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Visual Thinking

Typographic Workbook By Ro b Ch e e se man


Contents

1

3 9

Designing the Postcard

21

Digital Letterpress

27

Propaganda

28

Post-Modernism & Identity

29

Hand Lettering

40

Cinematic Bodies

41

Letters in the Landscape

Distinctive Characters


Introduction

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In this book I am going to explore Visual Thinking to extend my visual awareness, individual creative language and understanding of contemporary practice while examining the fertile and complex semiotic and aesthetic nature of word, image and object. I will examine these relationships while engaging with broad and experimental creative processes through a series of workshops, demonstrations, seminars and critiques. On a more personal level, I wish to develop a more diverse range of skills, and learn new things throughout this collaborative term. As well as broadening my understanding in this manner, I also want to start getting to grips with the nitty gritty of Graphic Design, with intricate things like type and layout etc.


Distinctive Characters


Initial Research For the initial research it was really a case of going to the library and picking out anything from the typography section that I found to be distinctive. The first one here with the one letter upright and the other on it’s side, both displayed in dots, was one that I found really interesting because it was not really something I had seen before and it wasn’t instantly recognisable what was going on. The second, with the red type laid over the white serif type is one I find really interesting in its statement about typography as a field, and I just think it’s a really good idea for a poster. The third is probably the most relevant to the brief, as it is a letterform made 3D from a variety of objects (created by Pedo Inoue). I think the consideration behind it is probably flawed as it is not really intended for anything, nor is it got any kind of solid meaning, but for a piece exploring letterforms through inanimate objects I find it to be useful enough, and I would definitely say its distintiveness make it relevant to the brief.

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These next two are taken from the same book as Pedro Inoue’s work, ‘Typography Sketchbooks’ by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico. Given my letter for this part of the brief is ‘S’, I think they are equally relevant. The first is another 3D piece (if I had to tie it into this project I would perhaps suggest the word ‘sewing’). The following image is one that interested me a lot, as it is kind of made from objects but in a digital sense. This comes from the mind of Alex Trochut and is called ‘S kate’, a collaborative between the Spaniard and Non Format for Varoom magazine. It is an illustrated letterform and so is dissimilar somewhat from the brief, however the process of forming a letter from things that are not letters is certainly a process I can identify with and even take inspiration from.

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The Separation Preparation Station This is the preparation for the creation of our ‘S’. The idea for sweets came courtesy of my colleague, which was something of a brainwave although it did come at a bit of a cost. We stuck the sweets around the edge onto a perspex ‘S’ cut in Helvetica Bold. This was a fairly obvious choice because of its simple shape, amazing ledgibility and because it replicated the type on the Skittles that are yet to come. The process was pretty fun and rewarding if not painful at times (melting the sweet bottoms in a pan did result in the odd fingerburn). We arranged it in this pattern purely for aesthetic purposes, and I happen to think it looks rather lovely. We also started adding a small amount of lemon/sugar syrup, in an attempt to stick it all together more without making it inedible.

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A work in progress These images demonstrate the steps taken over the space of a couple of days. The initial build of the edges took a couple of hours one afternoon, but after this we had to let it dry for a while so it became stronger (which was a complete gamble). Fortunately it went exactly to plan, and so a couple of days later we could fill the middle out and create something which looks quite lovely. We still need to wait for the photography to be done on it so that we can crack on with the next part of the brief, but for now I think it looks really strong as a piece, it communicates and comes across really well and I think this is down to the typeface chosen. The only final decision to be made was whether to photograph it on black or white paper.

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The Masterpiece Here is our letter, in all its ruddy glory. On the left I have included the photo itself, which looks fairly good albeit amidst a couple of imperfections, which is why I have included the right hand image, which is the one I have altered slightly on Photoshop just to make the black background a true black, as well as clearing up any issues I had with the image. We decided to photograph it on black in the end after a direct comparison between black and white, although in the end it was an absolute no brainer because it stood off the black so majestically. At this stage in the project I would definitely say decisions like this and deciding what typeface etc it would be have helped me to think more visually, and I think this skill will develop more over the coming weeks, especially when it comes to the postcard and considering all kind of type placements and image layouts. I would also like to credit my colleague up to this point for having the enthusiasm to keep me motivated.

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Designing the Postcard


Type Placement

This was the first type layout I experimented with, which was pretty much as simple as I could fathom. The slogan is something my colleague and I thought up as a sort of hat-tip/ honest parody to the Skittles slogan, which I find humorous, if not a little brash, but it will do to be getting on with. The type itself is a cape Helvetica Bold (the same typeface as the ‘S’), with a tracking of 150 consistent through both lines so as to give some idea of symmetry. I find this initial design successful in its communication, although it’s not very stimulating or exciting.

