Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Final Porfolio - Thoughts

This semester has been an interesting experience. I hate waking up in the morning, and to do so AND be alert for class was a challenge. However, I think that the class, despite the intense workload and stupid deadlines, has pushed me to improve, and improve I have. My sense of design aspects has become more keen, and I feel that I understand the process of design and how much can change between concept and final production. I still need to work on getting a tighter design early on in the process, along with designing everything with a purpose, but I think I can make it as a graphic designer with a lot more practice.

Next semester (so far), I'm not taking any VisCom classes, but I think I would like to continue this major. I still haven't made the decision that will define my next 15 years...

This class has been fun (more or less), and I thoroughly enjoyed these last projects we put together. I think that regardless of which type of art degree I pursue, this class will have helped me to create more aesthetic designs for class and my various clubs and will be an essential skill that I will use much more readily than statistics or biology in my daily life.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fishing Final Printout

This piece was easier to put together on the computer than on paper, because of text wrapping. I think my design was strong and it was interesting and fun to put together. I was pleased with my fish, because I spent a lot of time on it (and though I used live trace, I did have to undo a lot of the live trace and build it myself, so it was about as time consuming as the car, and I think I did a better job on this, because the graphic was naturally stylized, making it a perfect vector image. I really enjoyed building the water droplets.

Overall, I am happy with the way it turned out. I think it's effective and interesting, and it plays to my audience. I guess I'll see how the class takes it.

Marceline Final Dummy

This piece turned out well, but I learned that inkjet and laser printers print differently, and that is evident on my project, as the inside is duller than the outside. However, I don't think this detracts from my final presentation, as you never directly compare the two sides of my pamphlet, since I chose a gate fold. Also, I still have trouble lining up the pieces of paper, and my pamphlet is, once again, wrinkled where the two pieces of paper did not line up so well. Yet the rest was simple, and besides having to do some fancy Photoshopping and building all my characters in Illustrator, I think that this was the easiest part of the process. And it was empowering to see the final process and know that I was responsible for the entire thing. And I was proud of my final production.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Final Portfolio - Production

My best Illustrator example is my Winnie the Pooh graphic. For my first Disney graphics, I simply traced the outlines and made fairly static images. Yet because of the fairly small size of the images, I didn't redraw them. But then I decided that there needed to be line variation in the larger figures. So I created a black silhouette of the character and drew colored shapes over the image so that the character would have interesting line variation. It worked out well, and didn't take much more effort. I was pleased with how they turned out and thought that this was one of my best examples of that process.

The Photoshop piece is a collage of photographs that I had to rebuild for production. I took each image and rotated it to the correct angle and then placed a properly sized rectangle under each picture. I then used the warp tool to "bend" the corners of the rectangles and placed a drop shadow behind each on. Afterwards, I flattened the image and saved it as an .eps so that the piece would not show bounding boxes in the print version. This was the most I had to do in Photoshop this quarter, but it was technically challenging and I had never done anything like this before. I thought it came out successfully.

In InDesign, my final piece is my fishing spread. I made sure that everything was technically correct, and have discovered that my most common mistake is forgetting to convert images to CMYK mode. But all the photos have correct resolution and are .tifs, while the Illustrator file is an .eps. I liked the layout of this piece, and I think everything looks good overall, not to mention its technical correctness.

Final Portfolio - Typesetting

My best example of typesetting is found in my Favorite Ride poster. I chose two similar fonts that were sleek and elegant, something that I thought would correlate to my car and concept, and used them accordingly. The larger font was a little more script-like, which is why I chose the cleaner typeface for my smaller text, since the header text would be difficult to read. I thought the typefaces helped the concept immensely. The piece is supposed to be slightly mocking Bugatti for breaking their record, while promoting their own car. Yet I wanted it to be professional, so I chose a font that was matter-of-fact, stating the information while still being loose enough to suggest that they are, in fact, poking fun at Bugatti. I felt like this was a successful execution of typeface usage.

