Sunday, 18 December 2011

Can I have another minute?

Maybe it's a little self-indulgent to keep posting the same work, but when this amount of time has been spent on it, I feel slightly more justified.

In order to get a feel for how the magazine/editorial article might look and work, I used black and white copies to construct a couple of dummy books - one for each chapter.

Chapter one was assembled with a messy sellotape approach - I cut out the pages to their actual size, taped the relevant pages back-to-back, and then taped the spine. Chapter two was done slightly differently:

Due to a lack of A2 paper I avoided this technique with the first chapter, but upon attempting it with chapter two I found it worked reasonably well on A3. The pages are left uncut - with crop marks left showing, and the book itself is essentially made up from blank A3 sheets. My pages are simply mounted upon these blank sheets.

Neither is a pretty picture on close inspection, but this wasn't the main reason for doing it - the two dummy books do their job in showing how the chapters themselves would flow - something which mounting individual pages (which is my next task) can't show.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


A while ago I posted about how I'd be producing spreads for a children's book adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark", and that it wouldn't be long before posting some of my actual artwork for it.

Two months later...

It's been a bit stop-start this one - I think I've known how it's going to look since deciding on my story (not really advisable, but never mind), and as such have struggled to motivate myself to disappoint my imagination by actually putting it down on paper. I've finally relented, and produced these over the last few weeks/two months. I imagine this'll be something which occupies me over Christmas.

The imagery needed to be mysterious, but also fairly vibrant and quirky. Backgrounds will be in pastel, with the dreadful drawings seen here laid over the top drawn digitally.

These two show slightly better how a finished page would look - having two spreads out of thirteen dummied up is slightly behind schedule... But at least I know where it's roughly going.

I'll probably post more of this kind of thing when it actually looks good - anywhere from two months to two years then!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Can I have a minute?

When tinkering with something as specific as letterforms, kerning, widows and the like, the only satisfaction is viewing the final thing and seeing no further improvements to make.

Unfortunately, that point never comes - we only ever get to the point where we say "Yeah, it's pretty good, and that's where I'll leave it". Never satisfied.

Anyway, I'm rather sick of looking at these, so you can look at them instead.

If you've no idea what they're about then look here. Don't try and read the type, it's latin (although I may have left the word "phallus" lurking about in there somewhere...).

I wanted chapter 2 to visually link in, and achieved this with use of a signature colour, a similar bookended approach, and similar typographic features. I decided to slightly change the pace by using more imagery in chapter 2 - this keeps it from looking too stagnant (or at least that's the plan!).

Right, there's one battle fought and won - the weapons for my second battle may or may not include the following instruments: spray mount, a scalpel, and a strongly-worded email to the people who provide the toner in the Uni printers.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Chugging away

We've all been there - you're trying to get to where you're going down the high street, and you can't walk five steps without the man in the red coat stopping you. You know the one - he carries a clipboard, pushes his face right in front of yours, and won't take no for an answer.

A writer in the Metro a few years back coined the term "chuggers" - a combination of "charity" and "muggers", as what they appear to do is forcibly take money of people in the name of charity. Anyone who has ever visited Wolverhampton will probably know that here it is a problem more prevalent than in a lot of places. When our editorial piece was to be on "social, political or economical issue" in the city, then, it didn't take me long to decide on this as the topic to design for.

Three double-page spreads were wanted for the problem we were dealing with, and three were wanted for our response, or a potential solution. Each set of three was to contain between 2,500 and 3,000 words of body copy. I've mostly designed chapter 1:

The red mirrors the mental image we have of the man I mentioned earlier. Plenty of charities use it as their primary colour - it's distinctive and bold, as well as iconic. I wanted to book-end the piece with the large red pages at either end to ease the transition from chapter 1 to chapter 2, and also to keep the design from looking too similar throughout. This way, the central spread is more of interest due to the photograph.

I need to start designing chapter 2 now. Hmmm, solutions to chuggers...? Should be fun.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Out of Logos Cometh Animation

I promised (what an anti-climax) to post my finished logo animation, so here it is.

The logo was a simple concept (see here), so the animation was made simple too. The three-tone sequence was chosen to mirror the three coloured strokes, along with the three words in the strapline. I'm no sound technician though, so don't judge on the quality of the sounds themselves - they more give an indication as to the kind of jingle which would accompany the movement.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Out of Darkness Cometh Logos

The organisation at Uni never fails to amaze me. Upon enrolling on the "Applied New Media" module I was reassured that there would be no clashes in me taking this module along side the others, despite me being the only student in that module not taking a year-long Graphics module alongside it. I was keen to do the module, as it dealt with things I hadn't ever looked at, and hadn't really been given the chance to until now.

