The aim of the book is to explore expressive letterforms and the ways letter shapes can be playfully manipulated and combined with colour and layout dynamics to form narratives.
For details of why I chose this tropic see Project 5.1: Reflective Exercise
For final concept see: Assignment 5: A is For…
Working to a Brief from Assignment 1
My Creative Process
Phase 1: Scoping – Initial exploratory work
I started thinking about this book while doing Assignment 3, when I submitted an initial proposal. It arose from doing some collages on letterforms.
Choice of format and workflow planning
Very early I in the process I looked at Blurb formats and pricing, and decided to opt for a small square format but in good quality paper. So I did all my InDesign Mockups using the measurements given for that format, and obtained a Swatch Guide.
For all letters there was a combination of:
Initial brainstorming on large A2 paper
Sketching in (usually big) pencil on A2 paper – I wanted to feel the letterform and how my hand moved, with different variations, and then note down as many random associations produced by the different variations and how these might link/be altered to suggest words beginning with that letter. I started at this point to brainstorm on possible doggerels containing the sketches I thought most successful, and how the sketches might combine into one striking image. These were of varying degrees of detail, depending on the letter and how soon I decided to move onto exploring with materials to make things more interesting. In many cases I went back several times to put more sketches on the A2 sheet – I found this easier and more useful to have everything together unless I had so many ideas that I needed to use a smaller sketchbook as well.
Phase 2: Research
Alongside the brainstorm sketching as I went through each letter I was also doing research and thinking about how the image might go forward:
- Wikipedia research on the history, development and use of each letter
- Different typeface forms for each letter through Adobe Typekit and Internet Typeface resources, and Google images of the letter. I compiled Typeface sheets in InDesign for each letter as a reference.
- Materials beginning with each letter: A to Z of Art Terms
- Colours beginning with each letter: A to Z of colours with Hex values;Wikipedia colour list
As part of this I identified some initial doggerel, colours, media, moods and style and other words that could be associated with each letter and started working on an Excel sheet of letter associations and doggerel versions. This I continued to consult and update as I went along.
Initial pdf: Letter associations_010416
I also continued looking at alphabets, calligraphy, contemporary typefaces, using type design software, children’s colour books, puzzle books. This was particularly the work by Sara Fanelli and Eva Pakovska.
Phase 3: Design
My image creation process from here did not follow a linear pattern, nor was it the same for all letters – depending on how easy/hard some of the associations were to combine and how many associations any letter has.
I started the process, again while I was travelling, through doing some digital colour mockups in colour on my iPad, having uploaded the initial sketches and colour sheets in advance.I started to explore use of colour on my iPad using Procreate while I was travelling for work.
On my return I put these into InDesign as my first colour mockup of the book to see how the colours might work.
Mostly I produced a number of different sub-images in the materials suggested by the letter, then composited these in Photoshop using masking and blending techniques, and experimenting with the colours suggested.
The process with ‘difficult letters’ I, J, X, Y Z, Q’ etc with fewer colours or words was in many ways easier because I was pushing given constraints. I tended to start with these letters while mulling over ideas for the others. These letters tended to be much more materials driven – as there were fewer choices I needed to really see what could work in the materials. Sometimes (as with J and I) I proceeded mainly in Photoshop. In other cases I went back to explore more sketches.
Other letters were more driven by pushing original ideas from a broader brainstorm – rejecting some associations. But trying not to be too obvious.
As my basis I consulted and updated the Excel sheet of Associations for each letter.
As I wanted the book to be visually driven by the letterforms and my own associations, it was only at this late stage that I started to look at my large edition of the Oxford English dictionary – generally when I already had an image with possible meanings that I wanted to emphasise but needed to see if there were some words beginning with the letter that I could use. This did often throw up new possibilities that then led to the image taking particular directions rather than others.
Designing the lefthand letter page
Currently all I have done is to match the colour and select some of the letterforms I find interesting/relevant from the Adobe Typeface sheets. All these pages now need to be revised to follow/contrast the dynamics of the image.
For links to the pages so far with detailed discussion of materials for each letter and see: Assignment 5: A is For…
Phase 4: Pre-production
My final date for submission for assessment is end May 2017 for the July 2017 assessment. I plan a further 6 weeks full-time in February – May to complete my work on all the assignments. I will prioritise this Assignment first to leave ample time for publishing.
Phase 5: Printing and production
I will test out a number of options well in advance of submission – possibly also a medium square format depending on how complex the material becomes on the lefthand letter page.
I will also have by this stage done a couple of Photobooks to try out other formats and paper for my Photography 2: Landscape course.
I will leave at least 2 months between submission of the final pdf to blurb and assessment.