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: Giving Information

The first part of this exercise is some research, which is always fun, the first task was to look at Bus Timetables. Here the first thing that struck me was that they were all arranged to a grid pattern. Not obvious when it’s an everyday item, but when the pattern is looked at with a designer’s eye it’s obvious. The samples below were sources from a simple Google search.

Not only doe the use of grid mean that there’s universality about the timetables, but that they can be understood by anyone anywhere.

City maps on the other hand can be quite different, with a range of styles used, from the standard grid based map system to the decorative style, with pictorial representation of key land marks and only key routes marked. Pictorial maps aren’t new and are perhaps some of the easiest to use. Whilst they are correct to a point, they lack the accuracy of the grid based map, which in turn lack the fun of the pictorial map.

Statistical data can be represented in many ways from the established and straight forward to read charts.

However with the advent of more sophisticated DTP software, a steady switch to paperless offices and a desires to use space and present information in ever more creative ways the information presented by Statistical Data graphics can seen alien at times, yet in some respect they still mimic the traditional methodologies.

Maps are combined with regional medical data to supply important health information, something that has been used extensively during the Corona virus outbreak of 2019/2020 and beyond. Known as Geovisualisations these charts used in a myriad to convey geographic data in a meaningful and instantly understandable way.

Other methodologies used to share data incorporate all manner of the above as a single piece of information. These items are arranges on a grid to help retain familiarity with chart layout and help with ease of reading.

The more adventurous statistical data representations involve not only complex Vector graphics, where the subject is pictorially represented thought the clever use of arrangement and design, but on occasions they have become the data.

The next stage was to mind map the concept and what it meant to me, followed by what I was going to create.

I decided to make a map of my wardrobe, though to spare embarrassment we shall pretend it’s perfectly arranged and in good order. I used an Ordnance Survey (OS) map to refresh my memory on how a map is laid and to give me inspiration in the overall construction of a map. A quick internet search helped me find the font style used in Maps, Arial, as well as providing a handy link to OS raster styles.

The next stage was to sketch out my idea before committing myself to the finally design. I tried to replicate a maps finish as best as possible.

The next stage was to sketch out my idea before committing myself to the finally design. I tried to replicate a maps finish as best as possible. Northing’s and Easting’s were added, this were double checked with the OS map to make sure they were in the correct place. Labels were added to the clothes using standard sized 10pts Arial, whilst key details were labelled with 20pts and in 30% gray to echo the Civil Parish markings. Labelling of the clothing was arranged to be as precise as possible and carry a sense of uniformity. I had to add a little accuracy to the map and include a Stuff that been chucked in pile.

I used the OS approach and make my map as self explanatory as possible. Hopefully I’ve succeeded. A great little exercise and fun, made me wish though I was a good illustrator, but that will come.

Resources Used

Bus Timetables  (Accessed 01122020)

Copenhagen Map  (Accessed 01122020)

Spain Map  (Accessed 01122020)

Amsterdam Map  (Accessed 01122020)

Old British Map  (Accessed 01122020)

Magical Britain  (Accessed 01122020)

New York Map  (Accessed 01122020)

Old London Map Detail  (Accessed 01122020)

Map of Georgia State  (Accessed 01122020)

Circular Flow Chart  (Accessed 01122020)

Line and Bar Charts  (Accessed 01122020)

Pie Chart (Accessed 01122020)

Flow Charts and Symbols  (Accessed 01122020)

Geovisualisation  (Accessed 01122020)


Danish Info  (Accessed 01122020)

Get into Space  (Accessed 01122020)

Ordnance Survey Style (Accessed 03122020)

OS Raster Legend (Accessed 03122020)

Exercise: Judging a book by its Cover

For this exercise I’m using Guy Sajer’s war time autobiography The Forgotten Soldier. The book is set on the Eastern Front during World War Two and charts Sajer progress from driver to infantryman in the Großdeutschland Division. The book itself is a sobering read for anyone and when initially released was considered in 1965 during the wave of popular books written by Dane Sven Hassle. The two authors were poles apart in terms of style and subject. Where Sajer was considerate, almost contrite, Hassle was brash and obscene. The Forgotten Soldier brought the reader closer to the effects and experience of war than any of Hassle’s Pulp Books and with that came an opportunity for the graphic design to create an iconic cover.

