My printed book has arrived and I really like it. It is bright and happy but still has a seriousness about it which is exactly what I was going for. It is so nice to see something physically that you have been working on for a really long time. I have learned a couple of things doing this project but the most important one is: it takes time to design a book. And there is so much planning going in to it. I have simultaneously enjoyed and dreaded the making of this book as it has been so extensive. There were so many images of outcomes I had to redo or clean up before it felt presentable for the book, so I hope I will learn for the future to keep better care of my work and take better images from the start haha.
The layout for my book is kind of Alan Fletcher inspired when he said that making a book is quite similar to making a storyboard for a movie, when it comes to the flow and pacing of everything from page to page. I have some consistent layout solutions throughout, like the introduction to each chapter looks the same and the explanation for each project always starts the same way with a small block of text in the bottom right corner and a image or images covering the left side.
So some problems happened when uploading my book to both Blurb and Issuu.com. With Blurb the size wasn’t right even though it was right in my InDesign document. It was repeatedly too small but changing the size even to be bigger for some reason never helped and it wasn’t until I made my document the exact size it said to make it in inches and removing the bleed setup that it worked. It also took a while to figure out how the site wanted the cover pdf to be uploaded (two landscape pages, one for outside cover and one for inside cover). But after that it finally worked!
Issuu.com presented another problem which was that the pdf Blurb made for me (combining my two pdf files containing the book + cover) took away some of my images. The yellow patterns for example that I had on my chapter pages transformed into solid yellow pixelated squares. Very very strange. And annoying because it cost 3 pounds extra to get that pdf. In the end I had to combine my pdf files myself through adobe reader and then the issuu version worked. Good to know! (not paying for the blurb pdf again hah).
Final cover proved not to be my final cover. Realising it looked too camera film-y I did some sketches of alternative ideas and ended up with using the sketch where I drew the pattern I had and made it into vector art that I then coloured in red and laid type over it.
Sketches for cover, by Lisa
This is the result and I finally like it 100 percent:
Nearly there! I now only have one spread left and then I’m sending this to print (might redo the cover though). When placing images for the Kickstarter case study and the crisp vibe they gave off (seen below) I realised I needed to re-arrange some things in my design for the rest of the book to fit this theme as I really liked it.
There is so much colour in my work otherwise that I thought having red as chapter dividers and the book’s main colour might not be a good idea. So I changed it to black instead and at once it got more cohesive which is good. Plus the patterns and type I painted feels more like Japanese calligraphy and I really like that. Thing is, now my red cover doesn’t really match anymore so I might have to think some more about that.
Choosing, creating and placing my content for the collection book is nearly done. This has been extremely time consuming but in the end very satisfying to see your own processes and outcomes in such a straightforward way. I have had to re-take images that were of too bad quality, scan research from my sketchbooks, draw new images and scan and edit those, create images directly in InDesign and of course write all the paragraphs that go with each project to explain it. Phew.
Having only a few pages left to design, I decided to print out a mockup to see how the flow of the book will work as that’s hard to do on the computer screen. Making a mini mockup proved very helpful as I can see now that it is put together which images are too big or small and some of the images that I was unsure if I should have, I am now positive have to go.
I also decided to keep the text to a minimum and only have short paragraphs so that the images are the real stars of the book and it resembles a portfolio more.
Initially the plan was to make a photobook via blurb in hardcover as I thought if I am spending so much time designing this I want the result to look as polished as possible (which means not binding it myself) but because my final page count has come up to 78, it would cost me 95 pounds to make the 2 copies required. So! I am now opting for the magazine option as that will be approximately 60 pounds cheaper. At first it didn’t feel right, the magazine format, because to me a magazine is something you throw away and that isn’t a feeling I would like for my collection project hah, but money had to be the deciding factor here and I’ve come to convince myself the magazine format is going to look great. In fact, some of my designs that cover a whole spread might actually look better in a magazine compared to a photobook as the binding will be thinner. Also the cover will probably look better as magazines usually have a lot going on on the cover but mine will be a solid colour red with only the title centered on it so I think it could look pretty interesting. The only thing that concerns me is that my design might not be playful enough to fit a magazine but that might be me overthinking it at this point just because I am nearly done.
Converting the book format to magazine format didn’t prove too complicated as the size I had originally was quite similar to the one I have now, only now it’s bigger (around A4).
As I have now started designing my book I know it’s gonna contain a lot of white space and digital stuff and the overall look will be very minimal as that is how I design and I want the book to reflect me. I bought a book a couple of weeks ago called “MIN” which is a collection of projects by different designers and companies done in a minimal style and I found it really inspiring. I like how design can be really strong using as few elements as possible and thinking about that I have decided to not have something elaborate on my cover. I could never decide on one final design and they don’t reflect me as I would like. So I am making my cover a solid red with the title in white and that red will also flow through the rest of the book, functioning as chapter dividers. As the projects throughout the book will be so different in style and colour, I want the red to be a consistent calming factor that binds it all together.
However, I don’t want my book to be too digital as that doesn’t reflect me either and because the overall look will be so strict in a way I thought a good way to loosen it up a bit could be to incorporate some handmade type. I got really inspired by the book “Dear Data” for this as it is so playful in its expression and really have that handmade vibe without making it look sloppy. Thinking about this page (below) I made some tests of my own.
A spread from the book Dear Data by Stefanie Posavec and Georgio Lupi
Diving further into the art of the cover I made this moodboard with some designs I found inspirational. I chose these covers simply because I like them but it’s funny how much they say about me as well. This moodboard actually sums up my own aesthetics pretty well because of some of the things I like that keep re-accruing unintentionally like geometric shapes and colour or minimal designs with lots of white space. Some of the covers are almost architectural, some are only type and some are more rough (but not messy). Basically me, hah. I’ve also finally decided what size I want my book to be: 20x25cm portrait which means I can start designing it now 🙂
Moodboard, by Lisa
So far, I’ve only thought about the contents of my book and how I will create the layout. The cover, to me, wasn’t something I gave any time considering. But after the markmaking workshop I had this week it’s definitely something I am going to think about more. The cover is in a way how the book introduces itself and similar to how you reflexively smile to a person you’ve just met while shaking their hand, I want my book to smile at you and for you to smile back. The cover also sets the tone for how the rest of the book will be and it has to be interesting and want to draw you in. For example, when I buy books the cover plays a huge part. If the cover is too ugly I’m probably not even going to pick the book up. Basically, the cover is important.
Some outcomes from the workshop
As a part of my collection brief where I am making a book containing some of the projects I have been working on since October, I have been researching layout. One interesting character in this field is Alan Fletcher. His approach to layout is that it can be much the same to making a storyboard for a movie; some parts are busier than others but the most important thing is the pace.
I think much the same way actually, pace is the most important thing and how (if you’re making a book) thinking about the flow and how one spread reads after the next is the most important thing. When I work with layout I draw inspiration from different sources I’ve recently or not so recently come across but still have fresh in my memory and try to mix that with my own personal style. But in the end what does it for me is how it feels. If I can’t get the feeling I’m after when looking at my layout design, it’s not the right design. I tend to move things around and experiment until my gut tells me where the text and image fits.
Watching a clip with Fletcher where he talks about his approach in making the book The Art of Looking Sideways he says that even though the book is so long (about 1000 pages) each page has a different layout, which I find quite interesting as the approach I feel I have been taught is to stick to a defined number of different grids so as to keep it cohesive. In a way it still makes sense though because it all comes back to the feeling. As long as the eye doesn’t get confused looking at it, why not have 1000 different layouts in one book?
Work by Alan Fletcher