How It’s Made: Graphic Design

The design process is, for the most part, different for everyone. In my case, it’s more than a little nonsensical.

Allow me to explain. And here—let’s have an example.


Earlier in the semester, my assignment in typography class was to create the cover and spread of a theoretical cookbook themed around a recipe. I decided on the 1917 cinnamon war cake recipe I got from my grade ten history teacher because, well, why not? It’s very tasty, and it wasn’t likely I would end up with a similar project to anyone else in the class.

So of course, my theme had to be WWI-related. My very initial thought was to do something like a front line cook book… but then I realized that was probably way overdone. And besides, this recipe wouldn’t have been made on the battleground. So instead, I decided to focus on the home front.

The first stage of development was to write a proposal and strategic brief explaining that thought process in many more words. That was boring and wordy and not worth showing here, so we’ll skip to the beginning of my ideation. (Which is totally a word; don’t let your spell-checker lie to you!)


Alas, I have an incorrigible addiction to sketching in 4H pencil and you can’t really see what’s gong on in these sketches. The point is, though, that my teacher wanted title cluster experimentation and layout thumbnails. Despite not wanting to do that, I did it. For the marks. Yay. Oh, and also somewhere in here I made a mood board… Which I did not enjoy doing, for the record.

Next up came the wonderful world of “type hierarchical exploration”. (This was on the computer, thank Primus.) Basically, I worked from a layout thumbnail and, in steps, added differences in the hierarchy of my type to make it clearly apparent. Not really worth showing here, I don’t think. It was all InDesign busywork in my opinion. After that, though, I moved on to making half-size comps.


Computerized and printed type of my final layout and hierarchal structure layered underneath little tissue flaps with colored pencil on them. To be completely honest, I hated this step. I hate making tissue flaps and I hate applying my colors by hand when I can use the select tool in InDesign, select my text, and colorize it with a few clicks. Way easier. Way less arm strain. But no, my teacher wanted hybrid linears, so that was what I had to do. (What is with the obsession with making this stuff harder for your students? I don’t have unlimited energy, you know!)

After some critiquing and drawing, during which I procrastinated mightily and created things the morning of the day they were due before my class at 1330h, I ended up with my final layout. I don’t feel the interim states are worth showing, so here you go:



(This file is slightly modified from the way it was when I handed in this assignment because I had to use this cook book again for another project in another class. The old version is on another drive that I don’t currently have access to.)

To be honest, I feel like a lot of the steps involved in this process that were mandated were really not good for my process. My teacher advocates for the use of pencil and paper for, well, just about everything leading up to the actual construction of your project. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s a waste of my time.

I have a drawing tablet and I can work perfectly well on the computer from the get-go. It’s easier, it’s less stressful, and it makes projects less ugh. Whatever “different thought process” y’all talk about comparing paper and computer? I honestly don’t really follow. The only difference is you can move things on the computer without redrawing everything five billion times. But maybe that’s just me. I do come from a very computer-heavy background, after all.

Don’t get me wrong; I do love working in analogue. I just don’t find that mixing the two systems works very nicely for me. I would rather pick one and stick with it the whole way through.


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