Category Archives: Part3 Visual language

Assignment 3, Colour me…

The brief requests to produce a poster (297mm x 420mm) that celebrates a colour of my choice. I am asked to choose a colour that is special to me and to work only with that colour, its complementary colour and black and white.

Keywords for this assignment: poster, colour, brown, white, black, meaning, text, collage, illustrations, photographs, tints, shades, creativity, limited palette, visual dynamics, contrast and texture.

The colour that I will celebrate in this assignment will be brown. I have always been fond of brown, it is a very rich and stong colour in my opinion, it is earthy and is seen wildly in nature. It reminds me of soil and tree trunks.

220px-Color_icon_brown_v2.svgI find brown to be very pleasing to the eye, without being loud and harsh. My eyes and hair are brown, so guess also for that reason brown has been always special to me. While thinking about brown for this project, I also realized that I have lots of brown clothes, shoes, handbags, eye shadows etc.

I started the research by looking at different illustrations, collages, paintings etc. that have a lot of brown in them. By doing this I want to see what complementary colour to choose for the poster and to see how brown is used in different images.

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After doing the research I decided for the complementary colour to be blue. Following are a few examples of illustrations and photographs with blue and brown together:

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I also remember how much I liked the brown/blue combination in the guidebook cover for Montreal in the Abstract cities exercise:



I want to include in the collage subjects somehow connected to me, as I would like for it to be a representation of what is important and close to me, but I would also like to keep with the earthy theme.

I decided to paint the background in watercolours. I included brown, blue and white in it. The soil will be represented by brown, it will merge into blue and white, that could be water or sky.

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The other idea for the background that I wanted to try out was weaving it on a weaving loom:


I used similar colours to the watercolours background. I like the texture of the background made out of wool, but I suspect that it might be a little overpowering and busy for a background. I also tried a background made out of newspaper clippings, a photo of one of the doors in my apartment and a photo of my schetchbook placed on the wooden floor:







I decided to use 5 letters spelling brown in my collage. I wanted to incorporate blue into the text as it is my complementary colour.

The other element will be a brown eye collage:


I made it out of pieces of paper, I am really happy with the way it came out. It will add a piece of me to the collage as I have brown eyes and the colours I used in it keep with the colour palette I chose for this project. The eye is quite striking and should add to the final collage.

I also wanted to include a brown garment and brown hair to represent me in my work and to keep with the brown theme. I found a model in a fashion magazine wearing a brown coat and she has brown hair. I thought I might use it:

20141007_114919 I decided to cut out all the extra bits out and only leave hair, coat and arms. In one cutout I left her blue top as it is my complementary colour that I am using.

I did some experimenting with the different elements of the collage.







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Poster 1

Poster 1

The background turned out to be most difficult. The first few ideas just did not work. The watercolours  background made the piece look washed out and the background I made on the weaving loom was overpowering. In the end the photo of my sketchbook suited the collage best. It took me a while to incorporate the text into the piece. At first I wanted to place the paper cutout letters in the bottom left corner, but then I decided that placing them on a circle will make it look cohesive and I thought it did. I just filled the white circle with the watercolour background and placed it in such a way so that the figure overlays it. I think the text looks less out-of-place like that.

Poster 1

Poster 1

The second poster will share some elements with the first one, but I will try to make it different by introducing some new elements. I will use the white circle with the text, background and the eyes from the first poster. I want to make a woman’s face out of paper. I started by ripping brown pieces of paper and arranging it into a hair shape. I used different magazines to get different shades of brown.  I also made a hair collage out of smooth pieces of paper, but I prefer the ‘ripped’ effect.


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I am happy with the way it looks. The ripped pieces give the hair a nice and full texture. For the face I wanted to make a collage out of a few different parts of different models’ faces merging into one. I experimented with 4 rectangles that I put together to make a face and I tried putting together horizontal stripes.

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I decided to use the face made out of 4 rectangles. The next step was to add the eyes I made and used in Poster 1. I simply covered the model’s eyes with my paper eyes.


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I am happy with the way the elements look together. The eyes are very intense and staring. I decided to keep them large comparing to the size of the face to make them pop out more. I used text in a similar way I used it in the previous poster. I just put it in the bottom right corner, so it looks like the person in the poster is wearing a badge on her coat. The blue coat completed the picture, it gave me the opportunity to attach the badge with the text to it and to use the complementary blue in the poster.

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The background is the same as in the previous poster, it is very neutral which suits this vibrant collage rather well. The final step was to crop the edges of the poster to put more emphasis on the eyes and the badge.

Poster 2

Poster 2

I am much happier with this poster than Poster 1. All the elements seem to work together. The blue bottom of the poster gives a nice variety from plenty of brown used in the top half.


