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Grid Research 1



Sarah Robins

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Published and Written by Sarah Robins Copyright Sarah Robins 2010 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without permission of the copyright holder. Design and Art Direction Sarah Robins

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06 Introduction 09 Previous Work With Grids 15 Grid Background 31 Book Deconstruction 45 Playing with The Grid 49 Horizontal & Vertical Lines 61 Diagonal Lines 71 Shapes & Curved Lines 81 How People Use Grids 91 Experimental Books and Formats 99 Experiments & Ideas 109 Developments 119 Final Outcome 125 Rational 131 Bibliography

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Introduction 7

The purpose of this research project is to gain a stronger understanding of the grid and the way it is used. The research will be looking at the choices and considerations made when constructing a grid. I will be concentrating on grids used in book layouts as I have a specific interest in book publishing. This research and eventual outcome will be aimed at young designers starting out in design as it will show the importance of the grid and how it can improve your work. The aim of this is to remove the intimidating complicated appearance of grids through discussion and experiments by injecting an element of play to the grids.

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Previous Work Using Grids

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The Drawing Room

This project was a collaborative piece for an art gallery called The Drawing Room. Myself, Yessica Diez and Brook Kirby worked on a publication promoting the gallery for an up and coming fundraiser auction where artiest donate a piece of work to be sold at this even in order to raise money towards the running of the gallery. Our collaborative decided to produce a three-piece catalogue with three different paper sizes, A5, A4 and A3. We worked on a booklet each and the way we decided to retain the continuity between the booklets was to use the same grid and colour styles. Our group found that the combination of diagonal and horizontal lines was inspiring as it added moment to our layouts. So we developed out own that we could all work on.

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Walk in The Woods For this project I was asked by a book publisher to produce a series of sample layouts. The book was about woodlands all over Britain supported by the Woodlands Trust. Essentially the book was about the beautiful images but there was a reasonable amount of text to be considered in the layouts as well. So I had to produce a grid that would accommodate both these elements. I decided on a grid the used a more traditional rows and columns as I felt that this was sympathetic to the content and also was fit for the purpose. This worked really well here and there is obvious rhythm and continuity throughout the spreads.

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Grid Background

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What is a Grid?

A grid subdivides a page vertically and horizontally into margins, columns, inter-column spaces, lines of type, and spaces between blocks of type and images. These subdivisions form the basis of a modular and systematic approach to the layout, particularly for multi page documents, making the design process quicker, and ensuring visual consistency between related pages.

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This whole business of grids is so difficult for graphic designers. Most of us love them. A grid is generally a series of straight vertical and horizontal lines. Ultimately, it’s not the notion of the grid that is important—it’s the hand that constructs, the brain that computes, and the insightful eye that exploits these invisible structures.

Grids: Creative Solutions for Graphic Designers Lucinne Roberts

A graphic-design grid is a bit like magic sets of intersecting lines that help the designer decide where to put things, but that generally no one else sees. The benefits of using a grid are diverse, ranging from the psychological to the functional, and, of course, the aesthetic. The grid embodies all the contradictions that designers struggle with. This is the designer’s very own enigma code that can elevate design discourse to that of a science, and eradicate the creative block by “virtually” filling the blank page.

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Simple Modular Grid


Modules Gutter

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Spatial zones


Here we are looking at the elements of a basic modular grid and what each element is called, this will be essential to know through out this research to help understand the language that will be used.

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A Brief Grid Background Modern graphic design as we know it, is a young profession, but incidences of grid use predate the Romans and Greeks. In early history man’s relationship with nature guided him towards a sense of proportion. Renaissance artists used grids as a mathematical solution to scaling up their sketches so that they would proportionately fit monolithic murals. There are different types of grids that use different mathematical structures, but they all have the same purpose of retaining proportion. Some designers are followers of the grid and for them “…it has become the unquestioned part of the working process that yields precision, order and clarity” (Samara, 2005: 9). However, others are against the use of the grid, considering “…it is symbolic of Old Guard aesthetic oppression, a stifling cage that hinders the search for expression” (Samara, 2005: 9).

