Just a note that I’m doing a bit of blog reconstruction–so if things seem out of place for a few days, that’s why!
This short project was to design a small business website using WordPress. We were to base it off a subject we know well. I chose my old cello teacher’s private studio, because that’s pretty small-businessy, and since I studied for 10+ years and play semi-professionally, I feel that qualifies as “something I know well.”
This actually came together pretty easily. I chose a template that was designed specifically with small-business promotion in mind (“Lodestar”), which helped in deciding what kind of pages to include and where to place information and how to incorporate the blog component. And as it was designed to showcase big, full images, I grabbed several beautiful images from Pexels and Flickr (all under CC0 license, of course) of cellos and cellists to flesh out the site.
Some of the text came from my old teacher’s Facebook page, and the rest I came up with based on my knowledge of private string teaching.
My only frustration was with the main page header image. I had wanted to give this site a header image with more Photoshop magic. But the template has a black overlay effect on the header image that I can’t remove, which totally destroyed my original design. Ah well.
I’ve already posted a couple of times about the Grevy’s zebra character design process. But now I want to share the process of designing the hangtag that the zebra character was developed for. The idea was to create something that would hang from a plush animal, and would show the illustration of the animal, its name, some good facts about it and its endangered status, and present the WWF logo and proceeds line and a barcode.
I printed the thing and actually hung it on a zebra plushy I have and took a few snaps of that, and it’s adorable, so those will be included too. But first things first: the original concept sketches for the tag.
Not the most exciting tag shapes, I know. At this point, I was primarily concerned with getting some idea of how to incorporate the Ethiopian tibeb patterns, which can be very simple or very complex and use lots of colors. Traditionally, they are patterns made in a strip at the hem of a garment, and can be of varying widths. The most common patterns I saw used in my research were based on diamonds, and that’s what I used.
A couple of examples from good old Google of authentic tibeban:
Figuring out a better die-cut shape came later. It was made by uniting several elongated diamond shapes (it’s everywhere!) stacked over each other.
The magenta guide shows the shape, with the general location of the zebra character. I like its funky angles, and I think people would be more inclined to physically touch it because of its odd and irregular shape. Cute zebra on the front is a bonus.
Onward. Doing the tibeb patterns was really the trickiest bit. The goal was to use several rich and vivid colors in the patterns (in keeping with tibeban Google found for me to draw from), but not too many different colors, and lay “hems” of various patterns next to each other, but have each pattern be distinguishable next to the others, and use bold zebra black and white for text/text-boxes so they would stand out, AND not do anyone’s head in with a crazy jumble. Et voila.
It works! I think. Shown here with die guide and bleeds, which were cut off by my handy X-ACTO blade after printing to some cardstock.
My home printer is a basic inkjet, so there was some color quality loss, but not too bad. Gluing two funky shapes back-to-back while trying to get the edges and corners lined up just right was way harder than I imagined. Which reminded me a) why I don’t do a lot of fiddly crafts (I have big fingertips and no patience) and b) that I need to make myself learn paper cutting (I need more dexterity and patience). Sisyphean task? Only time will tell.
Finally, for the best part of this whole project: the plushy with the hangtag on it. Just to be clear, I did not go to a store and buy this plushy just for this occasion. I already had it. Yep.
The culmination of the standards manual prep mentioned in the last post, here is my take on the Crucible identity guidelines. This is the front cover image only, but clicking on it should open the whole PDF document.
Document assembled in InDesign; some of the more image-heavy layouts created in Illustrator; mockups done in Photoshop.
Now, honesty time. This project was a bit overwhelming, due to the large scope of it and just how many moving pieces there were to manage. But we were given just the regular two-week timeframe for it, with a round of feedback at about the mid-point. And I know, the real world. But as this is a classroom assignment, and something probably none of us has ever done before, it would be much better spread over three weeks. Not just because of how big the project is, but also because then there could be a second round of review. Speaking for myself, I really wish we’d had another peer review session. The first round of review came at such an early stage in the development of this project, that I don’t think it allowed for really useful constructive feedback.
Generally, I’m happy with the overall output, but I’m also conscious of the weak spots. For instance, I could never quite land on a cover design that was really it; this one here is just what I decided was “finished enough.” If I decide to include this in my portfolio later, I’ll definitely come back to this and retool those spots.
For now, here’s a mockup of the cover and some of the interior pages in a magazine-like form, which is roughly how I envision this would be printed.
The finished version of the zebra character is here! Changes made between the WIP2 version and this one are kind of minimal, but I think they make her look better overall: the right arm was pulled away from her body to be less likely to “disappear” from the arm and body stripes blending. Accordingly, the stripes and shadows were adjusted.
Also, green background this time, just to be different. Actually, the three background colors I’ve shown so far are, funnily enough, the three main colors I’m using in the patterns on the hangtag, which I will post here when it’s done.
And now for the zebra!
This is also an assignment, in a different class, but I’m posting it just because I want to. (Hey, maybe I’m starting to like doing this sketchblog thing! But I better not consider that too much, or it’ll run away.)
This is part of an ongoing project that will ultimately result in making a custom die-cut hangtag for a plushy, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund. (NB: I’m unclear if the WWF is actually part of this assignment in any real way. I don’t imagine so. But it’d be pretty cool if they are.) I chose Grevy’s zebra as my animal to base a character on, mostly because zebras have been my favorite animal forever.