Understandably nearly all but one of the covers I’ve found featured a lone soldier, the single non illustrated cover uses the White Space exceptionally well. Of the illustrated covers, only one actually features an illustration, drawn by Sci-Fi artist Richard Clifton-Dey, whose work for the New English Library publishing house was varied, imaginative and very much of its time. The illustration is raw, showing the physical and emotional effects of battle exceptionally well, and it’s fair to say it would be exceptionally hard to replicate such an illustration as well as Clifton-Dey.

The other titles used established and sometimes clichéd portraits of individual German soldiers, sometimes to great effect, to show the loneliness that one can experience as a soldier. It’s interesting that only one cover features a portrait of a young Sajer as a soldier prior to being an infantier.

The cover that intrigues and appeals to me the most is the illustrated one by French publishing house Robert Lafontt, with shades of work by Joe Colquhoun, a British comic illustrator famous for his World War One work. This add an air of intimacy, is a more personal connection to the story and a line of design I’m keen to follow.

The use of a plain type cover is something rarely seen on popular war books, and while the illustrated books use a range of different types and fonts, the use of a utilised White Space is rarely seen on the cover of military histories, so to see it was intriguing as well as food for thought.

The first stage of my design process was to create a mind map centring on the books title.

The main theme was the title of Sajer’s story, what it meant for him as individual, a soldier and the child of a French/German marriage. The themes were further developed and then a commonality identified; the military. Here the symbology was sought to be unique to show he was a German solider, and there’s nothing more unique than the German wartime helmet. A draft of three possible arrangements was designed, along with how the text only cover would appear.

The first task is to create the basic design for the front page using Affinity Designer utilising the Großdeutschland’s divisional insignia as the centre piece. The helmets were then arranged as if on parade with space for text above and below. The second test cover featured the same image, but with a helmet removed, signifying Sajer, as the forgotten solder. I then coloured a helmet with the French tricolour, to symbolise Sajer’s nationality to see how that would fit. Another experiment features the Großdeutschland’s divisional insignia over the tricolour. However it seemed a little contrived, so won’t be pursued.

Yet as a motif the helmet certainly sticks out, and when placed with copies of the original insignia it makes for an interesting juxtaposition; indentifying Sajer as both a German soldier by the shape of the helmet and as a Frenchman by the Tricolour. This theme also recurs at the end of the book when Sajer takes part in the French Victory parade as a French soldier and his thoughts runaway to where his friend, Hals, is. This alluring to that his connection was stronger with the German army than the French. As one of the 130,000 Frenchmen Alsace and Moselle forced to fight for the Germans because of their births, and the post-war desire by the French authorities to not talk about it Sajer become one of the Malgrd-nous or Despite us/against our will. This theme again confirms the forgotten soldier status of Sajer, and indeed he told in a post capture de-brief to ‘Get yourself home, and try to forget all this as fast as you can’.

I was able to find a book cover tutorial for InDesign, but struggled with it a little so reverted to Affinity Publisher for the design process. For the Font I wanted to use a Black style, but nothing too contrived. For the spine I chose a dark green from a custom palette which I also used for the font colour. The background was coloured a pale yellow green. The Spine font is left justified Georgia 20Pts and rear text is Justified Georgia.

For the front cover I used the Sans-serif Haettenschweiler font (80pts) designed by Walter Haettenschweiler in 1954. This font was designed to be eye catching as given its Black font style suits the cover well. The authors name sits below this Georgia (25pts). The helmets had their opacity reduced to 80%. I then created three differing backgrounds to see how they compared.

Whilst I was happy with the back and spine the front lacked the visual impact I wanted, so I decided upon finding a suitable photograph of German solders marching, one that would allow me to split the page into third and experiment with font placement and type. I appreciate this was a complete departure from form, and I expect this is how themes are developed, but all of a sudden the cover, for me at least, snapped into place. The top of the photo was erased at 50% flow, hardness and opacity to help it merge with the white space, whilst the text was brought in from the edge to helped to define and deliver the final cover. I added the line underneath the title to see how physically and aesthetically the cover would look if separated the title from the author’s name. I found it didn’t sit quite right visually with the text right justified, but pulled away from the edge slightly gave it a more calming appearance.