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As a starting point, it is useful to examine briefly a selection of mathematical structures commonly used for designing grids. To start with, the Fibonacci sequence is used to create an aesthetically pleasing increment in size, using a ratio of 1:618 = Phi.

34 1:1.618 = Phi

The system is named after Leonardo Fibonacci (1170-1250) an Italian mathematician who popularised the decimal system to Europe. The sequence refers to “… the infinite sequence of numbers, 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 etc in which each number (Fibonacci number) is the sum of the previous two” (Collins English Dictionary 3rd ed. 1994). Alternatively, the number could be simply multiplied by Phi, which would also give you the next number in the sequence.

21 Fibonacci numbers also work with the Golden Ratio by using two sequential numbers as measurements for a rectangle; this is how you can create a Golden Rectangle. In fact arguably most aspects of natural human life conform to the Golden Ratio, for example the human body and petal composition on flowers.

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Van de Graaf Grids

There is also a system that can be used to create page layouts, known as the Van de Graaf Grids. These grids use 40% of the page, which creates calm and an aesthetically pleasing composition. This gives us a grid that is very practical but also beautifully proportioned on a visual level and can be used with any size format, creating a simple but effective layout and composition.

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0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89,144

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Rule of Thirds A much simpler grid to follow is the ‘Rule of Thirds’, mainly used in photography to create a simpler but more dynamic composition. In the rule of thirds, the elements are spaced out to fit evenly within a 3x3 column and row layout. The elements of an image are either placed on the crossover of lines or within the rectangles to spread out the image, giving an element of space.

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All these grids reflect or influence one another as they all have the same purpose, of retaining proportion and clean space. They also are produced in similar ways by using measurements based around or multiplied from Phi.

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Today the grids that are more commonly used resemble the ‘Rule of Thirds’ or the more developed Van de Graaf Grids with rows and columns using a gutter between the lines producing what is known as a modular grid.

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Grid Basics: Letterpress Beginnings of grid systems When typesetting in letterpress it is important that all the metal type is lined up and locked together tightly with in the type chase frame. This means that all the horizontal and vertical lines need to line up neatly to enable this to happen. This is a very physical example of a grid it shows how important it is, as in this case, if not spaced out and locked together the pieces will fall out. I spoke to a fellow student that had spent time in letterpress developing their skills. I asked them their thoughts on the grid grids (or verticals and horizontal lines, locking up) with in Letterpress and any terminology with in letterpress that might help. I also asked: When composing your text, did you think about the grid at any point? If so when and how? When locking up the type before inking and putting on the roller bed, how important is it to have everything locked up tightly with the horizontal lines? How did you work out which metal blocks go where? Was this difficult to get it all to fit?

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Feedback From Someone Working In Letterpress All the type produced in letter press uses horizontal lines. (I think) It is very hard to create diagonal lines unless you turn the actual paper around before you feed it through the press. It is easier to turn the paper than the type. It is important to make all the line lengths the same when composing your type. You set you lines in a metal thing called a ‘stick’. In order to make all the line lengths the same you set your stick to your longest line length then fill your shortest line length with spacing which are blank blocks of metal; thins, mids, thicks, ens, ems. I think that’s the correct order of them from smallest to largest. The line lengths need to be the same length so it is easier to move the whole block of type from the stick to lock it up for printing. If they fall apart it is a headache! Believe me you don’t want to mess hours of preparation work. I didn’t really use a grid during my project because I was just creating experimental work, but if you are creating something on a grid then you would have to keep the grid in mind. I don’t think I looked at many books but feel free to look at my blog I kept during my project. It is very informal thought. It is:

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Book Deconstruction

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Example 01 This example looks at a combination of text and image. It is a relatively simply grid, resembling the rule of thirds twisted on its side. The grid keeps the page in proportion using simple page layouts but also ensuring continuity and rhythm through out the book.

