Part 5 – Exercise 7: The French Hen

Newton and Ridley, the brewers best known for their pub, The Rovers Return, are opening a cafe/wine bar nearer the city centre. The bar is designed to appeal to younger women and sophisticated young men. The brewery has identified a gap in the market and wants to provide a ’sophisticated and relaxed’ venue for the ‘discerning’ drinker. This bar is to be called the French Hen and will be in direct competition with the cheap ‘binge drinking’ venues on the same street. The brewery is also trying to enhance its own image as a ‘respectable’ alcohol vendor. They want you to develop some ideas for a logo, to be used:
• on covers for the food and cocktail menus
• in colour on the signage outside, and as a cutout for a window detail
• on T-shirts for the staff and paper napkins
• for one side of a beer mat, the other will carry advice on sensible drinking.

There are many conventions that have been developed around the marketing of both bars and products to this age range. You need to be conscious the whole time of avoiding clichés and stereotyping.

Draw up at least three ideas to start with. Be critical of your work. Check it against the information you have here. Will it do what the client wants – and how will you know?  When you have decided which one you are happiest with, mock up the menu covers, the outside sign, the window detail, a T-shirt, paper napkin and beer mat. Does it all still work?

Summary of Requirements

  • Logo for a new cafe / wine bar – the French Hen located near city centre
  • Sophisticated and relaxed venue for the ‘discerning’ drinker
  • Aimed at young women and ‘sophisticated men’
  • In competition with near by ‘binge drinking’ venues.
  • Logo is required for use on food and cocktail menu, signage outside (colour) and cut out for window, napkins, staff T-Shirts, beer mat.


  • French Hen
  • Sophisticated
  • Relaxed
  • Discerning
  • Respectable
  • Cafe / Wine Bar
  • City Centre


To create a logo that visually identifies the French Hen cafe / wine bar.

The logo should be clearly recognisable, and convey the ethos of the wine bar as a sophisticated, relaxed and respectable venue.

As the cafe / wine bar is targeted at ‘discerning’ drinkers, the logo should suggest more expensive quality rather than price-driven quantity.

The logo should be appealing to young women and sophisticated men, equally it should discourage ‘binge drinkers’.

The logo should be original and avoid cliches and stereotypes

The logo should work well on all product types (menus, T-shirts etc.) and at different sizes.

Missing Information

Does the Brewery have a particular style that should be reflected in the French Hen logo?

What is the styling of the venue like? e.g. modern minimalist, shabby chic, opulent luxury, up-market country pub etc. Ideally the logo should reflect the general styling of the venue.

Are there any particular colours that feature in the venue interior styling that could be carried through to the logo?


Other wine bar / cafe logos

I started by researching the logos of other cafes and wine bars. Examples are below.

Typical ‘cliches’?

I felt that typical cliches for a pub or wine bar called the French hen, would most likely be:

  • Images that included a wine bottle or a wine glass
  • The French flag
  • The Eiffel Tower
  • Art Deco styling or fonts (which are often associated with France – particularly Paris), e.g. Limelight from Google Fonts

  • Text resembling a French wine bottle label


vs Contemporary Styling?

Styling which I felt was quite contemporary and popular at the moment, includes:

  • Minimalist, light weight, sans serif line fonts
  • Line drawings
  • Botanical-style drawings and general Victoriana / Hipster styling
  • Watercolour


Idea Generation

I drew a mind map to think about words, images, concepts and ideas for a logo for the French Hen:

I also did some general searching on the internet for inspiration

I then sketched out some ideas:

and identified some fonts that I thought would work in the logo:

The following are from Google Fonts:

I selected three ideas to take further and draw up.

Proposed Designs






I reviewed the designs with my husband and together we selected the logo of the outline of the hen. We felt the minimalist styling of this logo had a contemporary feel with a hint of ‘modern art’ about it, suggesting sophistication. However the image of the hen was quite young and fun.


Looking at the work of other students, I noticed that many of them were superimposing their logos onto photographs of objects to create the mockups. After doing some research on-line, I have learnt that this is a very typical method that designers use to showcase their logo designs in context.

I looked on-line for some free mockup templates that I could use. Sites such as and were useful resources for free mockups, although I did struggle a bit to find mockups for all the items I had to create. Understanding how to manipulate other people’s PSD files was also a bit of a challenge when I could not quite understand what the author of the mockup had done to create the file.

I decided that I wanted my French Hen logo to be displayed as white on a black background. The final mock ups are below:

Does the Logo Work?

Although my selected logo was quite simple, I was pleased with it and I thought it did work well on the various mockup items. The only exception is perhaps the outside sign, where I felt the logo would have looked better were the hen looking out onto the street rather than looking towards the wall. Interestingly, I have only now realised that my logo is not easily reversible.

As part of this exercise, I also realised that the colour of the object that the logo is going to be displayed on is an important consideration. If I had included colour in my logo, such as dark blue and then only afterwards found out that all the items it would have been displayed on were to be black, the contrast between the blue and black would not have worked.

I think, therefore, as part of the exercise of logo design, it is important to understand, not just what the logo is to be used for and where it will be displayed, but what are the background colours and textures of the items that the logo will be displayed on.

