Exercise – Chance Housing Association Revisited

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.’

Never has a truer word been spoken in jest. The more I looked at what I initially thought was a great idea the more I realised I’d strayed into illustration territory, perhaps goaded by some of the images I’d collected on Pinterest. Some of which may have looked nice, twee. Kitsch. I think its very easy to be taken in by snazzy logos, bright colours and wonderful motifs, yet they rarely add anything to the overall design.

The desire to overcomplicate or not let the text speak is strange and indeed when I searched for simple estate agent logo’s there were surprisingly few that relied on lettering and simple decorative devices. That puts the designer up against it as straight the way you’re having to be innovative. So to that end I revisited the work I’d done previously for this exercise and drop the door opening motif, ensuring the simplicity of the design returned (though I kept the roof motif as it didn’t interfere with the lettering), and any manipulation of the lettering was reflective of the theme.

I’ve done a couple of mock up’s with two different designs and hopefully these are closer to the intent of the original brief.  

Of the two designs the one on the left is my favoured as it’s simpler, cleaner and visually more balanced and the one I’d submit for assessment.

Research Point: Posters

The one thing this course does is open your mind to new ideas and concepts, and whilst the way in which visual information is relayed to us. Be it official announcement or marketing and promotion purposes, the poster remains that bridge between the informative elements of Graphic Design and illustration. The Victorians and Edwardians were great one for providing wonderfully illustrated posters that were almost artworks in themselves, often featuring fantastical motifs and themes. Alluding that the properties of products were somehow magical, patriotic in some cases, but always superior by virtue of the standard of artwork commissioned. By the start of the Great War these posters had morphed into celebrations of nationalistic pride, of women urging men to advance into the crucible of the Western Front.

The post-war world had changed beyond all recognition and by the 1920’s the artistic freedom that many designers were experiencing in the new world of post imperial Russia and Germany were influencing the work of artists in Great Britain and USA. Palette colours were simplified and styles from the Bauhaus and Art Deco Schools were making themselves felt in popular advertising. This was now torn between connecting the consumers personal preferences to a product and new ways of radical thinking and governance, such as communism and fascism, rather than chasing the nationalistic ideals of Exceptionalism and turning goods into a celebration of Empire.

As the period progressed there was a drive to place the consumer at the heart of the image; famers, families, men, and women. There was also a return to selling the ideal, but not as an extension of the body politic (outside of Central and Eastern Europe aside), but as a means to introduce the consumer to the world. The age of the holiday was upon the masses, given rise by cheaper transportation, and an ever increasing globalisation of information. The use of photography, which first appeared mainly in post war political posters, was becoming more popular with advertisers and manufacturers, especially the automotive industry. Though illustrations were still being used, it was more simplistic and suited to cheaper mass and rapid turn over printing rather than the more expensive and complex painterly styles.

The onset of war and mass propaganda introduced once again more complex and dynamic use of colour, composition and theme. Posters followed the same formulas of personal engagement with the viewer seen with contemporary advertising, promoting personal responsibility and collective aims.

Post war adverting and poster production was miles away from the still rigid forms of the inter war years. Many of the designers returned from fighting eager to experiment and use their post war education credits to gain the necessary qualifications in design and illustration. New theories from Switzerland, especially those penned by Müller – Brockmann and Tschichold, introduced a new form and visual direction to the poster, which was easier to fulfil with the development of print technolgy. There was also the chance to completely tear-up the rule book and introduce more informal form in their work. The seriousness of wartime messaging was now replaced with a looser, freer form of expression where comedy and whimsicality was welcomed, especially in film and travel posters.

For me this was the golden era of the poster, from holidays to military recruitment, clothing to cars this period not only helped to sell ideas, good and experiences, but also, for a fleeting moment, showed that all was still good with the world. Colours and artistic flare worked together to give the viewer an experience and insight in what was out there, a welcoming splash of colour and life for all to enjoy.

All the while Type and Font has developed with posters, becoming more sophisticated and less decorative whilst improving accessibility. Though it has to be noted that as the decades progressed the decorative fonts were used, but often sparingly, as part of logos for example, and often in Black or Bold styles.