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Example 02

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Here the text heavy layout, it is slightly more complicated using more lines to make it up. The grid uses four columns and five rows per page as well as gutters and margin. This is to accommodate all the different sections within the different spreads including the more illustrative layouts. Although there are more lines in this grid that the previous deconstruction, it offers more possibilities of different out comes, and also the chance to break out of the grid as and when is suitable.

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Example 03

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Looking image heavy layouts where the majority of the spreads consist of one large image of the Vogue magazines cover with two small columns underneath. Due to this on first look the grid appears to be very basic. However, as you continue to look through the book it becomes clear the grid needs to accommodate text heavy spreads, at the same time as retaining continuity throughout the layouts in the rest of the book.

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Example 04 I have continued to deconstruct book spreads. However, for the next few pages I have scanned the spreads instead of photographing them. This is to help gain more accurate results, as the spreads are completely flat to enable me to overlay the grid lines in a symmetrical manor.

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This grid uses margins but mainly vertical line creating columns with gutters between them. The multiple columns are evenly space across the spread, this enables the text and images to places on the page in a balances way.

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Example 05

Book Deconstruction 41 This grid uses the grid used in this spread is very simple as the spread mainly consists of one wide column of text and a slightly narrower column for the captions with a gutter separating the two.

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Example 06

Book Deconstruction 43 This grid was rather difficult to deconstruct as there is a lot going in this spread. I think to ascertain the grid used throughout this book, I would need to look at further spreads to find an average of grid lines used. However, the main structure consists of vertical lines.

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Playing with The Grid

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Playing with Layouts I start off generally playing with the active space on the page, positive and negative space doing some rough layouts, not thinking about the grid. Then looking at shapes and line, before looking at grids themselves, by just plonking elements on a page to build up some interesting layouts.

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Horizontal & Vertical Lines

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Horizontal & Vertical Grids

Horizontal & Vertical Lines

Firstly I have looked at horizontal and verticals grid that I have found. These grids are a combination of more traditional ones that use columns and also some more original ones. The more original grids are made up of shapes overlapping one another and grids that use various horizontal lines to divide up the page.


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Horizontal & Vertical Layouts

Horizontal & Vertical Lines

These are spreads that use the horizontal and vertical grids. The misconception about horizontal grids is that initially they can be quit boring using straight columns not very exciting. But they are only limited to how you as the designer want to use them, so it comes down to using the grid to the best of your abilities and breaking away from the traditional grid. These layouts here are quite interesting not using the traditional rows and columns proving that they can be fun and inspirational.


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Horizontal Grid Experiment

Here I am playing around with doing rough horizontal and vertical layouts using newspaper and tracing paper to get my hands on doing the grid and have a look at them. This was quite a useful exercise to do for ideas generation before you head to your Mac. However, I am use to doing it on the computer and find it easier and quicker to place page elements and re size parts in InDesign.

Horizontal & Vertical Lines


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Horizontal Grid Experiment

This experiment is a continuation from the previous page. I have taken the previously drawn grid, scanned it in and recreated the grid using InDesign. I have then used this grid to produce a quick layout using the horizontal and vertical lines. In this case the difference between the two methods is rather small as it is simple to recreate the straight lines using either method. However, the outcome is pretty unexciting and versatility of the grids could be utilized more.

Horizontal & Vertical Lines

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Diagonal Lines

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Diagonal Grids

Diagonal Lines


Here are some examples of diagonal grids. Some of the grids here would probably be more suitable for use on a poster design rather than book design. However, they are very interesting elements these could be used in book design grids. When composing layouts, you would not use every single grid line; they would just be an interesting grid that would be used through out the book retaining rhythm and continuity. For example the star shape on the left page wouldn’t be very useful within a book as it is just too complex. Although, it could be used on a front cover or a title page or an element taken from it to be used with a simpler grid. The same goes for the other grids, they will produce interesting layouts but they would need taming down in some way to be used in book layouts.

