FMP: Deciding on Typography

For this blog post I will be discussing the typography that will underpin the book and poster/print, forming an important part of the identity the designs will carry. Typography sets the voice and tone of the text for the audience, so it is very important I make strong decisions thinking about the target audience.

BBC Stargazing LIVE identity

Taking a couple of screenshots of the display typeface used by BBC Stargazing LIVE, I have to say I really think it is suitable for its purpose, with the reasonably thick weight, subtle angled strokes and a good contrast between thick and thin weights. The bright colours used also makes a strong contrast to the black backgrounds and makes the text noticeable, a positive characteristic. It also helps to lift the design from being too heavy, with the strong amounts of black.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 15.35.35

As for the main body copy, it looks like Helvetica Neue is used, which is suitable due to its strong legibility and clarity, but it is very conservative and does not build the impression of an identity that is unique to the show.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 15.36.08

I decided to search for the typeface on What Font is, and it came up with a lot of matches, and thankfully I was able to find a match for the typeface in the vast list, which was 232MKSD Round Medium.


Clicking on the typeface took me to a website in a foreign language that looked like an error page. Some more searching however, did turn the typeface up from the designer’s website, and thanks to Google Translate (as the site was in Japanese!) I was able to download it. This means I can factor it into my decision making process regarding typography for the project.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 17.02.03

Qualities I am looking for

From the research I have done, I am able to draw together a guide to characteristics the typeface(s) will likely need in order to be considered worthy of further examination. After that, I will then be in a position to make a final decision.

  • Highly legible. Why should text be difficult to read?
  • Clean & minimal. Overt decoration will take away from message.
  • Not overused. Helps build an identity as their own, not copied.
  • Flexible. Should ideally be available in different cases and weights.
  • Weight. Not too thin on black background for printing reasons.

Making a Shortlist

To decide upon a shortlist from the requirements above, I knew in addition to the typefaces I knew off the top of my head that may be suitable, I wanted to do some additional research and see what is out there. For much of this list, I refer back to some notes I made earlier in the project, as I was reading through Creative Bloq’s guide to the best free typefaces available. 

My notes on typefaces in the top-left corner.
My notes on typefaces in the top-left corner.

Below are the typefaces I have selected for consideration, six of which are sans-serif and the other two are serif. The bias towards the sans-serif in my shortlist suggests their approach is likely to be better suited to the audience it is aimed at, who need a dependable typeface with the qualities I listed in the above section.

  • 232MKSD
  • Avenir/Avenir Next
  • Fenix
  • Jura
  • Maven Pro
  • Nexa
  • Open Sans
  • Roboto

Conducting a Test-Print

I decided to conduct a test-print of the shortlist of typefaces to see how they would look in print, as on screen they always look a bit different and irregularities can occur, a classic case being Helvetica Neue, which can look terrible on-screen to me with distorted characters, but prints correctly.

Distorting text when zoomed out
Distorting text when zoomed out

This test-print features Lorem Ipsum placeholder text (randomised Latin text designed to simulate text when none is available) with the typeface set at 11 pt for body copy, 18pt for sub-headings and 24pt for headings. I mixed uppercase and lowercase letters as with some typefaces there will be a clear aesthetic preference. By testing a variety of sizes and weights, this helps give me a stronger guide as to which option is best for the project.


The test-print was very illuminating, with some points being immediately noticeable, while some factors emerged after looking at it for a while. Below I’ll briefly cover each typeface’s advantages and disadvantages, and then make a final decision.


For the test-print, only the bold and light weight are accessible to me as the others cost, so this restricts its flexibility, as the light weight is very thin, even as black ink on white paper so is unlikely to sit well against a black background. As for the bold weight, it is too heavy to be the body copy.

While this sans-serif typeface is clean and minimal, my research has shown it to have become a very ‘fashionable’ typeface, and therefore at the moment, there seems to be a surplus of people using it, which does not make it a good way of building the show’s visual identity.

Roboto & Open Sans

While two different typefaces, both are very similar and produced by Google so I will discuss them together. There is a very wide range of weights, which is excellent for providing a visual hierarchy. The light weights are aesthetically more pleasing as they are slightly more delicate, but won’t print as well, therefore the regular weight becomes of importance here.

Both typefaces would be suitable for the body copy, although I don’t think it is best suited for display purposes. This would mean it is best supporting a display typeface.

Maven Pro

A very similar proposition to Nexa, but the advantage is that I have access to a regular weight. However, the rounding off of the characters is a pure stylistic feature, and takes attention away from the text because of its unusual letterforms. Otherwise though it is a generic sans-serif typeface, with no specific advantage so it won’t be suitable for this project.


This typeface is also very close to Nexa, but is available in a far broader range of weights, meaning it is very flexible. However, the very low x-height gives the body copy an undesirable squashed profile, which is not preferred. Ideally for the body copy, I need a typeface that is anonymous in carrying the message rather than making a statement.


This typeface definitely stands out the most with some rather unique characteristics such as the mix of curved and gently angled strokes visible at larger sizes. Legibility is excellent, especially for the bold weight, achieved in a narrow width because of the high x-height. The bold weight also looks aesthetically more pleasing in upper case characters.

I think this typeface is best suited to a display purpose, but it could be used for the body copy as well. However, I would think that there are better typefaces that could be used for this purpose, as that high x-height and narrow width does not suit body copy, and tracking and leading would need to be increased heavily to compensate.


Upon examining it when printed, I can see Fenix is not suitable for use as a typeface in this project. It is similar to Jura, which I talk about below, but looks more traditional, which is not the voice I was looking for with this project. It’s availability in only one weight also holds it back here for me.


Jura is less traditional than Fenix, available in two weights, and has a much fresher aesthetic to it. I think it is a strong competent typeface in relation to its usability for this project. Being a serifed typeface though will mean I need to think about if the small, crisp serifs will print correctly on a dark background.


