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 https://mockups-design.com/ 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: Lorum Ipsum

For this exercise, I plan to do four pieces using the generically generated using https://lipsum.com/ 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.