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Diagonal Layouts These are examples of book spreads that have used diagonal lines in the grids. They are quite conceptual layouts, which are interesting to look at. The first examples doesn’t use any text in the layouts, it is composed from just images. This is probably what diagonal grids are more suitable for, as images can be edited to fit in and the legibility of copy would prove to be quite a challenge in this kind of layout. The other spread examples are a more simplified. The examples on the left page using the diagonal shapes for the text boxes is a really interesting way of using a combination of the grid an text weight to create interest in the page.

Diagonal Lines


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Diagonal Grid Experiment

Here I have used the same method as before, but applying the page elements to diagonal lines that I have randomly drawn. An interesting way I could develop this, is to use diagonal shapes to cut out the body text, in a similar way that has been use in the previous page. Opposed to just laying out horizontally set text on to the diagonal grid lines.

Diagonal Lines


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Diagonal Grid Experiment As previously mentioned this experiment is a continuation from the previous page. I have taken the previously drawn grid, scanned it in and recreated the grid using InDesign. Using the diagonal lines I have placed in some page elements to create a layout. In regards to laying out the page elements this was slightly easier as there was the opportunity to chop and change the layout to achieve the most effective outcome. I think that diagonal lines in this layout create an element of movement. However, this grid would be difficult to use with a large amount of copy, as there is no rhythm in the line placement, meaning that the elements could potentially start to overlap.

Diagonal Lines

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Shapes & Curved Lines

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Shapes & Curved Grids

Shapes & Curved Lines

These grid examples are looking at shapes and curves, but mainly circles. This is quite a modern thing, to be able to use curves and circles in grids. This is because the traditional methods of typesetting in letterpress or similar methods using metal type would need to keep to mechanical straight lines. This would be how all the page elements would be locked together and put through the printing press to prevent parts falling out. This means the ability to digitalize thing enables us to push the boundaries and introduce curved lines meaning we can produce more inspiring and original grids. The grid lines on their own appear as an abstract image, which I find inspirational and a good starting point to an interesting layout.


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Shapes & Curved Layouts

Shapes & Curved Lines

The first set of examples that we are looking at use a series of circles inside one another getting larger from the centre. You can see this produces rhythm throughout the page layouts and it is an interesting and beautiful way of handling body text. Initially I thought the grids using circles and curved lines would mainly be used in image heavy layouts but it have been used well in this context. The layout example used one the top of the right page is a visually interesting layout as it is eye catching. However, the legibility could become an issue as the layout could become difficult to track with your eyes. This is due to a mixture of horizontal and vertical lines of text, being mixed with strong curved lines competing for the reader’s attention all at the same time. The last example seems to be a compromise between two other layouts as it is a lot more legible for the reader. It has found a happy medium between going all out being experimental and raining it back in to keep the legibility and get the job done. This is important, as the main job of a layout is to convey a message.


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Shapes & Curved Experiments

Shapes & Curved Lines

I’m repeating the previous exercise of producing a grid by hand onto tracing paper using curved lines and shapes for layouts. This method is quite an interesting way of playing with the curved grid. However, due to the playful nature of this being a rough messy thing the importance of the margins on the page can easily be forgotten, as you can see here, as the text is very close here. But the most important thing here is the element of play and using this for inspiration.


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Shapes & Curved Experiments Again, this experiment is a continuation from the previous page. I have taken the previously drawn grid, scanned it in and recreated the grid using InDesign. To create the layout on the opposite page I have laid out the page elements using the curved lines given in the grid. Creating this layout in InDesign was much easier than doing it by hand, as it was possible to be more accurate with the lines and recreate the shapes needed to reflect the curves in the grid. The outcome of this grid is very playful but the copy could be easily lost off the edges of the page, making legibility a potential issue.

Shapes & Curved Lines

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How People Use Grids

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How People Use The Grid I sent an e-mail out to my fellow students explaining that I would like to gather a general idea on how people use grids (in any context) or what grid they use. I asked them to send me a copy of the grid that they are currently working on in the form of a screen shot. Here are some of the grids that are being used.