Thoughts on This Exercise

I enjoyed the process of developing the French Hen logo although I found it quite difficult to think of many original ideas for the designs.  As I have often found with this course, I am frequently torn between trying to think of an original design and wanting to use more ‘obvious’ imagery that viewers will understand, which then feels cliched. I started with exercise determined not to use a drawing of a hen for my logo and yet that was exactly what I ended up with.

This exercise also raised an interesting question of what exactly was a cliche?  Particularly, when does ‘modern and contemporary’ become ‘boring cliche’? I wanted to use a outline drawing for my logo because I felt that this style was quite fashionable and would create a modern and sophisticated logo that young people could connect with, but does ‘fashionable’ make it cliched or not very original, if everyone is doing it?  Perhaps the answer is to produce some designs which are in keeping with current trends and some which are completely different and see what the client makes of them.

Another interesting part of this exercise was my introduction to the world of mockup templates. I realised not only how important it was to understand exactly what the logos would be displayed on but also how much more impact the designs had when they could be seen ‘in situ’. It would be preferable to create a set of mockups specifically for the design task or purchase an appropriate complete set, rather than find random templates on the internet. The quality of the mockup is important for the presentation of the design and should accurately reflect the products the logo is likely to be displayed on, should be the correct colour and have consistent styling across all the items so that the presentation of the mockups has more impact.

Tutor Feedback

My tutor made the following comments on this exercise:

“Your French Hen has appeal – I like his simplicity, how he sits with some nice clean type but also how he seems rather friendly, relaxed and approachable. For these reasons I think he works well to suggest a sophisticated venue that is laid-back which would appeal to the audience. In your critique it would be worth answering the following questions –
• does anything of the logo suggest ‘french’ and how do you tread this tightrope of
connotation, crassness and cliche?
• how would someone know this was a wine bar? Where are the nods to this embedded? (I think there are hints and certain subtle elements that do this but I think it would be healthy for you to articulate this)”

The logo does not have any obvious symbols associated with France such as a bottle of wine or a French flag but I do think the logo hints at being ‘French’ in a more subtle way. The minimalist style gives a sense of elegance, style and sophistication – attributes often associated with being French. I also think the upright stance of the hen’s head and the eye that seems to be looking right at you, is quite proud. Pride in your appearance is again something I associated with being French. My hen could almost be wearing her comb like a beret.

How would someone know this logo was a wine bar? I think the name suggests very much that this is a pub, wine bar or restaurant. “The Something (and) Something” is a very traditional British way to name a pub or restaurant.. ‘The Dog and Duck’, ‘The Golden Hind’, ‘The Fat Duck’. Also using animals in the name also feels quite traditional for a pub, so I would guess that a business called ‘The French Hen’ was, maybe not a traditional pub, due to having ‘French’ in the title but certainly a wine bar, cafe or restaurant.  The line drawing of the Hen is a style which is quite popular with bars and restaurants at the moment. Because the line drawing is quite minimalist and sophisticated, this would hint at a more sophisticated establishment such as a wine bar or smart restaurant.





Part 5 – Exercise 6: Chance Housing Association

The Chance Housing Association has been set up to try and help first time buyers get onto the housing ladder and they want you to develop a brand image for their stationery. It is important to them that the Association is seen as being different from the other local housing associations – more modern, more helpful and definitely welcoming to young people wanting to buy a house. They want to use their logo on their letterheads and office stationery and it will also be used somewhere on the sheets that hold the property details. It also needs to be reproducible in the local newspaper and professional trade magazines.

Using just typography sketch up some designs. You want to come up with at least three initial ideas to show the client. In this instance you can decide which one you think works best to further develop.

Mock up a letterhead and business card using the logo and house brand. Look in
your local newspaper and mock up an advertisement to fit in the paper. Measure the space carefully remembering to leave sufficient margins so your text isn’t cramped.

Photocopy in black and white onto cheap paper – does your logo still work? Have any fine lines got lost? Are the differences between colours still discernible?


Housing Association Logos


Estate Agent Logos

Most of the logos that I looked at for Housing Associations and Estate Agents used the name of the organisation as the logo. The housing associations occasionally also used a small icon but estate agents rarely did. Green and blue were predominant colours for the housing association, presumably for their calming and honest connotations. Estate Agents often used quite strong and eye-catching colours.

I decided I would follow the same style of using the ‘Chance’ name as the logo and use the colour green in the logo.

I then considered the requirements for the logo and made sure I was clear exactly what a housing association did. The brief states that the Chance organisation aims to help first time buyers get on the housing ladder, so I felt that it was aimed less at supporting the vulnerable in society and had more of a commercial feel.

Mind Map

I started by thinking generally about what the Chance organisation stood for and words, ideas and concepts that reflected their business and ethos.

I then began sketching ideas for the logo, exploring how to convey a sense of a ‘helping hand’, a ‘new start’ or a ‘home’ into the typography.

Having spent a considerable amount of time on formulating ideas, reviewing them with my husband and even drawing up my three selected candidates – I then went back and read the brief and realised that my logo was meant to only use typography!!

