Grids: Feedback and Improvements

In this group crit my designs were received well and I was praised for my bravery in attempting minimalist designs which are often hard to do well. The feedback I was give consisted a few minor changes. The text throughout all three designs needed to be reduced in size as the leading was very tight. Furthermore my first design (1-2 large images) needed a drop cap or another graphic device added to the right hand side page of the spread in order to add some visual interest. One major change that I did have to make was to redo my last design (3-5 small images), this was because the images were too small on the page and got lost in the empty space. For this design it was recommended that I looked at large scale photo books for inspiration.

To begin improving my designs I visited the library and collated a large body of research into layout design by photographing spread layouts from large scale photography magazines. The magazines pictured below include Foam, Source magazine, Parkett magazine, Art Review and American Destiny.

   I then revisited some of my previous designs for my 3-5 small images design.

The text handing down from the text creates an interesting layout on the left however the page on the right is too similar to the design for 3-5 medium images (seen above)

Breaking the grid on the right gives a refreshing break from the previous designs which all work within the confines of the grid, the image on the left page however may be too large for the 3-5 small images design

Final 1-2 large images design: A drop cap has been added to the body text, the body text has been reduced in size and the background colour has been made stronger to show up when printed as previously it was not visible when printed

Final design for 3-5 medium images: A faint colour has been added to the background to make the paper off white as the paper before was a very bright white

Final design for 3-5 small images: This layout is a combination of the two previous designs I was looking at. By breaking the grid on the right it ensure that the design is not too similar to my 3-5 medium images design, therefore giving the spreads flow and diversity. I have also included the text hanging from the image on the left which creates an interesting composition.


Grids: Final Designs

Karl Gerstner’s 58 unit grid as spread – 6×6 grid

Text with: 1-2 large images including captions

Text with: 3-5 medium sized images including captions

Text with 3-5 small sized images including captions

My three final refined designs for the grids project. Minor changes have been made since my previous posts to make sure that all of the elements are properly aligned to the grid and that the textual information is formatted correctly.

In previous projects it has been made aware to me that I have a tendency to make my designs too big and loud so this time I have tried to keep my designs simple and sophisticated. With my three designs I think I have achieved creating visually pleasing designs with very little, as well as learning a lot about grid systems.

Grids: Design Refinement

Original design

Above is my chosen design for the specification ‘Text with: 1-2 large images including captions’. I have chosen this design for my final outcome however it still needs refinement, on the right hand side there is a large amount of negative space which needs balancing. Below are a series of screenshots where I am experimenting with how I can best use the negative space.

Stepping the heading from the body text

Moving the elements to a more central position on the grid to balance the negative space

Balancing the body text in the bottom left with the heading in the top right

Balancing the heading and body text in the bottom left with a grey block of colour in the top right, however the block of colour ends up being distracting

Attempting to balance the body text in the bottom left with the heading in the top right however the layout is more awkward than balance

Using a small grey solid block of colour in the top right containing the folio to balance the heading and body text in the bottom left, once again the solid block of colour is distracting

Mimicking the tones in the photograph on the left with the heading and body text on the right, through altering the orientation of the heading

Below is my chosen design from my above experimentations. In this design I have moved the body text and caption from the bottom right to the bottom centre, helping to close up the negative space. I have also moved the heading to the top right, in line with the statues head on the left, in an attempt to balance the composition on the right sheet with the composition on the left sheet. Furthermore I changed the title in order to make it longer and add more tonal colour to the page. Finally I added a block of colour to the right hand sheet to reduce the harshness of the bright white paper, the colour I choose was selected from the photograph on the right and then reduced to 40% opacity to mute the colour so that it did not compete with the photograph on the left.

Grids: Development

After creating my 10 thumbnails sketches on both the Muller Brockman grid and the Karl Gerstner’s 58 unit grid I decided that the grid I preferred using was the one created by Karl Gernster as the grid allows for alot of creativity and freedom. From my 10 drawn thumbnails for this grid, I began to develop these designs digitally within the grid template.

For my layout designs I used content based around an article I found on It’s Nice That, the article is about a new series of work being produced by the photographer Catherine Hyland. From this article I took the main body text as well as the information on the author of the article and when the article was wrote.