S T O U C H T H E T Y P E FA C E

TA S T E T H E T Y P E FA C E

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S

TO U C H T H E T Y P E FA C E . . .

. . . TA S T E T H E T Y P E FA C E

This was my second crack at the text placement. I used the exact same image layout as in the last one, with the ‘S’ scaled to what I deem to be an appropriate size, centred onto the page. For this design I feel I should disclaim that a certain lecturer had quite a large input into suggesting the placement etc of the text as I was still getting to grips with the conventions of InDesign. Nevertheless, this text comprises of a much more humble 6 point caps Helvetica Bold, with a tracking of 200, again consistent throughout. This is quite the contrast to the comparative brashness of my first design; I felt I required something with a little more subtlety. However, in many respects I find this less successful that my first attempt. Given the amount of space left over above and below the letter, I feel the type leaves very little impression on the viewer, or at least it does to my eye, and I don’t think it necessarily communicates in harmony with the content of the text, as the content is quite satirical and brash and this is quite the opposite. It is a perfectly nice design, but for me it does not compare to the first one.

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For this third design I tried to return to something more similar to the first design, while trying something different. What I mean by that is I essentially wanted to try again with the text above and below the image. I thought it might look interesting to mirror the shape of the ‘S’ curves so that the piece had more unity to it. For the text itself I went for a 13pt size caps Helvetica Bold with the tracking at 210. The tracking is higher in this one simply because I wanted it to stretch round the curve of the ‘S’ and so this was a necessary step to take. I did initially have the tracking in the higher one slightly higher than the bottom one, but it I found it to be immediately noticeable (so did one of my peers), and I found that it threw off the delicate symmetry which is paramount to the success of this version. I honestly have no idea what to make of this one in terms of how well it works, although I would suggest that the type is too close to the letterform, although I do like the amount of space around the edges. I asked my housemates for some kind of assessment and they deemed it to be pretty good, however I’m not sure about it, which makes me think I can probably do better

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S T

...continued

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THE TYPE H FA C

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S TO

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F

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TH E

.

ST

PE

..

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..

UC H T HE

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The reason I decided to produce one that looked like this was when I considered ‘S’ as more of a shape, and what about it made it distinctive as a letterform. The more I thought this, it became apparent that the most noticeable part of an ‘S’ is the drastic sort of swoosh and curve that takes place through the centre of the letter, and so I wanted to trace this shape with the text. As much as this was a perfectly respectable idea, the execution and resulting conclusion were, as you can see, incredibly poor. In the interest of not blaming myself, I would suggest that there is not enough text to really do justice the shape in the middle. I would also suggest that because the ‘S’ is quite bobbly (for want of a better word), it looks off with the un-bobbly text running above or beneath it. This probably could have been reduced if I had adjusted the tracking or something, but where I have stuck with the 6.5pt with the tracking at 320 I deem this to be completely unsuccessful as an outcome.

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...continued Frankly, after the first four attempts I found myself a little bored with the layout I had begun with. In this example I was examining the possibility that the image would still look good if I made some somewhat unconventional changes. This explains why I’ve tilted it and arranged it so it’s not all in shot. This left enough space at the bottom to arrange the text in the least imaginative way possible, which I don’t actually mind too much. In this example the text is the biggest its been, at 14pt with the tracking set to 100, meaning these larger letterforms are closer together which gives it a boldness that I have not achieved yet. I don’t think it’s that impressive mind, and I definitely think I could improve it by at least lining the start and end of each line up, so that it contrasts more fluently with the skewed ‘S’. I happen to think the ‘S’ looks alright like this, although am I slightly concerned that it looks pretty unprofessional. I’m also beginning to think that what needs work the most is the text content; this brief directly regards typography and so it is directed toward more of a designers audience, therefore I should consider thinking up something more typographically relevant.

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TO U C H T H E T Y P E FACE TA S T E T H E T Y P EFACE


TOUCH THE TYPEFACE TASTE THE TYPEFACE

I definitely thought it was worth doing a landscape postcard to see if I could force a nicer interaction between the image and the text. I think this works fairly well; I have made the ‘S’ similar to the last example, cutting some of it off the page and tilting it slightly. In hindsight I don’t think I should have tilted it as it would look nice if the head of the ‘S’ lined up with the top of the text angle wise. The text in this example is an 11pt with the tracking set to just 80, so in this respect it is more classic to the standard typeface. All these pt sizes sound really small, but I guess that‘s just because it’s only a small postcard. I have tried to place the text with enough space between the two lines that you could essentially fit a third line between the two. This was to ensure they don’t look too close, and I think there is a decent balance here. I ditched the ellipsis on each line a while back, this was because whenever I see ellipsis I imagine a dramatic pause, and I don’t think this truly reflected that nature with which people know the Skittles slogan to be said. I’m pretty satisfied with the negative space in and around the image and text; there is a certain balance to it all which is kind of nice, and in that respect it seems a pretty decent piece. It still doesn’t look quite right, though, still a bit average. I guess I’m hoping if I do these for long enough a really accomplished solution will just leap out at me.

