A to Z from Armageddon

NOTE I did a lot of work on all these images and all the blog pages need updating. Please see physical book submission.

This book is an exploration of creative processes in trying to make sense of random rules.

The letters of the alphabet were taken as the basis for brainstorming apparently random associations between different shapes, materials, colours, meaning and naratives beginning with that letter. This provided a way of opening up possibilities beyond established rules of harmony and exploring different and new ways of combining media, colours and shapes.

Many ideas and possibilities emerged in the process before then being simplified and refined around one dominant idea.
For more details of the process and to contribute your own ideas see: https://www.design.zemniimages.info.


The fifth and final assignment requires you to draw on all the skills, insight and experience you have gained on the course and demonstrate this in the production of a book in a particular subject area. The content of the book is your own choice but must form an enquiry into some aspect of the course content. You can use any medium or materials you want to in the production of your book. You may want to research and explore hand-binding, or work digitally with print on demand for production. You may want to combine these approaches. Follow the creative design process in developing your creative thinking and how you will approach the workflow, in terms of content and timescale. Keep notes to accompany the making of the book in your learning log.

For this final assignment I initially chose Typography as my topic – with title ‘A is for Attitude’. As I was finishing Assigment 3 I wanted to follow up on visual dynamics of expressive letterforms and type design that I had started to explore. I aimed also to draw on my earlier academic work on linguistics and study of other languages and comparative alphabet and linguistic systems including Russian, Greek, Arabic and Persian, North and South Indian languages and a long term interest in Japanese, Chinese. Alongside an examination of self-publishing options through on-line printing services as an important future direction for disseminating my work.

My aim for the book at that point was to:  explore expressive letterforms and the ways letter shapes can be playfully manipulated and combined with colour and layout dynamics to form narratives. I had thought of this possibly as a children’s book for age around 8-10 when children can read well enough not to be confused by alternative letterforms, and beginning to be much more interested in new vocabulary and ‘bending rules’.

However my ideas for the book expanded to further exploration of materials, colour and creative image creation as I progressed through Assignment 4. I became very interested in paper, and the ways that different scanning strategies can bring out different aspects of apparently very uninteresting materials like tissue paper (See post on Tissue Paper). I had also begun to look at woodcut, deepened my skills in Photoshop and Illustrator. This built on earlier work on colour and printmaking in earlier OCA courses.

So the book has become much more of an exploration of the (my) creative process – interlinkages between visual expression, materials and language, the relationship between creativity and constraints in leading to new directions and inspiration. Though this exploration will be more demonstrated through its outcome in the images than discussed in the book itself. It is now much more aimed at teenagers and adults.

For details of evolution of my ideas for the book see Project 5.1: Reflective Exercise

A is for… 

The book is a very playful and exploration of different associations of letterforms (style and typographic variants) and the words they may begin (colour, media, objects and moods) as a design challenge to see how apparently random elements can be combined to create harmonies and/or tensions.

I am interested in looking at:

  • associations attached to specific letters, partly but not only through the words they begin, but also their history and evolution from earlier alphabets and their general appearance eg certain letters are generally curved, some have diagonal lines etc
  • how the abstract anatomy of a letterform can convey mood and meaning and how this can be radically altered – shape and positioning of serifs and swashes, stroke contrast, angles and position of lines, forms of curves etc. This includes not only looking at existing typefaces, but also drawing my own letterforms to enhance the meaning of words beginning with the letter.
  • can letterforms morph into each other – distinguishes specific letters from each other, what do intermediate forms look like – is this an interesting area of exploration?
  • effects of materials, papers and use of different drawing tools beginning with the letter eg Q for quill, G for glue/graphite etc can be creatively used and combined to enhance the mood of letters with specific meanings.
  • how colours beginning with those letters can be used to enhance the mood eg B with blue, brown and/or black.
  • how all the above can be combined with positioning and layout to create a playful narrative.

Content and Layout

Each letter has a 1 page spread ie 26×2=52 pages plus some extra pages for title, preface/introduction and endpages that may contain some very brief notes on materials. Making a total of around 60 pages.

  • Lefthand Page 1: Initially I had intended this to be the image page (ie slightly less prominent), but as the emphasis changed to creative process, this page now contains the letterforms. Initially I thought this would have a lot of negative space with short text on the history of the letter and arrangement of some contrasting type variants, probably as decorative as header and footer. Including reference to evolution from the letter in other alphabets. This will use the same colour scheme as page 1, but aim to provide interesting contrast. But now the focus is much more on the physical dynamics of the letter in different typefaces, matching the mood of the letters chosen and their arrangement on the page to mirror (or possibly contrast) the meaning of the image. It will also contain earlier versions of the letterform from eg Phoenecian, Runes and/or Greek. With no text. As a visual narrative. But this page still needs to be properly thought through again for each letter, now I have the images.
  • Facing righthand page 2: this is now the prominent page, using media suggested by the letterform, has a playful narrative page illustrating doggerel and using colours, media and visual dynamics suggested by the letter.
  • Additional pages: very short 2 page introduction on aims and playing with text. And final short list of letter associations, media etc used, with link references to this blog for further information.

It will initially be published for Assessment through Blurb, after initially trying different papers. If successful I might later approach a commercial editor to see whether it might be interesting as a possibility for further development, maybe as a series aimed at different age groups.

For discussion of how I arrived at this scope of interest:

Project 5.1: Reflective Exercise

For workflow and creative process see:

Project 5.2: Project Workflow

 Links to pages so far

Letter A  

Letter A Spread 3 image inverted
Letter A Spread 3 image inverted

Aluminium foil

Letter B ideas


Letter C 



Card and cardboard

Letter D 



Letter E 

Letter E
Letter E


Enamel tiles

Emery paper

Emulsion paint

Letter F 


Letter G ideas

Letter H ideas

Letter I 

Letter I
Letter I

Isometric Paper (forthcoming)

Letter J 


Jelly Jam Jar

Letter K ideas

Letter L ideas

Letter M 


Metallic paper


Masking Tape

Letter N 



Letter O ideas

OHP Transparency

Letter P ideas

Letter Q ideas

Letter R ideas

Letter S ideas

Letter T ideas


Letter U ideas

Mockup for U
Mockup for U

Letter V  


Letter W 



Letter X 


Letter Y 


Letter Z 



Inspiration from other designers and illustrators


sara fanelli

type art

The work on self-publishing draws on parallel work I am doing on Photobooks for my OCA Photography Level 2 course on Landscape (not submitted for assessment)

Reflection to be done

Give yourself a final self assessment check against the criteria before you send all your work off for assessment. Make adjustments if you think there are any weaknesses.

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