In conclusion, I think 232MKSD is the best typeface as it meets the criteria I discussed earlier in the blog post, with the exception of the ‘clean & minimal’ requirement if the typeface is to be used for the body copy. Therefore I will move on to investigating whether I need another typeface for the body copy. If I do, then Jura, Open Sans and Roboto will be candidates.

In-Depth Test Print – 232MKSD

With a primary typeface selected, I chose to do another test-print, this time focusing on trying out paragraphs and headings of text in different weights and sizes to see what the end result would be, to ensure I head in the right direction.


For the headings and sub-headings, I think the second option is the strongest as it makes the best visual hierarchy with the heading set in the Medium weight at 30pt in upper-case characters with the sub-heading if required, to be at 14pt, in sentence case, set in the light weight although I believe it may be better suited in the medium weight when set against a black background.


After looking at the body copy though with much more text that is not place-holding text like I used previously, my thoughts about it not being suited to reading are correct and I am not convinced this typeface should be used in this way. Therefore I shall look back at my shortlist and decide which typeface would be best for this purpose.

Choosing a body copy typeface

With the three candidates (Jura, Open Sans and Roboto) I mentioned I would fall back on previously, I then decided to mock them up on-screen and see what I thought with larger blocks of text, but this time on a black background. As I strongly expect most of the backgrounds to be black for the project to fit in with the imagery I have sourced, I knew it would make sense to view the type this way but chose to only do one test-print at the end if necessary to save ink.

Open Sans (top-left), Roboto (top-right), Jura (bottom)
Open Sans (top-left), Roboto (top-right), Jura (bottom)

So for now, I placed them together on the screen in slightly different shades of blue, and it became obvious rather quickly to me that the contrast between thick and thin strokes did not suit Jura, so it would be down to Open Sans and Roboto. After a lot of deliberation and showing other people and asking their opinion, I have chosen to use the Open Sans Regular typeface for the body copy. However, if down the line in the project it becomes apparent Roboto is better suited, then it does not take much effort to swap it over.


I then needed a test print to determine the correct sizes for the body copy, as I had done with the 232MKSD typeface. I experimented with the sizes of 10pt, 10.5pt, 11pt, and 12pt, and asked for opinions along the way to do with legibility and aesthetics and it became apparent 10pt was the strongest option.

Once I had run a successful test-print, I used a black background for the final test print, and trialled three different colours in accordance to the fact the design I create will be flexible to support a wide spectrum of colours and I want all the text to be legible.


The test-print was successful and highlights that the regular weight of Open Sans will be fit for purpose.

Choosing sizes, alignments and spacings

Now that I have chosen the typeface for the project and the sizes it will be displayed at, I want to spend some time making sure that it is refined for use.

Before (left) & After (right)
Before (left) & After (right)

One thing I immediately noticed in the test-print was how some kerning adjustments would need to be made in order to make the words sit properly on the page, something I even noticed was a slight issue with the BBC guides I analysed. The tracking is fine, especially when the kerning is sorted properly.

As for the leading, this won’t be a problem because being a display typeface, it won’t be used across several consecutive lines. Regarding the alignment, the text will be left-aligned with the left margin.

Open Sans
Before (left) & After (right)
Before (left) & After (right)

Being a typeface from a larger organisation, there is much less in the way of adjustments that need making, although some kerning adjustments will be needed. As for the tracking, I currently think it is best set to -10, as this gives the best consistent result, but as the project progresses, this may change.

With the leading, I felt the automatic value of 12pt was a little bit tight, so I have increased it to 13pt. As for the alignment, I will start with it left-aligned, because the column widths I decided upon in the last blog post are narrow, so justifying the text, even with changes to the justification settings will result in unequal spacing.

Paragraph Styles

Now I have chosen the settings I will be using for the project, it makes sense to have them as a preset instead of The other important reason for setting this up at the early stages is that a while ago my tutor showed the group how to save settings as a style, which means I can apply all the required settings in one-click.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 16.15.38

Below I have placed a couple of images of some of the options I’ve applied for the styles, in this case the main headings. There are a huge amount of options, of which I have only used some of the basic ones, but it is really an impressive feature and one I’m very glad I’ve learnt about as it will really speed up the workflow of the project.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 16.15.56 Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 16.16.08

Setting up a Baseline Grid

The final step is to set up a baseline grid in InDesign, to make sure columns of text are evenly applied throughout the book and between pages, helping to give a far more professional appearance to the book. A baseline grid can be set up by going to InDesign > Preferences > Grids… where the correct values can be applied.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 16.32.08

For this project, I want the baseline grid to start at the Top Margin, starting immediately there, hence why the value of 0pt is entered.
The increment value should be that of the leading, in this case it will be 13pt. As for the View Threshold, when the grid is visible, I do not want to it be excessively visible, so I chose the value of 50%.

Conclusion & Reflection

I am very pleased that I have made a choice, as it is a very important part of the visual identity. As it is, I was able to find the typeface used for the BBC Stargazing LIVE identity and thought it would make the most sense to keep using it as it is fit for purpose.

This is a much more in-depth process than I expected it to be, but I am really glad it turned out this way, as it means I have spent more time making some things are good, which is time I will gain back when it comes to making the designs.

Now that I know what typeface I will be working with for the project, it allows for the designing to continue at a suitable pace.

FMP: Underpinning the book with a grid and layout

Now that I am finally focusing my attention on the design of the book, it is important that I create a flexible grid that will suit whatever layout I decide is best to optimise the space. From some initial sketches, I can see possible paths forward.

How much space is there?