My third collage will feature a silhouette of a woman walking. I want to incorporate a bit of nature into this poster. I started by sketching different trees with a silhouette of a woman walking across.

20141019_162856For the background I used a picture of a brick wall, I like the texture of it and it keeps with the brown theme. I transferred a picture of a coat I found in a fashion magazine into Photoshop. The coat was originally very fair, so I changed the colour of it to brown with a washed out bottom part.

collage9The poster is celebrating brown colour, so I added a number of brown elements to it. The next element that I added was hair. I took a picture of my own hair and incorporated it into the collage. The hair will cover the whole face. This element represents me and the brown theme.

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My complementary colour is blue, I added just one blue element, which is a blue shirt, peeking out of the open coat. The blue colour will not be present as vastly as in the previous collages. I added brown suede boots and legs to complete the model. I wanted to add a black and white colour into the collage by adding a newspaper that the model with carry in her hand. I found a picture of a blank paper online and I added text to it in Illustrator. The title will spell ‘BROWN’ and there will be a few columns of text imitating an article about brown colour, that the person in the poster just read or is just about to read. I used the pattern I made on a weaving frame for Poster 1, but I never used it for it. I cut out just the brown bottom, as it will imitate the soil the model is walking on.

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Initially, I wanted to incorporate a tree into the collage, but then I decided to abandon the idea, as I thought that the silhouette will be made out of a number of elements and I did not want to make it too cluttered. However, after having made the whole silhouette, it seemed to me that the collage did not look complete and rather bare on top. Therefore, I decided to include more elements that the woman is likely to come across on her autumn walk and elements that will add to the celebrating of brown colour. First, I added a bare tree, that I thought filled out well the empty top of the collage. I thought a wooden bench,  placed behind the silhouette, was a pleasant addition to the background.

Poster 3

Poster 3


These are my final collages:

Poster 1

Poster 1

Poster 2

Poster 2

Poster 3

Poster 3

I found the making of this assignment exciting, rewarding and painful at the same time. It all started very well for me, the cutouts and collage elements I made at the beginning of the assignment, made me think that the assignment will be easy and pleasant as I came up with a few elements so quickly and was rather happy with what I made. Then came the first bump, which was putting together the first collage. I really struggled with making all the elements work together, everything looked well in my mind, but then when I had the outcome on a screen in front of me, it looked completely different from how I imaged it. The first poster took me a while to make. I am still not completely happy with it, but at least I got over the frustration while making Poster 2 and 3. The next 2 posters were completely different. I seemed to like what I was creating, how it all looked together and I had more ideas. I was happy with the way I used space in those collages. The elements in the three posters represent me and what I like about brown colour. I enjoyed making some elements myself, instead of having everything done on a computer.


Photomontage and collage

I am asked to make a montage or collage with a political message. I will try to make three pieces. They will be about the same issue, but I will try for the message to be slighty differently communicated in the three pieces. My work could be used by someone who is against keeping pets at home. For some people an animal in a cage can be a great companion that is well looked after, for others it can seem cruel and unnecessary. I will portray the latter point of view. I do not want my work to be too preachy or serious. I would prefer for the message to be presented in a lighthearted and playful manner. I am planning on incorporating birds into all three collages as a bird stuck in a cage is a strong message in itself.

For the first collage I used a photo of a tree from my Polish guidebook.

20140922_103537I placed a few images of the canaries on the photo of the tree. I used images I found on the internet that are permissible for noncommercial use.

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I drew a simple bird-cage that I placed at the bottom of the tree. The cage will stand out against the dark trunk.



I placed one canary in the cage with others looking at it from up above. Hopefully the distance between the caged canary and the rest of the birds sitting freely on branches will make a viewer think. Each bird has a white outline to make it more visible against the dark branches.


Poster 1

Poster 1

The second piece will be a playful photomontage. I will use a photo of a street that I took.


The main image is a photo of a canary that I found online.


The bird’s expression suits the meaning of the photomontage well. The bird is supposed to carry a pet shop as if the canary wanted to get rid of it and dump it somewhere. The flying feathers and the bird’s expression indicate that there might have been a bit of a scuffle just before kidnapping of the pet shop. By this action the bird might be venting its frustrations, because it was caged once and does not want more animals to suffer.


Poster 2

Poster 2

The third piece is the one I enjoyed most making. After using mostly Photoshop making the previous two pieces, I decided to use magazine cutouts for this one. I went through a fashion magazine and cut out pieces of paper with different colours and patterns.

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The idea for this montage is to make up a few houses and birds out of the colourful bits of paper. There will be 4 buildings in the collage with birds sitting on each of them except for one that is a pet shop. The birds will try to stay away from it in the fear of being caught and sold as pets. The message is supposed to be playful, even a little humorous. I transferred the elements into Photoshop at the end to move them around and adjust them. I added background and the banner on the pet shop.I enjoyed making this collage, it was nice to make things myself, instead of having everything done on a computer.


