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.

Exercise: Birthday List

This is an interesting little task involving the design of a simple Birthday Reminder Calendar for family and friends. As opposed to a spider chart style mind map I looked at the key themes of the exercise and used these as a starting point for what the exercise was attempting to do. I then considered the brief from my perspective as a disabled person who struggles with communication. What did I want/need? Clarity above all else.

The actual list is based on a simple sheet of A3 separated into 12 square grid, which was going to originally be orientated as landscape, but I decided to move it to a portrait orientation. Each square would represent a month, with no individual dates, instead there would two simple types of symbol, circles for family and squares for friends. I was inspired by Eastern European birthday calendars that are wall hung which use similar approached for different birthdays.

For the actual methods of communication I did think about symbols, however some are easily confused visually so opted for colour coding which makes the task that bit easier.

For the main List background I chose a pale yellow with a pale blue banner with the words Birthday List in a simple Black San Serif Type, Candal. This was then given a light shadow effect. For the Background I initially intended to use a coloured background to help contrast with the colour coded disks, so came up with this:

I’ll be honest, after literally sleeping on it these first drafts look hideous. So a review of White Space is in order with resign adding a faint background image being more in keeping. The arrangement of the grid is also off so I’ll address that too as well as sorting out the type, its size (30Pts) and colour (60% grey). I used a generic back image as I wanted the poster to have a family appeal too, especially for the younger members.

I made all my changes and realised I hadn’t left room for the key which used Arial for the lettering as this is easy to use and read at a distance. This was then added to the bottom of the calendar. The final task was to populate the calendar using family and friends details.

One the things I tried was to curve the name of a family member inside the circle, whilst easy enough to do in the Affinity package in terms of legibility and accessibility it’s a no-go. So back to my original idea of simple flat line text.

As I populated the details list and colours I realised that my colour choice wasn’t the best and most suitable. The shades were simply too similar, so a quick change was in order.

The next and final task to populate the calendar with the list, unfortunately I had an issue with the lasso selection tool so had to move a few of the markers, however a quick shift around gave me a great representation of the finished Birthday List.

Overall the hardest element of this task was not the design but drawing the practical elements together. That said I learned a lot including maintaining design flexibility.

Resources Used

Birthday Celebration PNG

Corner Balloons PNG

Ex. Hierarchy – The search for clarity

Contemporary publications are fewer but there are still some great ideas to be found.

Part Four of the learning cycle in Graphic Design has led me to this point, where selecting the right font is dependent on whether or not I’ve been paying attending. The one thing I have gleaned from my studies to keep the font pallet restricted when working with any member of the Header groups. So the trick is to adapt those that are used. That is to say Arial can be used in any number of styles, along with Garamond for example, but introducing a third font would be a disaster, especially a decorative type.

This methodology holds true in printed publications especially, so the opportunity to experiment with both form and colour is a welcome one, and one I hopefully produce well. Taking the lead from a host of examples, both physical and on-line, has provided me with excellent research material, and kept me focused on the brief in hand; to design three different pages.

The Listings Magazine:

These were strangely hard, impossible, to find in my local town, but an internet search came up trumps with some great examples. The Radio Times was more formal, following a Sunday supplement lead, whilst TV Times goes for a more of a 2-minute read format that’s proved popular with coffee-time magazines.

Header – A light styel font seems to be favoured with a contrasting colour, red or white

Sub Heading –  Sans Serif or Serif Fonts but always Italic,

Subhead and Content– Always Times New Roman

The more formal approaches used in magazines such as the Radio Times

The more informal, quick read, approaches used in magazines such as the TV Times above and the more informal, quick read, approaches used in magazines such as the TV Times below.

The tech industry and its supporters on the other hand are far more likely to try out new font designs as a reflection of their contemporaneous nature so will utilise a clean easy to ready font style with a stylish text font. However the banner at the top of the page, whilst using the white of the paper as a part of the design, something the designer Jan Tschichold was keen to exploit in his work. That said I do like to see a bit of a header graphic and will experiment with something low key.