‘Photographer Catherine Hyland has been travelling the mountainous landscapes of China and Mongolia to capture its vast, yet eerily empty tourist destinations. In her ongoing series Universal Experience, which she will continue to add to, she explores scenes of epic beauty that have been developed to become tourist destinations. Tackling themes of nostalgia and abandonment, she hopes to capture the intertwining of natural beauty and the artificially engineered viewpoints from which people choose to remember it by.

“The aim is to shine a light on both the strange and sublime nature of these spaces,” Catherine says. “Giant Buddhas that exist in small desolate villages in rural China, and expansive mountainscapes with barely any visitors. Whether it’s sites of historical importance or natural splendour each is approached with a heightened awareness of its significance as a place of beauty and grandeur. Landscape is seen primarily as a cultural construct and only secondarily as a natural phenomenon.”

Catherine’s large-format photographs, shot on film, show the awesome landscapes together with their barren tourist-targeting additions, contrasting the natural and man-made elements. The dusty mountainous shots are particularly striking, with their gradated colours and uniformly dusty tones.

Words by Jenny Brewer,

I then went on to the photographers own website and saved all of the photographs from the series mentioned in the article, this gave me a wide range of imagery to work with in my layout designs. When deciding upon what content to use for my layout designs I specifically choose to focus on photography, this is because the final spreads will be printed at A3, therefore I wanted access to high resolution imagery that would still maintain their quality when increased in size.

For our layout designs we had to produce 3 final outcomes each with different specifications:

  • Text (body copy) with: 1 – 2 large images including captions
  • Text (body copy) with: 3 – 5 medium sized images including captions
  • Text (body copy) with: 3 – 5 small sized images including captions

The text must also include a major title to the spread plus main headings and subheadings, as well as page numbers. Graphic devices such as typographic rules, shapes and symbols could also be included.

Below are my 12 digital developed designs (4 per specification)

Text with: 1-2 large images including captions: Design 1

Text with: 1-2 large images including captions: Design 2

Text with: 1-2 large images including captions: Design 3

Text with: 1-2 large images including captions: Design 4

Text with: 3-5 medium sized images including captions: Design 1

Text with 3-5 medium sized images including captions: Design 2

Text with 3-5 medium sized images including captions: Design 3

Text with 3-5 medium sized images including captions: Design 4

Text with 3-5 small sized images including captions: Design 1

Text with 3-5 small sized images including captions: Design 2

Text with 3-5 small sized images including captions: Design 3

Text with 3-5 small sized images including captions: Design 4

Despite me basing my layout designs on the article wrote by It’s Nice That, in some of my designs I did choose to use dummy text. In some of my layouts I wanted to include larger amounts of body text however the original article is quite short, therefore I replaced the article text with placeholder text generated by Adobe InDesign.

From my 4 developed designs for each specification I believe that the most successful was design 1 for the large sized images, design 1 for the medium sized images and design 3 for the small sized images, however I do believe further refinements could be made. Design 1 for the large sized images the right side of the spread is too empty, therefore the addition of another image, graphic devices or altering the layout on the right could aid the design.

Kerning Exercise

Brief: Use Adobe InDesign to format 4 landscape A4 sheets, each sheet will have a single word in 4 different styles and all will be kerned. On each sheet the chosen word will be in a serif typeface and a sans serif typeface, and will have an uppercase and lowercase version of each. The words notoriously difficult to kern are: railway, predictability, woodland and masquerade. 

For my kerning exercise I chose the font Baskerville for my serif font, and Helvetica for my sans serif font. Below are my final kerned outcomes.

I found this exercise quite challenging, however this was not due to not understanding the brief or how to kern but because I found it hard to know when to stop kerning the words. I became too precious with the exercise and spent a lot of time readjusting my kerning, however after a discussion with the tutors I finally settled on the above outcomes which I believe are resolved.


Introduction to Book Layout and Preparing for Print

Introduction to book layout and introduction to preparing for print are two separate inductions that are both based in Adobe InDesign and both work hand in hand. Introduction to book layout covers how to set up and create a document for a book in InDesign, then introduction to preparing for print covers how to save and export the document correctly for printing as well as imposition.

When creating a document for print it is important to keep in mind the following:

  1. Audience
  2. Format (book size)
  3. Construction (binding)
  4. Extent (number of pages)
  5. Elements to include (special features, pop ups, flaps, gate folds)
  6. Deadline
  7. Printing needs (colour or black white?)
  8. How is it being printed (digital, litho, screen printing, letterpress)
  9. Book cover (soft or hard?)
  10. Do I have everything I need? (Photos, illustrations, 300dpi scans?)

