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Image by Ruvim Noga

Graphic Design Journal

Week 1: Introduction. Challenge: Quadriptych

Updated: Sep 22, 2022

This challenge needed to cover: Who we are / Where we live / Why design? / What we do / all in a four-visual picture.


The first thing I decided on was a subdued/pastel colour pallete. This was inspired by a recent shopping trip to the High Street where every shop was peddling pastel clothing! I'm always drawn to pinks and greens, so here's the palette I went with, I stayed with this almost exactly - apart from darkening the mint green (to improve readability against white text).


In terms of tools - I knew that I'd be building the image in Adobe Illustrator, using hand-drawn images. Illustrator is the only design software I have learned so far - and there's still so much for me to master.... it's going to be a long learning process for me. (YouTube has been my friend, with its many free tutorials).


After that was decided, I started sketching out images, I decided I was going to do a montage of lots of small illustrations to explain my story.

And then.... encountering design skills I don't have!

So then I had to get these pictures into Illustrator - enter, Problem One! I had to learn how to convert hand-drawn sketches into digital vector files. This probably sounds so basic to my fellow students who have been designing for years. I watched some videos on YouTube and got the gist of what I was doing. (A very brief understanding!) I then realised I had to re-sketch everything in black and white in order to make Illustrator's Image Trace function work properly. Here's what some of those individual sketches looked like.

Pulling a draft together

After reading/watching the course material for this week, I started to think about how much illustration versus text I wanted in my design. I also thought quite a bit about shape/size/white space. I decided to go with an A4 size artboard, and I started with the artboard in landscape. I started with 4 rectangle elements equal in size. As I began pulling it all together, I decided against this layout because it looked too boring, and I was already worried that I was taking this assignment too literally.

Here's what that initial design looked like, while it was still a WIP (work in progress):

Final product

Here's my final image. As you can see, I changed the layout to Portrait, and I incorporated extra white space by resizing some of the rectangles. I added more text/labels. I played with bright pink and highlights.

For "What I do" I focused on the different roles I play in life - writer, mother, etc - that keep me so busy. For "Where I am" I think it's communicated fairly literally in the image. For "Who I am" I focused on illustrating my hobbies, because I think a person's hobbies and habits say a lot about their character. I tend to have a "monkey mind," and I need to stay active and use a lot of mindfulness to stay centred/positive/focused. I decided to circulate my hobbies around a centre, and swimming ended up being the thing in the middle, communicating the fact that nothing brings you back to the present moment more than jumping in the Irish Sea in January!

Finally, for "Why design?" I thought a lot about how to communicate my feelings. For me, this MA course is a chance to forge a new path in life. Make a fresh start! Meet new people! Get myself out of a career rut that I'd been in since the pandemic! I decided an open door, opening out to a bright sun, would tell that story the best.

Learnings / Stuff I need to figure out

Here are some things that I'm wondering about / that I need to learn:

  • Are there faster ways to make a vector image than scanning each sketch and using Image Trace? It feels like there are many steps in this process and maybe there's a way to cut this down a bit

  • It probably sounds very basic - but I couldn't work out how to "fill" aspects of sketches in with colour in Illustrator - so that's why most of my drawings are done in black and I abandoned my original idea to use colours in these drawings. I admit that some of these white highlights were accidents - but I kept them, because they worked

  • I need to learn how to make my designs have depth / texture / movement and appear less flat

  • Does the pastel colour scheme work? The jury is still out. I have noticed from watching this week's resources that many designers seem to focus on very bright colours

  • Can I learn to be a designer? I don't know, but I'm hoping this course will show me!

Thanks for reading!

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