To conclude my Letterpress project, I decided to make changes to my prints digitally as I was unhappy with how some of them turned out. The selection prints that I made changes to were my ‘Letterpress Est. 1440’ prints; after they were printed I was immediately unhappy with how they were unaligned. I was trying to show how bespoke Letterpress Printing could be, and although I thought that this was a good quality print, it looked too abstract for what I was trying to do.
I scanned my print into Photoshop, and added a Threshold adjustment layer to get the image black-on-white, from doing so the letters were made a lot easier to move and scale; by using digital methods I could easily manipulate my work, and I have to say that I prefer this print more once it had been aligned. I guess that concluding my project I can really say that although older, more traditional methods of printing can produce really great quality images – it just seems easier and more reliable using digital methods. Maybe this is why the older methods have all slowly stopped being used?
Working on the InDesign documents that we had previously produced, in this tutorial we were taking the basic layout principles to a much more advanced level – as well as altering paragraph and character styles. Firstly, we were shown how to add page numbers and chapter headings to pages; this could all be found under Type>Insert Special Character>Markers. Adding page numbers and chapter headings all had to be done on a Master Page that other pages would take reference from, this way all pages would show this information in a uniform and formatted way.
On a Master Page, section markers (e.g. chapter headings) appear as ‘Section’ (instead of the desired ‘Chapter 1’ for example) and page numbers appear as an ‘A’ (or ‘B’, or any other letter with reference to that Master Page) – it is only when you are to return back to your main document that you see the information that you intended (as shown above).
Not unlike Photoshop, InDesign has an Effects Window that allows the user to blend one item with another; this is done in the same way as Photoshop with effects such as Multiply, Hard Light and Difference appearing in both pieces of software. To evaluate the effectiveness of this feature, I placed a pink rectangle above my rubber duck photo and then blended the two with the Hue effect. Where my rubber duck photo was once yellow and red it was now pink and purple; in a similar way, I placed a green rectangle above the rubber duck photo on the opposite page and blended it in the same way. The Effects Window, although I can’t imagine that it is used much, works really nicely and can add a lot to a photo or text if used correctly.
Finally, we were introduced to Paragraph Styles and Character Styles; these different styles allowed the user to easily alter the styles to change the document – instead of having to highlight every single piece of text in the instance that a client may want an alternative typeface. The user has access to pretty much anything editable about a typeface, from indentation, to leading, to drop caps, to kerning, to ligatures – it is all here in the Paragraph Styles Window. The Character Styles Window on the other hand can be used to give any Paragraph Style new characteristics (e.g. italics) instead of having to create multiple paragraph styles. Thanks Neil!
I’ve never used InDesign before, so the prospect of this tutorial with Neil was an exciting one; like all introductions, our introduction to InDesign was a run through of the basic tools and uses of the programme – starting with how to tackle the New Document window.
Most of the information on the New Document window is self explanatory, for example, altering the page size here will give your document a larger/smaller page. However, it was interesting to learn that ‘Guttering’ is the space given between two columns (most often 4.233mm, representative of a 12pt space), and that not unlike Illustrator, ‘Bleed’ could be added to a document to give the printers (usually) a 3mm margin for error, ‘Slug’ can also be added to a document to give the author space to write notes of reference to the printer (e.g. if something out of the ordinary needs to be kept in mind for a certain page).
The screenshot above is a clear indication of a standard document, and InDesign showing the user guides; black represents page size, purple represents the page margins, red represents the Bleed of the page, and finally the blue guides represent where the Slug of the document is situated.
Our first task was to add a ‘Modular Grid’ (when the columns and rows layout to 1:1) to our document of 3 rows by 3 columns, with a Guttering of 4.233mm (or 12pt). Fitting the guides to the Margins instead of the Page helps to divide the space that we are going to be working in – rather than the page itself.