Our first brief? To animate a logo. Brilliant, I thought - what kind of logo were they looking for us to animate? Only the logo the rest of the group would be creating in the year-long module I was not a part of.

Not to worry though (and apologies for those who I've confused with my description of our confusing Uni module-ing system), as I was able to knock up a logo with some time to spare. The logo was to be a corporate design for the city of Wolverhampton.

Treating Wolverhampton as a product to be marketed was not an easy task - as anyone who has visited may be willing to testify. But, for what Wolves lacks in immediately engaging beauty, it makes up for with the quality of the people. Wolves is a diverse place, full of a variety of ethnicities, religions, and classes, and what's struck me more and more as I live within the city is the striking way in which this does not seem to cause division. All told, there's a fairly unified spirit within the area - which has helped the city to grow.

Anyway, sociology aside, that's where my design started, and it was realised via the use of strokes which not only overlap, but strive in a similar direction. Different colours were used to signify the diversity in the city.

I'm not expecting any phone-calls from the council with monetary offers, but I reckon this logo will be good enough to showcase the small amount of Flash knowledge I've picked up over the last few weeks. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Snark Hunting

The illustration module I'm doing this year is a year-long brief in which we will produce (after roughs, storyboards etc.) a full-colour dummy book for children. We were to choose either an existing tale in the form of story, song poem or legend, or we were free to write our own. The narrative should be designed to run over 13 double-page spreads.

I umm-ed and ahh-ed over where to find my story from, and eventually stumbled across this brilliant source. I've always loved Lewis Carroll's playfulness with words, and the way in which his tales and poems instantly spark the imagination into working - it's impossible to read any of his work without seeing images running through your head.

The poem I have chosen to adapt is "The Hunting of the Snark" which you can find in full here. It's quite lengthy, but well worth a read if you appreciate nonsense and a playfulness with rhythm and prose. The below illustrations by Tove Jansson are a lovely introduction to some of the characters.

We were asked to write a synopsis of the story we would be re-creating so I wrote this: 

"The original is split into eight “fits” or chapters. Each four-line verse within the fits has a rhyming pattern where the third line rhymes with the first, and the fourth with the second. It is written in a playful way, but there is a darkness lurking in the form of the Snark throughout.

We are introduced to a ship's crew of ten, who arrive in a place which is “just the place for a Snark”. We are informed that their aim is to capture the creature, as “you may serve it with greens,/And it's handy for striking a a light.” On arriving, the Bellman (the character clearly in charge) tells the rest of the crew the different signs to look for in a Snark. The Baker also shares a tale told by his uncle – a tale about the danger of “Boojum Snarks”, for when one of these is encountered you will “softly and suddenly vanish away”.

The crew set out to hunt – two characters (the Beaver and the Butcher, who before this event do not get on) explore a valley and come across a Jubjub bird. The Beaver manages to save them, with a strange combination of mathematics and a knowledge of natural history. During the hunting, the Barrister falls asleep and dreams of a strange scenario involving the Snark, a pig, and a court hearing. Finally, the Banker is attacked by a Bandersnatch and loses his sanity – despite trying to pay the creature off. The Baker then disappears off ahead, and the others follow after. They hear him yell “It's a Snark! It's a Boo-” and then silence falls. The suggestion that the Snark he encountered was in fact a Boojum is confirmed by Carroll at the end of the poem.

This story will be edited down so as to form a children's story – elements such as the Barrister's dream, and several of the ten characters will be cut out. The story will still be coherent, carrying the essential elements of the hunting, the encounters with the Jubjub and the Bandersnatch, and the disappearance of the Baker."

That's where I'm at so far - the brief will take all year to come to fruition, so expect to hear more. Next step: character creation.

Thursday, 6 October 2011



I recently started a new module called "Applied New Media Design" - sounds exciting doesn't it?  I originally chose this module in order to add another string to my bow, and learn about some new sortware and techniques.

Here's what I made the first time I used Flash:

We were given the two words, and the task was to animate them in a way which reflected their meaning. I was keen to show a relationship between the two, so as to avoid the two animations seeming static.

I'm really pleased with the result, it only took me around 45 minutes. Obviously it's littered with slight errors, but I'm trying not to get too hung up on it.

Friday, 2 September 2011

"Every plan is a tiny prayer to Father Time"

It's a rightly assumed notion that students are disorganised. We turn up to places late, leave important items in unimportant places, and forget most plans we make (plans that don't involve food, nights out, and lie-ins of course). It's also an assumed notion that Christians can be pretty disorganised (head in the clouds maybe?), so a combination of the two could be seen by many to be foolish and potentially dangerous.

