a little bit of experimenting…

I’ve experimented with one of my books covers, to see if I could change it so that it could belong to another genre. I tried to make my Narnia cover fit into the horror/thriller genre.

narnia different genre

I started off by removing the bright background colour and stuck to 3 colours for the details – Red, Green and White. I removed some of the finer details, some of the quote used on the turkish delight, the image that was inside the turkish delight and the highlight that was on the tooth, the background was also changed from the bright orange to black this made it a lot more minimalistic looking creating some more mystery around the story, the less details the better. The type was another aspect that was changed, the previous was too large and ‘happy’ looking, this type – Dali – is a scrawly and thin which I thought could be similar to a book from the horror genre, using the image below as an example,





The tree of Life

“trees are among the earliest representations of systems of thought and have been invaluable in organising, rationalising and illustrating various information patterns through the ages…”

To some trees are sacred, they are the subject of worship, esteem and mythology. They are common motifs in world religions and a central theme in the art of culture of ancient civilisations. To some they are seen as symbols of prosperity, fertility, strength and growth – their roots firmly planted in the ground and their branches reaching up to the skies, they may act as a link between heaven, earth and the underworld, a unifying symbol of all the elements. Physical and metaphysical forests seem to be natural templates for the human imagination, early pioneers such as Aristotle and the Ancient Greeks are some of the first to be known to use trees for hierarchical organisation of knowledge. Porphyry’s tree (greek philosopher) reveals the idea of layered assembly in logic, the oldest known type of classificatory tree diagram. “Porphyry presented Aristotle’s classification of categories in a way that was later adopted into tree-like diagrams of dichotomous divisions, which indicate that a species is defined by a genus and a differentia and that this logical process continues until the lowest species is reached, which can no longer be so defined. No illustrations or diagrams occur in editions of Porphyry’s original work. But, diagrams were eventually made, and became associated with the scheme that Porphyry describes, following Aristotle.”

-source, visual complexity, mapping patterns of information

Manuel Lima’s illustrated history The Book of Trees (Princeton Architectural Press) chronicles how Medieval-era designers instinctively used trunk and branch diagrams to impose order on the explosion of new data. One millennium later, tree-based graphics continue to pack considerable punch as information delivery systems.

For scholars, monks, and heredity-minded royal families, trees served as a handy way to divvy information into groups and sub-groups. Lima figures, “They had the concept of hierarchy in their minds and used the tree as a symbol for mapping because it was convenient. Over time, it became ingrained in our minds so that now when we talk about the root of a problem or describe genetics as a branch of science, we’re really going back to this Medieval era when people started using diagrams to convey complex new knowledge.”


-source http://www.fastcocreate.com/3028169/see-the-ancient-roots-of-modern-infographics-in-book-of-trees

eg. a family tree diagram…


Presenting the data..

The data we were to visualise was based on death penalties and can be found at the link below.


Before starting anything I decided to research ‘Death Penalty info-graphics’ to see if I was able to gain any inspiration, these are a few of the images I found below…

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The colour scheme above influenced me the most, the red on black/white seemed to be the most attention grabbing and suited to the topic, so I ended up using a similar colour scheme for my own design.

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I thought that with the image above there was just too much information being given. It took a bit longer to understand what the data being presented was for.

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A few ‘scribbles’ I started with…

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I then came across a website http://www.easel.ly where you are able to create your own infographic using templates (not all are free however)

I began with the template of a world map (red) and a black background onto which i started to place the data from the link, from the final column entitled ‘Total sentenced to death, 2007-2012’

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I also played around with the colours…

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But I decided that I preferred it red on a black background, it seemed strange to have the ocean red when it is the land that is the more important feature in the image.

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I circled the 3 highest countries and included the names of these places so the audience would know where exactly the death penalty is still adhered to – also there are so many figures in that one area it was hard to know where exactly it was representing.

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they’ve been tinted blue slightly just so they would stand to be different from the rest of the numbers.

I then brought the image into photoshop as I wanted to include the world total along with the 2012 statistics of how many countries were still executing and how many had abolished the law.

The typography used was a font that I had previously downloaded from dafont.com entitled ‘plane crash’, I felt it best suited the tone of the image (it’s texture) and the data being represented.

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The more important statistics have been left at full opacity so as they stand out – the white and blue figures towards the bottom of the image, everything else was reduced depending on how important I felt it was in contributing to the image. I decided also that any figure which represented deaths would be best kept blue to provide an immediate link between the figures – distinguishing them from the rest.

However I felt the image was a little ‘bare’ and so I brought in an illustration relating to the data – from researching info graphics I found that a rope/noose was the best image to include, everyone associates it with death and the death penalty, even without reading the text i’m hoping that viewers will be able to recognise what topic this image is presenting to them – that it’s easily and quickly read.

noose vector scratch

I tried to apply the same texture found on the typography to the image – using dry media brushes and kept it blue as it is directly related to the figures in blue already,  then placed it into the image with the data…




movie posters all have the same basic design and layout, portrait with the image taking centre stage and the text kept small, generally located along the bottom of the image.

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The type used in most movie posters in known as Trajan the ‘movie font’- the design of the font is based on Roman Square Capitals and is an all capital typeface.

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Titanic uses Trajan Bold:

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Trajan text is featured on the poster for Lemony Snicket’s, A series of Unfortunate events.

