Street to my friends and me as adolescents in rural Nottinghamshire.

So nipping out one morning I saw the car had dew on the bonnet and in a flash of inspiration wrote Safe on the bonnet. The dual meaning in context worked for me, and I hope others. Post-processing in black and white added an element of drama to my noble V40, that it otherwise lacks.

For the inside message, I wanted a font as close to that used by Volvo as possible and found that Erbaum designed by Mariya Pigoulevskaya, on Adobe Fonts fitted the bill nicely.

As with all the cards I used Affinity Publisher to set out the format and import visuals and text.

A quick cheeky message and that’s the greeting. However, the back seemed empty and I wanted to include as many pertinent details as possible. I placed the printers logo created for the Exercise Book Cover Design at the centre of the rear outer side. With this, I added a recycle logo, a barcode, and some other information. This then replicated the rear of most cards I’d seen.

 As I moved through my ideas, I wanted to experiment with different visual communication techniques as well as take the opportunity to expand my working practice and knowledge. For the Cheeky Bear card, I felt CGI was definitely the way ahead and after a quick draft I set to on Affinity Designer. The idea of this card was a bit of cheeky one to celebrate the recipients first time at a naturist camp. The one thing that came from this process was to spend more time on my storyboarding. Especially in adding a little more detail in the planning phase.

The font I chose for this card was Acier BAT, designed by Jean-Baptiste Levée and accessed through Adobe. I enlarged the word Bear to deliberately emphasise the event as well as using the Homophone element of the word as a playful gesture.

Keeping the theme light I then started with the Faerie Friends. I envisaged this as a card aimed at children under 10 years, designed for a specific celebration day Faerie Friends Day. In this instance, I wanted to use photography as I wanted to be able to utilise some of Photoshops more generic effects.

Deciding on blurring helped to visually focus on the characters, especially their inferred friendship, and that friendship makes no difference between who the parties are or where they come from. The two props came from my ever-expanding prop box and were chosen for their gentle poses and nature. The Fairy not only for the obvious reason, but also the blissful nature of her expression, while the Dormouse was chosen for her gentile and cozy appearance. The garden setting added to the overall natural feel.

Sadly Adobe didn’t have a suitable font, but after a quick search, I settled on Beyond Wonderland by Chris Hansen. It has that air of magic to it that I sought, and after a quick re-colour it made the inner greeting more suitable. The corner rose scrolling was chosen as it added an extra element of both colour and inferred garden magic to the card. These were sourced online, however, I’m now looking to bolster my own portfolio by creating some floral borders myself.

The final card was an opportunity for me to put pencil to paper and create a card that celebrated something topical. Big Brother of 1984 fame. Here the character was deliberately drawn as my intention was to overlay the final picture onto a mock-up of the important question of what does 2+2 equal? I struggled to find a suitable font so simply added the type onto 80% grey back and then went over it lightly with a speckled eraser tool to give it the look of chalk. This would form the background of the picture onto which I would lay my image of Big Brother.

As there is no real description of Big Brother, and his visage would be seen in differing ways by differing people I went for a benevolent look. I sketched out the face before scanning it and going over the lines in Affinity Designer. From there I added skin and hair tones and details, such as the tie pin, that would add to an otherwise flat image.

Once completed I sourced the correct terminology, choosing the date the Orwell novel opens as Big Brother Day and using Mattox Shule’s Abolition Type as the most suitable for my needs, re-colouring yet again.

With this card I also changed the aspect from landscape to portrait as it not only suited the portrait of Big Brother but, in keeping with the dystopian world of 1984 was more efficient in terms of space it would take to display.

Overall this was a great experience and an opportunity to expand my knowledge with DTP as well as Type and how it worked. Still, lots more to learn and this Assignment has definitely given me plenty to contemplate.

Resources Used

Volvo Font. Available at:

Beyond Wonderland Font by Chris Hansen. Available at:

Rose Corner scroll. Available at:

Barcode Generator. Available at:

Recycle symbol. Available at:

Newspeak resource Available at:

Exercise: Understanding Colour


Portrait of Johannes Itten, by Paula Stockmar, father of the Farbenkugel, or Colour wheel, wearing one of his self made robes whilst working as a member of staff at the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar 1920.

This particular exercise starts to draw on various strands of professional practice across the graphic design spectrum as well as delving further into DTP software and understanding the role of colour.