That's exactly what a University Christian Union is! A group of disorganised students spreading the message of God's love - through planning events, studies, missions and the like. A great thing, a vital thing. But we're students - surely we can't be relied upon to know where we need to be when....?

Think again!

Behold the term-card (front and back) which will inform our Christian Union members of what's happening week-by-week (until they lose it of course).

Joking aside, we felt it would be a good thing to do - what we're about is important stuff, and so us being organised will help us to do our important stuff, Proverbs 16:9 willing of course... I show it to you good people not so you know what's going on exactly (although feel free to pray for us), but because it's kind of design-y.

I was influenced by the idea of negative space in order to make the leaves appear as though they've dropped through the central channel. I also wanted to create a timetable which was clear and accessible, but not dry and boring. I achieved the first via this channel, and the second via the lop-sided nature of the arrows.

Signing off now, I've got to go and... Wait, what was I going to do?

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Superhero signage

After that marathon, a quickie.

I recently went on a Christian kids' camp for 11-14s, on which the theme was "Superheroes", and beforehand was asked to cobble together some signs for rooms. The names of said rooms were already decided upon (the gym became the "Action Arena", the chill-out room became "The Bat Cave" - you get the idea). A lot of the designs I produced weren't exactly stuff I'd put in a portfolio, but they were fun, and I thought I'd share one or two with you here.

Each dorm had a different superhero as their name:

I used images stolen from Google, and sub-standard design software to put them together, but the idea comes through anyway. The toilets were also themed:

But my favourite design was this one:

In case you haven't figured it out - this was the name of the swimming pool for the week. Those of you who know me will know that I won't use image if text suffices, and here was a chance to do just that.

Getting back on the bike

That's exactly what I did recently actually. Having not ridden for almost two years I jumped on yesterday and rode the best part of twenty miles.

This post isn't really anything to do with cycling, but starting riding again yesterday was a useful (if tenuous) parallel to me beginning to create things again. After a few weeks of not really creating any visuals, and not producing any blog-worthy work, I'm getting back on the bike and writing proposals for projects to be begun come September. I've no work to show from that yet, but it brought to my attention that I haven't posted anything on here for a while, and that I'd better get back in practice by mentioning some of the things I have been doing over summer. 

I guess this is me getting back on the blogcycle...

My first port of call was a simple task for the University's Christian Union - a new logo. It was a project which me and my friend Becky were keen to get started on - a logo design for a group you're a part of is quite a nice challenge to take on.

For most of you, this will be a fairly boring visual, but I'm a bit dull and pathetic, so this kind of thing excites me. We wanted something which looked fairly corporate, but also had an element of fun. We achieved the latter by messing with the characteristic of the type - removing the dots on the "i"s and shortening the ascender on the "t". We struggled with the clumsiness of having such a long title, but this was solved by using different weights of a nifty little font we discovered called Avenir. The green was chosen not as an absolute solution, instead we decided that this colour could be changed depending on the situation it was used in.

Linked to the design of this was a project to design a motif to be displayed on the front of hoodies worn by CU members - partly as an unifying identity sort of thing, but mostly in order to convey the particular message we had chosen as our motto text: "I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full". Below are some of the ideas generated for the design of the hoodie: (these were mostly thrown out, but may well be recycled at a later date)

These are in no way complete designs - I was merely using the pages of a PDF document as a sketchbook. The idea was to show that life can only be "full" with Jesus - but we wanted to avoid the cheesy, over-the-top Christian design solution (you know what I mean) and go for something a bit simpler, with an interactive feel. I won't talk any more on the matter - once we have the hoodies themselves I shall post some images of them themselves.

That's quite enough for one post, I've said far too much and communicated very little. Ahh, it's good to be back.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


I've a lot to say about this work, so I'll cut to the chase.

Our final typography project of the year (yeah, already) was to create a leaflet which promotes walking to families, in order to keep them healthy and fit (see here). We were provided with the body copy, and a logo for the commissioning charity, but the rest was up to us.

The leaflet was a clumsy size to work with - imagine two landscape A4's next to one another, and then folded into 6 - creating 12 "sides" which were 210 by 99. Not easy to mock up, not particularly easy to print either. What it did offer though, was a wide scope for spreading the text over the sides quite nicely - there was a chance to experiment with scale, juxtaposition and colour, and I feel I did all these things fairly well.