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Progress!

I really think this is the design that I will want to take forward, it is by far my favourite out of the versions I have done so far. The more I was thinking about the letter ‘S’ as a shape, the more I was thinking about the space in and around the shape (with a certain amount of influence taken from Noma Bar’s ‘Negative Space’), and what aspects of that really make it recognisable as that specific letterform. It was with this consideration that I tried this out, and for me it definitely feels right. The quote comes courtesy of my colleague through this part of the brief, which was taken from a blog entry from a Chicago based designer who is sadly no longer with us. It couldn’t really be much more appropriate for what we produced. This was the first time I managed to ditch the caps lock which I really like; my favourite aspects of Helvetica come in the large bodies (and therefore great ledgibility) of the lower case. Because of the lower case I thought it would be appropriate to set the size slightly higher and lower the tracking (9pt with tracking of 50) so each letter didn’t become isolated from the next. I varied the leading between each line, letting the

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I still think I have a problem here though, which doesn’t seem too apparent here but does when it comes to print. The issue I’m having is that all the type is ‘light’ (eg Helvetica Light for the quote and Helvetica Light Oblique for the name). This looks fine on here because a computer screen is made of light, and light passes through the monitor onto our optical nerves, resulting in a glowing and bright white surface on a solid black surface. However, when this is printed, light bounces off the surface and the white is not nearly as bright, meaning it gets lost somewhat. I definitely think I “Boy, did I ove restimate the design need to spend a lot more time looking at world’s appetite for edible type” this and see how I can get it completely Lillian Davenport-Partac right, although I feel like I’m stumbling over the issue of never being able to make something that’s perfect and liked by everyone. Such is the trade, I suppose. name of the designer stand in it’s own Over the next couple of pages I will be right away from the quotation lines, which getting down to the real specifics of this stand closer together; I thought this would design and making sure I’m making it the give a greater impression of the pace absolute best that I can, which will mean with which to read each section. I really being ultra fussy about the type specifics don’t think it matters that I have cut away and also the layout, because although some of the letterform; the beauty of the I think it looks alright I think there is ‘S’ is that it is completely recognisable something missing, but that I won’t find just from the space it holds within itself. out what it is until I start fiddling.


Type Specifics

Light and Light Oblique

Regular and Oblique

Regular with 10 tracking above and -20 tracking beneath

Regular with 90% height and -30 tracking underneath

The top left here is the Helvitica Light and Light Oblique. I feel this demonstrates my earlier point a little better close up because it just looks lost on the black. The top right is the Helvetica Regular, which I think you’ll agree looks stronger in direct contrast to the Light version. The tracking is set to 0 so this is a pretty basic version of whatever is achievable here. The bottom left is Regular again (I am set on this typeface) with the tracking on the quote set to 10, and on the name set to -20. This is the first time I have tried the negative tracking and I quite like how it looks with the Oblique type. The bottom right is a bit different; I set the quote type to 90% height, which I thought was interesting although I can’t help but think it looks a bit squashed. With this I have also upped the anti somewhat on the name and gone for a tracking of -30 which I think looks pretty good.

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Border? While I enjoy it how it is, I couldn’t help but feel like it looked a little bit unprofessional or something, and I just felt like it needed framing somehow. and so I decided to pop this 5pt stroke border around the edge as a method of doing this. I definitely think it offers something and I think I will probably leave it on there.

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“Boy, did I overestimate the design

“Boy, did I overestimate the design

world’s appetite for edible type”

world’s appetite for edible type”

Lillian Davenport-Partac

Lillian Davenport-Partac


Colleague Final

“Boy, did I overestimate the design world’s appetite for edible type”

I really quite like what my colleague has produced here, albeit a pretty comprehensive piece in terms of the possibilities available. That said, I actually enjoy the simplicity of the composition and feel there is a good balance between the image and the white space. I think I would have to see it with and without the little white border to see if this adds much to it, although my instinct suggests that it does lend a certain order. The placement of the type is really simple and basic, and from what I can gather the tracking has not been altered from 0 and the pt size is probably around 6 or 7 (a guess in comparison to mine). It looks professional and crisp as a whole. My problem with it is that I’m not sure if he’s given much (if any) consideration as to the size of the print out he was doing, and I feel given the small scale to which we were working it would be better served with a larger, more ledgible type. If he were working to say an A3 or ever A4 scale then I think it would be perfect but given the size I’m not so sure.