I went back to my sketchbook and tried our some more design ideas.

After another review, I drew up the following three logo designs using Adobe Illustrator:

This logo uses a modern, simple sans serif font. The ‘C’ overlapping the ‘H’ is intended to suggest security and safety. The ‘A’ represents a house and the hand-drawn quality is intended to look relaxed, friendly and welcoming. Similarly the handwriting style of the words ‘Housing Association’ are intended to give a less formal and welcoming feel.

The outline of steps in this logo is intended to suggest ‘moving up’ and making progress.

Again the ‘C’ in this logo is wrapping around the other letters to suggest security. The overall effect also hints at a house key. This is a simple, modern and minimalist style.

I decided to use the final logo as the one to develop further.

I created a letter head, business card and local paper advert using the selected logo:

Letter Head:

Business Card Front:

Business Card Back:

Newspaper Advert:

I also photocopied the newspaper advert in black and white:

I though the logo looked reasonable in black and white (despite my poor quality printer) but I did think the small ‘Housing Association’ writing was getting a bit lost in black and white.

I tried some different font weights for the words ‘Housing Association’ and photocopied them in black and white:

I decided that the green writing in a bold font looked better in black and white, so I reworked the logo:

I also reworked the letterhead, business card and advert to inlcude the revised logo:


Business Card Front:

Newspaper Advert:

Thoughts On This Exercise

The most important lesson learnt during this exercise is to read the brief properly before starting! I spent a lot of time designing and digitally creating three logos before realising that I was only meant to be using typography. It was very frustrating having to start again!! As it was, I found the process of generating ideas for the logo quite a challenge, given that I could only use type and I was trying to avoid the obvious option of depicting a house.

This exercise was also very useful for highlighting that it is worth testing the logo in its different formats as early as possible. I only checked the black and white photocopy version near the end of the design process, and again found myself reworking everything with a revised logo.  Also I was lucky that the contrast between the green and dark grey worked well in black and white as I had not specifically considered this when I started the design process.

Finally, I found that I only got a real idea of what a document looked like when I printed it. It is difficult to judge on a computer screen how documents will appear when printed in their actual size. I printed and reworked the letterhead three times before I was happy with the relative sizes of the logo, type and footer.

Part 5 – Exercise 5: Poster and Flyer

You have been asked to design an A3 poster and an accompanying double sided A6 flyer to promote a singing course run by an organisation called SingOut (all one word). They have very little money so want to print these posters on their black and white
photocopier. You can use a colour paper if you want.

The information they want to give is:
• Do you love to sing?
• Join us for an exciting opportunity during the day with a professional vocal coach.
Learn to sing different types of music, vocal techniques, meet new people and have
• 10.30 to 12.00 every Tuesday from 11 March
• The Community Centre, Charlotte Church Road
• £60 for the course
• No experience needed/no requirement to read music
• For more information call 011779 8765432


The brief does not state any specific objectives but I assume the objective of the poster and flier is to get people to sign up to the singing course.

Missing Information

The information that I feel is missing from the brief is:

  • Who is the target audience for the singing course? Is it aimed more at women or is it aimed at women and men equally. What is their age group? (The time of day of the course and the benefit of ‘meeting new people’ suggests that it is not intended for children.)


  • What kind of people is the course targeted at? e.g. are they affluent or price conscious?


  • How long is the course?


  • Where are the posters and fliers intended to be displayed? e.g. are the posters intended for notice boards where people will stop and read them, or are they intended for a location where people are walking past.


  • What is the main objective of the poster / flyer?


  • How serious / formal is the course? Is the emphasis more on really learning to sing or on having fun?


  • What style of music will be taught? e.g. folk / trad, pop etc.


  • What would the ‘next steps’ be to sign up for the course (i.e. what is the ‘Call to Action’)? A phone number and web address are given but how do you sign up for the course?



To fill in the gaps for the information missing from the brief, I assumed that the singing course was aimed at middle class, reasonably affluent women. Men would also be welcome but the marketing of the course would not be specifically aimed at them.

As the course runs on a weekday morning, I assumed that the course would most likely be aimed at stay-at-home Mums, housewives or retired women.

Having fun is important but because a professional vocal coach was running the course, I also assumed that the course was reasonably serious and that there would be considerable emphasis on learning how to sing.

The style of music would be modern, pop covers and rock choir.

Key Words

The key words that I wanted to convey in my poster/flyer were:

  • love
  • love to sing
  • enthusiasm
  • energy
  • learn
  • fun
  • joy
  • togetherness
  • confidence-building
  • inspirational
  • achievement


I started with a mind map of thoughts on what words and symbols typically suggest singing.

I then looked for images and typical visual symbols and motifs associated with singing. My aim was to identify these symbols so that I could try to avoid simply replicating them in my design.

I researched on-line looking for images and ideas that conveyed my sentiments of singing, having fun and togetherness.