If you click and zoom, you should be able to read the thing. The colours haven't coped well with the transfer from INDD to PDF to JPG, but you get the gist of what I was trying to do. You'll have to use your imagination as to where the page divdes are, as I didn't export the marks. This is the "inside", because when concertinaed the front and back pages needed to be on the reverse of the printout... seen here. The black and white section in the centre is a poem which was to be present on the leaflet - I wanted this to appear a separate idea to the rest of the information - to make it stand out, but also so as to add variance in the design, lest it become boring.

I feel the type hangs quite well in the leaflet, especially on the first few pages in the inside, and the overall image I feel works. The image of the walking man at the start gives a feel of walking through the leaflet, helped by the colours. I'm quite pleased with it, my only concern would be that the poem looks perhaps too much of a separate entity to the main body, but in its own right I'm happy with the poem too.

I'll admit I wasn't enjoying doing this when I began the sketches, but the piece turned into something I really enjoyed - a culmination of a few skills I've learned this year, and a fairly decent end to this particular type module.

Monday, 11 April 2011

The invasion of the paper people

My flatmates think I've gone mad, and, with a title like that, you probably do too.

As an art and design student it's quite usual for rather uncommon things to become commonplace in my room.... In the past, the odd things hanging around my room have included empty bottles of wine, numerous copies of the Radio Times, and shelf brackets. Recently, the oddity has been chains of paper people.

We were asked to design an illustration for a piece of writing which can be found here. It's well worth a read - the writer is talking about something he calls "Politeness Enforcement Tactics", referencing the way people act towards each other in society. He mentions people placing bags on seats they aren't using, people speeding up to zebra crossings, and people cutting into queues - and then goes on to describe ways in which we can fight against this (the "tactics" I just mentioned).

The dominant story is one of a queue for a bus stop, and the way in which the people in the queue work together to exclude a queue-jumper. I won't explain it all (it's worth reading!), but my ideas were to show a unity between the queue members, and to show an exclusion of the jumper. Hence why I have paper people stuck on my mirror, perched on my windowsill, and sitting on my bookcase.

I guess in part my flatmates were right - using the actual paper people was mad, as it didn't quite work visually in my initial ideas here as I'd hoped it might. So, I literally went back to the drawing board, sketched out some linked people, and created a cityscape collage.

It's a little different to your usual editorial illustration, but I like the hands-on feel of the collage. It has a diagrammatic look to it, created by using grid paper, which links in to the clinical nature of the people-chain. Probably the greatest difficulty was in transferring the visual from paper onto screen, although it did give me chance to tweak a few things that weren't quite right.

I'm not going to lie, I hated this project. I struggled to get a grip with what the article needed in terms of an illustration - and this came out in my early sketches. However, I am pleased that I was able to work through it and produce a piece which is by no means fantastic, but just about fits the bill.

I'm keeping the paper people up in my room (in case you were wondering). It'd be wrong to throw them away after I went to all the trouble of naming them...

"She kicked and screamed while I held her throat" (part 2)

Basically I've been sat on this final piece for a while now, finishing other work whilst this only needed one or two tweaks. I've finished it now though - if you've no idea what I'm on about then you'll have to look here.

I think both sides of the CD cover have a sort of vintage photo feel - they look old and faded, and yet still have the sinister feel I was after (created by a complex system of spotlights before the shot was taken). One regret I have is not to have had more variance between the front and back covers, but to do so I would have had to set the shot up again, and learn a lot more about photography!

On a positive though, the hand-drawn text fits fairly well with the theme - on the front it sits uncomfortably next to a happy image - this is similar to the reason I used the lighting the way I did, in that it suggests that not all is well in a subtle way. Overall, I feel the cover fits the music itself quite well. If you disagree let me know, and if you haven't heard the songs then I recommend them to you.

Sunday, 10 April 2011


For our last project in our "skills module" we were directed to use Illustrator in order to create a visual based on the title "Where I live". I love the idea of a title like this - it's just vague enough, and yet just specific enough to come up with some interesting ideas.

I came up with the idea that living in halls is a little like living in a box. Bear with me...

As a fairly large human being, any room would seem small to me, but the rooms in Lomas are small for most, and between my room and the poky kitchen, I have very little space which is mine. There's something very organised about halls - a corridor with several doors off of it - it feels like we've all been compartmentalised.

Wow, I feel all fine-arty again. The second box-comparison I can make is the quality of the living arrangements here. Since moving in last September we've encountered an ant infestation, mould, a lack of heating for the whole of winter, a broken oven, mould, broken doors, mould, and now the return of the ants... Not entirely unlike living in a box then.

I expressed this sentiment through the text, and exaggerated the angles in the visual. The box graphic was constructed around a live-traced photo of a hunched-up me, which I sketched over with the pencil tool. I added the shadow to give depth. It has a fairly quick, graphic feel to it.