Final Portfolio - Marceline Pamphlet

This piece incorporates a number of the final portfolio concepts. It is my most successful and interesting marker comp, my best example of copyfitting, and is my best overall design and creative concept. I think this piece is overall my most successful design in the entire class, which is good, because it's shown my improvement throughout the course.

The concept was fun to come up with, because everyone has a soft spot for Disney. So I decided to go with nostalgia and "making memories," since everyone has fond memories associated with Disney. So I put all the pictures in Polaroid frames and placed them at angles, so it seemed like someone was displaying the pictures on their coffee table or something like that. I also scattered Disney characters throughout the pamphlet, to connect the viewer to these photos. So the concept funneled directly into my design, and I think because I had such a solid concept to begin with, the design itself was fun and easy to put together confidently.

Then, when I went into the marker comp stage (my personal favorite part of the process), the piece came together well. I love physically arranging all the elements of the design by hand and then tracing them onto a "final" piece that looks nearly professionally done. The most time consuming part of this was the copyfitting, but I learned how to do it, and it was surprisingly accurate. It gave me a good sense of space in my layout, and though I had to rearrange the copy multiple times, it was worth it, because I only had to make minor adjustments in the final printout, while the rest of my design was completely in tact. The computer generated version is posted in a later post for comparison. This was my favorite project, though it was the most technically difficult.

Final Portfolio - Thumbs

These were my most successful thumbnails in the process, because they all had potential to be good layouts, and were depicted fairly accurately. In fact, during the process, one of my least favorite layouts was chosen, and yet, it turned out extremely successful, because I had spent time to make sure all the thumbnails were decent layouts. The thumbnail process is my least favorite step in designing, but I see the value in it. I'll probably have to learn to take more time during this stage so that I have less to fix and adjust in later versions of the product.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fishing Comp

The fishing spread was so much easier to put together because there were only two panels to deal with and you didn't have to think three-dimensionally to make the whole piece fit together. I went with a more traditional feel, making the whole piece look "manly" and professional. The piece is clean and simple, presenting the text plainly and allowing the reader to take in the information with little distraction, although the photographs and graphic help maintain interest in the spread.

The graphic, by the way, took a lifetime to build. I think I spent an entire weekend putting that together, and it turned out really well. I think it has an even higher quality than my car. Because of the nature of the fish graphic, the pieces were tiny and had minute color changes and I think my fingers cramped up from all that clicking. But I'm pleased with the final graphic.

Marceline Dummy

This piece was fun to put together. The copyfitting took FOREVER, but it was extremely accurate. Also, creating the graphics were time consuming. But in the end, the piece turned out well, and I was happy with the product. I didn't change anything for the final production.

The worst part about this dummy was physically putting it together. As I was lining up the two sides, they folded and refused to come together nicely, so the inside has ridges where things didn't line up well. However, that is a minor flaw, since the rest of the piece looks fairly professional.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Favorite Ride Final Production Poster

I made a few adjustments to the final poster, including enlarging the car and taking the blue band all the way across the poster, and using reverse text for "Sorry, Bugatti." These changes were made to eliminate the need for a bleed. But other than that, the whole project was left unaltered, and I am happy with the final product.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Marceline Pamphlet Concept

My concept for the Marceline project is memories. I wanted to create a nostalgic feel for the place, because it seems that Disney creates that feeling in a lot of older people who revisit his work. So I worked with the concept of Polaroids, tinting of images, and using sepia tones to create that old-time charm. I also wanted it to seem welcoming, so instead of creating a strict layout, I incorporated a spread out look, as though someone were presenting their life to you in their home. That's what I'm working with.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Periodic Table of Typefaces

Funny chart of typefaces.

Favorite Ride Marker Comp

This piece was more fun to put together than the Chili poster because it was in color and you now had an additional element to work with. I found that the color helped me in my design, because I could rely on color changes to accentuate the piece, rather than just dealing with the interactions between positive and negative space.

My concept was dealing with the pride Audi had in breaking the world record for the fastest production car, and how they reclaimed the title as an American industry, when Europe has had bragging rights for almost 50 years. So I wanted to showcase the car with a message pertaining to that concept. I think I attained that fairly well.

