Month: November 2015

Eye Magazine Layout

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This brief looks at the creative laying out of a magazine article. I have researched various sources to get  differing examples of grid styles ranging from 2-12 columns.

Here you can see the style that Eye uses to layout each publication. Try Before You Buy

A short article explaining the need for Bleed

A quick look at setting up a Magazine Layout

This article asks the question…

“Our work is made up of beeps and blips that can be endlessly reworked, so why are our design systems more rigid than ink locked on paper? The fine work from our reporters and photographers and data artists deserves to be showcased. Instead, our dependence on fitting into template defaults sands away the unique contours of the work.”

I suggest that the reason behind the decision to create reusable templates  in the quoted article above, is for the efficiency & repeatable qualities behind having a system that you can just insert content & upload. Money & cost effectiveness  is the reason for it & what suffers is inevitably the design & the individuality of your layout.

Some interesting Magazine layouts at this link.

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For this brief I have chosen to present an article on the designer Paula Scher. I enjoy her work as it always feels so freeflowing & effortless in its simplicity and yet painstaking in its complexity when producing works like her Maps series. Something like that can only be produced with passion I think.

Created in 30 seconds…..and 34 years.

I can relate to a lot of the things Paula has to say when it comes to generating ideas, both in allowing time & space for your brain to be creative, and taking the time out to allow creativity to flow. Also, when she speaks about the occasions when an idea comes very early on in the process that it shouldn’t be discounted just because of that. It’s not that it arrived in a vacuum, it arrived as she says “after 30 seconds, & 34 years” when speaking about the creation of the CitiBank logo.


Shake Shack
Shake Shack


In this article, Falling into designing a 1.6 Billion Dollar logo. Paula Scher never dreamed when she redesigned the logo Pro-Bono for a one off burger joint in New York that it would go on to be a chain worth so much on the global market.


More Examples of layouts.

Student Magazine,Mag01An interesting article on the most common use of columns used in magazine layouts.

This article offers suggestions for using 2,3 or 4 columns in the laying out of a magazine. It also talks about the over use of too many columns & having to place content over a number of columns when you have too many.

whatsitcalled is a document explaining the anatomy of a publication layout. Lots of good information here.

Don’t Be Afraid of “White Space”
Although it can be difficult, consider leaving some areas of the page blank. Stuffing as much as you can onto a page is visually overwhelming to the reader. Experiment with leaving some column white space in your new multi-column layout.


Having looked at various publications & layout styles I have found a few that I both like & dislike.

I like the use of both full page images and large blocks of colour to give importance to elements in a layout. The use of a full page image also adds a sense of space or a feeling of room to breathe into a design. As a reader, its like a mental pause, you are not being bombarded with an overload of information. Its almost like a Sunday morning drive in the country.

I have tried to use this in my own layout below. The use of white space is also very important I feel. See article link above. (Or here.)

Eye Mag Layout Brief Final2
Spread 2

Some of the publications that have a lot of information or copy can be hard work to navigate or leave the eye bouncing around from content to content. If this is your intent then that’s fine, as a method of keeping the reader engaged & mentally led through the layout it has its place. However, my own preference is to have a cleaner looking layout that will both engage & keep the eye moving but does not over bombard the reader with information.

Here are some examples I found that make good use of columns & panels of copy, some in their own box and others separated by lines to create a defined area or break from one area to another.

Some layout designs just bombard you with the information or even overlay it with text or imagery which has its place, but I feel personally that it can be over used.


David Carson-Lost MessageCarson CoverRaygun magazine layouts use a lot of imagery & text over the spreads. It has a reputation for being on the cutting edge but I feel its “Trick” is over used & gets a little tiring to read after a while.


Some great layout designs by Nick Thakery



Emegre Online Mag Hard to ReadThe example here shows a layout that I feel is just too hard to read. The elements on the page are given more importance than the articles them selves.



In my own layouts I have tried to create a design that has both a feeling of space while also keeping an energetic dynamic between the copy & the imagery, I believe I have succeeded. I have placed the copy in 3 text blocks, each one 2 columns in width. I have kept the font the same as that used by Eye magazine with a leading of 11, or 9/11. I think this makes the copy a little hard to read but its required by the brief.

I have tried to emulate Eye magazine in the use of space, column layout & its use of placing multiple elements & blocks of colour on the page.

Eye Mag Layout Brief3
Spread 3

For the cover, I have looked at a number of publications, including Raygun, Eye and various covers by Nick Thakery.

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For my own cover I have used a portrait of Paula Scher, removed the background & replaced it with a montage of quotes from the artist in the style of one of her word maps.