Poster 3


I am not sure how clear is the message that the tree pieces are supposed to convey, but I believe that they could be incorporated by a client into a poster with text that could help to communicate the message that they would like to convey. I am content with the fact that I managed to keep the ideas lighthearted, without getting too dramatic and grim. Making the third collage allowed me to play around with paper cutouts, it was interesting to see how many different patterns you can find on nearly every magazine page that could be used in a collage.

Working with colour – Abstract cities

In this exercise I am asked to produce 10 abstract designs that are going to be used as covers for guidebooks. The books are going to be A5 landscape in format. I can use as many colours as I like and I need to include the name of the city on each cover.

I started the exercise by doing research about the cities that the guidebook covers are for. I decided to use colours included in the coat of arms of each city so as to allow for the colour palette used to have a unique connection between each cover and the associated city.

The blocks of colour will present one of the city’s landmarks. I did a research and chose landmarks that I think should work as illustrations of colourful blocks, loosely based on the shape of the landmark. I do not want the illustrations on the cover to be the exact copies, but I want them to imply the chosen characteristic place of each city. For Madrid I chose Puerta de Alcala monument, Malmo-HSB Turning Torso skyscraper, Managua-Masaya Volcano, Manchester-Beetham Tower, Manhattan-Empire State Building, Marrakech-Badi Palace, Marseilles-Abbey of St.Victor, Melbourne-Old Treasury Building, Montreal-Place des Arts,  and Mumbai-Rajabai Clock Tower.

The blocks I used are rectangles and squares. They are all filled with different colours, I used different gradients in some blocks to achieve a sense of depth and variety.

There will be also a name of each city included on the cover. The city’s name will be placed on a white rectangle that will form a speech bubble. I thought that a speech bubble will be appropriate in this case. Communication is such a big part of travelling, it helps you find what you are looking for, it helps you get around. Therefore the speech bubble should work telling the reader the name of the place the guidebook is about. The rectangle is white with the city’s name written in black Myriad Pro Bold, so the title is clearly visible and stands out against the colourful illustration and background. The way I placed the speech bubbles looks as if the landmarks were telling the names themselves. The illustrations’ positions vary, some of them stand up straight, while others lay flat, like the Rajabal Clock Tower in Mumbai.


These are my creations:

madrid  malmo managua  manchester manhattan  marrakech marseille  melbourne montreal  mumbai







I think I experimented quite a lot with the blocks, trying to make a cover I would be happy with. The one I am most happy with is the Montreal cover with an illustration of the Palace des Arts, I think that the different shades of brown work well as background and pillars, combined with windows made out of brown and blue blocks. The title in the upper right corner completes the cover.

Place des Arts in Montreal

Place des Arts in Montreal



Guidebook cover for Montreal


Understanding colour

I am asked to create two grids of squares, filling one with colours that I like and the other one with colours that I dislike.

I created 2 rows of 4 squares each. The 4 squares on top are colours that I like: pale blue, black, white and brown. The bottom line of squares contains colours that I am not so fond of.


After putting the colours I like together I noticed that they do not really attract attention as they are not vibrant and look rather serious. I have always liked black and white (separately or together), dark brown as it is a very earthy colour and bright blue as I find it calming and delicate.

On the other hand the 4 colours in the bottom row contain colours I have no liking for. I do not really hate any colours, but if I had to choose 4 colours that I dislike, it would be those. The orange and green (together or separately) always remind of a carrot and pea mix I had to eat and hated as a child, but I am fond of dark greens, but this bright one does not appeal to me, just as the light purple and khaki. Those colours seem to be much softer than the ones in the top row. I cannot really say which row looks better, but I do realize that most of the colours I picked as my favourite ones are rather dark and restrained. The bottom row, even though not my favourite, is looking much lighter, happy and gentle.

Below are colour combinations I created based on the 2 rows of colours above.



Different combinations of two colours to illustrate the following ideas:





Visual dynamics – Seeing the light

I am asked to create 20 different designs using an image of a light bulb, the word ‘light bulb’ and a block of colour.

I chose to use a yellow block in my designs as I thought it would go well with the image of a light bulb, the image contains very muted colours so the yellow provides a vibrant contrast. For the word ‘light bulb’ I chose a black Calibri Regular font to stand out against the other two elements. I experimented a lot with all three elements trying to change their size, cropping the photo and using the yellow block as a background for the whole design, as a single block or just as a yellow line resembling the beam of light that the bulb generates.

I really enjoyed this exercise, it was interesting to see how a small number of elements can allow for such a large number of different designs when their size, position etc is altered  and how the dynamics between them change.