The few changes I would like to make are simply taking the middle third and shifting it slightly to the left to better utilize the space, as well as using a stricter grid to align all the text. Besides that, I think my poster had a much tighter comp, and I'm satisfied with the layout. I guess it just takes practice, because not only is the process getting easier, but I'm also happier with my products.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Designing Power

This video talks about how much design can affect EVERYTHING. Also, how much influence a designer can have on the final product, if they are involved in the entire process. When designers started out, they were only one part of a long chain of events. Now, they have greater power and influence in the whole process. And this video claims that by including the designer in the ENTIRE process, not just the design aspect, you can truly affect the project.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chili Cookoff Final Poster

My final production poster looks fairly professional. However, I think the font is too light for the amount of negative space in the poster. I would've liked to change some aspects of the design, but since it was pre-approved, I was stuck with it as is. That was probably the most challenging part. Yet all the information is brought across clearly, so not all is lost, I suppose.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I found this webcomic a few weeks ago and discovered this one panel that most people would not understand. But thanks to DSP, I did. And found it rather amusing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chili Cookoff Design

This piece was the most visually interesting of the group. The lightning bolts break up the text and provide a hierarchy of importance in the text. The central image is the focal point, and the text frames the image on the page. The varying thickness of line in the graphic, as well as the dark, filled top of the pepper, keeps the centered image from becoming static.

The text is problematic, in that it runs too close to the border, almost establishing a need for a bleed. Watch spacing not only around the edges, but around the image as well. "Proceeds" is crowded by the converging lightning bolts, and the text, especially in the lower section, seems to bend awkwardly around the image, rather than text wrapping. Also keep the border in mind - line up your outer border so it establishes a visual border.

The bold headline is visually heavy and attracts the reader's attention, but the rest of the text is visually flat. Consider altering boldness and font size, as well as picking a font that is a little more edgy, to be more cohesive with the rest of the design.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


2 hours after learning about the finer points of Helvetica, I felt a lot more insecure about typefaces. The importance that each person placed on the font made me think much more closely about the impact of the way text is presented.

In the movie, I saw many well-known images that I had never associated with Helvetica, but had associated with clean-cut, minimalistic design. Then looking at the design changes from the 1950s to the 1970s, even though not much more than the font changed, the entire image was affected. It was incredible how much slight subtleties can affect the viewer.

Even though the movie wasn't the most interesting, it certainly was worth watching, and I feel that I learned a lot about not only Helvetica, but type in general.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Midterm Portfolio - InDesign

For the InDesign portion of the portfolio, I chose my Dinner and a Book layout. This piece incorporated the prowess of Photoshop (creating a COB, or cut out background) and InDesign. This piece was completely black and white with a bleed. I made extensive use of rulers, to make sure that everything lined up visually. All the book titles line up with the edge of the plate or the edge of the headline. Because I didn't make the headline very large, I put a grey banner behind it to help emphasize it. I also kept one of the photos with a background, to reinforce the rectangular theme in my piece.

Then, I created visual flow by drawing a vertical line that lets the reader's eye travel down the page. The opposite side, though it has no actual line, has left aligned text and a square edge of a photo that create an implied line, thus creating the illusion of symmetry. The book and pear at the bottom gives the reader a visual stopping point, with the important information beneath it. This keeps the reader engaged with the visual aspect of the piece rather than "falling off" the layout.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Midterm Portfolio - Illustrator

For the Illustrator aspect of my portfolio, I chose the sunglasses and the car. I feel that these two projects used all of the aspects we had learned in the program and incorporated the elements seamlessly into some really cool graphics. This program was the only one I'd never used before, so I feel that I made the most improvement in Illustrator, since I started from scratch, and I think I've learned a lot.


This project taught me to use the power of suggestion rather than replicate every detail. By imitating the general shapes and creating the suggestion of shadows despite my simple use of gradients and solid colors, I created a relatively realistic pair of sunglasses. I learned the value of layers, since I could hide all the layers except the template and the part I was working on, so I could get as accurate as possible. I thought this was more interesting than simply recreating a logo, as we have done in the past.