Lillian Davenport-Partac

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Personal Final Mine is by no means perfect in comparison. The only positive thing I would say about mine in a direct contrast is that I definitely did consider the print size, which is why I’ve opted for a larger point size and less negative space. In the end I opted for a 10pt Regular and 10pt Oblique, with the tracking on the Oblique set to -20 and the height at 103%. I still find that I am having a lot of trouble with pixelation, too, but I really don’t know what I can do about that. The main thing I have learnt through doing this part of the course is that I know a ridiculously little amount about how to treat type. This is something I need to/ am eager to learn because I have no idea what I have done here is any good; it is purely instinctive and based on what I thought looked acceptable. I still like how I have used the space inside the letter as I think this was an unconventional and successful direction to take, although of course I may (and probably am) wrong. I’m learning more and more with Graphics that there is no right answer in many ways, as everyone has a different creative view about what looks good and

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“Boy, did I overestimate the design world’s appetite for edible type”

Lillian Davenport-Partac

what looks terrible, and that I could work and rework designs forever and never please everyone. This makes me think that the only logical solution to this issue is to establish myself as a much more accomplished designer so that I have more faith in my abilities, and so that I can produce something with enough confidence to stick with it. I guess all this doubt is just proof that I’m starting to think more visually. Every cloud, eh. For now I am fairly satisfied with this outcome.


Digital Letterpress


LetterMpress This was my first time using LetterMpress so I was pretty curious. On its surface it looks like a pretty fun program, and I really like the outcomes available, but I find the useability a little flawed really. I can understand that the creators of this program were enjoying the novelty of “let’s make it just like real life but on a screen”, which is playful and whatever, but if it were me I probably would have gone for something a little more onscreen friendly, and a little more like an adobe program, although I suppose for how cheap this one is you can’t really complain. It did annoy me, though, that the lock bars didn’t actually lock, and were just more of a digital thing, and it would have been so much easier just to type out the words, but there you go. I started writing babushka because the raw effect of this program reminded me of russian constructivist propaganda and babushka is the funniest Russian word I know. It might not even be Russian.

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I was infinitely annoyed at myself for this for forgetting to put an exclamation mark at the end, as this would have looked a lot more aggressive and authentic and Russian looking. Do tell me if I’m being racist at any point. But I think I chose the right colour, at least. I also did this block print onto a black page for some reason. I think I had the idea in mind that I could overlay the two somehow, but I think I would have to take them into Photoshop to do that. I do think the block print looks really cool though, although I am slightly regretting printing it onto the black paper on the LetterMpress program.

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...continued In the end I decided to try out whacking them over the top of each other anyway, and wasn’t massively surprised to find that it didn’t work at all. It did show me how well LetterMpress works with Photoshop though, which was cool; I was easily able to adjust the levels without it being fiddly in the slightest (which these things can be). I was also able to magic wand away all of the unwanted white background from the babushka without losing any of the grainy quality which was just gravy. I wanted to do something more complex on the actual program itself though, so I started chucking together all these different typeface and whatever to see how that went down. I think the execution is alright, but as a piece of design it is so so very flawed! Hard to get it right on that program though, but using less typefaces might have been a start! The quote comes from a song by Drowners that’s been banging around in my head.

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It would probably have been easier to get all the words out of the program individually, crop them down and put them together in another program, but this was more of an experiment as opposed to actually trying to create an amazing piece of work. I think there is a certain level of quality to it, however remote. Perhaps I’ve just been looking at it long enough to fall for its ugly irreverent charm, though. As part of our illicit love affair (the prints and mine (obviously)), I tried it out in a bunch of colours just to see if that made a mad amount of difference. It did not. I think blue is my favourite though. I’m a blue fan.

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A Final Outcome

This outcome is kind of like ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ all rolled into one. There are a couple of really nice aspects in the type choices and even some of the different fonts come together quite nicely, but overall I definitely think it is overshadowed by the bad combinations, particularly the bottom line is one that looks absolutely awful. I did learn how to learn a new program, though, so it was useful all in all, and for how much it costs I definitely think it is one worth investing in! I’m also a bit annoyed at myself for using arrows. They do add something to it and save it from being completely type, but I’m not sure if anyone would get that it’s supposed to say ‘hold me DOWN and never let me go’. Ah well, you win some you lose some.