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Generally the feedback was the some people done use a traditional grid they do the first couple of layouts then introduce some guidelines to make things line up and introduce continuity. Some students use the same grid regardless of what they are working on, as their grid would consist of small squares. Other students are a lot more technical in their grid design, one student would decide on the type style (font choice and size) then use the guide of 66 characters or eight to nine words to a line to help them arrange the columns. I was also made aware that it is possible to down load a ready-made grid to apply to your layouts.

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Experiment For this experiment I collected a series of grids that use the more traditional horizontal and vertical lines using different spacing. I printed them out all to a similar height and prepared them by sticking the grids together ready to be used for book spreads. Then with a pad of layout paper, I asked fellow student to produce three layouts: text heavy, images heavy and mixed layout choosing the most suitable grid for each layout. They took the chosen grid, laid it under a sheet of layout paper then drew a rough layout that would follow the grid. It was interesting to see which grid was chosen for each task and also what they did with that grid.

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This was a useful exercise as I have learnt from the first problem that arose. I didn’t give the participants of the experiment a subject or purpose for the spread. So they could have done absolutely anything, however this has highlighted that the grid is defined by its content. If I were to repeat this task I would carry it on using InDesign. I would have a tighter brief and provide a folder of content and a selection of grids for the experiment participants to chooses from ensuring I would receive more accurate results and it would be easier to draw a conclusion from this exercise.

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Experimental Books

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Experimental Books

I decided to have a look at experimental books next as I know I want to produce a book of some sort for my final outcome, but at this stage I am a little stuck on how to take this further and combine the idea of producing a book with my exploration of the grid. First we are looking at book using different colours. I like the way it has been put together as it has a window integrated throughout the book changing in size on each page, then the book is closed it is possible to see the layers building up. I like the idea of layers and lines building up to make one final outcome and this element of layers building up, has room for development.

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The Yokohama book, I like hoe the pages have been made up from scraps of paper pieces together in a collage style to form the pages of a book. I have picked this page as it uses graph paper with text drawn onto it. This is an interesting way of doing this, as this book is a collection of interesting pages with out any real function other than an inspiring object. This lead me to think about producing a book on just grids in a similar way to font books that the reader can just flick through looking for inspiration. Although grid books do exist there are not as many around as font books and they are a little intimidating to someone who is new to grids. I like this idea of cutting up a normal relatively unexciting book in an interesting way to introduce a 3D element to the page and allowing something uninteresting to become exciting.

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Experimental Books

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On researching experimental book formats I came across these book produced by and artist and designer Elizabeth Jackson. Her introduction to this project explains, “This work is a personal response to the elemental characteristics of glaciers, snow and ice. The project presents an emotive, poetic and sculptural reading of the landscape.” Jackson has used the physical form of the book to document her findings from her research. The books are sculptures that are an effective way of illustrating the findings in an interesting way. However, I’m not sure that this would be useful for my purpose. I like how this book looks at if it has been eaten away, with all the pages intertwined together, different colours and pages showing through. I don’t this that this would be particle for my project as the appearance of a book lost and will not relate to the grid at all.

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Packaging a Series of Books

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After looking at the possible book structure and doing some initial idea sketches I started to consider if the book or even a series of books would be packaged and how. Here we are looking at the possibility of colour coding the books in some way. I have also considered the possibility of using flat boxes that the books would fit in, or the use of lose sheets of paper in the box forming the conceptual book. I also considered having the grid books packaged in the style of the game Connect4, where all the books would slot into a frame and introducing an element of play to the books. I feel that this would not be such a practical option as the four books in a frame would be either rather large or the books would need to be really small to make them practical, which is not a route I want to go down. The final option is the books and elements all fitting into on box with all the elements linking together through design and layout. This is the most realistic option but cannot be defined until the final outcome has been developed.