Favorite Ride:

This was more or less the culmination of the Illustrator projects: make a realistic representation of a car (or other mode of transportation). In order to reproduce the effects, I built the car in sections, and used gradients and gradient meshes to give the illusion of three-dimensionality. I had to layer and alter transparencies, and all of this blended together to create a recreation of this Audi Aero Twin Turbo, though close up, the piece becomes obviously made of basic shapes and lines.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Midterm Portfolio - Photoshop

For the Photoshop aspect of my portfolio, I decided to showcase my photo collage and my mood piece. These, I believe, are the best pieces from this semester.

Photo Collage:

I think the photo collage was incredibly fun but one of the most challenging assignments, despite it's early appearance in the semester. This assignment required us to take 4 pictures from different sources (a black and white glossy, a color glossy, a magazine reproduction, and a line art drawing) and assemble them in a cohesive composition.

I learned how to scan photos and descreen a reproduced photo so the photo would look less grainy in the Photoshop document. I also learned how to affect single layers with different types of effects while also applying general effects to the whole document.

Through the compositional aspect, I found that making the color photos blend with the black and white segments was the hardest part, since the color naturally made those aspects pop out and contrast with the rest of the piece. In order to counter that, I decreased the contrast and brightness of the color photos. The pink purse still stood out too much, so I placed some greyscale grass in front of it, which not only lessened the intensity of the purse, but gave the whole composition a lot more depth. I then surrounded the whale with some grey-blue brush strokes to further blend him into the greyscale sky. The line art was filled with a satin overlay to give it a three-dimensional effect. Yet the piece still felt very unbalanced, so I added decorative brush strokes on opposing corners to fill the dead space and give the piece an artsy feel.

This piece helped me stretch my abilities in Photoshop. I came back to this piece and improved upon it: I added some of the blue texture to the rest of the sky, giving it a subtle color, though there is none in the original photograph; I added a Gaussian blur to the magazine photo to further descreen the image; I made minor placement adjustments and contrast/color adjustments to enhance the piece. Though no major changes were made in my revisit, I feel that the piece has improved and I am proud of the result.


This piece, though still using the collage idea of the previous work, incorporated a completely different set of ideas. The assignment called for us to create a mood using 3-5 pictures and no words, and also use channels and clipping paths to assist in that task.

I had never learned how to use channels effectively, and this assignment definitely helped me see the value in channels and the incredible asset it can be. I also learned the difference between using a brush and a pen tool to create a clipping path, and incorporated both in my piece.

I had taken an incredible picture of a late sunset with a tree silhouette, and wanted to use that in this piece. So I decided to create the mood of impermanence and mortality. In order to show that, I used this leafless tree as the background to my piece, signifying that this depletion of life (the leaves on the tree) is inevitable and always looming. I then placed a high contrast cluster of blooming flowers in the top left corner, but upside down, so that although they are still alive, they are facing downward (towards death). The shape of the flowers loosely mirrors the shape of the tree, further connecting the inevitability of one transforming into the other. I then added a clock between them, faded to near transparency, to remind the viewer that the difference between the flowers and the tree is simply a matter of time. I added in a few brushstrokes of leaves to simulate wind, and the "winds of change," and also to emphasize the lack of leaves on the tree itself.

I then created a mask using the channels of the flowers, and placed translucent silhouettes of the same image, but in increasingly smaller scale, along the bottom of the piece. Then I altered the color, creating neon versions of this flower cluster, further emphasizing the artificiality of life and how quickly it fades to nothing but an outline of what it once was.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Magazine Spread

This project showed me how much time it takes to put a simple article together. The amount of text adjustment and layout manipulation that went into this article clearly made it a nicer final product, but required a lot more effort than a non-designer would think.

This article was a three column layout with unusual margins and lots of graphics. I thought it was interesting that the yellow rectangles were colors found in the painting itself, which enhanced the design. It was fun to put all the pieces into the layout and see how everything worked together, which will ultimately help me when I design my own spreads.

Monday, February 16, 2009