Firstly, I wanted to try some layout options, which can be seen in the sketches below. From the first sketch to the last, it is clear to see where progression has been made, with more of the page being used but giving everything proper breathing space. It is also clear to see I have throughout my ideas constantly improved the visual hierarchy to make the pages easier to read.


The next thing I did was to work out just how the best of my sketches would translate to the space I will have available to me. I know the dimensions are 22 x 28cm but they are just numbers and it is easy to not fully understand how that can be used.

Therefore, I marked out a spread on a sheet of A3 layout paper as close as I could (losing 10mm width per page), and could then easily draw out the best ideas and thoughts at a larger scale to allow me to have a basic understanding when I start putting things together in InDesign of what size they should appear at and if my ideas work, which I think they do, although adjustments will be needed, which I will make as I develop the project.


Once I got a rough idea how the space is best filled in the book, I moved into InDesign to build the book’s structure.

Creating a Grid

Going to InDesign > Preferences > Grids… allows me to choose a grid that suits. From previous experience I know the pages can be split into 24pt blocks. I chose for there to be 4 subdivisions as this allows there to be a smaller 6pt square block.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 17.28.02

I will set up the baseline grid in my next blog post, when I investigate the typography I will be using throughout the book.

On a smaller note, I changed the colour of the grid to a very light grey (using the Custom Color feature) as I wanted it to be visible, but not too distracting.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 19.03.38

Adding margins and columns

The next step to building a suitable structure to base the book on was to add some margins and columns. Blurb as default provide an 18pt ‘minimum’ margin, and recommend the margin is no thinner so as to prevent the possibility of parts of the design being cut-off when printed. To change the settings to suit me, I went to Layout > Margins and Columns

Blurb values
Blurb values
My settings
My settings

I chose to increase the margins to a still relatively thin 24pt, in order to maximise the amount of page the content can be shown on — once other design features such as headings have been taken into account — as I have sourced are large, good quality images.

I chose three narrow columns due to the page’s width, as with the amount of text the book will have being very low, I will want to be able to place it into a block one side of the page, leaving a two-thirds majority for images or infographics.

As for the gutters between the columns, I chose to keep this to 12pt, as this ties neatly into the underlying grid I created earlier and provides room for the content with some breathing space to prevent it from becoming too cluttered.


Now that I have created a suitable structure to underpin the book and come up with some strong layout ideas that I can experiment and develop in InDesign, I feel I am now making positive progression with the book.

Obviously, I would have hoped to have reached this stage earlier in-line with the schedule I set out for myself, but I think now I have reached the stage of mapping things out, I hope to be able to drop most of the book’s elements into place reasonably easy and hassle-free, making adjustments along the way.

FMP: Experimenting with photorealism and vector illustrations

At this time of the final major project, it’s time to experiment! For this blog post I will cover four paths I’ve taken:

  • Trying photorealistic effects by creating planets.
  • Working out how to highlight a constellation’s shape.
  • How to best create an infographic representing a planet.
  • Experimenting with design styles for the poster/print.

Creating a basic photorealistic planet – Earth

My photorealistic Earth-like planet! Below I explain how I achieved this.

A long time ago I came across an image on the Internet that stated how to create a photorealistic Earth-like planet in Photoshop. The techniques have stayed with me and I wanted to cover the basics here. The techniques involved produce interesting variations meaning experimentation is required to get the best from it.

Creating the file

I started by creating a new file, with the Width and Height set to 2000 pixels, and the Resolution to 300dpi to allow a high quality detail-packed image to be created that could be used for this project.

Creating a new document
Creating a new document
Creating the Ocean

I started by choosing the value #113948 as the  Foreground Color and filling the layer (Ocean Base) with it using the Paint Bucket.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 14.54.01

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 15.50.56

I then added a new layer (Ocean Details), set the Foreground Color to black and filled the layer. Then, I reversed the Foreground and Background Colors by pressing the ‘X‘ key to make it white.

I then added some texture by going to Filter > Render > Difference Clouds. By pressing Cmd + F several times, it repeats the filter, building up the clouds and therefore the level of detail present in the image. Using Difference Clouds instead of Clouds gives more detail.


Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 16.06.46

To remove the darker tones of the image to reveal the base ocean colour, I used the Blend If tool in the Blending section of the Layer Styles dialog box to blend the darker tones of the image with the underlying layer. To split the slider, press the alt key when dragging.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 16.18.04 Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 16.20.37

Reducing the Opacity to 30% fades the brighter areas of the layer.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 16.16.39

Adding a Gradient Map allows me to alter the colour to a much greater degree, allowing features to be picked out or reduced.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 16.29.00

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 16.28.37

Creating the Land

I added a new layer (Continents) and repeated the Difference Clouds procedure. Using the Magic Wand Tool, I set the tolerance to 125 so I could select most light sections of the clouds.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 17.08.48

By adding a new layer when the selection is still active, I could then use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill the selection with white. Then by deleting the Continents layer and re-naming Layer 1 as Continents, that leaves a lot of white space which becomes the basis for the land.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 17.10.56

That was a good starting place to introduce some random elements. But with a poor balance of land-to-sea, I wanted to change that to make it look much more realistic. This was achieved by using the Brush Tool, with a white brush with the Hardness set to 100% to brush away some of the exposed water.