The green spine details were kept as a tool for theme colour coding by the publishers, echoing the 1930’s classic Penguin covers with their range of colour’s, whilst the back cover information was left as it.

With the illustrated cover complete I was now ready to look at using just font work for the front. The back over and spine achieve the aim of clarity I was after. A quick search of various Text only covers showed how text was used effectively. I was aiming to use three vertical columns, with the central one clear, allowing the side one to be used for information.

The first draft looked ideal, and I chose to include the finally two paragraphs of the book to join the text as they were powerful. As they were mounted there lay along side the vertically set text of the title and the author I decided to highlight the authors name in red and enlarging it to 16pts against the 15pts of the main quote text, which has been skewed to 20°. The title was stretch by 43% which improved the impact of the Haettenschweiler type. Using the White Space wisely I set the vertical aspect of the font deliberately to replicate the erect nature of a soldier standing to attention. A final idea was to split the page into two columns, the title sparing the space with an edited quote, which is the final line in the book, with Sajer’s name highlighted in red.

So comparing the two book covers my favourite has to be the one featuring the photo graph. The text only cover has an appeal, but given the market would be predominantly male (though my daughter has read this book twice now), the photo style follows previously successful approaches, but uses the idea of even belonging to a group one can still be lonely. Of the two I’d say the photo-cover, which was used after my illustrated cover felt a little flat, is more eye-catching and in terms of fulfilling the design brief is more successful on this occasion.

Screen shots of exercise development:

Resources Used

Sajer, G, (1997, The Forgotten Soldier, Third Impression, Orion, London.

Forgotten Soldier covers[]=the%20forgotten%20soldier%20guy%20sajer%7Ctyped

Großdeutschland Division Insignia

Richard Clifton-Dey samples[]=Richard%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=Clifton-Dey%7Ctyped

Book Template

Malgrd-nous reference –

Barcode Generator German Infantry still,_Russland-Mitte-S%C3%BCd,_Infanteristen.jpg

Project: Magazines and Books

Every visual creative work is a manifestation of the character of the designer. It is a reflection of his knowledge, his ability and his mentality’.

Josef Muller-Brockmann

The Golden Section: Dividing the page and the image

The Golden Ratio, and the Rule of Thirds are both important to the artist and designer (are they not the same?), they infuse everything that we endeavour to do at creative level. To show how this works I’ve produced a quick overlay of the Golden Section over a rather fabulous looking Triumph Bobber motorcycle.

Here the line of the Golden Ratio traces itself around the front wheel, following the curve of the motorbike fuel tank and frame, almost intentionally. As the ratio is not fixed in its alignment or arrangement and so can be used as a tool to identify a range of objects whose aesthetic beauty may not always be apparent. A good example is a wave. Here I’ve over laid the Golden Ration over the wave in two distinct and separate orientations.

By looking at these three very simple examples we can begin to visualise how the Golden Ration would help to form how we use visual cues in design. Advertising Art Direction is the most logical application for the Golden Ratio; here the director can control the image to the point of perfection. In the case of the two Quality Street adverts the ‘swoop’ of the Golden Ratio is clear to see.

Adverts and magazine covers featuring people are also a good source of seeing examples of the Golden Ratio. These wonderful examples show how the astute art director and design have arranged pose to incorporate the curving geometric form. It also helps to guide the eye to the key point of information, the case of the Just 17 cover model and Dwayne Johnson, the face, or most importantly the eyes.

Although not covered in this project it is worth mentioning the use of the Golden Ratio in logo design. It appears most famously in the Nike ‘Swoosh’ created in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, as well as the KFC and Firefox logos. Noting this helps the designer prioritise the design space and the direct of which they want to direct and guide the eye around the design. Note the tail often overshoots the design.

The Rule of Thirds is a pretty straight forward, where the lines intersect indicate where key points of attention. I’ve also noticed that those squares that are filled with the subject matter draw the attention away from the dead space. The use of a grid is an exceptionally useful device in graphic design; especially in advertising. I’ve chosen four separate images and over laid a PNG of a grid to show that where the sections meet and how the images are divided into thirds.

