• This project will progress in 4 stages.
  • Exploration
  • Design
  • Experimentation
  • Reflection. You can find the reflection at the end of the post.


The Design Brief.

My aim for this project is to produce a proof of concept for a travel book, charting the journey of a city through time, in this case Dublin.

The eventual end result of this project will see a book with an accompanying digital aspect, however, as there is a limited time frame for this project I will produce just the prototype book & imagery.

I researched a little about other designers and how to put together a design brief. Some of the links for that research are below.

This is my final design brief for this project but you scan see some more process below.

Graphic Design Brief.


Having conducted initial research into the type of children’s books & children’s travel books on the market I found there was very little in the way of variety. There was a large number of books aimed at the children’s market, and while the number of books aimed at the travel market is huge, only a small percentage of books are aimed at the younger age of travelers.

Most of the books aimed at the younger market are either very light on actual information, or just verging on the fiction scale.

There is a problem with the amount of information that can be communicated in a book due to a number of factors such as physical size and the attention span of the intended audience. By introducing the digital aspect of this project I hope to address both the attention span issue while also extending the age at which this book remains useful to older children & even adults.


My intended audience include:

Children from 10- 14 years up.

Adults, as an aid to engaging their children on a visit to the city.

As a possible teaching aid for schools introducing children Irish/Non-Irish to the city & to help them gain a sense of identity with Dublin


What are my aims, objectives & prospective audience.? My prospective audience is initially new visitors to the city, however, it serves just as well for people who are from the city to help them to both learn and also teach their children about the city in which they live.

What are the potential visual outcomes.

The possible visual outcomes include a colourful, hand illustrated book.

A book of imagery using edited photographs.

Possible developments include:


An interactive website providing access to further information.


Interactive Info graphic

Possible expansion of the product to include a series covering different cities or the country as a whole.


Generate multiple ideas.

History book

Travel book

Kids fictional travel book

Factual travel book with minimum of facts

Factual travel book with medium facts but with links to further information online

Intended Market:

Marketed to the home market.

Marketed abroad.



Evaluate & select the best ideas from the ideas explored through the divergent stage.


How do children perceive books

Percentage of kids who are online.

Theory regarding creativity being taught out of children in the school phase.


To start this project off I looked at the history of Ireland & Dublin in terms of the original settlers, industries & culture. It probably wasn’t necessary to go back as far as I did to find material for the project but it was very useful for setting the mood & tone in my own thinking when I approached the work.

Here is a selection of the children’s travel books I found on the market. There is nothing along the lines of what I want to produce as yet on the market.

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Some early images for inspiration.

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Here are some samples of the research & sketches I did while researching. I was looking to get a sense of style for the character illustrations, something along the lines of a hand drawn detailed illustration with a rough look.


Having looked at using hand drawn illustrations for the entire project however, I feel it might be a little unrealistic to attempt to draw all the characters, instead I am looking at using photography to produce a lot of the geographical content such as buildings etc. These will be edited in Photoshop to produce vectorised almost hand drawn style.

Here are some early images used to produce my sample booklet.

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Here is the sample booklet.



The map page is at this stage very rough. I have added a number of images that were not taken by me to get an idea of how the pages might look, but they have not been treated to look hand drawn. It’s not the way I saw the end product looking but does give a general idea of how it might look.

Page 2 is a lot more clean looking but is lacking a lot of interactivity I am aiming for in the finished book.

The results of my early idea generation & research were presented in an informal critique to the class and feedback was given.

As the project started to develop I realised that rather than using hand illustrated images which is not one of my strengths, I found I could present a more uniform theme by using photographic images, which is.

I began by playing with an image or two that I had of Dublin to see if I could develop a style or a look that could carry through the project. I came up with a few different looks such as a type of Cross Processed look, then a highly artistic look that looked more like a pop art drawing but I began to feel like the images were trying too hard.

I tend towards the more minimal end of the scale, kind of “Less is more”, so the style I settled on was a type of line drawing effect which removed the colour & a lot of the mid tones and left the outlines of the image as in the example below.


When considering what type of book to design I had a number of questions to ask.

  • What size would the book be.
  • Would it be portrait or landscape.
  • Would it have a hard or soft cover.
  • What printer would I use.

From my earliest days of photography I have always loved the square format image and this has carried through to a lot of my work. I think the square offers a lot of options when designing, whether you want to introduce balance, or a lack of balance into your image. I also feel that when you leave white space in a square image it always seems to me to have an energy to it.

I went ahead and designed a proof based on the square book and was really very happy with the layout and general energy in the book. However….

However, I needed to consider my print options and cost before I settled on a shape. I initially looked at using blurb to print the book and had downloaded the plugin for InDesign. I found that Blurb was quite limiting in what they could output, for instance they only printed square format on the more expensive products.

What I found with blurb was that they had a Trade book, which seemed to be very inexpensive, but they only did Upright format, and they were only in a rectangular shape. So this ruled out my square format, and it also ruled out a landscape book unless I went to the more expensive range. This would increase my unit cost by a factor of about 6 which was totally unacceptable.