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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines propaganda as “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumour for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person”. This doesn’t necessarily encompass all that it means. There are four basic varieties within society and throughout history. There is the ‘big lie’, which is often state controlled and involves a scapegoat and an absurd accusation. This was the tactic adopted by Hitler and Stalin. There is then the mindset that it doesn’t have to be the truth, so long as it’s plausible. Offset from that there is the slightly more amicable method of telling the truth, but withholding the others point of view. The most ethical version of propaganda, finally, is to tell the truth and accept the good, the bad and any losses etc that are to be made from this method. Beyond the bounds of the four basic varieties, there is a further grouping of propaganda available through the means of the following categories. There is black propaganda, which is unreliable and often entirely lacking in a source. There is then grey propaganda, which simply derives from a questionable source. And finally there is white propaganda which does come from a source. The etymology of propaganda as a term dates back to 1622 when Pope Gregory XV established the ‘Sacred Congregation for Propagating the Faith (Congregatio de Propaganda Fide).

Propaganda

This was the first lecture I attended, and if they’re all like this I’ll be pretty happy indeed. It was infinitely helpful for me given the impending essay accompanying this project and gave me a lot more knowledge and insight into the topic, although I do wish I had taken more notes.

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PostModernism & Identity

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Post-Modernism is a late 20th Century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism that represents a departure from Modernism and has at its heart a general distrust of grand theories and ideologies as well as a problematic relationship with any notion of “art”. Identity is a notion often discussed in today’s popular culture, and although seemingly disconnected to Post-Modernism, both have had an influx in usage since about the 1950s. I had quite a lot of trouble getting my head round Post-Modernism as a concept, to me is seemed like the over-complication of the unnecessary question “what is art”, and although I found this lecture fairly interesting and perfectly bearable to sit through, I did feel it rather trivialised ‘identity’ also, especially when it came to asking members of the audience why they wear the clothes they wear and what the connotations are behind the clothes etc., presumably hoping to grasp at some kind of deep-seated reasoning for why the human race works the way it does along with some kind of derivative societal epiphany. At the risk of trivialising myself, to me it seems fairly basic in that society (with its infinite fashion trends) is merely a reflection of human nature, in that, for the most part, there is a general way or ways of dressing and behaving that reflects who a person wants to be. This is even true in the backlash of people who intentionally try and stand out or be different from what is considered ‘normal’, and informing the world of this desire by dressing in a certain way.


Hand Lettering Workshop


Getting Started Upon reading about this workshop I was quite excited to go, being that my interpretation of the title made me think that it would be a chance away from a computer, but to maintain a Graphics sort of edge as the title (to me) suggested that it would be a day based in the skills of technical drawing or calligraphy or something intricate and precise like that. It actually turned out to be a lot more what you might consider ‘arty’ than that, with quickfire tasks of ‘draw this without looking, or ‘only use dots’ or ‘draw the backwards with your right hand whilst reciting the national anthem’. Well, that last example was exaggerated, but you get the gist. So the morning dragged, with my favourite outcome all morning being something I drew instead of what I was told to draw. The afternoon picked up though, probably because I was able to be more creative with it and eventually take it onto a computer.

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I learnt very quickly in this workshop that there was no correlation between the word we were being told to draw and the way in which were drawing it. Here I was only allowed to use small lines to draw the word ‘classical’. The idea was to look at the words as shapes and not letterforms

I personally fail to see the point in attempting to paint with ink with a brush far too big for the purpose without looking at the page... forms, but this was a process I found unpleasant and very unnatural. I’m Not convinced that I really see the point in drawing letterforms (but only using crosses) either...


Drawing the word ‘Bonjour’ out of dots for no reason whatsoever! My favourite...

This task comprised of drawing a very intricate font in a very short time limit without taking my pen off the page. Needless to say, it didn’t go well...

For this one I had to draw from right to left, which felt weird but I did it and it was fine so yeah. That happened. Ok, so I’m actually slightly proud of this one; it was a one minute challenge and I did it in about 40 seconds!

This double page basically comprises of a collection of fairly pointless challenges. I suppose a more open-minded individual might suggest that it creates a different ‘mental process’ or something, but I just don’t think I’m wired that way; it goes against every kind of Graphic Designer instinct in my body. I think it’s because I look at any kind of process or challenge and immediately think ‘what is this communicating?’ or ‘what purpose does this serve?’ I’m going to go ahead and say that that’s a massive positive, as it means I’m thinking more like a designer, and I believe it shows that I am thinking visually, which I hope means that this ‘Visual Thinking’ project is doing me all the favours in the world. All these challenges were from the morning, and I haven’t quite got to the bit I found fun yet. Buckle up, kids.