My Pinterest collection of posters and similar can be found here: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/Benjskipper/inspired-graphic-design/

Resources Used

Inglis, T. (2019) Mid-Century Modern Graphic Design, Batsford, London

Clark, T. (1997) Art and Propaganda, Everyman Art Library, London


Exercise: Magazine Pages

I have a habit of keeping back magazines that appeal visually, and the Country Life has always had great visual appeal. The features in particular draw you in with the use of an interesting subject matter, full bleed imagery and crisp font, never straying from accepted norm and opting for decorative fonts as the norm. Looking at Country Life objectively was not only great fun but allowed me to appreciate the work that goes into producing the magazine.

The first task was to measure the magazine and appreciate page form:

  • Each page is based on a three column grid
  • Images are a mix of full bleed, vignettes, full box with the odd touch of cropping around a subject to highlight it.
  • White space tends to be at a minimum, but when used, especially in the illustrated story, it’s used sensitively.
  • Page size is 302mm x 233mm, with a column width of 60mm with a gap of 5mm between columns.
  • Margin measurement:
    • Outer 20mm
    • Inner 15mm
    • Lower 15mm
    • Upper 20mm
    • Gutter 30 mm

Fonts are a mix of serif with the body text is the standard Times New Roman, whilst headers swing between Times New Roman, Garamond and Helvetica. Indeed the interest in font within the magazine is such that is published a wonderful article, 8 typefaces that changed the world, on its website where it includes the fonts used in-house by the design team which also includes Johnston Sans by Edward Johnston and Transport byJock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert. Interestingly both are used for sharing information to commuters on the London Underground and road network accordingly.

To replicate the Country Life layout using InDesign I resized the page accordingly and added the above measurements and necessary columns to the master profile. I decided to go with the first page of Unto Us a Child is Born. The first task is to replicate the pages as closely as possible. The header and sub headers are Schneider Libretto, which has some interesting similarities to Bodoni and is contemporary, yet at the same time traditional.

Sadly a download is cost prohibitive, so I’ll use Bodoni MT Bold and Regular as a suitable replacement for both, sizing the header at 45pts and the sub heading at 15pts. The main body text is Times New Roman at 12pts and justified with a left alignment, with the quote in Bodoni MT Regular at 20pts.

One thing that took a little time to get my head around whilst trying to save the document was to select which Master it was. Unlike Affinity Publisher the saving process is a little more involved, and with my frustration rising and trying to work out why I was only getting blank JPGs or PDFs. I finally worked out that there are two Master documents, A and B, and it’s A that saves. Lesson learned. One thing I did notice was that I had forgotten to place the bottom margin information into the original copy, so I update the file accordingly.

The one thing that had escaped my mind completely was that when it comes tcame to preparing and joining the two halves of an exported file together always create in the size it was saved not the actual size of the original document. Things can get lost in translation.

Anyway onwards and upwards. My first task is to select three sets of font combinations. Given the style of magazine Black, Fat Face and Decorative would be poor choices and whilst a Sans Serif style is used occasionally, mostly Helvetica, its use is limited to lifestyle features. So the Serif fonts I’ll be using will be:

Headline#1: Garamond Bold. Sub- Heading and Quote Garamond Regular

Body#1: Century Schoolbook Regular

Headline#2: Libre Baskerville Bold Sub- Heading and Quote Libre Baskerville Regular

Body#2: Sitka Text

Headline#3: Georgia Bold Sub- Heading and Quote Georgia Regular

Body#3: Arvo Regular

The combinations have been chosen to echo the original editorial designs. For the first series of grids I’ll retain the original design and font size before developing the grid further.  

Clearly changing Font but not size has a big impact but is a great exemplar of how fonts are sized differently in their design. This size difference also impact upon the editorial design process. So a quick tidy up gives us a tidier view of the pages.

#1 – Headline: 45pts, Sub heading: 16pts, Quote: 19pts and Footer: 11 and 10pts. Body: 11pts

Here the Garamond / Century Schoolbook combination are a nicely balance set with Garamond regular in particular sitting easily with the Century Schoolbook. Whilst a s Bold headliner it has enough presence to attract the eye but not dominate the white space at the top of the page. Century Schoolbook

#2 – Headline: 35pts, Sub heading: 12pts, Quote: 15pts and Footer: 10 and 12pts. Body: 12pts

As Libre Baskerville is a physically larger design font the re-sizing had to be pretty drastic, which leads to a small size being used for the Headlining. That said it doesn’t diminish its impact in any way, but the bold is heavier than and more suited to commercial or advertising usage. The Sitka Text on the other hand is light to the eye and strikes a delicate balance with the heavier Libre Baskerville headliner. Interesting when used as a regular font the Libre Baskerville suits the Sitka Text nicely.

