Creating an Icon Set

With this project, we were asked by our employer to create an icon set for a topic that was interesting to us. There were a few project requirements, including consistent design throughout each icon. However, each icon needed to communicate a single message. We also had to use illustrator, which is specifically used for creating projects like these. Illustrator lets us create vector graphics, which do not pixelate when made bigger or smaller. These were a requirement because icons come in a variety of sizes depending on what they are used for. It was challenging to create original icons, without using any text, gradients, drop shadows, pixels, or raster effects., when creating icons, the clearer you can communicate your message visually, the better. With all this in mind, this post explores my design process.

THE AUDIENCE AND MESSAGE

One of the things I love most besides film, are comic books. When I thought about what I cons I would like to create I decided to do Marvel female superheroes, as those are some of my favorites. To create an effective design, I had to make sure that my icons had a clear audience and message. My main audience was targeted at female superhero fans ages 16-24 who liked the minimalist style. My main message was to communicate which superhero was which with only basic face and hair colors, and costumes. To start, I made a few sketches to get an idea of what I could do. Because many superhero fans do not read comic books, I thought I would focus on the superheroes that are (or will soon be) in the movies. This included Black Widow, She-Hulk, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel.

At first, I thought I would have them all cross their arms and display some of their abilities and costumes. Although I do think it’s a great idea, it is very difficult in execution. I would have to move away from the minimalist style. Then I tried a profile shot for the second set of sketches. I realized very quickly this would be even more difficult then the first one to execute. On my third sketch, I decided to focus on their faces and hair colors with just a bit of costumes to indicate the colors of their costumes. This seemed to be much simpler and more in line with my objective to stay in the minimalist style. I really think that starting with the sketch before even starting on Illustrator really helped me form a better idea with my message in mind.

THE DRAFT

I thought the best way to tie all of these very different female superheroes together was to give them the same basic face and hair shape. I made them unique by adding some details here and there, and incorporated some of the costumes. It was very important that the colors that they were usually associated with were used in my design. I specially added more detail to Captain Marvel and added her symbol to the costume. I also wanted to make sure all my colors were vibrant, just like in the comic books. After all, comic book characters are designed to jump off the page, so that was important for me to incorporate.

One of the biggest things I got out of this project was how important feedback can be. Some of the comments I got was that Scarlet Witch really stood out, with her helmet and her lack of bangs, since all the other icons have them. Also when I first created them, I did all the necks individually and that was one of the things pointed out the most. This feedback helped me revise my draft a second time. I also thought I could get away with different hair types if I had more icons and still have bangs on each one, but with some different elements,

This time, I removed Scarlet Witch and Captain Marvel as they are not as recognizable with their costumes, and added more iconic figures like Storm, Rogue, Mystique and The Invisible Woman. I also adjusted the necks to be the same across the board. On the second round of critiques however, it was evident that The Invisible Woman and Black Widow did not stand out, and also that something was wrong with the way my laptop showed the blue color. I found the blue hex code but for some reason it kept showing up more like a purple. I am so glad we were able to be critique and help one another, because that is something that definitely helped during this design process and helped me create a better final product.

FINAL PRODUCT

With all the feedback I received, I decided to remove Black Widow and the Invisible Woman because they weren’t as recognizable as the other 4 characters. On the top row starting from the left it’s Storm and Mystique. On the bottom row starting from the left it’s She-Hulk and Rogue. I made Storm’s hair a little grayer to make sure she stood out from a white background. I used another computer to make sure my blue hex code was correct as well, as the blue is an iconic part of Mystique’s design. I also decided to add a little yellow to the costume, a callback to her yellow eyes. I was pretty happy with the other two characters, so I left them the same. I really think all these elements and colors make the characters recognizable and it’s something female comic fans would really enjoy. Here are the other sizes for web use of my icons.

 

 

CONCLUSION

This is just one example of the importance of the design process and making sure you think of your audience every step of the way. If I had simply started designing without doing any sketches I would have had a few tries at designs that were too complex and weren’t close to the minimalist design I was going for. The feedback was extremely important to perfecting my design and keeping the characters recognizable to my target audience. Another thing that really helped me was maintaining those design elements that make the characters iconic, like their skin color, hair, and costumes. The colors are the things that really stand out the most. Although my design is not perfect I really think I accomplished my goal of creating something my target audience will understand and appreciate.