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Please Sir, I want some more

This one was drawn using my Right Hand, which is my weaker hand. Practice in case I ever break my arm, I guess.

For this one I had to copy someone else’s drawing with their weaker hand. You know, in case I ever have a friend that breaks their arm, but still wants to draw, but wants me to copy them doing it too. I don’t think I have a friend like that... Done without looking, apart from at the end of each letter. But still, not bad going I don’t think.

You guessed it! Drawing someone else’s drawing of them not looking at their page. You know, in case I ever have a friend that... never mind.

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This task comprised of copying the text on the board, by cutting it out of card. Mine didn’t go so well as I was dealing with very blunt and sticky scissors. Bloody Illustrators. I traced round the edge either because I was bored or because that was the task at hand, I honestly can’t remember.

This was probably my favourite thing I did all morning, and I did it to take a break from drawing things that looked terrible. This is quite a poor version of what I thought the workshop would be more about.

I saved these two for this page for two reasons. 1. Because they were probably the favourite things I made all day and 2. Because these are the two things I took on and developed further, both in the session and in my own time. This was the turning point of when it became fun for me.

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The Immaculate Distraction This double page shows my process in terms of having a bit of fun with my favourite letterform I drew all day. After scanning it in I edited it on Photoshop, basically just adjusting the Curves so as to bring the contrast up a bit. My next move was to move it over to Illustrator (which is where I took this screen grab) and image traced it (the right hand ‘A’). This looked quite nice, but i wanted some of the lines a little more clean so I quickly drew round it with a pen, clearly up a couple of the issues I had with it. I then filled it with black (this is the ‘A’ on the left hand side). I wish I could say that I had a serif type or typeface in mind when I drew it but unfortunately I did not, although I would suggest the serifs are either transitional or wedged.

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Then I only went and bloody did this! I moved the singular ‘A’ back into Photoshop, before duplicating it and flipping it on its head, before placing it next to the original one. I then merged these and continued to do the same thing again, and again and again until it looked slightly more like this. I still had to make a couple of adjustments to it, e.g. crop it very precisely and also rotate it by about 0.7 degrees to straighten it out. I made all of these precise steps so I could press ‘Define Pattern’, so I’ll always have this to use as a background or whatever for anything I deem appropriate. I’ll admit it’s not perfect! Looking at it now I notice a few irregularites, however I find this enjoyable to do, and really wanted to do something slightly more Graphics-based as an outcome after this lecture so I didn’t feel so much like I’d wasted my time. Now back to the rat race!

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The Afternoon For the afternoon session the task was to take one of the things from the morning, photocopy it up to 3D size and trace over it with something using the lightbox. The something we had to trace over it was chosen by picking a topic out of a bag. I had chosen to draw over my paper cut-out of the word ‘please’ because I thought it had the best shapes to work with. My word was ‘desert’, which was kind of annoying because I would be drawing something desert related over the word please, which really didn’t make sense to me. The only thing I could think of to communicate ‘desert’ was sand, and upon asking how I was going to draw sand, I was told to think more laterally, something which really didn’t feel natural because I couldn’t help but feel like no-one would ever get the word desert, but I don’t really think that was the point of the exercise.

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It was through thinking ‘laterally’ that I came to camels, because the raises in the letter looked like I could make them into humps. And I could! Although it was pointed out that there was something very fallic about one of the humps in particular, which there absolutely is, but I really couldn’t care less and you can all just get your heads out of the gutter. The next step the workshop host wanted me to take was to colour it in with pens and pencils and all that nonsense but at this point all i wanted to do was take it onto the computer. So I did.

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Digital Development These pages comprise of me doing something incredilbly and wasting at lot of time. As you can see from the screen shots I spent my time pen drawing round all of the lines, as this was before I really knew about image trace (I did the ‘A’ from earlier after this), so this really took much longer than it needed to. Although the end product did look alright, and to be fair if I had image traced it I would have had an issue with making pen lines across certain parts so I could colour every section how I wanted to and there weren’t too many things interconnected, if that makes any sense. Sounds like an excuse to me, too. The positives I can take from this then, are that I spent a lot of time using the pen tool so have hopefully made myself slightly better at that, not to mention the fact that I have this as an outcome, which regardless of how long it took (or could have taken), it is still a playful and fun response to a workshop that I was sceptical of, but made the most of with this.