Headline #3: 45pts Sub heading: 14pts, Quote#3: 17Pts and Footer: 11 and 10pts.

Body #3: 11pts

Visually the Georgia is an altogether calmer font but when used as a Bold headliner but seems more suited to ‘newspaper’ style than feature and the same could be said of the Arvo text, however the Arvo nicely compliments the regular Georgia style font of the quote.

Now I’ve experimented with various fonts, the next stage is to develop the theme of article focusing on Unto us a child is born and changing the subject matter to a more contemporary theme. To echo the new theme’s new font style will be chosen to headlines the themes. Other changes will include subheading wording to reflect the content of the piece, new quote piece and accompanying imagery.

The new themes, which still reflect the key theme of Unto us a child is born are:

  • Handels Messiah
  • Older Parents
  • Children born in Poverty
  • Refugee Camp

Each new piece will be an opportunity to change the feel of the original art to develop the theme a little more, and there is the opportunity to introduce more decorative fonts and colour options.

Child born in refugee camp – Headliner Bohemian Typewriter 40Pts Sub heading Helvetica (12Pts) Quote Helvetica (12Pts at 15% Skew)

Child born in poverty – Headliner The Pits (50Pts), Sub heading Georgia 14Pts with italic element of 15% skew and Quote Georgia 14Pts

Child born to Older Parents – Headliner Grand Hotel (41pts with Horizontal scale increased to 125%) Libre Baskerville for sub headings and Quote 12 and 18Pts

Unto us a child is born (Handel’s Messiah) – Headliner Old English Five Regular 28pts Sub Heading and Quote Garamond 16 and 18Pts

This element of the exercise also asks five questions:

  • What happens when you alter the body font or headline font?

Changing the font will always affect the appearance of an article it sets the tone. For example the Old English Five used to introduce Unto us a child is born (Handel’s Messiah) sets the style of read as both scholarly, of interested to the choral enthusiast and linked with the use of a black background page lends itself to a coffee table lifestyle magazine such as Country Life.

The scrolling Grand Hotel font used for Child born to Older Parents, with its pink scrolling form is reflective of the style that would be used to lead this style of article in a mid-end lifestyle magazine. Whilst the reportage Bohemian Typewriter linked to the stylist Helvetica used for Child born in refugee camp introduces the concept of a cutting edge contemporaneous report from the front style article. For Child born in poverty I used The Pits chalk style font to echo the premise of the articles focus on child povery. This design of article would be used for a professional magazine such as teaching or social work professions.

  • Do different kinds of images change the feel of the publication?

We remember powerful images, and when relevant to the subject matter they not only draw the reader in but also help tell part of the story. I was careful with what images I used for the Refugee article as some are, understandably, distressing and these should be used in their own right. The fine line between voyeurism and serious reporting has to be maintained, so the use of the Holy Family by Geertgen tot Sint Jans not only lent itself to the subject but also provided a linking image to the nature of the article. The inclusion of a background image was deliberate, showing children living and playing in a temporary site helps to reaffirm the helplessness of their situation. The inclusion of an extra graphic was to help add a sense of seriousness to the subject matter as well as to show it’s informative.

Again I used this approach for the Poverty article choosing to show children in worn clothing, which albeit is a Victorian-esque visual trope, but helps to get the point across. The little girls eating the biscuit also help’s to confirm the lack of variation in diet which occurs when there is little or no money for a balanced diet. Here the images add a sense of hopelessness, loss and futility.

For the Handel and Older Parent I wanted the feel to be more informative and relaxed. The smiling pregnant lady and couple with child help to convey a light/warm hearted moment indicating the subject is going to be an easy and enjoyable read. The use of Balthasar Denner’s portrait of Handel adds an element of academia to the article. This, with the black space of the page, and the image of the Winchester Choir in full swing, helps to establish the messiah as a choral work of great importance.

  • Do you think the readership for each of your variations would be the same?