In a previous life (read: high school), I drew TONS of characters with my friends. We were into really nerdy things and loved to draw, so it happened. But for some reason, I was anxious about doing this. I felt like I suddenly knew nothing about creating an anthropomorphic character (which is patently untrue) and have second-guessed myself every step of the way. Maybe that’s because this one is for a grade. Or maybe my brain just hates me that much. Who knows.
Anyway, here is the process so far: the original sketch, the first WIP, and the second WIP. The differences between the two WIPs are mostly shading and making the smile and eyes bigger for a cuter effect.
She’s cute. I now have this idea to build a story around her and do some spreads that would be fit for a children’s book. I’m sure I can get that done in my copious spare time.
This project involves creating something I didn’t even know existed until I started on it: a graphic standards manual. Sometimes also called an identity manual or identity guidelines. I started by looking around for some that I really liked and that I might draw inspiration from in creating this one for a client called Crucible–a design competition organization that closed up shop a few years ago but is reopening. We were given the organization’s logo treatments, and that’s it! They have no web presence at the moment, so there’s no checking them out to get a better read on them.
So after much looking around and absorbing ideas, I came up with the below 40-odd thumbnails. Most are iterations of the same spread, but toward the back end I tried to get at least one idea down per spread, so far as I’d worked out what the spreads would be. The last section of the booklet I’m planning to be a kind of gallery of examples of the logo and colors in use, probably image-heavy with mockups, but I didn’t end up doing any thumbnails for those pages yet.
Based on the logo provided, and especially its colors, my sense at this stage of the organization’s ethos involves the words competitive, bold, creative. Going off my thumbnails, I created a couple of roughs for the cover and for a section head kind of spread.
It’s immediately clear I’m not just using red, black, and white in my color scheme, (although those are the primary colors). I chose to add two secondary colors, a royal violet blue (shown above) and a gold. If the names don’t recommend them clearly enough, the royal violet blue suggests, well, royalty, an upper tier. And gold suggests victory and quality. Both, I think, bolster the organization’s ethos and purpose.
Both secondary colors will be used, with the red from the logo, around the booklet in full spreads like this one, and in smaller applications to highlight information or just add visual interest to a page. The black and white will also be prominent, as white will be the most common background, and black the most common text color.
Finally, I want to mention the two manuals I used as inspiration: the identity guidelines for the Barbican, and the manual for Fogg, a “borderless internet” company. I really love the big, bold typography and negative space use in the Barbican’s, and the creative use of color in both is inspiring. Plus, they both have a minimalist focus I like and want to aim for in mine.
For the empty book project, I chose to develop one of the cat book concepts: Cats Who Approve of You. I have several cats (I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before), all of whom are snide and snooty and very disapproving of me and my husband, or any human. So the idea of an empty book purporting to be about cats who do approve of you struck me as quite funny, since really, there are none to be found anywhere.
I wanted the design to communicate the snobbery of cats. The idea of a cat in a pose of walking away from you was there from the first. And the cat’s rear had to be on the front cover, because that is the ultimate in cat flippancy. Continuing with that, I landed on the idea of an antique, florid background pattern complete with (dancing?) crowns to really make the point that cats know they are better than you.
The book was recently printed by Lulu, so I’m going to share the pictures of the cover from the real thing. There’s even a picture of the spine (and a bit of my fingers holding the book)! If you want to see that sort of thing.
To find out about the process and whatnot, read on.
Here’s how things looked at a point in the process where I’d created the pattern, mostly, and the cat, also mostly. I’d also spent quite a while fiddling with the title text, getting every letter placed, but no other text had been done yet.
And here’s the final(ish) version–the version to turn in for the assignment, anyway. All the text is in, some of the text colors have changed, AND there are now cheeky little crowns in the pattern.
That space on the back is set aside for the barcode and the Lulu identification number. According to the Lulu’s FAQ database, you’re not expected to upload your cover art with a barcode already there–or it won’t print–which makes sense. But looking at it, it looks a little empty as is.
There are still tweaks to be made to the design before getting it printed, but overall I’m happy with the character of this. I hope I’m not just incredibly biased toward my own awesome self. But book cover design is something I really want to get into professionally. So I know I’m going to be poring over the teensiest details of this before printing.
UPDATE: The tweaks were made, as you can see in the actual book cover images above. Also, you might notice that this book printed without a barcode. Why? I don’t know, but since I followed Lulu’s directions about the cover, I would like to find out. But that’s going to take some emailing back and forth, most likely, so for now it stands as is.
For this project, we’re creating an empty or blank book built around the concept of something that doesn’t exist. You know the kind, you’ve probably seen them in the novelty racks in Target or in friends’ bathrooms. Something like “Ugly Bunnies” or “Dragons on Public Transport.” (Heck, that last one is pretty good–almost wish I’d gone with that.) And sometime before the end of the term, we’re to get it printed via Lulu.com.
Anyway, here are the thumbnails I came up with for the book cover. Very many silly ideas. The last four are specific to certain fandoms, Game of Thrones and Supernatural. In a perfect world, I would have done one of those because they were my very favorite ideas. But I didn’t feel comfortable creating (and printing!) something derived from copyrighted work. And the cat and dinosaur concepts were both in close second, so it wasn’t hard to make a decision.
What idea did I ultimately choose to develop? Find out next time…