Eye Mag Layout


I have looked at various ways of laying out this article and found that the first one or two designs just didn’t feel very organic, they diddn’t feel as if the elements worked well together on the page. The reason for this lay in a number of areas.

  • The font I was using was a condensed version of News Gothic rather than the light. Even when the font was 9pt the condensed version looked as if it was 7pt.
  • I felt that some of the white space left on the page didn’t feel as if it had a function, it was just empty space & I felt I had to either fill it, which I didn’t want to do needlessly, or rearrange the elements on the page better.
  • I had originally placed a small image with a pull quote on spread 2 alongside the large image however I felt it was just to use up this space and to a small degree even upset the balance of the page. The spread breathed much better when I removed it.
  • The text on spread 3 at the top of the article felt as if it was sitting out on its own without anything to anchor it, so, taking inspiration from Eye I placed a simple stroke around the text box which then seemed to fix this text in place.
  • I applied a light grey tone to the background of spread 3 on the verso side to add some grounding for the remaining elements on that side. I also applied a block of blue colour to the recto side which compliments the yellow elements on both sides of the spread.
  • Lastly, having checked the brief one last time I realised that the credit for the author & Images were missing, along with the article title. While I have rectified all the above I need to note that the authors name was not provided with the copy.

Final Layout Design.

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Final Poster Design & Critique

Final Poster Design
The Birds – by Alfred Hitchcock

This is the final design of my poster for the movie The Birds, by Alfred Hitchcock.

The original concept for this design began with developing an idea using sketches, mind maps and some research on previous poster ideas already designed.

The next step was to use a selection of images taken during our shoot at the National Botanic Gardens. Images were chosen & a design began to take shape in Illustrator.

However, as the first version of the design began to take shape I felt it was becoming too complicated & the elements were taking over the poster leaving no room for the message.

I went back to the concept stage & developed some more ideas. I finally narrowed it down to a simple design consisting of the title, a bird on a ledge & a line of blood.

I sourced some images online to be used as elements within my design. These were converted to vector images & placed in the design.

My final design placed the bird on a ledge in the top right corner & the title in a bold font in the bottom left. This will create a diagonal aspect to the overall design adding a touch of tension. I then intended to place a line of blood extending from the feet of the bird running down the design. The contrast between the black & white design & the blood red element is intended to add another sinister aspect to the final poster.

To get the blood trail I placed a white plate glass panel on a slope & back lit it to create a light box effect. I then sprayed a blood spray on the glass & let it roll down in a line. I then photographed this, imported it & cleaned it up in Photoshop, then placed it within my design.

Treatment of Font.

I chose a very heavy & bold font for the title, Myriad Pro set to bold. I then added a black stroke to the title to make it heaver again. Then, taking an image of a feather I converted it to a vector & added it to the trailing edge of each letter to give it texture & be suggestive of the birds.

I used a Hollywood font for the directors name. I used the image of a bird of prey converted to a vector shape which I placed on the ledge which is a simple line made by a rough brush in Illustrator.

Colour Theory.

Dark red is associated with vigor, willpower, rage, anger, leadership, courage, longing, malice, and wrath.

Final Assessment.

Having tried a number of solutions to this brief and discounting the ideas that did not fit my end goal I believe I have produced a poster that fits most if not all points on the brief.

There are a number of areas that I could change, however I honestly believe that to add more elements to this composition would not add to its impact in any significant way. I could have placed a tag line or some descriptive text on the poster however I feel that the intent of the brief was to attempt to make the poster speak for its self & ask the viewer some critical questions about what is happening. (See below for further alternatives).

I believe this poster does ask these questions. If I was to view the poster for the first time I think I would be wondering what the bird was doing & where it came from. What was it doing that has left the stream of blood  down the page, is it waiting for something.?

The blood stream ties the two main elements together using a strong red colour, the eye is then forced to travel back to the bird from the title in a diagonal manor thus introducing a diagonal tension to the composition.

I think that the top left & center of the poster has a lot of empty or white space. There is a nearly overwhelming urge to fill this space with content, however, I really feel that this space adds tension to the design and most importantly to add content to this space just for the sake of filling it would be wrong. I strongly believe that if something does not add to a composition it takes away.

Proof Assessment.

On proofing my poster in print form I found 2 issues. Firstly, I was not happy with the sharpness of my blood trail so I had a look at the output settings when processing the raw file & ensured it was at its highest reasonable setting. I then added a touch of sharpening in photoshop to ensure its crispness.