Possibly, I think the readership for the Child born in refugee camp and Child born in refugee camp would be of same, working for NGO’s or in the Third Sector. Whereas the reader of the Child born to Older Parents could be professionals in any number of industries, though most likely the private sector.  The Unto us a child is born (Handel’s Messiah) article would feature in either a lifestyle or Club type magazine.

  • Does the image you choose suggest a different design?

Yes I believe they all do, they affect the use of font type, Handel by his very nature demands a serious yet flourishing decorative tone which Old English Five gives. This also echo’s the idealised font design one would associate with 18th Century England. The chalk effect of the The Pits, may seem light hearted, yet when used in conjunction with the images confirm that the article is bout children of young age. The light heart flowing coloured script of Grand Hotel gives the article a sense of celebration and hope. The direct and almost aggressive key strokes of Bohemian Typewriter add the sense of urgency to the article, echoing telex machines, placing its subject matter in a location where technology has broken down.

The use of two images allows me to further convey and develop the message and content of the article. Another simple design change was made by adjusting the layout, very slightly, of the Child born in refugee camp and introducing three columns of type. This also allowed for the inclusion of a graph which is used as an infographic, to impart further information, in this case the percentage of refugees who are children (38%).

  • Which ones work best and why?

For me Child born in refugee camp as I manipulated the three column format to suit the message and add more impact to the subject matter. Where as Unto us a child is born (Handel’s Messiah) was a great opportunity to manipulate the White Space and use it, along with the Headling Font to create a sombre yet informative looking article.

Resources Used

Country Life, December 12/19 2018, TI Media Ltd, London

8 typefaces that changed the world, https://www.countrylife.co.uk/out-and-about/theatre-film-music/8-typefaces-changed-world-134107  (Accessed 19112020)

Johnston Type https://i.pinimg.com/736x/91/94/43/919443d448966d9aa26045e5c42458e3.jpg (Accessed 19112020)

Transport Type https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_(typeface) (Accessed 19112020)

Text generator https://www.lipsum.com/  (Accessed 19112020)

Schneider Libretto font example https://en.fontke.com/font/13143725/ (Accessed 19112020)

George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner – https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fa/George_Frideric_Handel_by_Balthasar_Denner.jpg (Accessed 23112020)

Winchester Cathedral Choir https://www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk/worship-and-music/music-choir/  (Accessed 23112020)

Older parents https://www.verywellfamily.com/thmb/PmQQbzeG0a4Ha6G2U8G4_ph815M=/2250×1500/filters:fill(DBCCE8,1)/older-parents-with-baby-5a288580da27150036296555.jpg  (Accessed 23112020)

Pregnant lady https://www.nflwc.com/uploads/pink-t-pregnant-woman.jpg  (Accessed 23112020)

Child Poverty  https://benskippergraphicdesign.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/8fc60-dsc_0618.jpg  (Accessed 23112020)

Child with biscuit https://theconversation.com/are-there-400-000-fewer-children-in-poverty-in-the-uk-than-there-were-in-2010-128274  (Accessed 23112020)

Refugee Child and Boat https://www.voanews.com/world-news/middle-east-dont-use/un-many-syrian-refugees-educated-seeking-better-lives (Accessed 23112020)

Refugee Camp https://theconversation.com/how-to-help-refugee-children-get-through-the-trauma-of-whats-happened-to-them-64335 (Accessed 23112020)

Handel Messiah facts https://www.bsomusic.org/stories/5-things-you-might-not-know-about-handels-messiah/ (Accessed 23112020)

Baby Facts https://www.verywellfamily.com/being-an-older-parent-4155772 (Accessed 23112020)

Child Poverty facts https://www.basw.co.uk/resources/psw-magazine/psw-online/child-poverty-rise-warning (Accessed 23112020)

Child Refugee Chart https://venngage.com/blog/13-of-the-most-pressing-questions-about-refugees-answered-with-charts/  (Accessed 23112020)

Infant mortality information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5717942/  (Accessed 23112020)

Nativity at Night by Geertgen tot Sint Jans. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativity_at_Night#/media/File:Geertgen_tot_Sint_Jans,_The_Nativity_at_Night,_c_1490.jpg  (Accessed 23112020)

Research Point – The Printed Word

Note: This is a review of how I see the printed material featured and is purely personal.