The Mini advert shows very clearly the converging points of interest on the front grille. The advert is fully two thirds visual stimulus and a third set aside for advertising and promotion. The two gentleman propping up the bar in their rather natty get up certainly attract the eye, though interesting the art director has chose to let the contrasting colour of their tops do the talking here. That said the upper intersections draw the eye in, whilst the two figures occupy two thirds of the frame (note the adjusted picture).

This principle readily transfers to works of art too, as shown by The Lady of Shalott, by John William Waterhouse, here the intersections meet at some key points, which draw the eye to the areas around them, especially the promise of a kiss between the two. The key images of the small group itself takes up the space of six squares, leaving a third of the painting as inconsequential almost impressionist in style, background.

The image which I’ve placed a grid over is a cover painting by Robin Moline. Here it’s not so much the intersections that do the work but the central grid panel with its red sided barn. The eye is instinctively drawn in and then takes note of the details that surround the barn, travelling in an anti – clockwise direction. This wonderful painting is also a great example of the Golden Ratio too.

Designing a Grid

I’m now feeling confident enough to give InDesign a try and have arranged the workspace in the Digital Publishing mode. I’ll be honest knowing this part may take a bit of time I invested in Jonathan Gordon’s Learn Adobe InDesign CC guide as these have a good reputation for being well written. So the first task is to create a two page spread, using the default Margins and Guttering.

The next task is to introduce a document grid, which seems to be easier said than done as it didn’t seem to be in the book. However using a bit of common sense I found the Grid selection via EditPreferences. I did look at an interesting website, Grids In Graphic Design, which explored the subject of Grids in a little more details and Bath Spa Universities Grids and Layouts page gave some excellent time on sizing. I also ensured the Snap to Document Grid was activated.

So having got a rough orientation of the way InDesign works I cleared the document and started afresh. I now set up a new document using the process outlined in Learn Adobe InDesign CC and adapting the process to give me the document I was after and ready for setting up the document to echo the example in my course manual. The first task was to add Text Frames and populate with Lorum Ipsum. I’ve also discovered that InDesign doesn’t seem to appear the same as Photoshop for example. I found the layers in the end as well as how to set columns.

So returning to Gordons book I worked out how to add images, make graphic frames, rectangular frames and place text. All very basic stuff I’ll admit, but this is a big jump for me. So the next task to replicate the grid example. The whole process took less than 10 minutes and has increased my confidence in using InDesign tenfold.

The finished article


The one thing I have noticed during this course is that many of the books that I’ve used are presented in a duel column format, which aids reading speed and divides the page nicely. However when looking back at the how print was arranged, especially in newspaper the sheer amount of columns used was almost visually overbearing. In part due to the size of the paper, and the fact they tended to be double sided single sheet. This limited the amount of space available so the amount of columns was increased. The column numbers started to settle as the printing process advanced and photography appeared in ever increasing levels the design process became more prevalent.

The incorporation of white (or background) space into the columns space as part of the design also grew and designers started to use this in a variety of ways. Not so much in papers, but certainly in books and magazines, white space is a great tool for the designer to utilise and play with. In using white space the role of the document being produced must be borne in mind; graphic design is primarily used to present information. This information can be either simple or exacting and complex. Through judicious use of white space a complex subject can be simplified, if only a little.  Harry Beck’s 1933 London Underground map is a great example of the use of white space.

With duel column arrangements the designer can also experiment with image placements and these can be made in any number of ways. In Grid Systems in Graphic Design Muller-Brockmann identifies 32 ways in which the page can be split between type and picture (p87-95) which is followed by some wonderful examples. To understand how this works, as doing helps me understand, I took a couple of screen shots from the internet or magazine pieces, one from a Brno shopping magazine and one from a health magazine. I did an overlay both pages identifying the text and picture columns whilst fading the background enough to notice how the white space was used in each.

The single column is a great way to incorporate supporting imagery and white space. Examples can be found in specialist magazines with a focus on the creative industries. The use of the single column in literature is also an opportunity for a display of decorative flare, as shown in William Morris in many of his works, and most recently by the designer Radim Malinic in his Book[s] of Ideas. These approaches show that the single column can be just as flexible as a page of two of three columns.