For the Book Reviews the Newspapers treat this section as an opportunity to have some aesthetic fun, it’s also one of those rare occasions that newspapers actually deviate from the Times New Roman in black. Occasionally a logo may also make an appearance amongst the austere columns of print to brighten the page.

Of Fonts and Choices…

I’ve identified a series of aesthetically fluid and easy to read fonts that could be used in all three genres. I noted there are far more options for the subheadings than Headers.

Headers; a mix of Serif, Sans Serif, Bold and Decorative styles

  • Arial Black
  • Arial Rounded MT Bold
  • Bohemian Typewriter
  • Brotherhood Script 8
  • Castellar
  • Edwardian Script ITC
  • EcuyerDAX
  • Forte
  • Franklin Gothic Demi
  • Kaushan Script
  • Lilita One  
  • Passion One 
  • Paytone One
  • Old English Five
  • Olde English

Sub Headings; these are a mix of styles so I went through the full range of fonts available to me and selected the following list:

  • Arial
  • Bahnschrift SemiBold
  • Calibri Light
  • Candara
  • Century Gothic
  • Comfortaa Light
  • Corbel Light
  • Ebrima
  • Eras Demi ITC
  • Franklin Gothic Book
  • Franklin Gothic Medium
  • Gadugi
  • Gill Sans MT
  • Helvetica
  • Leelawadee UI Semilight
  • Malgun Gothic
  • Microsoft Jhenghei Light
  • Microsoft YaHei UI Light
  • MS Reference Sans Serif
  • Myanmar Text
  • Nirmala UI Semilight
  • Open Sans Semibold
  • Oswald Light
  • Palaquin Dark
  • Prompt
  • Prompt Medium
  • Quicksand Bold Oblique
  • Quicksand
  • Roboto
  • Segoe UI
  • Segoe UI Semibold
  • Stika Subheading
  • Tahoma 
  • Trebuchet MS
  • Verdana
  • YU Gothic UI Semibold

As I go through these lists I realise that there are some great designs, but sadly they’re not suitable for the task in hand. So my next challenge is to choose three that would read well at 10pts. So I’ll refine the selections a little further.

All layouts have been made using Affinity Publisher whose ease of use is idea for anyone with a cognitive dysfunction. It’s highly recommended as its slightly easier to use than Adobe’s InDesign and allows for slightly easier manipulation.

Best of Three.

The nest step was to identify the three pairings of font that feel will work best together for each sample article. After much consideration I chose the following:

TV Listings

I chose to go with a more informal TV Times style of presentation that is akin to the coffee break style magazines. It’s visually engaging and more suit to the ‘gossip’ nature of the articles title which infers an actress is talking about her character rather than herself.

Heading#1 – Arial Black

Subheading#1 – Century Gothic

Heading#2 – Lilita One  

Subheading#2 – Verdana

Heading#3 – Passion One 

Subheading#3 – Microsoft YaHei UI Light

To help add a touch of authenticity I made a simple logo using the Bree Serif font and a catch line in the same sample font tilted at 15°. The colour palette and photos introduce the character and the faded background would set the scene as belonging to the opening credits of the TV program, Dumble Side Manor. As the articles word count is approximately 500, combined with images, it spilled over to two pages, which gave it nice balance. I elected to you two columns’ to help facilitate an easy and quick read.

Of the three I have to say I prefer the appearance of #3; it shares the same visual approach of coffee break reading as the TV Times, whilst giving the opportunity to include visual cues connecting character to readership. Body text is Times New Roman at 10pts.

Computer Magazine

As mentioned earlier computer magazines tend to use the more contemporary and ‘designer’ style fonts in their publications, so this selection will hopefully echo this distinctive editorial approach.

Heading#1 – Arial Rounded MT Bold

Subheading#1 – Helvetica

Heading#2 – Franklin Gothic Demi

Subheading#2 – Oswald Light

Heading#3 – Paytone One

Subheading#3 – Candara

PC magazine reviews are all pretty much the same; information clearly presented, decorative fonts kept to a minimum and info graphics that are visually simple and easy to understand. For the last element I included a Pros/Cons and overall rating box in the bottom right corner.

