I’ve been distracted in the past three weeks: 1) because I’ve had a much needed break with my mum in the Yorkshire Dales 2) because I have been generally depressed by my husband’s plight (and mine). and 3) because I’ve had a bad back. In this lull in course work development I have been musing on what I will do next .. probably in my next illustration course. I’ve been reading a fabulous book written by artist and writer Marion Coutts about her husband’s diagnosis with a brain tumour. The book is called The Iceberg. It’s a brilliant, moving and poetic account of the gradual diminution of a vibrant person. This set me thinking about how to express my feelings about my husband’s condition, very similar to the man she was writing about in the sense that it’s the same type of tumour, and though in a different location, also affected his speech and understanding. My husband has difficulties with communication, and his speech produces some very odd language, sometimes quite funny. I’ve been writing these strange words down and feel that I want to find a way to illustrate some of the things he is going through, as a way of inching towards some understanding myself. I am not sure if I can find a way of integrating this into the graphic design course but if not I will save these thoughts for later. What has stimulated this post is that I have just come across this publication from Nobrow which is packed with good ideas about the brain and will I am sure, kick start my ideas for a long term project. The book is called Neurocomic and there’s a video about it here.
That was like a hard days work…. I know a lot more about InDesign now, but there are still a few features that fox me. This layout, of a double page spread from The National Trust magazine, was over the top in a number of ways: angles, colour, boxes, images…. BUt there were only two fonts used and mostly only one, which pulled it all together, and despite the lack of any consistent grid, the typeface, used for the most part in lower face only, even for headlines, made it work. There were some frills which really were over the top, and some gradients in boxes. Some boxes had dropped shadows (I have retained some) and others a torn paper effect. There is only so much clutter the eye can take. But overwhelmingly despite all the clutter and business, it does work. I’ve fiddled with the edges of this, and tried new things but for the most part I could not improve upon it.
I’m getting better at using InDesign, and have found a good set of iPad video tutorials on InDesign which have helped enormously. It also helps to have Leanne at work to ask for tips! I’m pleased with the design layout from the Guardian newspaper I copied, since it forced me to learn a few new InDesign tricks. It was more of a technical challenege than a design challenge though, as I didn’t then reexamine the design and push it in different directions. It felt too busy a page to do that! So, I’ll have another go with another design.
I’ve been looking at book jacket designs. What still stands out after all these years is the classic Penguin design, and some vestiges of that design can still be found in sound contemporary Penguin design, and the logo remains largely the same. I looked at Random House jackets and found that they vary hugely. It was difficult to find common design factors. So I looked instead at Dorling Kindersley. All Dorling Kindersley designs are bold and striking. They are have a big bold visual and usually are multi coloured. There is always a striking use of typography, big and bold in a straight strip at the top, in the middle or ocassions lily at the base. The font varies from a classic Serif to a classic San Serif, and typefaces are quite often picked out in gold, and if not in a bright colour. They are memorable, draw the eye, and the best are fun, packed with clues about the inside of the book.
I’ve been looking at a few magazines and papers to analyse grid layout. I’ve worked out that the Guardian has a tight grid within which all the pages of the paper operate. This is five columns wide and six sections high, plus a header. This busy grid provides lots of opportunities for variety, while maintaining an overall consistency of approach. By contrast a lot of magazines have no discernible grids, and seem to vary the layout massively from page to page: sometimes using the two thirds one third model, somethings half and half, and sometimes in quarters. The National Trust magazine (see below) has five columns too, but no consistent divisions down the page. This is more flexible and open, but the five columns help to provide structure. The TV listings magazine has four columns and upwards is divided into three sections, but this doesn’t seem to follow through on all pages.