I also researched the websites of vocal coaches and choirs. A lot of vocal coach websites feature images of the coach themselves singing, common images include people with headphones, mouths open singing, microphones and musical notes:

The VoxSkool ( website banner (below) uses quite dramatic colours, has a smiling female mouth to suggest singing and images of musical notes, sound waves and stars, dots and light rays all suggesting stage lighting. It also has quite a ‘groovy’ 70’s vibe. I really like this styling – I think it really communicates the sense of what this singing group is about.

Design Ideas

I decided that I wanted my poster and flier to have a strong visual element in the form of a black and white illustration. This would be the first thing that people would see, so I wanted it to catch the attention of my target audience (women), be obviously about singing, suggest ‘fun’ and be welcoming and not too serious. My aim was that a women would see the illustration on the poster/flyer and connect with it.

I reviewed each of my design ideas together with my husband.

My first idea was a simple drawing of the iconic ‘Sound of Music’ image of Maria on the mountain top. To me this image epitomises the joy of singing.

Although this image conveyed the right sentiment, we felt that it could be mistaken for a ‘Sound of Music sing-along’. I also wasn’t sure if there would be copyright issues with an illustration of such an iconic image.

My next idea was an illustration of a singing bird (or birds for a better sense of ‘togetherness’). The illustration would be quite contemporary and feminine to appeal to women.

We thought the illustration would be quite effective in attracting attention but that it possibly suggested too much of a folk / trad style singing.

My next idea was a series of singing female mouths, possibly on a musical stave.

We quite liked this idea but felt that maybe it wasn’t impactful enough to attract attention on a poster.

Next was a line drawing of a singer holding a microphone. In an effort to try to make this a less stereotypical ‘singing’ image, I made the women’s hair out of musical notes.

Although we both like the impact of this illustration, we both felt that it was quite a ‘serious’ singing image and may be a bit intimidating to people interested in the course but nervous about joining it. Singing solo into a microphone would be a lot of people’s worst nightmare!

I took the line drawing image and attempted to make it less intimidating by making it look  like someone having fun singing in the shower. I replace the microphone with a shampoo bottle.

We both felt that this image did the job of being clearly about singing, but also conveying a sense of fun and being welcoming.

I decided to use this final image for my poster/flyer.

I also decided to keep the illustration purely black and white as the contrast would be more eye catching.

Information Hierarchy

I analysed the information that needed to be on the poster and decided that the most important text was ‘Do you Love to Sing?’ This is the ‘hook’ that, together with my image, would grab people’s attention. This would be the largest sized text on my poster and flyer.

Next was ‘the offering’, i.e. ‘learn to sing with a professional vocal coach’. This is effectively what is on offer and the main purpose of the poster / flyer. This would be mid-sized text.

The detail of the course, i.e. ‘Join us to sing different types of music etc.’ was additional to the ‘offering’ was less important, so did not need to be the same size as ‘learn to sing with a professional vocal coach’. I made this the smaller sized text.

Also important is the ‘response to objections’.  Someone viewing the poster may think ‘yes, I love to sing’ and then, ‘learning to sing with a professional coach sounds good’ but then may immediately think that the course may be a bit intimidating or might not be for them. The ‘No experience necessary’ text is important to immediately reassure that everyone is welcome, I made this text mid-sized.

The ‘when, where and how much’ information, for me, is the least important. If the viewer is interested in the course they will make the effort to read the logistical details of the course. All this text was small sized.

Choice of Typeface

I wanted a bold, heavyweight and eye-catching font for the poster / flier. I also wanted a sans serif font for its contemporary and uncluttered feel. I looked on Google Fonts and selected three possible typefaces:

I selected ‘Montserrat Alternates’ as I liked the slight roundness and curves in some of the letter forms. I felt this gave a more friendly, welcoming and slightly feminine feel to the font.

Final Poster


Final Flyer



Thoughts on This Exercise

I am not very confident working with colour, so I was very happy to produce designs in black and white for this exercise. I decided to use only pure black and white for maximum contrast and therefore visual impact (rather than shades of grey).

I was pleased with the final results. I think the illustration works well to visually communicate ‘singing’ and fun’. The image, and particularly the polka dot pattern of the shower cap, together with the large ‘Do you love to sing?’ text really catch the attention. A different image may have also been able to incorporate the idea of ‘togetherness’ which is something that I think this illustration lacks.

The black panel at the bottom half of the poster was the result of experimentation with the layout in Adobe Illustrator and was added when I thought the poster was looking too white. I like the visual impact this block of black adds and I think it neatly balances the black shampoo bottle and polka dot shower cap.

I followed this idea through to the flyer where I made the background on the back of the flyer black, again I think it makes the flyer more visually interesting.

With this exercise, I learnt a very painful lesson of how easy it is to completely miss a typo or incorrect text when you are completely absorbed in finessing the layout of a document using design software. I had temporarily hidden some text when creating the poster in Adobe Illustrator, and completely forgot to unhide it so that I designed the entire poster layout with some text missing. There was much cursing when I discovered my mistake and had to go back and redesign the layout.

Tutor Feedback

My tutor made the following comments on this exercise:

Love your idea for this ; conceptually top-notch as it creates a game of someone singing out of context being brought into a useful space for their passions. I like the spots on the shower cap and the illustration and type choices – I think your layout could be pushed more in terms of making this a more dynamic composition and using black and white tones could add more interest. It could suit a pop art treatment? Some halftone or further texture?”

