Chili Cook-off part 2

This is the design I have been working on for the Chili Cook-off poster assignment. The image on the left, my original thumbnail, was edited in several ways before moving on to the full size marker comp on the right (apologies for the poor scan). I added a little more detail to the chili graphic by varying the line weights and adding highlights along the chili as well as the stem. The headline "Thinking about chili?" was changed so that it fit on one line instead of the two. Also, the "N" in "now you are." was capitalized to keep the composition unified. For the marker comp, I was able to add in the text in the larger block. Once I saw how much text there actually would be, I was able to increase the font size and the leading slightly for an airier, easier-to-read look. For the marker comp, I also used an exact typeface instead of the general idea of one I used for the thumbnail.

From the discussion of the marker comps, I received several good suggestions that I am integrating into the final design. I altered the graphic again, adding a thought bubble behind the chili and lowering its opacity so it will not distract from the chili. I also gave more emphasis to the event title itself by rearranging the text "National Ag Week 2009 Chili Cook-off" and moving it under the chili graphic, inside the thought bubble.

"Ride" Promotion Poster Thumbnails

For this project, I decided to advertise the car itself, a BMW convertible. My target audience was wealthy, upper-class women. Therefore, I wanted to portray the car as luxurious and elegant. To do this, I used rich colors like purples and fonts that would give the words an elegant, special feel.

Of the ten thumbnails I originally made, this is the design that will be carried on into further production. It was chosen for several reasons. First, this design has the most interesting concept. I liked the idea of a get-away during the otherwise hectic day. Also, my classmate, Erin, liked the contrasting fonts, which emphasizes the idea of a tropical escape. She thought the colors used lead to this concept as well. She also provided several helpful suggestions for improvements or ideas to experiment with when taking this design further into production. I thought she had some really good, insightful ideas and I am eager to experiment with them and see how they could turn out.


Chili Cook-off

I believe that the concept behind this design was the idea of a cook-off itself, or a competition. This idea is seen in the image, which shows several ingredients for chili on a winner's stand. The hierarchy shown in the image is also applied to the layout itself. Through an excellent use of positive and negative space, the header "CHILI COOK OFF" is clearly emphasized and the focus of attention. From there, the viewer sees the appealing and slightly whimsical graphic, then the event details outlined below. The layout also uses an approximately 4-column grid, which provides balance and stability. Also important is the fact that this sketch follows the project specs: 11"x17", one color (black), and no bleed. The only suggestions I would have for improvement are to shift the words "Chili" and "Cook" in the header so that they match up with the grid structure better. Perhaps the image needs to be moved slightly as well for the same reasons. However, I do like the column of empty space on the left side of the poster. Overall, this design is eye-catching, appealing, and slightly whimsical.



Here's the copyfitting process I've read about on this website:

step 1. Get out a pencil and scrap paper to write out the upcoming measurements and calculations--your head will thank you later.
step 2. Get a character count. In other words, count each letter, number, symbol, space and punctuation mark of the copy.
step 3. Look up the Character per pica (CPP) measurement, which is based on the typeface being used and the alphabet length.
step 4. Multiply the CPP by the line length. This will tell you how many characters will fit in one line of copy.
step 5. Divide the character count found at the beginning by the number of characters that fit in one line (the number found in the last step). This will tell you the total number of lines the given copy will take up.
step 6. Multiply that number by the leading to get the copy depth.
step 7. If the project is mostly text, divide the total number of lines (found in step 5) by the number of lines per page desired to get the number of pages the copy will take up. However, if there are headers, subheaders, or illustrations, this number will have to be changed slightly.

Now aren't you glad you got out that scrap paper?

Helvetica Controversy

Helvetica. It looks so clean-cut and simple. But as this documentary shows, not all designers agree. Some say that the font we see everywhere on the street is perfect; it can look good anywhere. But other designers find it boring and overused. Personally, I am pro-Helvetica. I like the easy simplicity it has and the fact that it is so versatile. A truly good, skilled designer can make even a "boring" font look appealing and eye-catching.

Overall, I thought the "Helvetica" documentary was very interesting. I never would have guessed that there is so much going on behind every font. A creator, a history, fans, opponents, etc. It left me wanting to learn more about typography. Now I'm eager to experiment with different fonts and the emotions they can evoke.


Midterm Portfolio: Photoshop

Photo Composite
This project taught me some of the fundamentals of working in Photoshop. Who ever would have thought that there were so many steps involved in simply scanning in an image? Not I! Nevertheless, this composite taught me the ins and outs of scanning different types of images, how to edit image color modes, and refined my knowledge of making selections in Photoshop. From the original, I have made very few changes. I added a multiply layer effect to the rabbit to drop out the remaining white fills and smoothed the edge of the two girls in the bottom left by using the blur tool. This exercise gave me some of the foundational skills I would use in later projects.