We were introduced next to the Rectangle Frame tool, a tool used for inserting media into an InDesign document; it was easy to create these frames in line with our documents, because of the Modular Grid that we had previously created. I inserted a picture into one of these frames (CMD+D), an illustration of mine – ‘I Like Birds’; by playing around with the yellow handles on the edge of the frame, it was very straight forward getting nice, rounded edges to the picture. Also, InDesign seems to auto-crop the photo that you insert into the frame, leaving you with two options – moving the image around inside the crop to decide on which part of the photo you want to show, or fitting the photo to the size of the frame with another of InDesign’s tools.
Next for us to have a play around with was the Type Tool; this is very similar to that of InDesign’s sister design software: Photoshop and Illustrator. There are two ways to using the Type Tool, click for freestyle typing or click and drag to create a textbox with boundaries. Unlike Photoshop and Illustrator however, there was option here to ‘Overflow’ into other textboxes; by selecting the first textbox and the one following, InDesign enables you to fill up one textbox and then overflow into another somewhere else on the page. Also, I’m pretty sure that there is no cap on the amount of textboxes linked, so this technique can be used several times across a document/page. To have a play around with this we used the ‘Fill with Placeholder Text’ command in the Type menu, this simply fills up the selected textbox and all overflows with standard, Latin copy.
To finish up, we were all told about the importance of a Master Page – a page within a document that holds the key to all other pages. Anything done on the Master Page is set out as a template for every other page (for example placing a blue rectangle on the Master Page places that rectangle on any page that the user tries to create after doing so, this can only be altered/removed by editing the Master Page once more). I feel that I learned a lot through doing this tutorial, and it was of great benefit to me. Having never used InDesign before, it was nice to try and get to grips with this piece of software that is so critical for a designer to master. I’m sure that I’ll pick it up quickly in the coming weeks when we dive into it some more. Thanks Neil!
The session started off with a brief recap on the Pen tool, followed by an introduction into the Blend Tool and the settings within; we were asked to blend two shapes, play around with the different blending options, and alter the paths that connected the two shapes. Above, is my final outcome of blending a hexagon with a rectangle - creating this nice N-shaped object; I found that by adding a Stroke to both the shapes gave the blend this nice virtual sort of feel, adding the Stroke to every step in the blend.
Our next task was to merge a Sans Serif typeface with a Serif typeface, using the Scissors/Knife Tool. Once we had ungrouped the type (we were instructed to use our initials, hence SB) to its rawest, vector outline – not forgetting to get rid of the compound mask (the holes that had been punched out of the B) – we could slice the letters in half. The typefaces that I chose were Lucida Calligraphy (Serif, top) and Calibri (Sans Serif, bottom).
The real challenge was to combine the two typefaces through the Join command (CMD+J) because of the way that Illustrator joined the two items; they were connected in a way that was often a straight line, with many kinks (because of the new anchor points trying to line up with the previous anchor points). Once the two halves were joined it was a matter of deleting unnecessary anchors with the Pen Tool to reduce kinks, and alter the way in which the paths were curved to try and make the new hybrid typeface look as natural as a serif-sans-serif typeface could. Playing with the anchor points, I accentuated the way in which the serif typeface was stylised – adding more stress onto the extra curves and points.
Lastly, I added finishing touches to my hybrid typeface; this was a matter of simply getting rid of those last kinks, and ensuring that both characters were of the same size. I enjoyed this session as I have never used the Scissors Tool, Knife Tool or Join command – so it was a really exciting method in which to pick these new skills up with, and I look forward to the In Design tutorials next week. Thanks Rich!
The Pen Tool, the Colour Mixer and the Pathfinder.
After the hour or so that we spent getting to grips with Adobe Illustrator (i.e. playing around with the concepts of drawing shapes, combining shapes, altering colours and altering paths), we were given an exercise in which we were asked to produce a colour wheel using the ready-made Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple. This involved placing circles within circles and rotating a series of lines to segment the circles – thus creating this colour-wheel-like shape.