Rework Following Tutor Feedback

I experimented with two further layouts, following feedback from my tutor, to try to make the layout a bit more dynamic. The additional versions of the poster are below:

I don’t feel that the halftone effect in this poster is really adding anything to the deign other than making it look a bit cluttered.

This layout works better and is, I think, an improvement on the original poster. The angled split between the black and white sections of the poster is more dynamic.  I changed the angle of the shampoo bottle to line up with the angle of the black section for a balanced effect and offset the text to the left and right, which is think is more visually interesting that the centred text of the original poster. I think this has the effect of ‘pulling’ the eye down the page.

Part 5 – Exercise 4: Birthday List

For this exercise you are going to make up a poster list for yourself. It is intended that you keep it pinned to a noticeboard or wall to remind you of the dates and, as it will be there a long time, it needs to look good. Design your own ordering the information that best suits you and including as much additional information as you would find useful.

I am hopeless at remembering people’s birthdays and I always feel bad when I forget or when I know a card will arrive about three days late because I haven’t been organised to post it early enough. Social media has helped by sending prompts on days when friends have a birthday but there are some people close to me for whom I really need to make more effort than a quick ‘Happy Birthday’ post on their Facebook timeline.

Therefore, a wall-mounted birthday chart would be a good idea for me! However, I wanted my personal birthday list to be designed as a reproachful reminder of how bad I feel when I forget a friend or family member’s birthday… a ‘memento mori’ style of design. I decided to base the decoration of the chart on a skull, but so that it didn’t look too morbid, I decided to include flowers into the design.

My design ideas and thumbnail sketches are below:

I drew up the wall chart in Adobe Illustrator. I made it 400mm square as it was easier to measure the position of my data entry boxes with a number that was divisible by 10. Positioning and sizing the boxes was a very fiddly job!

For the decoration, I created a pencil drawing of a skull.

I did attempt to paint my own water colour flowers for the skull’s garland but my painting skills weren’t quite up to the job, so I decided to leave the painting to the experts and purchased a set of water colour flower PNG files from Creative Market.

The final wall-chart Birthday List is below:

Thoughts on this Exercise

Laying out repeating boxes like this in Adobe Illustrator is quite time consuming and fiddly and requires both patience and good reading glasses. I also found it difficult to get an idea of the actual scale of what I was designing without being able to see the printed version. I resorted to mocking up a quick piece of paper of roughly the correct size, sketched data entry boxes on them and then measured them as a way of gauging the size that they needed to be on my final document. I had fun with this exercise in drawing the skull and decorating it with flowers… a bit of light relief after the frustration of measuring and positioning the boxes.



Research Point – Posters

Posters have a long and rich history documenting everything from boxing matches to
Bollywood films, the Soviet Revolution to punk, encouraging young men to join the army to persuading women to buy bras. There are many collections in books in museums and galleries and on the internet. Find out more about your own particular areas of interest.

My mother was from Luzern in Switzerland and I was delighted to discover recently that Luzern has a bit of a name for itself as a ‘Poster Town’, renowned for the quality and style of its posters!

As a family we would always visit Luzern, late in the summer around the time when the Luzern music festival was on and the town would be covered in stylish posters and shop window displays promoting the festival.

The Design Museum in Zurich has an extensive display of Swiss posters and has an online archive here. A trip to this museum is definitely on my bucket list.

I particularly like the old posters promoting Switzerland as a tourist destination, some of which are here:

For me, these graphics really evoke my memories of Switzerland and make me feel quite nostalgic, especially because I can also recognize some of the places depicted in the posters.

Similarly, I recently went to see the ‘Poster Girls’ exhibition in the London Transport Museum. Details about the exhibition are here. Again, I really enjoyed the ‘retro’ style of a lot of these posters.


Part 5 – Exercise 3: Giving Information

Find some examples of information graphics. For example bus timetables, city maps, diagrams or representations of statistical data. Look at the way they are designed and try and work out the decisions the designer made. What can you learn from them and when would it be appropriate to use a similar design solution?

I started the exercise by researching on line, looking for different types of infographic.

My research suggested that there were about six quite common style of infographic depending on the type of information being shared:

A Process or Sequence of Steps

Information describing a process or a defined sequence of steps is often shown against a timeline or has some sort of visual ‘path’ that leads the viewer through the information in the right order.

The sequence can also be defined using numbered points.

General Information Sheet

Where multiple pieces of information are being shared but there is so specific order to the points, the points can be arranged on a single sheet.

The points are still most likely to be read from top to bottom and left to right but it is not so important for them to be read in a specific order.

A Map or Diagram

Information where location or placement of items is important is often shown as a map or diagram showing how something is structured or laid out.


A List

Where there is a number of related or similar pieces of information, these are often displayed as a list.


Where information is being compared (such as pros and cons or showing how things differ from each other, for example), the information is often displayed as a list but with related information shown side-by-side for comparison.