Borders, margins and gutters

The physical construction of the page and how the borders margins and gutters are arranged may seem pretty inconsequential but there are both practical and aesthetic penalties to pay for not being aware of how these are included.  

The sample page beloew from Very Very magazine, 2011, shows the position of the Borders in Blue, Margins in Mauve and Gutters in Green. Note the margins overlap one another, with each being separately identified; Top, Bottom, Inside and Outside.

The placing of these elements is always fixed, so the designer must consider creative ways to use these spaces. As in the magazine above for example the borders are narrow, however the designer has been clever with the guttering and allowed the image of the jaguar to spill over into the outer margins (full bleed). The use of a two columns is a standard approach and the clever use of white space compliments the dark pallets of the photographs.

A wonderful comparison of how pages are arranged can be found in the July 1920 edition of Motion Picture Magazine. The two column approach is cleverly spread over four, with the designer keeping images well within the pages borders. What is interesting is the outer borders, which are narrower than the top and bottom sets, whilst the inner border/gutter is just big enough for the bind process, which is revealed at the boom of the magazine.

Editorial Design

This is where all the elements discussed so far come together to produce the finished spread. Here the editorial craft is best appreciated in this spread from Psychology Today.

Psychology Today; a salute to the editorial designer’s art.

Here four columns are carefully crafted on each pages, with the Golden Ratio spreading across two pages, and images being presented as full bleed whilst the construction of the grid is maintained by clear boundary’s, margins and gutters.

Linking Text

This final piece of practical work will hopefully bring a few things together not least of all an easier way of working. I chose to use InDesign for this element of the project. I’ve set up a basic two column per page and added text frames and 5000 words of Lorem Ipsum text, which is more than enough for the task in hand. As this isn’t something I’ve done before I found a step by step guide on Shutterstock. After following the instructions I ‘linked’ the relevant boxes so that then overflow of text was then included into the document correctly. It’s amazing how a small exercise can be such fun.

Overall an interesting and enjoyable project that introduced me to both the practical as well as the theoretical and aesthetic values that sit behind magazine design. As with anything creative there’s always more to do and learn.

Resources Used

Gordon, J with Chave, C and Schwartz, R (2019), Learn Adobe InDesign CC for Print and Digital Media Publication, 2nd edn, Adobe Press Books, Pearson Education Inc, USA.

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

Malinic, R, 2016, Book of Ideas Volume 1, Brand Nu, London.

Golden Ration PNG – (Accessed 12112020) (Accessed 12112020)

Triumph Bobber –  (Accessed 12112020)

Wave –  (Accessed 12112020)

Quality Street –  &—metal-advertising-wall-sign—retro-art-8859-p.asp  (Accessed 12112020)

Just 17 cover & Coke Cola Advert –  (Accessed 12112020)

The Rock Time Cover –  (Accessed 12112020)

Nike Logo –  (Accessed 12112020)

KFC Logo –  (Accessed 12112020)

Firefox Logo –,_2017.svg  (Accessed 12112020)

Rule of Thirds PNG –  (Accessed 12112020)

The Lady of Shalott, John William Waterhouse, 1888  (Accessed 12112020)

Mini Advert –  (Accessed 12112020)

Menswear –  (Accessed 12112020)

Saturday Evening Post Cover, Robin Moline, 2019  (Accessed 12112020)

Grids In Graphic Design (Accessed 13112020)

Grids and Layouts,%E2%80%93%20A4%3A%20210%20x%20297mm.  (Accessed 13112020)

Lorum Ipsum (Accessed 13112020)

Baltimore American  (Accessed 16112020)

hot lakes chronicle Wednesday Feb 29 1895 NZ (Accessed 16112020)

Examples of contemporary local newspapers (Accessed 16112020)

Health and Wellness magazine  (Accessed 16112020)

Good magazine  (Accessed 16112020)

The power of white space,or%20even%20a%20background%20image. (Accessed 16112020)

Brno Shopping centre magazine (Accessed 16112020)

PC Mag (Accessed 17112020)

