It’s All About Framing
I set out to make a poster advertising a Write-In, where a whole school is engaged in an all-day writing process of drafting, revising, and publishing. The poster needed to generate interest, highlight themes, and provide basic information. Last week I took a stab at a design in a way that spoke to my target audience.
This week I collected feedback from my peers, professor, coworkers, and even a few of young “clients”. What was great about my process is this is that I was partaking in the very activity that is the heart of the writing event itself—reflective revision.
Roughing it Out
For my initial process, I put pen to paper and sketched some ideas. I naturally gravitated toward the Rule of Thirds, similarity, repetition, and proximity in my drawings, highlighting Gestalt principles we’d learned in class.
I also used bright colors and clear fonts, common in elementary school materials, while experimenting with placement considerations and imagery. I used one of my own images of a pencil and found one free to use for my background.
In seeking feedback, detailed my design process and technical work, then shared reflective questions. All responses were kind and helpful. The suggestions steered me toward create a better-looking product.
I like to categorize feedback to organize and prioritize considerations. First, reviewers really dug the pencils. People liked their shape, coloring and quantity. I gave myself a pat on the back as this was an image I created from scratch. People also liked the font choices, text placement, and use of bright colors.
Next, I’d asked viewers where a QR code should go and the overwhelming opinion was alongside the lowest text. This left a space in the upper right that needed additional imagery to create balance.
Additionally, it was suggested I punch up the background image to create a more dynamic background and reconsider the coloring of text to highlight “Together” rather than the verbs.
Lastly, while having lines of text and notebook paper running perpendicular to the pencils created visual interest, the pink margin line of the notebook paper was distracting from foreground images.
Time to Polish
I was excited to actualize the technical suggestions and see what came of them.
First, I changed the verb text layers to black, Regular font. Then I made the “Together” layers Bold before recoloring them. I tried pink to balance the pencil erasers but this was too washed out so I switched to the green of the metal pencil bands. While I know from color theory that greens and reds can compete in images, the white space helped counter that competition. I used the Smooth Anti-Alias tool on all text layers and set the second “Together” as italicized and underlined.
Next, I changed font size of the lowest text layer to 18 and added a second line with a fictitious date before shifting the text to the left. I created a QR code as a placeholder and embedded this image to the right of the text.
I still had the gaping hole at the top, hungry for some kind of treatment. I decided an eraser would fit the theme, the space, and the color balancing needs.
I couldn’t source and image I wanted, so it was back to the light box. I hunted down two pink erasers from my daughter’s backpack and set up a photoshoot.
After a brief, feline interruption, I captured an image and used the Magnetic Lasso to select the shape I preferred and make a layer copy. I used the Soft Round Brush to correct pink over two yellow marks before applying the Rough Pastels filter I’d used with the pencils.
One eraser was not enough so I made two more copies and placed them at active angles in the corners, better balancing the objects on the design. Bingo.
New problem: eraser pink did not match pencil pink. I created an adjustment layer to brighten the images with the white slider at 181, gray to 1.11, and black to 6 before using the brush tool to only show the change on the erasers. This page by Adobe outlines the process and provides practice images (great for newbies like me).
With the foreground sorted, I focused on the background. I selected the layer, used Transform to resize, and moved the pink margin line to line up with the far left pencil. Lastly, I wanted to maintain the excitement of a crisp, blank sheet of paper but make the notebook paper more dynamic. I added a layer with the Text Grunge Vignette free-to-use image from Pixabay.com, set it at 80% opacity, and used Blue Gradient focused on the bottom of the page that fades upward. This was the ticket to making the pencils and erasers pop.
I could probably work and rework this image for eons. I already want to rearrange the components on a solid background, for digital distribution, select a few components to make a social media image, and otherwise continue to tweak.
As they say, design is iterative and editing is a very good thing to practice.