Secondly, I found that I was still getting a little haloing around the blood trail where some of the original colour was still being picked up & showing on the print. I re-cleaned around it to remove any remaining colour pixles. Another proof will be done to asses the changes.

Alternative Designs.

The Birds 3 Web
All elements.
The Birds 2 Web
Running couple Eements









Final thoughts.

I feel that having tried to develop alternative designs using the elements & techniques developed in class I felt a strong need to be using all the elements such as the images taken in the Botanic Gardens etc. However, this was resulting, not in a very conscious way, in designs that were very forced & with far too much information in them. This resulted in designs that were not very clear in their message.

Perhaps it was in going through those designs that lead me back to what I have always felt I preferred, simple, clean & uncluttered designs. Almost minimalist to a point. In this regard I feel that I have managed to hit all my goals on the brief.

Christoph Niemann: How to Overcome the 3 Fears Every Creative Faces.

In this 99U talk, illustrator Christoph Niemann shares his three biggest fears: the fear of not being good enough, the fear that our work will be irrelevant, and the fear of running out of ideas. Each of these cripple our process in different ways, but as Niemann explains (complete with hilarious illustrations), there are solutions we can apply to each.
Push yourself to learn new things, embrace the grumpiness, and realize that there’s nothing wrong with you when you feel anxious or nervous—it’s just part of the job.


Poster Design


I am a real fan of the more minimalist style of poster design. One of my favorite artists is Albert Exergian and his personal project of TV & Film posters.

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Poster 01

Diego Bellorin, Brazil. This artist has a very energetic style & the album artwork he has created here is really colourful & keeps your eye moving around the design.





Mood lines in poster design.

Mood Lines

The ability to control & affect a viewers mood by using design concepts has to be the closest one can come to mind control in Graphic Design. John Ormsbee Simonds created a series of “Mood Lines” that can be used in a composition that can affect how a viewer see’s, reacts to & even stores the information in a design.


Paul Rand

An interesting article on how an artist can be viewed as essential to a business project, and how Paul Rand changed the convention on who took the lead in advertising campaigns.

Saul Bass

Saul Bass is famous for many areas of his work but I really like his work on his film credits & his poster work. Titles such as Spartacus & Cape Fear, and posters for Such Good Friends, Magnificent Seven & Schindler’s List.

Title sequences by Saul & Elaine Rand. Cape Fear Good fellas & North by North West

Title Sequences by Saul & Elaine Bass


Some contemporary designers have some interesting, though not surprisingly similar, things to say about the process of poster design. When asked what makes a good poster, these designers were all singing from the same sheet.

Well my typical design process is research, research, thinking and thinking again, doing scribbles, doing layouts. Often when I am not satisfied with a result I start over again until it fits to my personal visual aim. Götz Gramlich Germany.

The concept is the vital part of a good poster; The form isn’t far behind from the concept; it has as much value. Elmer Sosa. Mexico.

I usually begin with sketches. Sometimes I just think and think a lot about concept of a poster, then I put it on paper to give it an visual form and then I can actually see whether it has a potential or not. I never start designing posters by sitting in front of the computer trying to make some new combinations, for instance, because the idea is the most important on poster for me and computer is just a tool that helps me to give shape to my ideas. Dalida Karic-Hadziahmetovic. Bosnia Hertzegovina.



How to create visual tension in art.

A square shape showing its structural skeleton

Creating tension in art.



The Anatomy of Type

There may not be a single part of a typeface that does not change at some point or another. The number of fonts & font families, variations and styles are many & go back as far as the origins of the printing press over 500 years ago. Nor will they stop changing with the advent of new technologies and new methods of viewing such as e-readers computers & even wearable tech.

However, the anatomy of the typeface hasn’t changed much and each new font continues to be built around the various parts like a wire frame molding subtly differing sculptures of the same subject.

Introduction to Type

The Anatomy of a Typeface, while seemingly complicated, has some very simple principle parts such as the x-height, baseline, ascender & descender lines, the serifs, terminals & counter among them. Each font can be changed in some subtle & some not so subtle ways.

For instance, by changing the x-height or set width of a font you can change how easy or difficult it reads.
A general classification of fonts include:
  • Oldstyle – 15th – 17th Century.
  • Transitional – Immediately predating the modern period.
  • Modern – 17th Century
  • Slab Serif – 19th Century & the industrial revolution.
  • Decoritive – Short lived success with any visual trick to catch the public eye.
  • Sans Serif – Early 20th Century
  • Script-Cursive – Script, with joined lower case lettering. Cursive, a flowing style but not joined lettering.

The Anatomy of Type