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“Fallicamels”


Cinematic Bodies

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I don’t really know where to start when talking about this lecture. I don’t know what I was expecting on walking into it, but I was, at the very least, extremely disappointed on walking out. It was the best part of two hours of trivialised nonsense in which the speaker managed to ruin about 5 films (through callously giving away the entire plotline (spoiler!)) while divulging other pointless anicdotes such as her irrational fear of standing up after sitting on a white chair and turning round to see some kind of horrible stain (what!?). It was essentially a lecture on the Philosophy of Cinema given by someone, and I feel the need to put this in caps to exercise my point fully, IS NOT A PHILOSOPHER AND/ OR PHILOSOPHY LECTURER. I didn’t find it even to be remotely arts-based, rather we had to listen to the seat-stain lady meander her way through her fluctuating thought processes and this psycho-babblist named Slavoj Zizek offer his account on various films. The most laughable was probably his take on The Matrix, in which he suggested that there should be a 3rd pill for ‘reality in fiction’. There seemed a basic miscomprehension throughout, that films about people turning into aliens or whatever else were some sort of deep seated metaphor for our fear of losing our sense of reality. Or something like that. There’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back again. Cheers.


Letters in the Landscape


Getting Started This project started with braving the wind and cold for a trip down to Poole. I was quite anxious for the start of this part of the brief because I wasn’t sure it would be like working in a group of 4, with a variety of different creative inputs. At the very least I thought it would be interesting, and perhaps a reflection of how people work at an industry level. The day itself was fine really, walking around finding things to photograph was pretty fun, although I was more pointing things out rather than taking the photos myself; although I did have a go with the camera this is not something I have done much before and so most of my attempted shots came out blurry or something.

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We used thumbnails so as to be able to compare images easier and pick out the ones that we thought looked really strong or communicated well.

This was probably when we were at the most efficient of the whole project, when we were going through the thumbnails and picking out the photos we wanted, counted how many there were of each letter and drawing up a rough sort of layout of what letters would go on pages with other ones and which images would be by themselves on double pages etc.

Ticking next to the ones we definitely wanted to use and crossing out the ones that we didn’t think were up to much.

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Photos for Editing

After the process of going through all the photos we were going to use, we each took a quarter to take back and edit for the next day. My letters were M through to T, or at least I thought they were but I think there was a bit of a crossover on the M’s as one of my colleague’s ended up editing the same photo/s, which wasn’t really a problem. These photos all needed to be edited ready to be placed into InDesign so we could start preparing everything for print. My favourite letter on this first page has gotta be the ‘O’ from the wet metal in the middle of this bench thing. I think this looks pretty incredible with the reflection, and whoever has taken this photo has captured it really well at a really nice angle.

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Not all the photos we initially decided on ended up making the cut, however. For example, the green litter ‘O’ didn’t make it because it threw the rest of the page off; I think there was a better image that looked better on its own. My favourite image on this page has gotta be the abstract inverted Pacman type ‘P’; I am always more fond of the letterforms that are abstract as opposed to say, the ‘R’ that is just off a postbox. I think it is a really strong shape and looks immediately like a ‘P’. I wasn’t sure whether to crop it down to stand on its own but my colleagues ensured me that it would look better with a bit of space/ mis en scene to the right and I agreed, and we moved on.

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This is quite a strong little collection of abstract letterforms in this page, apart from the ‘stable’ one, but I don’t think we ended up using that one anyway. The ‘R’ on a gate or whatever was actually photographed with a ‘Z’ in mind (makes sense if you tilt your head slightly to the right), but given the gerth of the bar down the left side it made sense to use it as an ‘R’. This did create a problem as (in my opinion) if left us without a single strong ‘Z’ letterform, but I’ll get to that. What I did really like on this page was the ‘S’ and the ‘Q’; I feel these are both very strong abstract forms and I think they are really effective.

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This page includes my absolute favourites of all the images we compiled and produced. My complete favourite was the lion’s head ‘O’, which was actually more to do with the composition of the image and the simply delightfully gorgeous blue of this persons front door. I also absolutely love the abstract ‘N’s, both the very abstract two yellow road markings (which I definitely think work and communicate the right letter within the context of a page of other ‘N’s. Similarly, I really enjoy the lower case ‘n’ made from the crane. We did have to get a bit cheeky with this one and flip it horizontally so it looked better, but at a later stage we edited out the white ‘frome’ text that make it look strange.

