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.