Occasionally they feature a decorative banner; in this case I chose to use a simple binary style image from and a stock PC image from The name is fictitious. Of the three combinations I though the first and second sets worked particularly well, but the third seemed a little fat faced, and not in keeping with the genre. This surprised me a little, and just shows that test a font in context is an important element of the development process.

Of the first and second drafts the second is my favourite, as the Oswald Light pulls the Sub-heading up a little and keeps the theme tight and to the point visually, whereas Helvetica seems to dominate the page a little. The Headers were chose to be a dark yellow to provide contrast to the blue header and draw the eye to the product details.

Like the TV Guide I left the justification to the left and used three columns to fit all the information onto the page. The body text is Times New Roman at 11pts.

Book Review

Here the traditionally staid newspaper industry let down their guard for a light hearted moment, choosing to use the weekend as an excuse to introduce some much needed colour, and font change.

Heading#1 – Castellar

Subheading#1 – Franklin Gothic Book

Heading#2 – EcuyerDAX

Subheading#2 – Comfortaa

Heading#3 – Old English Five

Subheading#3 – Quicksand

The Newspaper review is an opportunity to use a few different approaches as there were several elements to tackle to give it an air of authenticity. The first is to add the relevant headers that populate the pages of newspapers, I’ve chosen to go with a regional format using Bohemian Typewriter font as an eye-catching section introduction.

The body text was justified across three columns with a cover illustration drawing the eye inwards. The main text was kept as is whilst a shear of 15°was added to the Sub-Heading text. Of the three setting #3 didn’t come out as I expected (in fact it looks hideous), but #1 and #2, which echoed the EcuyerDAX font of the book itself, have come out nicely. After much consideration I have to go with #1 for being my personal favourite of the three.

Overall I really enjoyed this exercise. The penny is finally dropping with what Graphic Design is and means to me.

Resources Used

Tschichold, J. (1967), Asymmetric Typography, Faber & Faber, New York.

Shaughnessy, A. (2009), Graphic Design: A User’s Manual, Laurence King Publishing Ltd, London.

Newark and Southwell Advertiser, 21 May 2020, Iliffe Media

Kingston Review, Computer Active, 9-22 September 2020, Dennis Publication

Chat, 17 Sept 2020, Issue 38, TI Media

Take a Break, 17 Sept 2020, Issue 38, Bauer Media

Bake Off/ Radio Times  – (Accessed 25.10.2020)

Patrick Stewart/Radio Times  –  (Accessed 25.10.2020)

David Tenant/Radio Times  – (Accessed 25.10.2020)

Martin Clunes/TV Times – (Accessed 25.10.2020)

Corrie Summer /TV Times – (Accessed 25.10.2020)

Broadchurch//TV Times – (Accessed 25.10.2020)

Book Review by Robin Stevens, First News, 30 Aug 2013.  (Accessed 25.10.2020)

Book Review, JS Landor, First News, Issue 623, 25-31 May 2018 – (Accessed 25.10.2020)

Letters to Nigeria, The Guardian, 23 Aug 2013,  (Accessed 25.10.2020)

Book reviews, Sussex Living, October 2017, (Accessed 25.10.2020)

Thecus N4100 Pro Review, PC Magazine Italy, Feb 2013,   (Accessed 25.10.2020)

In-Win GRone Review, Custom PC Magazine No. 127 April 2014,  (Accessed 25.10.2020)

Exercise: If the face fits Pt3.

As I find it easier to break things down, as it helps me keep a track on what’s what, this is the final part of the exercise. The main reason I do this is I sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury which led to some brain damage, which can make life a little awkward, so please bear with me.

I can now say with a little certainty that this may happen to me, so it led to me to a bit of research and I came across this wonderful site:, truly a designers friend if ever there was.

So I’ve had a play using the above site for legibility checks as well as empirical evidence for formatting and design. The results are:

  • A Short Story in a woman’s magazine

Font examples_1


Women’s Magazine Font Sampler

The one thing I’ve noticed about this type of magazine is that they ignore Bold in their formatting and go for Black Type. The reason being is that it’s a little more legible and maintains this at smaller font size. Its also about seizing the moment and grabbing the readers attention. After all, these are designed as coffee break magazines, something I can attest to this as these were a firm favourite of my colleagues at a summer job I had 30 years ago.