As with all exercises the first task to read the brief and consider what actions to take to help deliver the expected outcome. Notes were taken and ideas developed.

Keynotes to help formulate my plan

The first task was to look at each word and break it down to consider its meaning beyond the face value and to consider how these definitions could be realised in colour. The next step was to then divide the 26 ideas proved by the exercise into themes.

This was a relatively straight forward task and the ideas were separated into Harmonious, Neutral and Harsh themes. This also allowed to consider the form that my colour combinations would take.

I then considered colour. As the themes were self-explanatory I opened a series of photo’s from my library where the colour reflected the three themes. These were then pixelated through Affinity Designer and Publisher to provide a 256 colour palette, of which I made several.

I then created a grid, into which I chose palettes that were populated with what I considered to be 40 bright and dark colors. These palettes were further pixelated, again using affinity products, to produce bespoke 256 colour palettes.

Screenshot ContactSheet-001

Screenshots of colour palette development

The resultant colours were then chosen to represent the lighter and darker sides of human nature. This in itself was great fun and let me focus on the clours that I really felt matched what I was aiming to achieve.

Light (L) and Dark (R) palettes

The next phase was to design how the clours would work as contrast and dynamic partners and whether or not similar shades could also be contrasting? The final question was form presentation. How could these combinations be presented?

I decided on using a differing physical form for each idea as below. I would also experience with DTP to utilise certain effects. An inner shadow was adopted for the Harsh themes, whilst an outer glow was adopted for the Harmonious themes. The Neutral theme would be soft on the eye, but different enough to ensure the viewer would not confuse it with the other themes.

Energetic, Vital and Unhappy

Overall a great exercise, not only for experimenting with colour, but also for working with DTP and learning a little more about how to manipulate images to suit a purpose. This work allowed me to consider contrasts and what worked and what didn’t. It also showed me that selecting contrasts isn’t always the easiest task and takes quite a bot of concentration and consideration.

Final tearsheets featuring all the emotions by name

Resources used

Portrait of Johannes Itten, by Paula Stockmar, 1920, available at (accessed 19/08/2019)

Whitford, F. (1988) Bauhaus. Thames and Hudson. London

Mollica, P. (2013). Walter Foster. CA

Muller-Brockmann, J. (2019) Grid Systems in Graphic Design 13th edn. Niggli, Salenstein.

Assignment One: Feedback and Reflection

I have to admit putting the cart before the horse on this particular Assignment as although I had the notes, I hadn’t typed them up to tie in with the completed Assignment, which was extremely bad practice on my part.

So I don’t lose my thread I’ve broken down the feedback into manageable sections. My responses are in blue.

Project: Sending and receiving

I couldn’t see the picture charades exercise you were asked to do on your blog. – For some reason, the rough work didn’t show up on my Category list – Lesson check and double check. I cleared all the Categories and Tags, relisted and it worked. Me and technology don’t always see eye-to-eye. That said this was an input error.

Feedback on assignment

You had some really fascinating ideas and points of reference in this submission and this is a very good start to the course. However, I think what is missing is some structure in your process in how go from these initial thoughts, to exploring them in terms of research before feeding these into developing a set of ideas from which you can pick some final ones to develop. I must keep up with my notes and sketches. This is a key point as coming from a photographic course I now have to adapt to a new way of learning. It also reiterates the point that ideas in my head are from useful if they remain there. Also, it shows my paths of work development from initial thoughts to research. A very important in the world of design. Then I must get into the habit of scanning it too.

Some of your final outcomes could have done with a lot more development, with some more questioning and analysis feeding into creating more fully formed pieces. A broader interrogation of research points, and exploration of a greater number of ideas would perhaps give you more polished final outcomes. – Swot up Skipper, learn and consider. I’m getting there slowly, and thoroughly enjoying the process. All being well the first book reviews are soon to follow. 

I can see you are very thoughtful in your reflections, but I would like to see you be more structured and analytical in terms of what you are trying to achieve as a goal in answering the brief. – Apply the Who, What, Where, Why and How principles here.

You have the beginnings of some great research although there needs to be more of this and a greater range and variation. There are some rich reference points you have here, and you are clearly someone who is informed as a visual practitioner. I was particularly intrigued by your interest in the formalistic religious art of major religions, Arts and Crafts movement, Bauhaus, Dadaism, the abstract works of early Soviet National Socialist Propaganda and mid 20th Century Western advertising and fashion you mentioned as well as some of the images of Arab revolutionary street posters you included.