Then to bring back different areas of water, I added a layer mask, set the Foreground Color to black, and chose a simulated paintbrush where the bristles would make harsh, jagged lines around the edge, giving a random edge that is much more realistic.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 17.10.56

After some time, it is possible to build up a much more realistic earth-like profile of land and sea, which I’m really pleased with.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 17.34.41

Because of the way I had set the file up, I then had to select Apply Layer Mask so I could fill the block of white with Difference Clouds.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 17.54.34

And as I did with the Ocean, I rendered some Difference Clouds onto the layer to create a lot of detail.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 17.55.36

As I did with the Ocean, I then added a Gradient Map, although this one was far more complex.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 18.51.47

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 18.48.29

After that, I added a Bevel and Emboss in the Layer Styles dialog box, to allow some depth to be added to the edges of the land.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.02.58

To have a more earth-like planet, there needs to be some ice at the poles, so I made a new layer, reselected the contents of the Continents layer, and brushed in white over the land, then reducing the Opacity of the layer to 85% to allow texture to show through.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.06.28

I then decided there should be a a couple of areas resembling a desert, so I chose the Brush Tool, experimented with the settings in the Brush Palette such as using Shape Dynamics and Color Dynamics to help create more randomised results.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 09.06.47

I wasn’t overly happy with the quality of the end result, so applied a Motion Blur which was successful in smoothing out the brush strokes, but keeping that natural look.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 09.07.28

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.06.44

Creating the Clouds

It is very important for this earth-like planet to have an atmosphere, so I rendered some Clouds in a new layer.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.33.00

Seeing then how the poles had been made rather grey by the clouds, I added a layer mask and removed them from that area, as well as couple of other areas to balance the sky a bit more.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.33.13

Finally, I added a motion blur to give a slight sense of motion to the atmosphere, and secondarily to the planet.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.33.28

Making it into a Sphere & Finishing

To make it into a sphere I pressed Cmd + AltShift + E to merge all the layers onto a new layer, from which I then selected the Elliptical Marquee Tool, and drew a circle, (holding the Shift key to keep it in proportion). Then I went to Filter > DistortSpherize and clicked OK in the resulting dialog box to apply the effect.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 09.10.37 Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.43.57

With the selection still active, I can press Cmd + J to duplicate it to a new layer, before switching the visibility of every other layer to do with the planet off.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.47.48

I previously had put the planet on a black background so I could judge the layer styles in relation to it. Here I began by adding a light blue Outer Glow to give it an outer atmosphere.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.50.42

I then enhanced that with a Bevel & Emboss which brightens the area of the glow that will later be lit.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.50.57

The final Layer Style I added was an Inner Shadow to simulate the side of the planet away from the light source. The Outer Glow is visible though as that is lit from behind.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.51.20

However, I felt the area was still too bright, so I made a new layer, brushed in some black, and applied a Gaussian Blur to soften it.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.51.58

Now to add some light to the top left corner of the planet, I selected a white soft brush and clicked a couple of times, before changing the Blending Mode to Soft Light and reduce the Opacity to 85% to create a diffused effect.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.52.59

I then added another layer and clicked again to create a smaller, brighter spot that is the main focal point. The planet is complete.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.53.10

Adding a Background:

I decided to continue and add some detail to the black night sky background such as a major form of light, so I created a new layer, filled it with black, and added a Lens Flare.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.53.45

I then positioned it to be behind the top-left corner of the planet to create a suitable lighting effect.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.54.13

I then added some stars around the edge using the Brush Tool with some Shape Dynamics, Scattering and Color Dynamics options selected to create a more varied result.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.54.28

The final step was to darken the zone around the planet and in the shadow by adding a Layer Mask.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 11.54.39


Overall, I think this is a really interesting experiment, and although it may not be needed in the project, it has helped to build my skills, and may prove useful elsewhere, an example could be that rendering clouds in constellations to represent galaxies or nebulas could become a possibility. It could even work for other planets, such as a Venus-like planet that I created below.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 13.25.30
Venus-like planet

Upon looking at free packs of rust textures, I have also found it is possible to create really impressive realistic planets using these when the right effects are applied to them as can be seen below.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 13.25.18
Mercury-like planet

Constellations - Vector illustrations

This is easily the most primitive stage of experimentation I have started so far. As of yet, this is not very developed as I want to achieve the right style before I spend time on creating the detailed illustrations I will need.

So far I have experimented with a geometric style, with very angular lines to mirror the lines drawn in star charts and maps between the stars that form constellations.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 16.31.44
The top-half of Orion
Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 16.31.33
The tail of Scorpio

I think there is some potential here, and I quite like the style, but there is still a very long way to go before these illustrations could be considered worthy of the final design.

Infographic Illustrations – Planet Factfiles

Knowing that space will be at a premium in the book, I decided that for the planets, I will need a really concise, but detailed infographic that allows the audience to view information. Obviously with a lot of information, it has the potential to be a mess, so it is important that the redundant elements are stripped out. Below is a list I made of the elements I wanted to include. More may be added as time progresses.

  • Size.
  • Distance.
  • Temperature Range.
  • Wind Speed.
  • Structure.
  • Length of Day/Year.

I started experimenting with some basic vector shapes to test ideas.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 13.09.43

It soon developed rather quickly, to feature all the information I’ve listed about. I think this is a strong first design, and gives me a very good base to develop from. I am also tempted to include information about the number of moons, but am concerned this would make the design far too busy. If the design becomes cleaner as I develop it, then this will definitely be the way to go.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 15.46.24

Most of the facts above are accurate, although some are placeholder values. This was just to allow myself more time designing and less time sourcing information. Below I’ll explain some of the design decisions I took:


To represent what a planet is made of, I thought of splitting the planet in two or creating an cross-section. However, this has commonly been done, and is not the most simple way of conveying the information. However, what idea I did take from this is to have the pie chart in the planet, rather than outside, saving space. I then cut the middle out of the pie chart to show more of the planet.


Inspired by the Kurzgesagt motion infographics, I used a similar system, but this goes around the entire planet with the axis points being a marker between maximum and minimum temperatures. This definitely needs some more work.

Wind Speed

Represented by a couple of dashed arrow lines, this helps to suggest motion. However, winds go over the planet, not around it, so there may be a better way of showing wind on the planet.

Size & Distance

For this, I used the Sun and Earth, due to their familiarity to the audience. Both can be used as a common yardstick for the audience to judge such factors by, helping them gain an understanding of the large figures.