Here is an example of one of Blurb’s templates for a portfolio book.

Blurb Template

I did a bit more research to find an alternative printer and found a few interesting options.

The printer I settled on however was as they had a really good range of products, provided the option of a landscape format and were also the least expensive option I could find while maintaining quality.

I requested a free sample pack of paper from them and within 2 days it had arrived. I requested one from Blurb as well but it wasn’t as good as from Digital printing Ireland and cost nearly €10. Heres the sample pack.

Digital Printing Ireland Sample pack.



Having decided on the format of the book I began to make a shortlist of sites and images to shoot. I took this from my original mind map of Dublin’s timeline of interesting dates which you can find here. Dublin Timeline.

Here is the shortlist of sites I chose to focus on.

Once I had created a collection of images I began to edit them to find a suitable style for the book. Because I had originally wanted to have a hand illustrated look to the images I decided not to stray too far from this so in the end I developed a look similar to pencil drawings. Below are examples of a before & after version of Trinity College.

Once I had my images edited I began to lay them out in my document.

I began the design process by sketching out a rough outline of how I wanted the pages to flow. I then crated a document at A5, using InDesign, setting up my bleed & margin lines. I imported my images and placed them in the order I had set out above.

The design process was actually the easiest part of the project, being very familiar with the software I didn’t have much of a learning curve to deal with. The biggest issues were caused when I had trouble with the print size of the book. Other than that it was just a case of placing the imagery and text in a manor that sat well when flicking through the book.

I decided to lay the images and text out in a very clean looking spread. With the text overlaying as few of the images as possible. For the most part I wanted to place the text to the side of the images leaving the images to stand on their own.

As the project progressed I found that the sepia toning was resulting in a different look for some of the images, I also felt it might age the book very quickly too.

When I printed a sample booklet to review the layout I did so on a black & white printer, after seeing how it looked in black & white I actually thought it better represented the images than the sepia tones images. I removed the sepia tone from the final images and just stayed with B&W with the exception of some colour added in to certain pages as you will see later on.

Here is my first text booklet.

First B&W sample booklet.


The font I chose was Viking Normal for the headlines, introductions & table of contents, and I used Calibri for the body text as Viking Normal is tough to read at smaller and denser sizes. Calibri is also a very easy font to read and is the font I have chosen for my own personal brand.

I used a drop cap of 1 line for the beginning of each text box as I felt it was reminiscent of old manuscripts and would add to the feel of old Celtic.

As the project progressed I made a number of sample books just to see if the flow of the pages looked ok and perhaps spot any other issues. I printed these & hand bound them. You can see them here.

As an extra-curricular opportunity I attended a book binding class where we had the chance to play with a few different creative methods of book binding. You can find my post on it here.

Here is an image of the Japanese book binding as applied to my brand manual.

Japanese Book Binding

While I don’t believe we were meant to bind our Journey project manually like this, the experience did bring to the front of my mind the question of how the book would be bound and finished.



The printing process was pretty straight forward using my chosen printer. I was able to choose from all the options for paper type & weight from the online order form, and even get a quote instantly from your chosen settings and see what difference there is in cost when you choose a different paper type etc.

The finished product arrived within about 3 days of ordering and looked really good.

Center Spread
Front Cover.


Having received the finished product there are a few things that I would perhaps change.

The Process of choosing format & orientation of the product should always be one of the first considerations on a project. I should be asking myself “What is the end use for this”.? This is a question I learned to ask a long time ago but failed to do so sufficiently on this project before proceeding to the design stage. As a result of this I had an extra 2 builds of the book that I had to discard before my final design.

While it was good to use the photographic skills I have to create something like this book, I would like to revisit it with my original idea in mind for a hand illustrated book. This however will take a lot longer than I would ever have in an academic year. That being said, I am quite happy with the resulting look of the book, It is very clean for the most part with perhaps one exception being the spread with O’Connell Bridge. The overlaying text in this spread is confused a bit by the underlying image.

There is a lot going on on this page and it doesn’t really fit with the spacious feel of the rest of the book. As a feature spread this works great but I could perhaps have placed the text on a separate page.

The physical book works very well I think. The size is perfect for a light travel/informational booklet. It’s not too big to fit in a bag and has just enough text on each page to be read quickly enough.

The cover paper I chose is a heavy enough weight for the size of book, however, I would probably change to a gloss laminate finish as the non laminate marks very easily and looks a little like I bound it myself with cardboard.

I would also place my brand logo on the product, possibly on the inside back cover.

The feedback I got from people I have shown the prototypes and finished book to have given generally positive feedback. Some of the comments however included changing the title from “Dublin – A City Through Time” to something else, it has now been change to “Dublin – Set in Stone”

Also, The text on the O’Connell bridge page was a bit too small to read so I had to resize and re-position it a little.

The younger people I have shown it to commented on the nice images and the good information with them. The ages I showed it to range from 8 – 14.


One thought on “Journey

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