However, you need to be explicit by showing us what and how exactly they influenced your work by visually showing us, whether that is with mood boards or more in-depth analysis. – NOTES!!! Show the journey.

Your ideas sort of came out of nowhere – there is no documentation of initial sketches or an evolving process of development, you should demonstrate to us an overarching creative journey. You should also develop a broader set, refining and filtering out as you go the ones that are not working and reflect on their individual strength or weaknesses to distil down your ideas until you have final idea that you should finesse rather jump to create a final piece. – Chart the journey. I’ve started to do this now and will ensure I keep it up. 

It is actually a very common trap that many students fall into by jumping too quickly to develop a solution – this isn’t anything to be worried about and is actually quite common, which is why the OCA have a created a video on this called “Jumping to Solutions” which I think would be useful for you to watch.Watched this video and its brilliant and I wished I’d watched this sooner. I was able to appreciate how important it is to map my ideas development. Don’t jump to solutions, and in fairness, I’ve now started to keep accurate notes.  (

This very apparent from some your final outcomes in which not all of them feel fully formed. The key thing to take away from this is you will not always have an idea that is immediately viable as a final solution, and much rarer an idea that is refined enough immediately as a final solution. – Identify, experiment, develop, I’ll write this in the front of all my note books!

Having said the above there is some nice and creative work here with some good visual qualities.

Of the four final pieces the strongest one you had was the first one which had a nice vintage collagey quality. – I have to admit I did enjoy this one the most.

Good Design

I am not sure the typeface used is 100% there, but I think if you had developed this more by trying a few more layouts and different typefaces as well as blending into the layout and playing with different colour palettes you would have perhaps got a more polished piece. – Something that may well get revisited…

The second and third card isn’t original work you have produced for this course, as its work you have already done – you should be creating new pieces for this course, so I won’t comment on these but going forward please do create original submissions that have been developed for this course in specific. – Be original… again I got carried away and my Hubris got the better of me.

The last typographic card as an idea in principal was very interesting, but I am not sure firstly how it relates back to you as a person? It also demonstrates how more thorough research could have produced a more satisfying outcome. – A lack of clarity about my intent is my responsibility. Time to review practices and how others have produced unique visual messages. 

Overall this is a good start though Ben and I am confident that if you address your creative process and take a more thorough approach to research and development you will be in a good place for the course. 

Always room for improvement in my academic and professional practice and these comments have helped drag me onto the straight and narrow immensely.

Below Ash’s key points and my responses are in blue.

Learning Logs or Blogs / Critical essays

The format of your learning log is good (The penny has finally dropped) but remember to document all of your work as you go – even if it is thinks you might try that don’t work it is still work that you should evidence to us as its part of the working in developing your ideas. I would also think about how you organize your work, break things down into sections with titles so it is clear to someone reviewing your log what you are trying to communicate.  – this is a very important point for me and was mentioned in the video “Jumping to Solutions”

Having said this you had some really interesting contextual inspiration which was nice to see at this early stage, but you should be more expansive and include a broader range of research points from a greater variety of sources and visually include them in your log. It was also good to see you note down your references properly and is good -practice. – There are always more schools of thought and practice to review, but I seem to be dogmatically stuck in a period from 1850 to 1969. Time to break out of the comfort zone!

The following study guides below provide pointers on how best to do this.! 

Suggested viewing/reading I think it would be beneficial for you to look at “Grid Systems in Graphic Design” by Josef Mülller-Brockmann (Purchased)– it is seen as a bible for graphic designers in terms of using grid theory to organize layouts and will give a bit more structure and logic to your work. The maths of grids can be difficult to get used to – I use a plugin called Grid Calculator Prowhich makes it easier to experiment with in InDesign. – Thankfully Affinity are on the case – Time to swot up and learn.

The other book that I think would really help you with your typography which is weak is ‘Thinking with Type” by Ellen Lupton (Purchased). I would also have a look at the website TypeWolf– This is an awesome website:  as it is an especially good resource for getting a sense of typefaces that complement each other as you tried to do this in your last card, but it perhaps lacked the sophistication we would want to see. – All over this. What a great resource?