Basing this around the planet’s axis helps to convey the spinning of the planet that determines the length of day. The length of year is compared to the Sun, so I still need to think if I need to show this as well in a informative manner.

Star Chart poster/print:

Brightness (Magnitude)

This experiment is in relation to the keys I have seen on star maps and charts where the magnitude is highlighted only through size instead of brightness, so this is prime for experimenting with.

With my first attempt in Photoshop, I experimented with Opacity levels as well as size using a soft brush. There is a big variation here, and I think it is too much for both opacity as the smaller stars look very grey, which is not ideal as stars in the sky don’t look grey.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 13.48.46

For my second attempt, I made the size similar and lessened the contrast in Opacity, which I think is a slight improvement, but will probably need approaching from a new angle.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 14.04.52

I then decided to clear my head and experiment with a completely different approach, similar to the one discussed above with the planet fact-file, that focuses on clean, bold graphics that were especially legible, that would give a strong visual priority to the scale of magnitude the key shows. I also chose to investigate how the planets could look on a star map, and test design elements at different sizes to see how flexible they are.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 17.39.16

I started off above with simple flat vector shapes as I think that will be a very clear way of communicating to the audience, but I felt it was a little too dull, so decided to experiment with some gradients as well as different typefaces, which I think led to a important improvement.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 13.09.04

I think this approach has a lot of potential, and is one I’ll be exploring more throughout the design phase of the project. I still think there is room for improvement and has helped to re-focus my mind on how the designs could solve the brief.


This has been an really interesting section of the project, where experimenting with important elements has led to some ideas and main design styles I can take forward as I start to make other design choices and put them together.

FMP: Sourcing the Book’s Images

For this blog post, I want to discuss how I will be getting the relevant images for the book. As my research has shown many times, imagery is very important, for both its aesthetic quality and ability to show the audience what is out there in the sky. Therefore, I must research and see whether there is any imagery I will be able to use, since I won’t be taking the photographs myself!

Diligence & Copyright:

There was obviously no point in starting this project if I did not have a realistic idea of how to get appropriate imagery, so I had already seen that NASA had large image archives.

As for the issue of copyright, I will need to look for imagery that either is completely free of copyright or has a Creative Commons license that allows it to at least be used for a personal project. If I was to produce the design commercially rather than for a graphic design academic project, then obviously I would need to ensure the correct permissions were there.

Google Images has become a very useful search engine for finding suitable images, with one filter in particular allowing images with suitable copyright licensing to be found.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 10.34.27

When combined with another filter that determines the sizes of the images shown (in this case I ideally need the 4MP option) then it helps to maximise the usefulness of the search.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 11.29.28

However, I also made sure I had a way to shift the project along if I can’t get suitable imagery. I did some initial experiments with illustrations of the planets (which I will detail in my next blog post) and also worked out during my research thanks to Kurzgesagt’s amazing motion infographics how simple vector illustrations would still result in a final design that would be perfectly acceptable.

Finding Images – Solar System


Being one of the most important space agencies around, it is not surprising that they have taken a lot of images from space that are outstanding and perfect for use in the project. Their Solar System Exploration website contains galleries, the only thing I need to be careful about is that not all of the images shown are available in high-res, so this will limit the choice.

Full Disk Neptune by NASA Solar System Exploration
Full Disk Neptune by NASA Solar System Exploration
Wikimedia Commons

“Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone, in their own language.”

Now, it is important to make clear that for these projects, the use of Wikipedia is banned due to the fact that it can be highly unreliable, so I would just like to state Wikimedia Commons is not Wikipedia, but uses the same wiki-technology as Wikipedia. So, to collect suitable imagery I will be using Wikimedia Commons as the images shown are mostly copyright free and crucially, reliable.

The Sun by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
The Sun by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory

An example can be seen above with the image of the Sun which is a NASA image, but available through Wikimedia Commons.

Mind-map of Images needed – Solar System

To help me remember what images I needed to find and to have a resource I could easily add to, I created a mind-map.


Keeping a Bibliography

Thinking about the complexities of keeping all the information about an image, the URL so I can prove where I got it from as well as know the copyright status, I decided the way forward was to keep a unofficial bibliography of sorts. I found it very useful when I wrote my dissertation earlier in the year, so thought I’d use something similar.

A bibliography is needed.
An extract of the  bibliography I am building to keep information in one easily accessible place.

This will prove to be valuable when I am designing, as it will become a good reference. I can also hand it in at the end of the project to show the validity of the images used.

Finding Images – Constellations

For the images of the constellations, I hoped it would be just as simple as it had been for the Solar System. However, it soon became clear very quickly that I would not be able to find the necessary images for the vast majority as what I was looking for just does not seem to be out there.

Image of Orion: Taken in New Mexico, 2004. Image credit to Mouser
Image of the constellation Orion: Taken in New Mexico, December 2004. Credit to Mouser.

I managed to find an image of Orion, which I’ve shown above, but other than that, I think I will need to take a new direction with this chapter of the book, which will draw me back to vector illustrations which I spoke about earlier. I will be discussing the solutions to this in the next blog post.


I feel like I have made a big step forwards, not just in the sense of the project, but also in a sense of professional practice. I now have a way of collating the vast majority of the imagery I need, and have learnt to make the process efficient to save time in the long run.

On a side note, since I published the recent blog post about finding content for the constellations (especially the historical and mythological side) I have been able to source the info I need from the Universe book.

FMP: The Daily Telegraph Night Sky Map

This will be a short blog post, following on from the main blog post I did a while ago where I researched a lot of resources I had to see how they could benefit this project. Since then, I also have come across The Daily Telegraph’s Night Sky large-scale map of the northern hemisphere, of which I wanted to discuss a few points of interest.