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Creating the Book Creating the book was when I felt it got a little more difficult to work in a group of 4. This is very simply because it makes sense for the book to be done on a single file, which means it’s being done on one computer, which means one person at a time is working on it. And as much as the other 3 sit and watch and say their piece or whatever, it can’t really be helped that the person controlling the mouse has the dominance in the way of creative control. This being said, I did manage to say my piece and get control over some of the pages, which in my opinion are the strongest except for the double page images, but I suppose that’s just because it’s my eye and I know what I like. That being said, I do feel some of the pages I had no control over were some of the weakest. Our first run through was rendered moot anyway, as when we went to show a lecturer they showed us how to prepare the file properly.

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The ‘D’ on the left hand side of this double page demonstrates how the document was set up AFTER the lecturer showed us a proper grid system. Before this it was completely random and completely done by what we thought looked nice, but as it was pointed out to us, this is an ineffectual method as your eye picks up irregularities and it just looks odd. On the right side here is one of the pages that I had the most say in; for this e-book I don’t I’ll bother including images of pages I had very little/ nothing to do with because I don’t think that’s very fair really. This page is quite classic of my style I think because I am far too fond of grids and creating squares, although I think this page looks pretty good in this sense really. I don’t think this page looked half as good when it came to print though, because the square I’ve created out of these images here was off-centre and I hated it.

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My Best Input

On the double page I have tried to replicate what I would consider my best input into the entire book, and for me one of the best double page spreads. I was absolutely adamant that these four ‘N’s sat in a grid square system like this, centred on the page so it was all very regimented. I was then even more adamant that the lion’s head ‘O’ was a square in the centre of the adjacent page at the same size as this one. I think if the whole book was like this it could possibly get a bit boring, but that would probably be preferable to the irregularities that our book did face on some of the pages. For this page though, I felt this was the absolute best direction to take.

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The Negatives This ‘J’ was the best of the bad pages for me. I’ve put the stroke around the image so as to demonstrate the page layout, which in my opinion is just a bit off, which is especially apparent when you look at it in the printed book. I personally think that on the day I took some better ‘J’s than this, but they mysteriously disappeared... The ‘P’ page is also one that I’m not all that happy about. It seems a lot like we made one of the P’s smaller as a sort of ‘that will do for now’ thing and never really got back to it, it looks very unresolved and I don’t know why we didn’t go for something more symmetrical. This image of a bench or wood wall or whatever is what I was talking about when I said I didn’t feel like we had a strong ‘Z’ letterform, because to me this is missing some fundamental characteristics of being a Z. Namely the face that the spine of the letterform is inverted and this throws it off entirely; if you asked people what this was, I doubt anyone would say a Z, whereas the rest of our letterforms, abstract or other wise, are instantly

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recognisable for what they are. This brings me to the creme de la creme of crap. The ‘G’ page was difficult straight from the word go, which could be attributed to the fact that the letterform is not that easy to find in an abstract format. Given this fact, I think the two ‘G’s we were left with gave us very limited option as to create a nice page from that. They realy just don’t go together as a pair even thought we tried for what seems like forever! In the end we settled with just the one ‘G’ (right hand image) but it still looks terrible even on its own. There are two key aspects of it I really just can’t get past. 1. It is an ugly, ugly, letterform and 2. The glare from the camera (or sunlight) makes it look 5 times uglier and this makes the image look of such a terrible quality. I just don’t like it at all.

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French-Fold Book Binding I was somewhat apprenhensive about the binding, as I’ve been told French people are rude, but this was actually quite pleasant. The most annoying part about this kind of folding was the designing on InDesign because it meant you couldn’t look at a double-page spread how it would look once printed so it was a lot more hit and miss. A bit like this e-book, I suppose. Either way, once it came to the actual binding bit it was just a list of instructions to follow to the letter, a bit like cooking, so it wasn’t too difficult, albeit a bit time consuming where you had to wait for the glue and all that. Over this double page there are photographs of the process. It’s basically useful if you want to avoid double-sided printing. It involved clamping the book with the spine exposed and squeezing that really tight and making sure it’s really straight so that when you glue it the pages are nice and even.

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It then involved a very thin layer of glue (thin so it didn’t leak down through the pages, then a layer of fabric mesh or something and paper, at which point you could be much more liberal with the glue. Then (as it shows to the nearest left) there is a looser layer of paper that gets ripped off once the glue is dry. I feel our binding went really well, although there was a very slight imperfection with the back page once the black cover had been put on, but nothing that kept me up at night. All in all I think this part of the brief went pretty well and all in all I’m pretty satisfied with the outcome, except of course for the visually weaker pages which I discussed earlier. Working in a group of 4 was strange but interesting; obviously it’s easier to work by yourself but I thought our group did pretty well. I mainly enjoyed this project in relation to the brief; it really was the epitomy of Visual Thinking.

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Fin.


Typographic Workbook