It was simple to just place the flat, stock colours into the Wheel, but things became difficult when we had to find mid-way colours between two stocks; this was done by noting down a colour’s CMYK values (e.g. Blue: C 100%, M 90%, Y 0%, K 0%), finding its neighbour’s values (e.g. Purple: C 60%, M 90%, Y 0%, K 0%) and then finding a midway point of all of these values (in the examples given – to create Lavender, see Colour Wheel).
After getting a flat colour wheel together, the next task was to create a Light-to-Dark gradient on the Colour Wheel to get the tints and shades of each flat colour; because the Colour Wheel was segmented through Divide (Pathfinder), it was easy to produce the gradient effect that was necessary. Each colour on my Wheel consisted of nine segments, the lighter tints were done through transparency and the darker shades were done through adding Black/Key to the colours in the Colour Mixer. Each colour was set out in this method:-
Segment 1: Trans 10%, Segment 2: Trans 25%, Segment 3: Trans 50%, Segment 4: Trans 75%, Middle Segment: Flat Colour, Segment 6: Key 25%, Segment 7: Key 50%, Segment 8: Key 75%, Centre Segment: Key 90%.
In the end we were left with this Colour Wheel (or something similar, as not everyone had the same approach). Although I have used Illustrator before, and found this session quite a basic introduction, I do still feel that it was an important, refreshing session; I know that for some people it was very enriching – and that works both ways because I have never opened In Design, and for some people I’m sure that the In Design sessions next week will be very basic, whilst for me they will be something new. I tried to approach this session with an open mind, and I really believe that I took the most from it. Thank you Neil!
This tutorial was started off with a photo of a desert scene, ruined by a Jeep parked right in the centre. Much like the practise documents that we had played about on (e.g. Healing Brush on the Rhino skin, Scratch Removal etc.) this image needed some serious attention on Photoshop if it was ever going to be saved.
First of all, instead of Clone Stamping the whole Jeep (which would become very tedious and not be an effective use of time), we were advised to select a part of the desert scene near the Jeep. This way, we could simply move this copied area over and cover up the Jeep. To select the area near the Jeep, we used ‘Refine Edge’ after selection; this just enabled us to manipulate our selection to best suit our needs (i.e. with an appropriate Feather and smoothness). Once we were happy it was time to paste the image over the Jeep.
Of course, pasting parts of an image over another part of the image is going to cause this disjointed, fragmented look; to aid this, a combination of the Clone Stamp, Eraser and the Healing Brush tools must be used in unison in order to make the alteration to the image look seamless.
A great session on Photoshop, adding to my knowledge of these tools to a more advanced level. Well worth the time spent altering these images, I look forward to the next Tutorial - Thanks Rich!
“The nicest thing that anyone has said about my work, is that it is always so suitable for purpose. Yes, make it attractive, but make it what the text needs it to be.”—John Kristensen of the letterpress studio ‘Firefly Press’, Summerville, South Carolina
Could this be the start of something brilliant? Will Arsenal ever win another trophy? Will my bread go mouldy before I get time to toast it? Well, these are all questions that I have thought about carefully and tried my best to answer; but the simple answer seems to be - only time will tell.
Becoming a designer was always an aspiration for me, but taking Art at A Level never really gave me the chance to tap into any of this passion as we focused more on traditional methods of working. Now at University level, I hope to take my passion and forge it into a way of life, career, and more importantly a learning experience. These are exciting times for me, and I hope to share some of my experience as I go hurtling head first into the Design Industry.
I hope to pack this blog beyond its bursting point with anything that I find in the Design World that makes me go ‘aahh’, ‘oooo’ or, indeed, ‘hmmm’. This isn’t a blog for me to show off my holiday snaps or photos of my dog (bless him), but instead, I aim to analyse pieces of work that inspire me, dissect pieces of work that perplex me, and try to show off some of the best work that I’ve created along the way.