I want to discuss this from the specific perspective of the poster/print part of the project, as enough has already been discussed about the book side of the project, and although that makes up the project’s majority, I do not want the poster/print of the night sky to be forgotten about.



On first glance, the map looks incredibly informative and this proves to be the case. There is a lot of information laid out here, and there is more imagery and less text than I have seen in equivalent designs, which helps to make the information easier to understand. I’ve taken some photos of these which I’ve placed below.

IMG_5639edit_web IMG_5640edit_web

IMG_5645edit_web IMG_5646edit_web IMG_5647edit_web

Handily, there is a guide on how to best use the map, as it can be quite confusing for those who are new to star maps as there are many different pieces of information that need to be used together in order to get the best from it.


Generally the amount of text is good, but here it’s definitely a bit wordy. The problem with the text is how it has been compacted together with a combination of no line breaks between paragraphs, a small size typeface and minimal leading (spacing between lines). This makes for text that is not as easy to read as it should be.


However, I think the smaller illustrations dotted around the main night sky map are successful in conveying the relevant points as they are very easy to understand and have the necessary white space around them to breathe instead of your eye being distracted by surrounding features.


I think the relative sizes of the planets feature above is well designed, but poorly illustrated due to the colour scheme. I don’t see why every planet should be yellow, it just creates false connotations. With the white background, more realistic colours could be used without any issue to the rest of the map.


An interesting point when looking at the constellation of Cancer, the Crab, is how it could be represented differently. Here the whole crab is shown, but looking at it the claw of the crab could also be represented using the same pattern of stars.

I will need to see if there is a common theme I need to follow when illustrating constellations, or whether I will be able to have more freedom of expression when creating these. The problem I have found in my research is how constellations don’t really look like what they’re meant to represent.


Something I have mentioned before in my research but which arises again here is how being a circular map, means it needs to be able to be looked at throughout the whole 360º. This means though at the vast majority of angles, the other content on the poster is illegible and needs turning to view. It is a very interesting problem, and one I would like to solve, although it may be unrealistic.


The navigation pointers around the edge of the map makes it very easy to know where to have the map when you use it.


Following on my previous point, about there not really being a visual hierarchy, I found my answer as to why in the key. Size is used as a differentiator between different magnitude stars, but the one thing that really marks these stars apart in the night sky is their magnitude (brightness)… so why these are all the same brightness confounds me, and seems highly illogical.


It has been a really good find to have a look at this map, and has helped to further develop my understanding of what design I will need to create in order for the poster/print to be suitable.

FMP: More Initial Ideas, Constellations & Content

For this blog post, I will be showing more of the initial ideas I have been working on as well as finalising the structure of the book I am designing to make best use of the space available to me.

The Book’s Structure & Initial Layout Ideas

I decided to sit down and work out the structure of the book. I decided to sketch it as it was quicker, and I thought I would use a storyboarding technique to choose pages and maybe sketch down some basic layout ideas. Below are those sketches and notes.

Structure-1-web Structure-2-web Structure-3-web


I feel very confident now that I have come up with a good structure for the book, but the main thing now is that the 20 constellations need choosing (the blank pages in the structure), and until they are chosen, I will not be happy to progress with designing, as I want to know what I am dealing with first, and will need to research into each constellation to gain the information needed to form the book’s content. This does not stop me sketching ideas however or doing some basic layout work.

Which constellations to include?

This is a major part of the project I need to work around to come up with a suitable solution. As previous research has indicated, there are 36 ‘important’ constellations, which I do not have room for given the other content that needs to be part of the book.

This compromise is acceptable, given the book is to be a basic guide, not a comprehensive book of the universe.

I have worked out I have 20 pages free, so I have decided that I will select 20 constellations, and design a page each around them. So, the big question is, how to select 20 in a meaningful way, not a random draw. But how do you give priority to constellations?

Stage 1:

My first decision was to take the 13 constellations that make up the Zodiac, as these will be familiar to a large proportion of the audience, and tie into astrology, something most people will have a base familiarity with, even if it’s just a case of knowing their star sign. Some of the most familiar constellations form the Zodiac, such as Gemini.

Aquarius, Aries, Cancer, Capricornus, Gemini, Leo, Libra,
Ophiuchus, Pisces, Sagittarius, Scorpius, Taurus, Virgo

Stage 2:

With 7 spaces left, and 23 constellations left on my list, this makes it tricky to decide. Some are obvious to include due to their well known familiarity or exclude, such as:

Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Orion

Carina, Cassiopeia, Cetus, Eridanus, Puppis, Vela

These sketches also show ideas about page layout
These sketches also show ideas about page layout
Stage 3:

The trickiest stage of all, there are now 4 spaces left, and 14 constellations from which I can choose from. In the end I did some research into their history and how closely the stars resemble what object it is meant to represent to maximise the designs I will be creating that highlight what the shape of the constellations show.

Canis Major, Crux Australis, Cygnus, Draco

Andromeda, Aquila, Auriga, Boötes, Centaurus,
Hydra, Lyra, Pegasus, Perseus

Hercules (back-up)

A very difficult choice to make!

The reason why Hercules is a back-up and not dismissed is because my research into Ophiuchus showed it to be an uninteresting constellation that did not really look like what it is meant to represent, so as it is not a used Zodiac sign, I am currently debating whether to replace it with Hercules, a more impressive constellation.


To summarise, I have now selected the 20 constellations that I will be using, which is a good moment as this has been slowing progress down in the designing phase. Hopefully, if any astronomers read this they won’t think my choices are inadequate, but the 20 constellations remain open for discussion so if I reach a stage in my research into each constellation and find I have made a mistake then I will be able to correct this!


Now I have a good idea as to the book’s structure, it’s time to make sure there’s some content to fill it!