Visual Representation of Numerical Information (e.g. a Chart)

Where numerical information is displayed, such as how a data set is segmented,  is often displayed as a chart or graph.


Other decisions that the designer would consider are:

  • How much information needs to be displayed? Is it just one point, for example how the unemployment rate has changed in the UK last 6 months, or multiple points such as ‘Things to do in Tokyo’.


  • How is the data related? Are they points with no specific order, a list, a timeline etc.


  • Does the information need to be read in a specific order?


  • Is some information more important, and therefore needs to stand out more, than other data?


  • What is the purpose of the infographic and who is it for? What is its objective? Where will it be read, e.g. in a magazine or a poster in a train station?


  • What should the tone of the infographic be, e.g. fun and frivolous, professional and business-like?


  • How much of the infographic could / should be communicated using text compared to images.


  • What might dictate the colours used? e.g. branding.


For this exercise you are going to describe your immediate surroundings using
information graphics.

I chose to create an infographic of my kitchen worktop. This was inspired by a  frustrating evening trying to prepare dinner in the 2 foot square of clear space on my very cluttered kitchen worktop. To help clarify my design decisions, I defined my own brief for this exercise, as follows:

Create an infographic which shows the objects that might be permanently located on, and take up space on, a typical kitchen worktop. The infographic will help to support training of interior and kitchen designers in helping them to understand how the space of a kitchen worktop is used in reality and just how much space is given over to items that reside permanently on the worktop.

The infographic style should be fun and playful with the emphasis on the visual impact of just how many objects live on a typical kitchen worktop.

Step 1 – Gather the Information

I started by drawing a quick sketch of my kitchen worktop and catalogued all the items that live on it:

Step 2 – Decide on the Style and Colours

Because the infographic is intended to be a training tool for designers and creatives, I wanted to use quite a graphic and contemporary style. As the graphic needs to be quite playful, I decided on a graphic-style illustration. I really like the ‘flat’ design style of these illustrated maps and decided to try a similar style for my worktop graphic.

I also like the colour palette of the Shanghai map and decided to try this for my worktop infographic.

Step 3 – Design the Visual Elements

I decided that I would use simple ‘flat’ icons to represent the items on my worktop, so I started by sketching them and then drawing out simpler, more abstracted versions. My intention was for my icons to be a two-dimensional, front on, simplified view of the object. Interestingly one thing I struggled with here was the idea of ‘how flat is flat?’ Some objects, such as the toaster, needed information from other ‘planes’ such as the top or side-on view in order to make it obvious what it was. I opted for any object that could be recognised from a front-on 2D view would be drawn in two dimensions but others would be drawn in 3D where this was essential to help identify what the object was.



Step 4 – Work Out Scale

I measured the objects so that I could draw them in proportion to each other. I also measured my kitchen worktop so that I could draw it to scale.

Step 5 – Create the Graphic

I started by creating all of the icons for the objects using Adobe Illustrator.

Next I created the graphic background, drew a top-down view of my kitchen worktop and added the fixed objects including the hob, draining boards and sink. I chose dark colours for these as I did not want them to particularly stand out as they were not the most important elements of the graphic.

I then copied the object icons into this document and positioned them on the worktop roughly where they were ‘in real life’. Because the icons are all drawn ‘face-on’ I was only able to indicate roughly where they were located rather than exactly how they were positioned on the worktop. Also, because of this, I didn’t feel that the ‘to-scale’ version of the worktop was working, so I changed the size of it to give it a more ‘illustrative’ feel which I felt worked better with the look of the graphic.

Next I added in the objects labels. The objects and labels were the most important elements of this graphic, so I made them light, bright colours to attract attention.

I added the graphic title and the pie chart, summarising how the worktop space is used. Finally, I added the human and cat footprints for a little bit of fun.

Final Infographic:

Thoughts on this Exercise

I enjoyed this exercise and particularly enjoyed the challenge of creating the icon representations of all the objects on my kitchen worktop.  Using basic shapes to build up the objects was good fun once I got the hang of it – a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I enjoyed the challenge  although some objects were much harder than others to create – I particularly found the 3D objects hard to construct.

I am not very confident with using colours and even though I copied the colour scheme from another image I had found on-line, I was pleased with how the colours worked together in my infographic. The worktop and fixed appliances were deliberately coloured dark so that they did not stand out and the objects and labels were brightly coloured as these were the most important elements of the graphic.

One lesson learnt from this exercise is that it would be better to plan out more of the entire graphic on paper before starting to create it digitally. I have a tendency to focus on the ‘difficult bits’ which in this case was how to draw the icons, and I forget that how the elements all fit together is equally important. It would be better to consider the whole graphic at the design stage and how parts of it work together for the overall effect.

Another lesson learnt is that creating something like this in Illustrator takes A LOT of time and patience!

Part 5 – Exercise 2: Judging a Book by its Cover

Choose a book by an author you are familiar with. You are going to design two different
covers for it, one using illustrations or photography and the other using just type.