Overall, I'm happy with the piece - given a longer period of time I may have created something more complex, but this fulfils the brief quite well. Roll on July, when I move into a bigger box.

Saturday, 2 April 2011


Having a blog is a bit like having a pet. They're fun to play with, you get love through them, and yet they take effort to keep looking nice - whether that be cleaning out a bowl, or taking them for a walk to keep them fit (and to stop them breaking things in the house). After a while the effort becomes a little too much, and the neglect sets in, until you rediscover the pet, forgotten and dying under the bed.

Is it obvious I've never had a pet?

I haven't posted much recently (as that ridiculous spiel was supposed to tell you), and this is either because I've produced so much work I just haven't had time to blog it, or it's because I haven't produced any work worth blogging about. I'll let you decide on that one.

Things are slow at the moment - briefs are tiring, inspiration is hard to come by, and deadlines are looming (which invariably has a negative effect on the creative side of my brain). Ah well, there's always the sweet haven of typography, my newly found geeky obsession. Oh wait...

This is about as exciting as it gets at the moment:

To be honest, I find the layout sheets can often be more exciting than the finished pieces of typography work I've been doing. They're sketchy, colourful, and contain a lot more freedom than the finished leaflet here will.

The leaflet to is promote a charity who encourage families to walk more (yawn) - in order to benefit them health-wise. The main challenge so far (aside from the challenge of the wording being appalling) has been organising the text over twelve sides of leaflet. We can't use images, just graphic marks and lines etc., so it's difficult to fill the space and make it look appealing.

Hopefully I'll have more work to show for my efforts soon - once the countless doodles in sketchbooks buck their ideas up and become fully-fledged masterpieces. Until that day I'll keep scribbling and praying for inspiration...

Friday, 11 March 2011

This is a post about an ex-girlfriend.

Well, actually, it isn't.

It's nice to have fans. Having fans was something I've never really considered would happen to me, but since starting this blog there's been a certain individual who compliments my work almost every time he sees me, often before a "hello". Great feedback to have, and I guess it makes me want to treat my work as something for others, rather than just myself.

Anyway, before this becomes some kind of acceptance speech I'll cut to the chase.

Above is a sketch I took at a recent acoustic evening, hosted in the SU. Do I sound odd if I say it's a moving experience to draw whilst listening to your subject play music? Probably, but it's true - must be a weird arty-brain thing. Anyway, if you haven't already guessed, the sketch is of the person I mentioned earlier, as he happened to be playing on the same night I decided to take my sketchbook.

I took the image, blew it up, and traced over with Promarkers, before adding detail with black fineliners.

It's a far from perfect image, I still struggle with people - but if it was 100% accurate then it may as well be a photograph. I enjoyed producing this - drawing was made easier by the fact that I appreciate Ellis' work the same as he appreciates mine (even if a great deal of his songs use "This is a song about an ex-girlfriend" by way of introduction).

Anyway, leaving behind the mutual appreciations and the imperfections, I'm pleased with the results here - a character appears on the page, and I may be finding an artistic niche in which to use Promarkers.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Keeping busy

Recently I have been fortunate enough to have had real projects to be getting on with, in the form of publicity for a couple of events.

Firstly, I was asked by my mum and dad to design a flyer inviting friends and family for a joint celebration of their 50th birthdays, a party which took place last weekend. "Aha!", I thought, rubbing my hands at the prospect of caricaturing them... I wasn't too mean, it's not really my bag.

These are the two designs I sent them, and they plumped for the top one. The party was a strange idea (Dad was 50 last summer, Mum this), so it was important to communicate this in a way which was simple, yet interesting, something I believe was achieved quite well through the "nearly" and "and a bit" comments. The tag-line "Celebrating a Century of Life" helps add to this interest in a light-hearted way. The whole look had a digital look to it, with the characters almost avatar-like in appearance, so a digital, squared face seemed apt for the wording.

The second was a simple job, and one I didn't really have to do much work on - I'll post it anyway...


My flatmate's girlfriend graduated from Wolves last year from doing Fine Art, and is involved with this show, going on in London at the start of June. She provided me with the text, and the layout for the text - I was required to provide a backdrop, choose a typeface, and to draw attention to both the "Platform C" and "Emergent art show 2011" being a separate, more important ideas.

I went for an arty style by including a wash of pastels - this allows the text to be read clearly, but also allows for depth in tone. I suppose whilst I'm posting I should probably plug the thing - the website's (ignore the poster address, we had to get that changed) if you want to know anything about that.

I suppose I should crack on with some work I'm going to be graded on... Hmmm.