Chapter 1 – Viewing Tips:
The Night Sky: Part 2 by The Telegraph & Astronomy Now
The Night Sky: Part 2 by The Telegraph & Astronomy Now

The majority of my information for this section of my book will come from The Night Sky: Part 2 by the Telegraph & Astronomy Now, that I researched and analysed in an earlier blog post. The focus will be to encourage people of ways they can easily view the night sky without having to spend a lot of money, and to give them simple, handy pieces of advice that will hopefully stick with them and be very beneficial, a particular example of which I have put below.

“…while at the telescope make sure red bulbs replace normal ones in things like torches, or cover them with red material (red light does not destroy night vision).”

Chapter 2 – Solar System :

Obviously, with the Sun being the centre of the Solar System, then I will want relevant content about that. For the planets, I definitely want to have an image of the planet, as well as any particular defining feature that could be shown close-up. I think it is very important that the pages are less text based and more infographic based, which will be built around a set of facts and figures that will hopefully amaze the audience. Facts will include:

  • Atmosphere.
  • Size (diameter).
  • Gravity.
  • Inner Structure.
  • Distance from Sun/Earth.
  • Length of Day.
  • Length of Year.
  • Surface Temperature (extremes).
  • Satellites/Moons.

I also think it is important to have information regarding how it can be viewed in the night sky, such as:

  • Where and when is it visible in the night sky.
  • Magnitude.
  • Equipment needed to view it.

To find this out, I will be again drawing on the Night Sky guide as well as my Astronomy Kingfisher Pocket Guide, but my main resource will be the NASA Solar System Exploration website, which contains a Facts and Figures section.

NASA Solar System Exploration website
NASA Solar System Exploration website
Chapter 3 – Constellations:

For the pages detailing the selected constellations, the content will most likely need to be gathered from several sources. The International Astronomical Union has charts for all the constellations as well as a brief write-up about the origin of constellations in general, and other books I have contain the information about them such as the stars they contain etc.

International Astronomical Union - Constellations
International Astronomical Union – Constellations

However, I really need to know some information about the mythological meaning for the constellations I’ve chosen that can be mentioned in the book, although to what extent I am not sure yet.
I will need to do some more research into this, as I can find information on websites, but have no means of verifying its authenticity. The answer may lie in the Universe book I was able to analyse from photos taken earlier in my research.

Chapter 4 – Star Maps:

For the star maps, I have decided to give a double-page spread for the northern and southern hemisphere, as well as one for the equatorial regions. For this I will be looking in particular at the large-scale Philip’s Star Chart available in their Astrobox. I also have come across The Daily Telegraph’s Night Sky large-scale map of the Northern Hemisphere, which I’ll be analysing in a short blog post soon.

Philip's Astrobox - Star Map
Philip’s Astrobox – Star Map

I will also need to design a key for the charts to make them easily understandable by the audience, so I’ll be taking another look at other keys again to see if there are any common trends.

The Stargazing with a Telescope book by Robin Scagell I have looked at in my research has a short section on understanding and using sky maps, which could be useful to include for the audience, as they are not easy things to easily understand.

Conclusion, Reflection & Next Steps

This blog post is a symbol of the enormous progress this project is now making, after a slow start. To get the majority of the content in place is good news, and will help me when designing as I know what will need to be packaged, as this book will be rather tightly packaged.

The next steps will be to progress with designing, while looking into the smaller details regarding the content, and I will begin to look into imagery that can be used in the book.

As far as my working patterns are involved, they are back in order, and my aim is to put out a blog post most days (although this may slow when actually designing) in order to catch up with my schedule.

FMP: Choosing content and how to realise the design

This is going to be a detailed blog post that will focus on three areas:

  • Structuring the book’s content and allocating space.
  • Creating some initial ideas to set the ball rolling.
  • Deciding on how the book and poster will be realised.

Design Considerations – Book

Below is a copy of the notes I made when thinking about how I will make the design of the book reality. It is important for me to make a note of the broader areas I need to think about to stop me forgetting important parts of the design.


The book’s content & allocating space

Allocating space for the book & deciding what format is best

As is visible in the above page of sketches and notes I made the other day, I am working out how much space I need. I will be working out a rough minimum and maximum amount of pages I expect could be used before I go onto choosing how to best realise the book.

The main difference in the length of the book will come down to the constellations, which form the main focal point for the book I am designing. According to the International Astronomical Union, there are 88 constellations, which would be a monumental undertaking to include in the book, especially as I am producing a basic guide, rather than a comprehensive book such as Universe, that I researched in my last blog post.

So are there any ways of deciding on what to include? Well in an earlier blog post, I analysed the content of Astronomy with Patrick Moore, where in Appendix 5, the constellations are listed, with the largest and most important marked in capitals. From this I can see there are 36 important constellations, 13 of which form the zodiac (although only 12 are used in astrology.) Therefore it makes sense to definitely include the zodiac constellations, and others as well if there is the space.

Minimum estimate of book length: 34 pages.
  • Contents: 1 page.
  • Chapter Pages: 4 chapters x 1 page = 4 pages.
  • Viewing tips & Equipment: 2 pages.
  • Solar System (exc. The Moon): 8 planets x 1 page = 8 pages.
  • The Moon: 1 page.
  • The Sun: 1 page.
  • Constellations: Only focusing on Zodiac = 13 pages.
  • List of remaining constellations: 1 page.
  • Star Charts & Maps: Northern Hemisphere = 2 pages.
  • Credits: 1 page.
Maximum estimate of book length: 84 pages.
  • Intro/Foreword: 1 page.
  • Contents: 2 pages.
  • Chapter Pages: 4 chapters x 2 pages = 8 pages.
  • Viewing tips: 2 pages.
  • Equipment: 2 pages.
  • Solar System (exc. The Moon): 8 planets x 2 pages = 16 pages.
  • Dwarf Planets: 2 pages.
  • The Moon: 2 pages.
  • The Sun: 2 pages.
  • Constellations: 36 constellations x 1 page = 36 pages.
  • List of remaining constellations: 2 pages.
  • Star Charts & Maps: 3 regions x 2 pages = 6 pages.
  • Other Interesting Objects to Observe: 2 pages.
  • Credits: 1 page.