So in this instance, the headlines were always bold and eyecatching, with a colour combination of black, yellow or red, depending on the theme. In this case, I’m going for yellow on red;

Font example colour

Brash and bold, but not threatening. The smooth flow of Lilita One sees to that. Hints of 70’s children’s TV shows too.

Given that these magazines are more gossip columns than news sharers editors and designs had free play on the fonts they used, so the opportunity to have a play is ever-present. Though legibility is a must. To that end, Lilita One is the perfect fit, especially at 20pt.

I’ve always found that Times New Roman seems a little fussy for a light read so opted for a range of light type fonts. At first, Javanese seems accessible enough, but like Times New Roman, as a text font, its seems crowed and stunted, forcing the reader to engage more with the font design, which defeats the purpose of the exercise.

Helvetica, the designers favourite was next. Light and dynamic it lacks the height, so, therefore, slows down the reading process. So for the text I’m going with Verdana; it’s easy on the eye and easy to read at a fast pace given its Sans Serif format, ideal for this type of coffee break magazine.

  • An advertisement in a parish magazine

The construction Parish magazines are normally read by a slightly older population so text tends to be slightly larger (often multiple styles in the same advert), but also rely on visual cues. Sometimes these are muted, occasionally brash with clip art detailing. I’ve gone for a mix of the two, utilising Times New Roman with some imagery form my own files to produce the atypical form of advert (which can I find now? Of curse not) that would appear in a parish magazine.

Parish Flowers

A quick mock-up of an atypical parish magazine advert

After a quick review I decided that the background was a little too busy, so putting my local head on realised that any adverts would feature clip art, if only for simplicity. So a quick internet search led me to a basic flower arrangement and a simplified church tower:

Flowers PNG can be found at:

Church PNG can be found at:

The next step was to review the types used as it needed to replace the background detail/distractions and become the focal point. The first new font type was Sylfaen a serif script which is easy enough to read. However, it lacks impact.

Parish Flowers Sylfaen

Sylfaen flyer – I cleaned up the background but the Type lacks impact.

Happy with my visually cleaner background, I set about looking at the Type once more. Perhaps something a little heavier? Rockwell has a nice weight to it, but with the serif flourishes, it gives the advert more of an order air than a polite request.

Parish Flowers Rockwell

Rockwell; demanding your time one letter at a time

I was also unsure about the serif style so looked at what Sans Serif types were available, even as Black Fonts. Franklin Gothic Medium, though, fits the bill nicely; whilst black, it’s not heavy, it flows nicely and as its Sans Serif it look less cluttered at a smaller pt size.

Parish Flowers Franklin Gothic Medium #4

Franklin Gothic Medium, when capital letters and bold are simply too much to handle and you’re seeking visual clarity.

  • After School Club

The good, the bad and the indifferent? Pinterest has a mass of great ideas and what to avoid

Sometimes posters can be inspiring and sometimes not quite hitting the mark. Looking at the above examples there’s a fair mix of good information and visual cues alongside indifferent and ‘trying too hard’. I get the ‘understand your audience’ approach, but when it comes to youth culture, especially teenage boys, it becomes a veritable mine-field.

Youth culture, behaviours and tastes change. In my youth model making and role-play games were de rigour, followed by rugby and visits to rural youth clubs. School was something that we went to by law rather than by compulsion. My teenage daughter is now more interested in her iPhone, Instagram and Nandos, so I’m going to have to find a middle ground.

Posters containing multiple images seem to be favourites, and in fairness are eyecatching, and let the activities do the talking. Though there is a propensity to include more than two fonts, something I’m keen to avoid alongside cliched ‘yoof-culture’ imagery.

After School #3

Above: A great poster; Using two fonts this contains the activity information, joining instructions and conveys a light-hearted and fun factor feel. However, below, if used as a basis for any after school, club lacks a dynamic and inventive approach. Although it’s the use of the military-style stencil font that is reflective of the intention; structure, discipline and joy-less endeavour.

