Just recently, I applied for an internship for Foreign Policy Design Group but realised I didn’t have an PDF portfolio to send them so it was really time to make one. I decided on keeping it pretty simple in terms of layout, creating a template using big images combined with small type on each page with a little description of the project. Deciding which projects to include was probably the hardest part because I wanted to show variety between projects but also choose ones that would reflect my style the best.
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:
My cover is finally finalised although the way there was long. Jumping from the red outcome to yellow papercraft I did when experimenting with one of my projects, I still wasn’t happy with the look and started instead to play around with type on the photocopier. The type didn’t turn out interesting at all but the strange marks that appeared at the edge of the paper looked good so I created a design with them instead.
Cover development 1, 2, and 3, by Lisa
Copying and rotating the image I created a sort of pattern that looks like arrows and kind of like a fast forward button. And that felt like it fit the book finally and it also felt like me with the triangles, movement and a bit artsy so I’m happy with this.
Collection final cover, by Lisa
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).
Focus: chapter dividers. Continuing the things I mentioned in my previous post about designing the start of every chapter, I started scanning the type I painted so I could use it for my book. However, doing this I realised that the type didn’t look like I wanted it to. Zooming in on it really close, the edges looked all jagged and pixelated and basically not pretty. I tried to vectorise it in Illustrator but it still didn’t look good and I didn’t have the patience to try to fix it as I don’t know how to use Illustrator basically hah. It might have been the paper I painted on was too rough that made it that way, so what I did was to paint over it in Photoshop to smoothen out the ragged edges. Took painfully long but in the end I got the result I wanted as seen below (in the right image, the P and R and cleaned up but not the A so you can see the difference).
Book, chapter dividers, by Lisa
Next to the page explaining the brief to each project, I have made patterns that reflect that brief to make it more interesting (seen above to the left). I have yet to decide on the typeface though for my titles and body text, but something sans serifs and straight as a contrast to the painted type would work.
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.