Before creating the document it is important to create a flat plan detailing what will be included in the front matter, content and the end matter. Once this is done you can go onto creating your document. In this induction we looked at how to create a new document with facing pages, then how to create a grid and determine the font size and baseline grid. We then went on to learn how to create master pages, one for our grid to go onto and one for our numbering system. Finally we looked at type and how to create paragraph styles, frames and adding columns to a frame.

After setting up our documents we moved onto introduction to preparing for print. We began by learning how to find information on the images within the document in order to check their actual and effective PPI, as well as the colour settings for the document. Once all of those settings had been checked we started to look at how to export the document as a PDF for print, this included making sure the correct version of PDF was chosen, making sure the document was exported as spreads instead of pages, including marks and bleeds, and checking the correct colour conversion setting is selected.

Once the document has been exported as a PDF it can be opened in Acrobat Pro where you can use the colour output preview settings to make sure the document is exported correctly, as this is how the printing company will view your document when you send it to them.

Finally we looked at doing our own imposition for our documents, despite the fact most printing companies will do this for you it is handy to know in case they request you do your own or for printing your own mock ups before going to print. This stage included a lot of technical information as Adobe InDesign is not designed well for doing imposition, in order to correctly impose our documents we had to add a postscript file to our software. Once this had been done we went through the process of creating imposition preset using this postscript file as the printer. Using this preset we selected print booklet, chose the booklet type we wanted and the signature sizes and printed the file. This file when printed had to be saved with a .ps extension instead of an .indd extension, the .ps file could be opened once saved and then exported as a PDF which is the file type most printing companies will request.

This induction was incredibly helpful, especially preparing for print. Previously I had been afraid to produce books as final outcomes for my projects as I was unsure on how to correctly set up a document and how to do the imposition for my pages, although I could easily find information online on how to set up a document I was unable to on how to impose my pages therefore this information was invaluable to me. Since doing this induction I plan on creating many more as part of my coursework as I can now confidently and efficiently create the documents and print them, therefore allowing me to focus more time on creating high quality content.

Introduction to Better Typography

In this induction we learnt how to use many of the features and functions in Adobe InDesign for typography. We began by learning how to reveal hidden characters within a block of text, which is especially useful if the text is provided to you by a client as you are able to see where paragraphs have been inserted. Then we moved onto how to apply paragraph styles and special character styles, as well as how to insert footnotes, hanging punctuation, ligatures, tabs, indents, bullets and rules. Other important skills we learned was how to balanced ragged text and remove runts/stubs, which is something that is always necessary when working with large bodies of type.

Out of all of the software inductions I have been to so far I felt that this one has definitely been the most beneficial to me. With many software packages a lot of the information can be learnt online however this induction covered a wide range of skills and tips that I otherwise would not have thought to look up or would have struggled to find information on, for example how to reveal hidden characters which is not a function I would have ever thought to use.

Introduction to InDesign


Adobe InDesign is important in graphic design and illustration for producing publications and other printed material. This workshop not only equips me for producing my own publications and printed material in the future but also helps me in producing the  ‘Learning the Ropes’ typography archive that I am currently working on and which has to be produced in Adobe InDesign.

We started by setting up a new document and becoming familiar with the different options that can be adjusted; intent, facing pages, columns, gutter, margins, bleed and slug. Once the document was set up we became familiar with the pasteboard and adding, moving pages and placing images. To add content to the pages we first looked at type which has many different options available, more than the other Adobe softwares. For producing typography you have control over the font, font size, colour etc. like most design software however you also have control over the leading, tracking, kerning, vertical scale, baseline shift, skew, overrunning text and paragraph formatting.

Colours are another important part of the software as you can mix and add colours to the swatches palette , however for more accurate colours you can use the Pantone system which is mainly for text or large blocks of text. To use the system you can purchase different swatches books from Pantone for different stocks of paper, you can then select the colour you want from the book and enter the Pantone number into InDesign which will then select that exact colour on screen. This ensures that when you print your work it will be the same colour as it was in the Pantone colour swatch book.

Out of all the software introductions I have been to so far I have found this one to be the most useful. I started this introduction with no knowledge of the software, where as with the other introductions I was already familiar with them to some degree, and left feeling confident with using the software independently to produce work which is essential considering its importance to my course.