After School #4

So following a very similar format to the first poster I’d be looking at, the font isn’t ideal and the decorative font, even at A3 size would be hard to read in a hurry, especially if the poster is placed in a busy communal area.

Given the copy is quite punchy I’m going for Roof Runners ( by Pressgang studios as the headline font. It’s a great contemporary black font with punch and substance and isn’t too twee.

For the information sections, I’ll use Quicksand Light ( by Andrew Paglinawan. It’s San serif Form flows smoothly, whilst it’s contemporary lines and simple structure make it easy to easy in a rush, especially in bold regular.

The next step is imagery; queue teenage boys having fun in some form of informal setting (which this is). A quick hunt led me to a pretty generic image at


The above image will serve as a background and is ready to be processed through Photoshop. Its popped through a couple of filters with this as the end result.

Boys Club #001

I now have a basic layout, and colour base, but I want the heading to be eye-catching, the quick headliner below is just tagged on. I have a thought; Jamie Reid

Boys Club Draft #001

The collage aesthetic is inspirational, snappy and has been used as a basis for designs  before:


Jamie Reid’s original…

..and some good copies…

So time to have some fun. First I’ll look at the colour palette to use, which I’ve based on a blue core. I want a contrasting palette but not jarring, so a quick review of colours led me to change the background colour of the poster slightly and then identifying four complimentary colours.

The next task is arranging the wording using Roof Runners and complementary colours. I sketched a few ideas for the arrangement of the wording and once I was happy with it placed it on the poster. The first attempt (L) was a little crowded, but I moved it around and came up with the second final version (R), which seemed more balanced.

A tale of two posters…

Next up the activities; ‘ We’ve got football, ping pong, table soccer, computers, karate, cooking and lots more’ it’s fair to say that’s a lot going on. However I wanted to bring the poster alive; so a quick generic images search for the key activities and its time to montage. But before I do that I wanted to check the Quicksand font to ensure its legibility matched the background and theme of the poster, thankfully it did.

Boys Club Draft #005

Check draft of Quicksand Font shows it works. 

Back to the montage, I want to the top element to show a mix of indoor and outdoor activities, for these to act as a sort of headline. I arranged the computers, table football and physical football as a triumvirate of activities. A bit of swinging around in Affinity Designers seem to do the job quite well. Each image had its opacity lowered so as not to detract from the poster title.

Boys Club Draft #006

Starting to come together…

Boys Club Draft #007

Getting there, but it looks too crowded.

Sometimes less is truly more, so I reviewed the montage imagery and went back to the beginning. It may be a photographer mindset thing, but the desire to fill the poster is overwhelming and I need to rein it in a bit. So a bit of adjustment with what’s what, changing sizes and moving images around so they didn’t clip seems to have done the trick.

Boys Club Draft #008

Rearranged images and now time to work on the wording. 

Whilst the wording is presented readymade, the format isn’t, so a bit of experimentation is required. The font works, but the colouring needs adjustment. I want to avoid black as much as possible, but at the same time needs to consider legibility. Looking at experience and colour charts the colours featuring a yellow or red base would be best-suited to the task. Orange was too light so I settled for burgundy and then used a Bold format for the structure of the wording as white wasn’t sharp enough.

Boys Club Draft #009 - Final

The colours right, but it needs some attention. 

The more I look at the wording the more its now sharp enough. I decided to open a new file simply for the lettering to see if a separate layer is sharper.

Boys Club Wording Draft

The new layer as a PNG with a transparent background.

Success! The new layer has done the job, I’ve also raised the message block slightly so that it sits more centrally on the poster.

Boys Club Draft #009 - Final v1

The finished Boys Club poster.

  • Engagement Party

Engagement parties, always fun. My thoughts straight the way are to use a decorative script style font in differing weights with a range of colours.

Whilst the header can be ornate the information must be clear if only to ensure brevity on such a card. The temptation to completely re-word the whole invite was overwhelming, but it’s their event, and so any copy is a reflection of their characters.