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Three Piece Book Experiment I have produced a book looking at the linear nature of the horizontal and vertical grid. I have been inspired by this children’s book where the pages are chopped up horizontally and as the reader randomly turns the page sections a different image is created each time with many out comes possible. I have adopted this idea to play thing the grid. I have done this by using diffident elements such as headings, various combinations of body text and also a blank section in different orders so that the reader can easily and quickly make up different layouts. This was quite an interesting exercise. However, the nature of the 3 sections was quite limited, as normally a designer would have things overlapping and being less rigid. This reason prevented this idea from going any further. If I wanted to develop it, I could somehow find away of overlapping or having foldouts to over come these issues.

Horizontal & Vertical Lines


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Ideas & Experiments

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Initial Idea Sketches

Here are some initial sketches of possible final outcomes. I have decided that a book is the most logical outcome for the research I have collected. This is because I have concentrated grids for book spreads, so I feel that it is only logical way to document this is in the form of a book. However, I need to find away of doing this that helps to eliminate the intimidating complicated appearance of grids while at the same time injecting an element of play through interaction.

Ideas & Experiments


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Mock up

This is a mock up is looking at the possibility of using four books; one of each with just grids, text layouts, image layouts and mixed layouts and having them packaged in the style of a puzzle. I made a dummy of each book and cut them into shape for them to slot together. On reflection I don’t feel that this will work as it doesn’t have much relevance to a grid and there is only one way of it fitting together. The nature of a grid is that there are numerous possibilities and this mock up is limited on one out come, which goes against the idea of the grid.

Ideas & Experiments


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Sketches Thinking about all the information that I have gathered so far I produced some quick rough sketches. This was useful as the more I did the more playful they become. It is also possible to see the repetition and patterns that arise in grids highlighting the common themes.

Ideas & Experiments


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Sketches As you move away from the more traditional lines of horizontal grids, the more experimental the grids look, producing an abstract image which would prove inspirational when considering layout.

Ideas & Experiments


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1st Mock-up Of Final Idea



I have thought everything I have done so far, the sketches, research and experiments. Then decided that I want to produce a booklet that show cases text heavy, image heavy and mixed up grids using a variation of horizontal, diagonal, curved and mixture of all the lines in the grid. I have produced a booklet that covers all of this. In the booklet, I drew out some rough layout with text images headings. Then over the layout I stuck in some tracing paper and then drew out the grid from the spread. Which means the reader can see either the layout or grid on its own or the two together. My initial thoughts on this, is that the logistics of producing this could be very difficult and also very expensive and the tracing paper is stuck to each individual page and could also make the book think in one spot. The feedback that I received on this is that people may not want to see the grids on top of the layouts, as this would be a lot to take in.

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1st Mock-up Of Final Idea

A suggestion that was made was to produce two books. One book contains just the grids and the other containing just the layouts with content in the same order and the other book. The book that contained the grids I would have any thoughts bout the layout or grid so that the reader could cross-reference information between the two books. Another suggestion that was made is to consider the use of acetate of something that is transparent or translucent so that when all the grids are in the book it will produce an interesting effect of all the different grids layered on top of one another. I would need to be careful with this idea as I would need to have title pages for each section and I wouldn’t want this to interfere with the grids. So maybe use a border and have all the headings in the border to reduce any confusion. This would also be beneficial, as this will accommodate the different sizes of book spreads.



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2nd Mock-up Of Final Idea Here I have taken on the ideas for the previous mock up and developed them in to a booklet show casing a collection of 12 layouts with 12 different spreads covering the various uses of book spreads. For example, text heavy, image heavy and mixed content spreads. I have held on to the idea of overlays with the grids on, but have decided to keep them separate in some way, for them to be used as insets, which would be more practical for the user. However, to explore the different grid styles effectively I feel that it would be more practical to produce more spreads and a variation of layouts for each grid, to gain an stronger idea of how the grids work. So the most practical outcome would be to produce a book that uses12 different grids under four categories of; Horizontal and Vertical grids, Diagonal grids, Curved grids and mixed grids. In order to keep this exploration constant and fair each grid receives the same treatment by having three layouts for each that are; image heavy, text heavy and a combination of the two.