There’s a fine line between collecting and hoarding; fortunately, I seem to teeter on it and over the past few years I’ve collected a collection of various magazines, papers and the like which I find visually interesting. Whilst I have a thinning out every six months or so, lest I become overwhelmed, there are always those few that I choose to keep on.

So the first task was to identify a good selection of newspapers, magazines, leaflets and brochures, so I settled for 10 examples, taking four sample scans of all but one. The next is to sift them out by looking at those which are easy to read, and those not so.

That said there are examples where the formatting in both is ether good and bad, and I‘ll discuss this during my review, these elements should always be looked at in context. This list is purely subjective. I used https://www.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/ the fonts used in each case.

Easy to read:

  • Artisan Rifles leaflet

Artisan Rifles

Type: Rival Sans Extra Light and Anuparp Thai Regular

Words per line: Ave. 5

Column Width: Ave. 108pts

Alignment: Left Alignment

Designers Intent; has it made this easier to read (Speed, Type size, Font, layout)?

This is a leaflet that was on display at the local country store and being intrigued I picked it up. For me, it was the way very complex legal subjects are broken down into easy to understand short bites of information.

The use of a Sans Serif font always helps when it comes to conveying important messages. It’s easily read and with the combined use of Rival Sans Extra Light and Anuparp Thai Regular with a three colour pallet helped add the necessary sobriety and tone to the subject matter leaflet. whilst providing an eye-catching design. This makes for quick and easy reading, with font size aiding greatly.

  • The Brambly Newspaper

Type: CG Times Bold and Times New Roman

Words per line: Ave. 5

Column Width: Ave. 108pts

Alignment: A mix of Left and Justified Alignments.

Designers Intent; has it made this easier to read (Speed, Type size, Font, layout)?

The desire to say ‘It is what it is’ when talking about newspaper layouts is simply overwhelming. They all follow a cultural norm and are presented as such. However, they remain a celebration of typesetter’s art.

Working within the confines of the column the unknown typesetter has evened out the headlines, given the columns word count balance, and allowed for a decent amount of space between columns. Given that The Bramley, our local paper, is distributed in an area predominantly older readership, this not only makes sense, but also engages the reader. Retaining the traditional Times based Type allows for quick and easy reading.

Font size seems a little larger than normal and the use of equal spacing between letters is used to not only keep the words per line to a maximum of five, but to also make the words more legible. So clearly a lot of thought has gone into this design.

Sally Mitchells Fine Arts Brochure

Type: Calibri and Calibri Bold

Words per line: Ave. 8

Column Width: Ave 180pts

Alignment: Left, centre and right alignments.

Designers Intent; has it made this easier to read (Speed, Type size, Font, layout)?

Given this is a brochure it eschews the normal layout for print media, mixing a vernacular style with a grid-based one. The Vernacular is used to display certain key works, whilst the use of the now accepted grid style is used to promote multiple print items as in a now traditional sales brochure format.

The Font, and Type Size is spot on for legibility and makes the brochure easy too read. Whilst the layout isn’t necessarily orthodox, it’s unique approach makes for easy browsing.

  • Gardening News

Type: Loka Extended Extra Bold,  Times New Roman and Louisiana for hand script

Words per line: Ave. 8

Column Width: Ave 108pts

Alignment: Left alignments

Designers Intent; has it made this easier to read (Speed, Type size, Font, layout)?

The eye-catching heading lines in  Loka Extended Extra Bold coupled with the varying weights of Times New Roman, grid structure with no more than four columns per page enable the reader to rapidly read articles. The size of the text font is 10pt, is easy on the eye, and when there’s a need for emphasis the designer has proved the reader with a bold Times New Roman, rather than employ italics, which at a small size can be awkward to read.

  • Country Living

Type: Bodoni based range, including SB Med OsF, Light and SH Roman

Words per line: Ave. 9

Column Width: Ave 252pts

Alignment: Left alignments

Designers Intent; has it made this easier to read (Speed, Type size, Font, layout)?

Country Living takes an interesting approach to layout, by sticking to a predominantly two-column width the layout is designed for a slower read, with imagery working alongside content. The use of a single, though varied in weight, type shows how simply altering line weight and size of one font can have as much an impact as using two or three different designs of font. It also keeps appearance and design crisp and fresh and the size allows for easy reading. Of the five selected examples, this is my favourite by far.