About the Book

I chose the book ‘Half a Creature from the Sea’ by David Almond for this exercise. This book is published by Walker Books who publish books for young adults but this book is as much for adults as it is for younger people. The book is a series of short stories based around the author’s own childhood memories of living in a small town on Tyneside. They are stories of children leading ordinary lives around the town but the stories mix the everyday with elements magic and mystery. They are half real and half imaginary and really give a sense of how children can imagine the fantastical in the everyday.

The title of the book is also the title of one of the stories and is about a young girl called Annie who has a mystery illness which sounds like epilepsy although it is never given a name. Because of her illness, she is quite isolated and cannot go to school. Instead she spends her days with her Mum in a house by the sea. They both have a strong connection with the sea and with where they live. Annie describes her ‘episodes’ as like ‘going swimming in the sea’. She describes how she would turn into “a fish, a seal or a dolphin” and would travel “far away beneath the sea to places of coral and shells and beautifully coloured fish”. She describes her ‘hair that drifts like seaweed when I swim’ and at night she would ‘gleam and glow like the sea beneath the stars and moon’. Annie is always very positive about her condition and regards her episodes as something she quite enjoys and nothing for her mother to be afraid of. Annie’s mother explains that Annie is different and special because she is ‘Half a Creature from the Sea’. It is a very poignant but uplifting story.

This story and all the others in the book are warm and uplifting with a sense of magic and wonder.

The cover of the book should appeal to both young adults and adults and should be gender neutral. Although the book is named after a story that features a girl, most of the other stories feature boys so the cover should appeal to both boys and girls.

Illustrated Book Cover

I felt an illustration would be more appropriate for the first cover, rather than a photograph. This also fits well with Walker Books’ house style which uses mostly modern illustrations.

First, I did some analysis about the tone and style of the book

Then I sketched some ideas for an illustrated cover:

I wanted my book cover illustration to convey a sense of joy and wonder but to also be a bit mysterious and surreal to reflect the stories in the book.

I reviewed the sketches with my husband, who is also familiar with the book and we decided on a sketch of a girl’s head with’seaweed hair’ under the sea.

I did some research into various types of seaweed, underwater illustrations and similar books covers:

Then sketched an outline of a drawing for the cover:

I scanned this into Photoshop, coloured it, added a blue/green background and water texture.  originally I had intended to use shells and fish for facial features to make the illustration less ‘feminine’ and a bit more surreal but I wasn’t happy with how these looked, so I eventually drew facial features instead.

Because this book of stories about children, I chose a handwritten typeface for the book title and a contemporary-style sans serif font for the author name, synopsis and reviews on the back.

The finished book cover is here:


Text Only Book Cover

I sketched out some ideas for the text only cover for the book:

I decided to try two of the ideas, first I used a blue/green gradient for the background and used a wave texture to distort the letters of the book title:

I didn’t think this cover had enough of a ‘child-like’ quality for a book of stories about children, so I tried out the second idea. For this cover, I used blocks of colour and gradients to suggest a sea and sky. I kept the same typefaces but I positioned the words of the title of the book on the front cover to look like they were sinking in the water.

I felt this cover worked better for the ‘text only’ book cover as it had a more ‘illustrated’, and therefore child-like, quality which I think worked better for the book content.


Of the two covers, I think the illustrated cover is more eye-catching and visually impactful, and more suggestive of the slightly surreal and magical nature of the book. However, I think it is not gender-neutral enough. Given the book is aimed at young adults, I can’t really see a teenage boy picking this book off the shelf given it has what looks like a mermaid on the front.  For that reason, I actually think that the text-only cover works better. The blocks of colour give the book a slightly illustrated, playful feel, and the cover is completely gender-neutral. However, the text-only version does lack that hint of magical-realism of the book.

Ideally I would try again with the illustration and try my idea of making the girl’s face out of shells, sea creatures etc so that the illustration would suggest more ‘mysterious sea-creature’ than ‘girl’.

For reference, this is what the actual cover of the book looks like:

I also later found the cover of the audio version of the book and thought it was very interesting that it was quite similar to one of my ideas for the illustrated designs (with swimming legs):

Thoughts on this Exercise

As always, I found it quite difficult not to just replicate the cover of the book that I was already familiar with, especially as I already thought that the existing cover worked really well. My tutor’s advice came in useful here, as she suggests to just get the obvious ideas down first to get them out of your system and then move on. I find if I do this and then just keep on sketching, I can eventually start thinking of alternative ideas.

I don’t really have any experience in illustration but I quite enjoyed the challenge of drawing and colouring the girl’s head although as usual, using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for this was immensely painful and frustrating! One day it will get easier.

Once I had decided to use the idea of the illustration of the girl’s head for the cover, I think I should have tried out different ways of drawing this before committing to the final illustration. In hindsight I think a front-on view of the head with facial features made from sea shells etc. (as I had originally intended) would have worked better.

Also, I learnt that when sketching ideas, it pays to plan out the whole book cover, not just the illustration as I think the image and text need to work together (and fit nicely on the cover) and this isn’t something that should be thought about right at the end!

I thought that putting together the text-only cover was going to be quick, and a bit boring to do, but I actually found I really enjoyed the challenge of working within much narrower boundaries. Given more time, I would have like to have spent more time thinking of ideas for the text-only cover to see what I could come up with.