Photo Retouch
I got to use my new scanning expertise for this second exercise in Photoshop in which I scanned and retouched a damaged photo. This project taught me the second main purpose of Photoshop: photo retouching and effects. The original photo, on the left, suffered from damage from age and creases in the top corner. Using selections and the clone tool, these blemishes were easily erased.


Midterm Portfolio: InDesign

Magazine Spread Rebuild

At first, I thought this project would be easy, a no-brainer. Scan in some images, type up the copy, put them together, and Tada! But very soon I saw that I was very wrong! Troubleshooting a scanner that was acting up was the first of my troubles. There, finally! The images were scanned into Photoshop and saved as .tiff files. Now, just type up the copy, flow it through 4 columns, and I’m done! Little did I know…Trying to find matching fonts was easy compared to trying to deconstruct the settings the original designer had set for the type. Leading, kerning, tracking…what did all this mean? As I experimented, I finally got a feel for what each of these typesetting terms meant and how changing each specifically altered the block of copy. In addition for starting to give me an understanding of typography, this project gave me a deep respect for the typesetters whose work I have so long taken for granted! From the original, I cleaned up my links: changing some from RGB to CMYK mode, cleaning up the backgrounds, and making sure they were all .tiff files before finally re-linking them.

Midterm Portfolio: Illustrator

US Eagle Symbol

This project was one of many that taught me and refined my skills with the pen tool in Illustrator. I chose this exercise as an example of this because it was while working on this project that the principles and ideas behind using this small but mighty tool finally started taking shape and making sense. I feel that this is the project with which I finally grasped all the ideas I had been hearing for weeks. Closed paths, strokes, Bezier curves, time saving tricks like drawing only half of the symmetric eagle and then flipping and joining the two halves to form the whole. Finally this all made sense! From the original, I added an effect to the circles surrounding the cluster of stars to give them a different look. Also, I changed the color of the branch stem in the eagle’s foot and refined the background gradient.

"My Favorite Ride"

The “My Favorite Ride” project was the true test of my knowledge of the pen tool! This project also required careful attention to layers and effects, such as the gradient mesh tool and transparencies. While experimenting to find just the right effect grew frustrating and time consuming, the end result made me proud of all the hours I poured into it. I was able to use the skills with the pen tool I had acquired from previous exercises such as the eagle symbol. But I was also able to play around with new techniques and effects such as feathering shapes, using transparencies, and creating subtle gradients to give the car the illusion of being 3-D. The “Ride” project was also my first introduction to large-format printing, which turned out to be much less frightening than it originally seemed. After turning in this exercise, I made several changes. I added a reflection to the left grill and added a connecting piece between the side mirror and the frame of the windshield. Also, I darkened the wells behind the tires and adjusted the bottom edges of the tires on the driver’s side, making them more realistically shaped.


Don't Flip That Page!

the original layout

my rebuilt layout

The first time I flipped through my February InStyle magazine, I almost skipped over this article, lazily eager to move on to spreads with bigger, more appealing photos of fabulous clothes. However, just as I was about to turn the page, the pullout quote on the second page (located right above the spot where my fingers were as I nearly flipped the page) grabbed my attention. A good move on the part of the designer, I must say. And even though I found thought of Tabasco-sauce-themed ties somewhat discomforting, I was intrigued and turned my attention back to the first page to read the article, which proved to be entertaining after all.

It turns out that the schematically placed pullout quote isn’t the only good decision the designer made. The four-column layout is balanced and visually attractive. The designer also skillfully controlled the reader’s eye movement. For example, I was first attracted to the quote, then the illustration under the quote, which then shifted my view to the similar illustration on the first page, leaving me at the top of the article, ready to read. The layout has a uniform theme. It repeats two fonts throughout the different text elements. The colors are also repeated in both text and illustrations. The designer also gave the article a casual feel with the use of sketchy illustrations and small details along the spine and edges of the pages that look like the edges and binding of a notebook.

The designer also dealt with the large amount of copy well. The use of a serif font makes it easy to read, as does the dark, contrasting text color. Although the text is justified, there are no large spacing gaps or over-hyphenation, making the text more visually appealing. The drop cap was used correctly: only in the first paragraph of the article to help draw the reader into the story. So although I was initially apt to skip this article, its visual appeal drew me in and made me read what proved to be an amusing story.