Not so easy to read:

  • Narrow Gauge Times

Type: Times New Roman and Gill Sans

Words per line: Ave. 11

Column Width: 144pts

Alignment: Left alignments

Designers Intent; has it made this easier to read (Speed, Type size, Font, layout)?

Firstly, the topic aside, this is a product of its time, yet its layout can still be found in a multitude of locally produced magazines. In this instance the use of dual column, with a traditional font is atypical of information sharing, it’s quick and to the point. The print size is a little too small at 10pts, with kerning a little too close. This approach doesn’t lend itself to easy or fast reading. Whilst the subject matter is light and interesting, the design makes it feel as though the reader to wading through treacle at times.

  • Pocket Bond Catalougue

Type: Stencil, and varying weights of Calibri

Words per line: Ave. 5

Column Width: 72pts

Alignment: Left and Centre alignments

Designers Intent; has it made this easier to read (Speed, Type size, Font, layout)?

For most brochures, quirkiness is expected to help sell products, but this is normally in terms of the visuals and headlining type and font. Pocketbond has used varying styles of alignment, layout combined with unnecessarily small Pt sizes and poorly arranged product images all lead to the reader being left with something that lacks uniformity.

Whilst the enthusiast will look past this for the outsider, reviewing it on an aesthetic level its quite an uncomfortable experience. Many model kit manufacturers and importers produce brochures which engage the reader, draw them in, in this instance that doesn’t quite happen. Its a hodgepodge of dry information, with occasional sparks of engagement that are ruined by poor layout and presentation. 

  • Vogue

Type: Vogue AG and Garamond

Words per line: Ave 8

Column Width: 128 and 216pts

Alignment: Justified and Left alignments

Designers Intent; has it made this easier to read (Speed, Type size, Font, layout)?

For a magazine like Vogue, which is an icon and revered, to put it here was a hard choice. On one hand, the photography is engaging, and the subject matter light. Yet where it falls down is in the details, which really surprised me. The use of Garamond for the articles makes for easy and quick reading, however, the photo captions are a different story.

Whilst some sit traditionally by the side of stills, those which are overlaid are infinitely harder to read. Always in italics and a size smaller than the font, possibly 8pts, they was produced in either black or white print. This difficulty in reading is further compounded by the fact that, especially on black and white stills. Which is a pity as Vogue is an otherwise beautifully laid out magazine, yet proves that a slight flaw will always detract from the overall beauty of a product. Much like a loose thread.

  • Lakeland Christmas Brochure

Type: Unidentified Hand Script, Bodoni Old Fashioned, and Bodoni. 

Words per line: Ave. 10

Column Width: 72 to 210pts

Alignment: Left and Justified alignments

Designers Intent; has it made this easier to read (Speed, Type size, Font, layout)?

Christmas catalogues will always be quirky, but this particular one takes the visual-aesthetic journey a step too far in some respects. The fonts, in particular the stylised hand script, are so poorly chosen that http://www.myfonts.com couldn’t identify them. Here is a brochure which totally missed its key audience and instead becomes a showcase of all that is gimmicky and fake.

The premise is okay, buy the lack of uniformity in presentation, the use of more than one type of Font per page and the zig-zagging arrangement of imagery. Written information whilst clear and easy to read is likewise haphazardly thrown about the page, or placed against a hard to read background. In terms of total accessibility, like Vogue before it, Lakeland falls short for me. It’s more the result of client leading the Designer than the designer guiding the client.

  • Gonalston Farm Shop Christmas Brochure

Type: Helvetica, Gill Sans Heavy, Arial, Pristina Std and Times New Roman

Words per line: Ave 8

Column Width: 140pts

Alignment: Left and Centre alignment

Designers Intent; has it made this easier to read (Speed, Type size, Font, layout)?

Granted this is a locally produced brochure, and I do love the rein-cow cover (almost a crime against Photoshop), but when you open it it literally screams at you. Oversized Gills Sans Fonts in green and black jostle with Times New Roman and the odd bit of Helvetica thrown in for good measure. All of this is topped off with Pristina Std. 