Harry Becks original Tube map  (Accessed 17112020)

Villagers (Accessed 17112020)

Apartment Magazine  (Accessed 17112020)

A note by William Morris  (Accessed 17112020)

Book of Ideas sample  (Accessed 17112020)

Motion Picture Magazine  (Accessed 17112020)

Psychology Today  (Accessed 17112020)

Very very magazine 2011  (Accessed 17112020)

Linking text walkthrough  (Accessed 17112020)

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: Lorum Ipsum

For this exercise, I plan to do four pieces using the generically generated using program, selecting words for the following two examples:

Gardening News

Type: Passion One, Times New Roman and Louisiana for hand script

Narrow Gauge Times

Type: Times New Roman and Gill Sans

The first task is to create template pages used samples from both publications. I used Affinity Publisher for this task as it something I’m familiar with and I’m still fumbling my way around the Adobe suites. I created the ‘copy’ layout using layers for both the Gardening News (L) and Narrow Gauge Times (R) using layers.

The use of the Lorum Ipsum package was an interesting experience as the word Length generated by can be problematic. This leaves the overall effect a little artificial as you have to trim the words down to make them fit, literally. However what it did show that what I thought looked ‘smart’ was actually far from it. The Gardening News item was messy, chaotic and frankly hideous, whilst the Narrow Gauge Times was surprisingly clean and well thought out. The aesthetics were ‘right’ despite what I thought and felt.

Humility restored I set to trying to improve the layouts, starting with the Gardening News Given my motor skills are deteriorating in some respects I decided to make my comments onto the JPG image, for some reason, it’s slightly easier to write like that.

This is where technology is extremely helpful for disabled students, it allows for easy manipulation of tasks and forms. I chose to colour the writing blocks in pink as not to get too overwhelmed by the text. This something that occurs increasingly, and perhaps has a role to play in my not fully enjoying or engaging with certain elements of the course. However, the colour block works nicely in calming this down. The yellow/green borders were added to help me identify the various boxes as I moved them around.

I settled on using a grid system for both articles, as it’s easier to both read and work with (I recommend reading Muller-Brockmann ‘Grid Systems in Graphic Design’). I had a play around with what layouts would work the best and simplified and unified grid size with the final version.

I kept the original fonts as I felt these suited the friendly nature of the article whilst the changes in layout gives it a little more structure and visual balance.

Next I repeated the copy pattern with the Narrow Gauge Times, which looks rather smart when presented in a basic manner.

I looked at how the basics, whilst right could be improved. I chose to stick with the Time New Roman font as it was in keeping, but the layout was a great foundation to play with.

Again I went with for the gird arrangement and played with which arrangement was the easiest and most intuitive to navigate around;

Again I used pink to signify the text blocks before filling these with the Lorum Ipsum text. Seeing the text aligned next to grey picture boxes left with a few choices to make.

However, I went for a linear approach with regards to the arrangement choosing ton have the text running along the outer edges of the page with stills running along the spine:

Now time to tidy the formating starting with Gardening News.

The adjusted format left, original right.

One major change was the changing the black bold Type of Passion One to Lalezar by Borna Izadpanah. It’s slightly more slender and a little more delicate in terms of presentation when reviewed against the original type, therefore a little more keeping with the nature of the publication. I also feel that for larger, bolder type, a Sans Serif type is more appealing to the eye. I kept the Times New Roman and Louisiana Types as they matched the feel and, in the case of Times New Roman its accepted use as the publisher’s choice is well understood.

For formatting, I kept the paragraphs left-justified with the tracking adjusted to 10% horizontal tracking, 6pts for the baseline and 11.5pt for the Leading Override tracking. These subtle differences seem to deliver a more polished finish for the resigned article.

For Narrow Gauge Times, Header horizontal tracking increased to 10% and the Leading Override 25ts and the font changed to Gill Sans MT at 25pts size as a nod to its use within the rail industry.

The main change was the Type, I decided to use Arial, in keeping with the Sans Serif theme whilst increasing the size to 14pts, increasing the horizontal tracking by 10% and the Leading Override tracking by 18%.

Overall a very useful exercise and one which has taught me quite a bit about the importance of arrangement and design.

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.