Part 5 – Research Point: Publishing House Design Styles

It took me a little while to understand what an ‘imprint’ is.. Wikipedia defines it as follows:

“An imprint of a publisher is a trade name under which it publishes a work. A single publishing company may have multiple imprints, often using the different names as brands to market works to various demographic consumer segments.”

For example, the publishing house PanMacmillan encompasses the following imprints:

Imprints, particularly those that are smaller and more niche, typically have a particular style of book and cover design.

I collated a selection of book covers for various imprints on Pinterest:

For example Tor publishes science fiction and the book covers all have a very identifiable style, which to me looks a little old fashioned and  ‘cheesy’… you can almost hear how the opening sentence of a book like this reads.. “Z’lot sighed as he stood watching the double setting Zaloovian suns from his 358th floor skypartment..” or something like that. Interestingly, as I was researching these book covers I noticed in the news that a science fiction author whose book was published by Tor, had got into a spat with the Illustrator of his latest book after announcing on Social Media that he thought the cover of his book was ‘Laughably Bad’:

Two Hoots publish children’s books with quirky, modern children’s illustrations with a slightly rebellious feel – I love these! Compare these covers to Virago children’s books whose covers are quite traditional, romantic, innocent, more old-fashioned-looking and to me, rather twee. As a child I don’t think I would have been drawn to the covers of any of these books.

Bello publish young adult fiction and their covers are quite modern, striking simple and graphic.

I can’t quite put my finger on ‘Hodder’s’ cover style, except to say that it looks like what you might find in an airport. Easy holiday reading not requiring too much brain power.

Farenheit Press print crime novels and their covers are dark, broody, quite masculine, with images that are often quite indistinct, hinting at a scene or clue.

Part 5 – Exercise 1: Magazine Pages

Choose a magazine, newspaper or journal and work out the grid or grids they have used.
Measure the size of the pages, the margins, the text columns and the gaps in  between them. How many columns do they use? Is it the same on every page?

Can you identify the fonts they use? Do you have it or one with similar properties?

How do they use photographs and illustrations? How much ‘white space’ on the pages is

Harpers Bazaar ‘Mind the Gap’ double page spread

The pages use a two column layout with a narrow 4mm gutter between them. There is not much white space in the article but there is quite a generous margin at the top of the page . Images take up the first column and almost half of the second column is taken up by the title of the article.

The main heading is written in a large high contrast serif font (HDF Didot?). The font size of the body text of the article is quite small and uses a serif font ( suggests the closest match was ‘Imprint (URW)’). Not sure if the text is justified within the columns but hypenation is used a fair bit to keep text aligned with the right hand side of the columns and keeping the overall look of the text neat.

Images in the article have a sense of forming a ‘circle’ around the edges of the pages:


The images also have a sense of balance – the title and photo of the statue holding a banner with words on are diagonally opposite each other. On the other diagonal, groups of small busy images are grouped in opposite corners of the pages. A small image straddles the columns on the bottom left and top right of the spread. The black and white image next to the title also works because it does not detract too much from the title.

Harpers Bazaar – Single Page Editor’s Letter

 This page uses a two column layout with a narrow 4mm gutter between them. There is barely any white space in the article but the margins on the left and right of the page are more generous than in the article above.  Images take up about half of the space on the page and columns of text appear to overlap the images. As  result the images and the text feel closely connected.

The main heading is written in a large high contrast serif font (HDF Didot?). The font size of the body text of the article is quite small and uses a serif font ( suggests the closest match was ‘Imprint (URW)’). Not sure if the text is justified within the columns but hyphenation is used a fair bit to keep text aligned with the right hand side of the columns and keeping the overall look of the text neat.

The two larger images on this page are on opposite corners of the page. The overlays on the images also form a series of ‘steps’ on the compliment each other. The text on the page is in two blocks that are also diagonally opposite each other. A small black and white images sits almost in the centre of the page and there is a sense that all the other content of this page pivots around this image.

Draw up a two page spread using the same grid as the magazine. Indicate text using
Lorum Ipsum and indicate images by either filling a picture box with a 10% tint or using
a picture from your collection.

The layout below is based on the ‘Mind the Gap’ double page spread above.

When you have done this see if you can develop the grid further.
Select a title and images and see how many variations you can come up with.

The final part of this exercise needs to be completed.

Part 4 – Exercise 5: Hierarchy

Using about 500 words of Lorum Ipsum (or other dummy text) you are going to design three different pages:

• an interview with a TV actor in a listings magazine entitled: Will Sheila tell the
naked truth?

• a review of a new piece of hardware or software in a specialist computer magazine

• a book review in a newspaper’s weekend edition.

Note: My rationale for why I chose certain text combinations and what my intentions were for each design are contained within the text of each layout design. PDF versions of each design are included so that the text is easier to read.

Shaded boxes and circles are intended to represent placeholders for images.

An Interview in a TV Listings Magazine

Interview in a TV Listing Magazine

A Hardware Review in a Computer Magazine

Hardware Review in a Computer Magazine

A Book Review in a Newspaper

Book Review in a Newspaper