Layout Paper The use of layout paper for the insets is not very successful as the paper is a bit too thick meaning that the reader is unable to see the layout of the spread underneath easily, without pressing on the page to see through.


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Tracing Paper The use of use of tracing paper seem to work very well, its translucent enough to see the layout underneath but not too transparent for it to be to visually confusing. The nature of tracing paper holds the creases well. In completing these three experiments with different materials I discovered it would not be suitable to produce a book with just grids in. This is because when the page are printed with grids on either side it would be impossible to see the grid on its own making it pointless having the book, as it would just be a confusion of lines.


Acetate The use of acetate is effective. However, when it is overlaid on to the spread it is a lot for the reader to take in as the acetate it completely transparent, so the combination of the layout and the gird lines is more confusing than helpful. Due to the nature of acetate, it doesn’t hold folds’ very well and it pops back open when folded. It also will not stay flat when open out, so this is not a very practical material to use.


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Final Outcome

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Final Outcome

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I chose to have the insets printed on tracing paper and packaged in a separate slipcase that reflects the books cover as I found that this was the most logical solution. However, I feel that this would have been more effective and practical if this were packaged together. An Ideal way of doing this would have been, to bind the book as hard back and for an envelope to be inside the front cover for the slipcase, as I feel this would offer a neater look for the book. I have uses a clear navigation system trough out the book, by having the pages named and numbered with the relevant grid number and chapter heading in the top right corner in both the book and the insets.

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Final Outcome 123

Here is an example of some of the spreads in the final book. I am really happy with how they have turned out as; they show the exploration of the grid. They also illustrate how the uses of the tracing paper over lays introduce an element of interaction with the grid, which is what I set out to do. This has been done by removing the intimidating appearance of the grid making them more playful and introducing the hands on approach.

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Rational The aim of this project is to gain stronger understanding of the grid system. This is essential to help develop the skills needed to construct and use a grid effectively. To keep this research relevant to myself I concentrated on and developed grids used in books due to my interests in book publishing. The outcome from this research was required to appeal to young designers similar to myself, looking for a way to remove the intimidating and sometimes complicated appearance of grids. This was done by, introducing an element of play and interaction, through discussion and experimentation. The result of this research the importance of the grid and how it can improve your work has been highlighted. As a starting point I began by looking at what I already know about grids. How and where I had used the grid in my previous work. I found this an interesting starting point realizing I already knew more about grids than I first thought, as the projects use the grid to retain continuity and rhythm throughout the further spreads. I also gathered my contextual knowledge of grids, looking at the background and various types of grids. The next step was to look at other existing grids at work in various spreads. This was done by, looking at existing spreads and deconstructing it, to reveal the grid that has been used this was very useful to help me understand how other people have applied the grid. However, my first few deconstructions were not too successful as the spreads had been photographed, they were not flat images so it was difficult to lay the lines on to the page. The second set of deconstructions was more successful as they were scanned and it was clear to see where the lines had been repeated. I then started to combine the elements of play, experimentation and existing grids. In doing this I discovered that there are different styles of grids. The different grid styles are based on the type of lines that are used to make up the grid, they are: Horizontal and Vertical lines, Diagonal lines, Curved lines and a mixture of any of the three. I found that these grids would be used in one of three ways; for an image heavy layout, text heavy layout or a combination of text and image. This means the grid style used will depend on the type of