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Typography can tell you a lot about the business.. for example, restaurants, a lot of the high end restaurants use a much more refined and sophisticated typeface compared to the cheap – whose dominant colour is red, an emotionally intense colour and is used as an accent colour stimulating people to make quick decisions…

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compared to the more refined type

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the style of type can also inform us as to what type of type of restaurant it is – either chinese, french, italian etc…

With business cards it is especially important to get the typeface right – this can have a massive impact on whether you’ll be hired, it can reveal a lot about you as a person – the example used was a yellow card with the name and occupation (undertaker) in black written with comic sans – doesn’t really fit with the occupation, does it? People would want something a bit more serious and sensitive – a better option may be a black card with the writing in a golden colour using times new roman.

Typography can used in movies, languages have been developed to be used in the film, they have been developed in such detail that people can now communicate using the fake language.


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A labelled diagram for type:

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 Mind your P’s and Q’s – came from the days of typesetting, when type was created with physical metal letters, it means don’t get your p’s and q’s mixed up, which did happen – after all they are similar.

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Upper and Lower case: comes from the days when the letters where kept in cabinets that the typographers would work at – capital letters where kept in the upper cases, lower kept in the lower cases.

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A few links giving explanations of typographic terms:




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A few typographers worth mentioning:

Eric Gill: creator of the Perpetua and Gill Sans typefaces

Gill sans font family (falls into sans serif category) – http://www.linotype.com/488/GillSans-family.html . Gill Sans became popular when commissioned to be used for the London and North Eastern railway as a unique typeface for all LNER posters and public material. It was modelled on Roman Capitals such as those found on Column of Trajan (also based on the Caslon and Baskerville type) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gill_Sans

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Perpetua font family – http://www.linotype.com/1334/Perpetua-family.html


“Perpetua is classified as a Transitional font. Transitional fonts are a subcategory of Serif style fonts. Transitional fonts exhibit a marked increase in the variation of stroke weight and a more horizontal serif compared to Old Style, but not as extreme as Modern. Perpetua is classified under this mostly because of its high stroke contrast and bracketed serifs.”

– source, http://micaelaclarke.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/history-of-perpetua-font-and-eric-gill.html

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Max Miedinger – creator of the widely used Sans Serif helvetica typeface

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The aim of the design was to create a neutral typeface that had great clarity and that could have a wide variety of uses.

Helvetica font family – http://www.linotype.com/526/Helvetica-family.html

“It was created specifically to be neutral, to not give any impression or have any meaning in itself. This neutrality was paramount, and based on the idea that type itself should give no meaning.”

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– http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2010/01/the-simplicity-of-helvetica/

Jessica Hische: link to her own website – http://jessicahische.is/working

The little side project that had a dramatic impact on her career, causing her site to have more than 100,000 visitors per month…

Every day a capital letter was illustrated and posted to the site, visitors could then download it for their own use for free..

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Her style is very illustrative, there seems to be a flow to all of her work…

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She has collaborated with penguin books – penguin drop caps, the style of the work is successfully carried throughout the 26 hardback books and has a stunning illustrative nature to it.

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– http://jessicahische.is/readingatonofbooks

Marian Bantjes also has an incredibly illustrative nature to her work and is well known for the amount of detail she applies, there is a free flowing nature that carries throughout her work…

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She has created type using some short term materials, such as sugar and flower petals, even as a cake decoration – something that little bit different…

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Si Scott 

Si Scott’s work is just something else, his unique hand drawn style and innovative nature to constantly push the boundaries of his work creates some beautify imagery…


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The way he has combined images with patterns is impressive…

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Stefan Sagmeister: a New York based graphic designer and typographer with his own firm – http://www.sagmeisterwalsh.com/work/

“if you want to be an original you must be able to take the pain”

“While a sense of humor invariably surfaces in his designs, Sagmeister is nonetheless very serious about his work; his intimate approach and sincere thoughtfulness elevate his design. A genuine maverick, Sagmeister achieved notoriety in the 1990s as the designer who self-harmed in the name of craft: He created a poster advertising a speaking engagement by carving the salient details onto his torso.”


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Sagmeister actually had an intern cut the lettering into his skin!

His motto is “Design that needed guts from the creator and still carries the ghost of these guts in the final execution.”

His temporary type is impressive, the innovative nature of the choice of material

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The scale of this last image is extremely impressive!

Below is simply a diary entry written while Sagmeister was in the Bahama’s that has been built into a chair, which he plans to leave where the entry was written…

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Erik Spiekermann: link to his blog – http://spiekermann.com/en/

The master typographer shares his process…


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other work…

The minister of Joymount Presbyterian Church in Carrickfergus had been speaking to me about the possibility of a history book being written about the church and had asked would I be interested in designing the cover – YES! – I later received a phone call to say that the book was being written and they would like me to design the cover!

I was given no brief  apart from dimensions and type, however it is collectively an ‘older’ congregation so the majority of those purchasing the book would be of an older age – basically they didn’t want anything too crazy.

I started with taking some photos…

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The title of the book  – The church outside the walls, played a huge part in how I would go about designing the cover, I took it literally and overlayed an image of the wall onto the church building.

The final cover created with photoshop and Indesign:

joymount cover (final).