 

 

How to Create a Magazine Spread

For the project these last two weeks, we were asked by LDS.org to take an article and create a three page original layout, including, a spread and cover, using InDesign. We had some specifications on what we needed to include for the article, and because a big part of design in knowing your audience, and making a draft report, I did that first. Once the message and audience were solidified, I made some sketches to get an idea of what I wanted the design to look like. Only after I did all this, I started working on my magazine spread and cover in InDesign.

THE ARTICLE

This had to be the first step because it dictated who the audience was an the message I wanted to convey.  After reading a few, I came across Helvécio Martins’ general conference talk from 1990, “The value of a Testimony.” https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1990/10/the-value-of-a-testimony?lang=eng.  To me, the message was simple but important, something that could really resonate with the youth. I narrowed down my audience to male and female LDS members, 16-20 years of age, who are still young in the gospel, and are questioning how to strengthen their testimonies. My message was to evoke energy as a way to represent the importance of having an active testimony of the gospel. With this in mind, I knew my design had to have bright that would be eye-catching and energetic, but more on that later.

THE SKETCHES AND REQUIREMENTS

With my audience and message in mind, I made 3 sketches of potential covers and spreads. I had a requirement of 3 pages, 8.375” x 10.875”, and had to include a spread. The article with 600+ words and no subheadings, as I had to add at least 3 of them to the article were they would be naturally. The layout had to have at least 2 columns, include a pull quote, two original relevant pictures, and one word wrap. Other important elements of good design I had to incorporate were consistent headings and body copy as well as contrasting typography throughout.  I tried to include as many of these requirements as I could when doing my sketch. Although my design doesn’t necessarily look exactly like just one the sketches, but more of a combination, doing this really helped me think about my requirements and the type of layout that would look best.

THE DRAFT

After the sketches, I went out and took a few pictures. I thought a picture of the temple and one of someone reading the scriptures would be appropriate for this article, since both reaffirm the value of a testimony. Above are the unedited pictures.

Then I thought about what colors would not only look good together, but also would help the overall message and engage the audience. For my main title I thought a warm color would be good because warm colors help the text come forward. I chose a yellow-orange hue because of this and because we tend to think of yellow as an energetic color, inserting that energy into my design. For the subheadings and background of my cover I thought and aqua hue would be good because it’s still very bright but also conveys the calmness that the gospel brings us, but it also makes a nice contrast with the yellow-orange hue. Together, these colors  are part of a secondary triad, but I chose to leave out the violet to make the design more clean and simple.

With all this in mind, the clean and simple yet energetic, design, I played around with different typography. For the body copy, I wanted to use Times New Roman in 12 pt. font (an Oldstyle font), because this is the font I typically think of the Ensign has. For the title and subheadings, I chose a sans serif font, Gill Sans MT, because it’s simple and easy to read. I used a different weight of the font for the title and subheadings as well, to create some contrast.

My draft came out like this:

PDF available at: file:///C:/Users/nelva/Documents/BYU-I/MAGAZINE%20SPREAD%20DRAFT2-NelvaMoran.pdf

Another element I wanted to add was repetition, to connect the cover and spread together, not only with the colors and typography, but also with design elements. I added yellow lines next to the title and author name, and added those line at the top of the spread and the “Continue reading on LDS.org” to bring attention to that piece of information, as well as making that bold. I also decided that my pull quote could be eye-catching if I made it “creep” into the page in the corner. All these design decisions came together for my draft.

REVISIONS AND FINAL PRODUCT

After posting my draft on Facebook to have my work critiqued, getting feedback from my teacher and friends, I changed a few elements of my design:

PDF available at: file:///C:/Users/nelva/Documents/BYU-I/MAGAZINE%20SPREAD%20FINAL-NelvaMoran.pdf

The feedback I received was to make the wraparound the circle as well, make the circle bigger so the text inside had a good border, make the headings closer to the corresponding paragraphs, and add contrast to the cover by making the word “testimony” bolder and adding blue to the author’s name because it got lost on the skin in the picture. I really thought this feedback was helpful and made my design easier to read, and some suggestions were things I hadn’t thought of.

CONCLUSION 

I really think this project helped me understand the design process and how to work with InDesign. Although I had some problems with the program while creating it, I was able to get help or figure things out. I also realized how important the planning process was. Like in film, you don’t just go straight to shoot scenes without a plan. Your audience and message are the things you need to focus on when creating your design, as we want our product to catch the eye and be read. Keeping in mind those things when using colors, fonts, pictures, elements, will help improve design skills in the long run. Being open to criticism is important, since we may get better ideas and input from someone else. Overall, I know this design may not be perfect, but I feel more adequate with the skills i have obtained after doing this project.