In terms of layout, aside from the occasional piece of poorly placed clipart shape, its spot on, but sadly this is ruined by the arrangement of lettering. One redeeming feature is the clearly laid out order form. Overall a tad too busy visually, but not the worst offender by far.



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: https://kopywritingkourse.com/easiest-font-to-read/, 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: https://www.clipartmax.com/download/m2i8m2G6H7N4d3N4_flowers-line-art-23-outline-of-flowers-png/

Church PNG can be found at: https://favpng.com/png_view/church-coloring-book-building-church-png/cMnU9xjJ

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 (https://www.1001fonts.com/roof-runners-active-font.html) 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 (https://www.1001fonts.com/quicksand-font.html 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 https://www.canstar.com.au/transaction-accounts/christmas-gift-ideas-teenage-boys/.


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.

Exercise: If the face fits Pt2.

The second part of the exercise is to identify typefaces which have bold, italics, black or light forms. Identity is a pretty straightforward exercise, but choice, that’s another ball game altogether. It’s almost like asking which flavour of jelly bean is your favourite.

However ever eager to delve into the on-line collection I’ve pulled an example of each, otherwise we’d be here all day.

Bold; Prima Serif: https://www.linotype.com/1085835/prima-serif-bold-product.html

Bold, sharp and clear. Prima Serif is a definite favourite for both headlining and highlighting.

Italic; Clarity Serif Light: https://www.fontsplace.com/clarity-serif-light-sf-italic-free-font-download.html

When properly designed Italic type can be light and flowing, and Clarity proves that exceptionally well. The is not so much drawn, its almost ethereal in its form. This Type is wonderfully suited to more decorative work and would suit a colourful background; think two-tone vertical pastel stripes. It has that early 60’s vide to it with more than a twist of contemporary clarity.

Preview Clarity Serif Light SF Italic free font

Black; Hennigar: https://www.urbanfonts.com/fonts/Hennigar.font

Strong, thumpingly clear and without flourish the block-like form of Hennigar is ideal for signage and newspaper headlines. I imagine it wouldn’t work particularly well on long words but for short words, it’s pretty much the Black font of choice.


Light: https://www.ffonts.net/Bebas-Neue-Light.font

Light Type has come of age more so now in the past decade. It’s well suited to a range of uses, from the web to print. Whether its a contemporary trend that’s been riding on the back of numerous ‘vintage’ themes or simply that Light Type has been ‘rediscovered’, I’m glad it has.


In part 3: selecting the type…

Exercise: If the face fits Pt1.

The following are samples from the book of type I’ve been collecting over the past few months and storing on my Google bookmarks. Whilst I am easily distracted by the sheer amount of types, it’s more than fair to say there are some great examples available to use.

To help with examples I’ve had to rein it in a little to a couple of example of each style of type, otherwise, you’d have been assaulted with tens of examples of type each with its own weight, style, and font. Not only would that have been unfair, but also would have possibly confused me. However, I can only encourage you to follow the links I’ve added so that you can look and consider the merits of each example, and hopefully discover example that appeals to your taste.

Serif examples:

Bold: Bodoni (https://www.designbolts.com/2018/03/10/10-best-free-bold-serif-fonts-for-headings-typography/) is the classic great all-rounder, for me, it’s almost synonymous with the weightier style of type used in a range of identity situations. Company names on merchandise in particular always look good in Bodoni.


Goku, (https://bashooka.com/freebie/20-beautiful-bold-serif-fonts/) originally designed for a watch event, its stencil nature gives it a delicacy that one would not expect from a bold font. As such I can see why it was used to promote watches. It has style and grace.


Sans Serif Examples:

Aaargh (https://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Aaargh) Simple curves and graceful down strokes Aaargh has a simplistic appeal to it that would sit exceptionally well with contemporary lifestyle and fashion reportage. Definitely, a headliner or descriptor box style of type as opposed to every day reading type.

AaarghAsgalt: (https://www.behance.net/gallery/18009131/Typography-Asgalt-Free-Font) At first I wasn’t sure if this would be considered a decorative font, more useful in advertising than print, then, like Aaargh,  it could form part of a headlining or business font quite nicely. Given its pseudo-futuristic this type has numerous commercial as well as artistic functions; it’s also remarkably easy to read. I would genuinely consider placing members of this font as drop caps for impact.