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book or spreads you are working on. It is also important to consider the type of content the spreads will be holding, as the content will define the grid. The grid will need to be sympathetic and relevant to the content and the intended audience of the book. This was enjoyable as I was able to get involved in using the gird in different ways making it fun to use there for less intimidating and allowing me to be come more creative. I thought it would be interesting to have a look at how other people used the grid. So I asked fellow students to show me the grids that they used. The result was rather surprising, in that many just used the same grid over and over again regardless on the content of the grid and others downloaded ready made grids. However, others were very considered and mathematical about their choices, deciding on their type style and using this to ascertain the type of grid they produced. I then produced some grids and asked people to draw out their own layouts on them. This was quite interesting as it raised questions and issues, that I had not though about until this point. For example I didn’t give the participants of the experiment a subject or purpose for the spread. So they could have done absolutely anything, however this has highlighted that the grid is defined by its content. I then came to a point where I started to think about how I could show my findings in my research. I already knew I wanted to produce a book of some sort, but needed to find a way of retaining the element of play and also showing the importance of the grid structure. To do this I looked at various experimental books with layers and textures, as well as different ways of packaging books. I then started to experiment with format and I finally developed and settled on the idea of producing a book that explores the four different grid styles. The book used12 different grids under four categories: Horizontal and Vertical grids, Diagonal grids, Curved grids and mixed grids. In order to keep this exploration constant and fair each grid received the same treatment by having three layouts for each that were: image heavy, text heavy and a combination of the two. To retain the continuity throughout the book the same content was used for every layout, using the same word count for each

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spread that used text and the same pool of images. The subject that was used was London zoo as it is a reasonably neutral subject that would appeal to most ages. This is to enable the emphasis to stay on the grid usage and form. Included with the book is a series of insets, of the 12 grids, printed on tracing paper, that enable the user to become interactive with the book by over laying the grid on the relevant page as they read through the book. To sum up, both the outcome and the collected research have explored the different styles of grids. The outcomes from the diagonal, curved and mixed grids are innovative, conceptual and exciting although they were difficult to produce. This is due to every text or image box needing to be customized, which can be very time-consuming and limiting. Horizontal and vertical grids are more piratical to work with, as text generally is set along a straight line to retain its legibility. However, working with the mixed grids enables the user to combine the ease of laying out horizontal and vertical grids with the introduction of curved or diagonal lines to inject excitement and originality to the grid and layouts. Also, horizontal and vertical lines give the designer the straight guidelines line that they need, to avoid unintentionally loosing the elements of the page when the book or spread comes to be printed. These lines indicate the gutter in the centre of the spread where the book would fold shut and the margins to prevent copy or images being cropped off or just getting too close to the edge of the page. Grids that use horizontal and vertical lines seem to be more effective as the straight lines reflect the media that is being used, for example books are normally rectangles or squares and the grids reflect this. These lines help retain the legibility and continuity throughout the spreads. The combination of rows and columns with the injection of a new element such as a curved or diagonal line can work very well and produce an original set of layouts. If I were to reproduce my final outcome again, I would print it and bind in to a hardback book to enable the insets to be in a case just inside the cover. This would be more practical and effective and it would all be one neat package.

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Books A Designer’s Research Manual Jenn & Ken Visocky O’Grady Rockport Experimental Formats.2 Roger Fawcett-Tang Rotovision Getting It Right With Type Victoria Squire Laurence King Grids: Creative Solutions for Graphic Designers Lucinne Roberts Rotovision Grid Systems in Graphic Design Josef Muller-Brockmann Niggli Grids: Basics Design Gavin Ambrose & Paul Harris AVA Publishing Making and Breaking the Grid: A Layout Design Workshop Timothy Samara Rockport Publishers Inc

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Notes on Book Design Derek Birdsall Yale Print and Production Finishes for Brochures and Catalogs Roger Fawcett-Tang Rotovision Recharge Your Batteries John O’Reilly and Tony Linkson How Books Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works Erik Spikermann & E. M Ginger Adobe; 2 edition Swiss Graphic Design Richard Hollis Laurence King Type and Typography Phil Baines & Andrew Haslam Laurence King

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Web Sites

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Grid Research  

The purpose of this research project is to gain a stronger understanding of the grid and the way it is used. The research will be looking...

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