1  2  3  4  5


6  7  8  9  10


11  12  13  14  15


16  17  18  19  20

I am content with the 20 designs. I think that the image of the light bulb, the black font and the yellow block make up a light and fresh design. My favourite is the design with the white background, large black lettering going across and the little image of the light bulb placed as a dot above the letter ‘i’ with the beam of light:


I also like the more classic design with the word ‘light bulb’ placed on top as a title and the clear image of the light bulb resting on the yellow rectangle. It is a predictable concept, but I like the way it is uncomplicated and direct:






Reading images – Signs and symbols

The aim of this exercise is to create my own symbol for one of the following concepts: Danger, Movement, Love or Here. Keywords for Love come to mind easily, therefore I decided to create a symbol for Love.


After writing the keywords I started choosing the ones that will represent love in a clear and easy to understand way.


The symbols that I will use will be: dove, sun, heart and rose. The symbol I will make will be made up of the illustrations of those four symbols that are associated with love and they will spell the word ‘love’. I want to combine a number of symbols and colours into one as love represents something different to everyone, but the separate elements will be united to create the word love. I sketched those symbols on paper to see how they can represent each letter of the word love. The letter L will be represented by a flying dove, O will be a sun, V will be a heart and E will be a rose.

I made the illustrations in Illustrator, but was not pleased with it. The images look uninteresting:


I decided to use a different method and I drew the illustrations on paper with colour pencils. I filled up the shapes with different patterns. The letter L is a brown dove, O is a red sun, V is a green heart and E is a purple rose. I decided to shuffle the colours a little and not to use the most obvious colours in the images, therefore letter V is a green heart instead of a more obvious red.

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I took pictures of the illustrations and transferred them into Photoshop, I was most happy with the layout of the letters in a square shape, with the two first letters on top and remaining two at the bottom.


I am happy with the way those four symbols look and work together and that I tried a different approach after the first one did not seem to work.


Visual Literacy: A visual diary

The first item that I will include in my visual diary will be a BoConcept catalogue. It is a Danish furniture manufacturer. I got their catalogue a few years ago and I kept it. I like the way the items are photographed and shown in the catalogue. it is full of simple images, usually on the white background. The item sometimes seem raw as they are displayed in a minimalistic manner with no adds-on to make it look more appealing or easier to fit in.

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The colour scheme is very attractive and complements the type of furniture that BoConcept make. It is full of ‘cold’ colours like white, black, brown, pale blue or grey, but every now and again you do get a pop of some strong colour.

Even if it is not for furniture, the catalogue is still worth a look for the interesting and clean way the items are shown, for their no-nonsense approach and for their autumn-like colour palette.


The ad of Paul Smith shoes caught my eye:


It is interesting the way the colour of shoes and the background are nearly the same, but the product still manages to stand out and is clearly visible. the idea of a pair of hands holding the shoes instead of some posing models wearing them is refreshing and unexpected. The sheen on the shoes makes them look expensive and of good quality. The text is minimal, but the most important element which is the maker’s name is unmistakable.



I came across this page while flicking through a fashion magazine. I find the mix of images, colours and fonts very pleasing to the eye. the see-through bottles filled with the warm-coloured liquids look well against the white background and the black text completes it nicely.



This ‘Sleep Quiz’ add from the National Geographic magazine is simple yet effective. The contrastive colours are striking and it is a good example of how very simple illustrations can work well. In a magazine like the National Geographic-full of beautiful photographs such a simple illustration attracts the eye as it looks a little out-of-place.



I find the idea if displaying news on unussual. It groups news stories with similar content. I guess it works for somebody who wants to see everything displayed at once on one page. The colour groups make knowing what is where easier. On the other hand I can see how most people would find it messy and cluttered. Unless you really want to have it all on  one page, a less busy display might work better and be less confusing for the viewer.


The next 3 images are Polish ads and magazine covers from the 1920’s and 1930’s.

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I have always liked the illustrations from that time. I based one of my cards for Assignment 1 on these type of illustrations. They are always so graceful and artistic. The two magazine covers are very colourful and so different from what we can see now on covers. The ‘Pani’ magazine is a monthly title published to this day and it still remains a very popular women’s magazine.


Those two booklets are from two museums in Dublin:

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The front of the first booklet represents current exhibition; Costumes Parisiens, Fashion Plates from 1912-1914. The illustrations give you an idea of what you can expect to see at the exhibition. The two blocks of text at the top work well giving visitors  all the essential information.

The second booklet works in a similar way. It advertises different events in Dublin with the work of Patrick Scott, an Irish graphic designer and architect, on the front page.


The following 5 images are taken from ‘The Picture Book’ by Angus Hyland.

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I bought this book recently to get some inspirations. It has all kinds of illustrations in it, from very basic to ones that require a lot of skill. I am hoping to use some elements from this book as a source of inspiration in my future work, it contains over 400 illustrations and they all are so different and inspiring.