Script Font: Allura  (https://www.1001fonts.com/allura-font.html)

This is definitely an advertorial decorative font, even the still below shows it’s the best way to use it. It’s light, fun and has an air of luxurious abandonment that wants to you beggar off to Tobago for a month with your dog. It’s quirky, yet beautifully designed and easy on the eye. What’s not to like?


Melany Lane: (https://www.myfonts.com/fonts/yellow-design/melany-lane/)

Again a very decorative type, fit for shop windows and packaging, yet visually pleasing and flows rather nicely. It screams chintz, but I rather like it.

Melany Lane

Decorative Fonts:

Camelot Caps: (https://www.1001fonts.com/camelotcaps-font.html)

I love this type of decorative font work. It screams William Morris, Arts & Crafts, Victorian artistic idealism and Pre-Raphilite sensibilities; everything I want from my own art almost. Its an abandonment of austere type and welcoming a more decorative art form is aesthetically warming and visually enticing. It uses are restricted in one sense, but in another, they are simply limitless.


Summit: (https://dribbble.com/shots/1177904-Summit)

To paraphrase Sig Sigue Sputnik Summit is BMX, it’s large mobile phones, its summer at the beach and ice creams in the part. It’s jolly and bouncy, selling children’s clothing at a department store and featuring on baby grows, spelling out Baby. It’s on the side of the container for an inflatable paddling pool. Yet for all its possible gaudy used I love the use of colour that helps to accent its form. I’d use it.


Web Font.

The following are examples of Fixed Width, Techno and Pixel font all stylised to a computer style look or designed for font use.

Fixed Width example; Futurist Fixed Width (https://www.urbanfonts.com/fonts/Futurist_Fixed-width.font)

This Sans Serif based type is simple in its construction and exceptionally easy on the eye. It would work well for use on a news type feed or providing keep information, such as technical details.

Futurist Fixed

Techno Style example; Quantum (https://www.dafont.com/quantum-4.font)

I can imagine this heading up a lifestyle based forum in the early 2000’s before moving into the dark world of corporate advertising on a webpage for minor engineering components. Here it would be used to try to make a needle bearing exciting and dangerous. Or perhaps a straight to DVD pulp sci-fi spy film that would have a cult following. For all that its fun and I’ll be honest whilst I wouldn’t use it to illuminate Tess of the d’urbervilles, it would find its way into use with the Stephen Cole novel. 


Pixel Font example; Chesstype (https://www.1001fonts.com/chesstype-font.html)

If I were to be commissioned to produce a KS2 and 3 STEM microsite, without a doubt this is the Type I’d use; legible, fun and techno-esque it also says I’m about technology so I am technological. It couldn’t be used as the main text, but as a headliner and drop text its definitely got potential. Also it makes me smile.

Chess type

Book Review: Type & Typography

Type and Typography

Type and Typography is one of the essential reading books for the Graphic Design1: Core Concepts course. I’ll be honest I’m glad it is.

I’ll be honest I thought I knew what Graphic Design was and meant, and my presumptions and ideas were clearly honed by exposure to the eruption of creative ideas that proliferated in the 80s and 90s, some good, some dreadful.

I also assumed that graphic design was purely a pictorial representation of an idea, with text thrown in for good measure. The role, complexity and impact of text and its design had completely by-passed my awareness.

Thankfully Type & Typography pulled me up by the proverbial bootstraps. As the ideas contained in this book are wholly new to me I took my time reading its contents, and I’m glad I did.

Covering six key areas; Definition, Function, Form, Manufacture & Design, Structure and Conventions. Not only was this absolute eye opener for me, but also laid out the theory and conventions behind type. Something I had no idea about. It’s fair to say the Function aspect had not even knocked on my consciousness and is more than a useful element to helping understand the subject matter from an outsider’s point of view.

The examples collected with the book are beautifully selected and illustrate key points well. The section on Structure is the most important for the new Graphic Designer with some truly wonderful examples and grids.

I’ll be honest I personally found the book a bit of a grind at times, but that’s down to my Brain Fog as opposed to structure and writing style. Despite this I cannot recommend the book highly enough, even for those not on the course, it’s well worth reading and a great introduction to the Laurence King publishing brand.

Resources Accessed

Baines, P and Haslam, A, (2005). Type & Typography. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd

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.