So I had a play on Affinity Designer, especially useful as my hands aren’t behaving right now, with a variety of scripts choosing to stick with AR Decode at 20pt size as the headlining font.

I then had a play with a series of font for the text bodies mixing Serif and Sans Serif script types to see how they would appear for brevities sake. Book Antiqua was my first choice, striking at 12pt size, but it lacks that appeal.

Engagement Party #1 w Book Antiqua

First attempt featuring AR Decode  and Book Antiqua

I then chose to experiment with the background and type appearance and colours, as whilst I liked the pink/grey mix I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing out on anything. I also took a moment to change the body font to Bodoni and re-arrange the headlining arrangement.

Engagement Party #2a w Bodoni

Close; but the red over yellow is a little jarring to say the least

Okay, it’s hideous. So back to the originally plan of pink/grey, however swapping the colours and a pink background seems to be a little too much, almost baby shower territory. I’ve changed the body font once again for the lighter touch of Perpetua. Seems more in keeping.

Engagement Party #3 w Perpetua

Getting there with a change in font style. 

Still not quite right. The main text font isn’t exactly dynamic, so I make a final change, this time to Nathan Condensed. I also change the colour, making the shade a touch lighter.

Engagement Party #3b w Nathan Condensed


Okay, I’m happy with the types of Fonts, their weight and arrangement, yet the colours are making it look like an invitation to a Bespoke Kitchen Fitter showroom opening rather than an engagement. So I chose to reverse the colours once again and have come up with this:

Engagement Party #3c w Nathan Condensed

Final Draft

The colours combine with the types to give the script a sharpness that previous attempts couldn’t quite achieve. It’s legible, flow’s nicely and is of a suitable tone for an engagement party.

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

Research – Vernacular Typography


The Ultimate in Vernacular?

One of the great things about photography is that the opportunity to capture anything of note, or tweaks your interest is easy to capture.

With Typography it seems to have found me more so than I it. Moments where the design, colour, and arrangement of wording stand out from the often formulaic approach of DTP fonts and arrangements. It’s free-flowing form, either in handwritten market signage or beautifully intricate corporate Coats of Arms.

Type’d in Stone

The forms in which Typography can appear is beyond assumed conventions of ink on paper. There are wonderful Victorian expressions in stone and marble, heavy Serif fonts leaping out and declaring a buildings intention. Each carving as individual as the craftsman who made them. Their often very ornate nature draws in the viewer to consider these carvings as more than mere words.

The golden age of signwriting 

As the mechanical age drew in to view the dawn of the signwriter emerged, and I for one am glad they went for it. From steam engines to locomotives they had this knack of being able to turn sheets of plain glass and painted wood and metal into something beautiful.

The golden age of signwriting #2

It always seemed to have a regional lilt and soon developed into creating striking signage for local town corporations, locomotive nameplates (Check out the history of Gill Sans) and private individuals. Their art still exists thank goodness.

Contemporary Trends

Today we live in a highly visual world and the place of typography is still that of top dog. With the advent of Adobes Illustrator and Indesign along with Affinity Designer and Publisher, typography has become often too sophisticated, with the art being swallowed by the gimmick.

I often see what photographers refer to as ‘over-processing’ with the pattern more important than the type and message. From simple handwritten market stand labels to old school shop labelling, the messages are still out there and arrangements are not contrived or pretentious. In these instances, the art has been to produce a clean and simple type and succeed in doing so.


My personal favourite; the acme of the signwriters art. 

Exercise: Playing with Words

This particular exercise is the start of reviewing the role of Typography in Graphic Design, an exercise of wordplay. Luckily Helvetica was already on my laptop so the experimentation was quick and straightforward.

Experiments in Wordplay

Whilst some words were easy to manipulate in paper alone, by physically cutting and using my imagination, some were not. This is one of those moments when I’m thankful for DTP. Retrospectively there was one word, Speed that could have been worked upon. But that’s the point of exercises and self-reflection.

The first set of images

Using Affinity Designer and Publisher to manipulate each of the words was an opportunity to stretch my creativity and generally have fun as well as produce a series of visual onomatopoeia. Great fun and a wonderful exercise to start the section.