Sketching some initial ideas for the book

In these sketches I am mainly starting to think how the book could look.

Above is a page of sketches I have created to try and get an initial idea of how the book could potentially look. I am already trying ideas out as to how much space is needed and seeing what looks best, whether it should be an image taking up a page with text on the other, or condense it into one page. I’ll be producing many more sketches in a future blog post, as I really concentrate on seeing how the book will look, but for now it is difficult to do so when the format is undecided.

How to realise the book?

For previous projects, such as the St. Luke’s Church book I designed earlier this year, and the Range Rover brochure from last year, I have used Blurb and have been very pleased with them, and while they seem the obvious choice to use again, I thought I would take the time to investigate potential competitors and see what I think of them.

The criteria I will be judging to see which is the most suitable is:

Product/Format (Size of book, number of pages)
If the product/format is not suitable, then it stops here.

Quality (Type of paper, weight of paper)
The quality has to be suitable for the audience.

Pricing (Cost per unit)
If it is too expensive, it makes it unviable.

Design Flexibility (Is there an InDesign plug-in, PDF upload?)
I want full flexibility to create the design best suited to the format.


Blurb Homepage

First of all, I decided to take a look at Blurb to re-familiarise myself with their services. Reading into the company, they offer a print-on-demand service that allows you to order as many books as you would like to be printed. Immediately, it’s very clear they offer publishing options such as an InDesign plug-in, that would allow me to design the design that I want to.

Blurb Products

Looking at the products/pricing page, I can very quickly narrow down to the two sections that would be suitable, Photo Paper Books and Magazines and Brochures.

Photo Paper Books: Deciding on the correct format from this is difficult, as both the small and standard sizes would be suitable. However, given the fact I would probably need to fit more information in over less pages, then it would benefit the larger page size of 20 x 25cm instead of 18 x 18 cm. This is confirmed by me actually using both formats for different projects on my Graphic Design course, so I have experience of their respective qualities.

Blurb paper

As for the quality of the paper, I can see the standard paper is 118gsm, while the premium lustre paper is 148gsm. I would expect the difference weight wise to be fine, but the premium lustre finish would probably make the imagery look slightly better. That can be decided upon at a later stage though.

For the pricing, if I take the minimum and maximum values for the books, then the small square book would be £13.34/£20.84, while the standard size would be £20.11/£29.49, a large difference, and not one I think would be justified for such little extra space gained.

Magazines and Brochures: Looking at the information, the sizing is slightly larger than standard photo book size, at 22 x 28cm, and it turns out the brochure is better suited to my design as it features better quality stock (118gsm vs. 90gsm) and is saddle-stitched, something my research has shown to be better because it can stay open and is more flexible, making it easier to read, something I have learnt through previous experience with Blurb.

I would however, be limited to 48 pages. This initially caused me a lot of concern, but reflecting realistically, I must be careful to keep this project manageable for the timeframe I have. Also, for a basic guide, if done well, it should not need to be any longer than 48 pages. So I would start with the minimum page count estimate and add in pages where needed.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t
understand it well enough.” 

Albert Einstein

As for pricing, with the cost for one copy, with 48 pages, would be £9.39, which when compared to the £15.44 that an equally specified small square book would cost. Overall, I believe the ‘brochure’ option Blurb supplies is the best option they provide for the project.

Newspaper Club

Newspaper Club

I was discussing with my tutor the process I am deciding the best way on realising the book, and could he suggest a rival to Blurb. He suggested that I should look into the Newspaper Club. As the name suggests their business lies in newspapers, not a route I had planned on going down, but I thought it could be an interesting option.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 07.21.08
Newspaper Club Tabloid newspaper

Their three options are tabloid, broadsheet and minis. Tabloid and broadsheet are immediately ruled out because of their size, I want to produce a smaller final piece than that, and with the quality of the newspaper at 55gsm, I am very unsure the quality would be acceptable, especially given my thoughts in my research towards the guides printed on poor quality paper.

Newspaper Club Digital Minis

So I looked at the minis they produce, as on first glance they looked a very interesting solution, and at 180 x 260mm being about the size I would expect for this format. However, the quality is no better and I don’t think would be suitable but the big issue is the pricing and order size, as for a student project, 100 copies is excessive as is the price from £220. Commercially this is fine, but for me I would just be ordering no more than a handful of copies of the final design.

To conclude, I have no doubt that they would be a decent company to deal with, and that the products do what they say, but for me, they are just not suitable being newspapers instead of books.

Apple (iPhoto Print Products)

I received an e-mail the other day from Apple, advertising their iPhoto Print Products line. While not a conventional option for my designs or a direct rival to either Blurb or the Newspaper Club (as it is designed to work with photos taken and uploaded into iPhoto) I thought I would check it out to see what its capabilities were and if I could bend it to make it work for me.

It provides four formats, photo books, prints, calendars and cards. For this, I’ll be looking at the photo book format.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 12.21.14

Investigating the options open to me, there is a hardback and a paperback, which is a lot cheaper so that’s the better option. Then for the sizing, I would state the closest to the Blurb magazine (22 x 28cm) is the Large option at 28 x 21.5cm and the closest to the Blurb small square book (18 x 18cm) would be the Medium option at 20 x 15cm. However it is landscape instead of portrait, although that doesn’t have to be a disadvantage. It also gives no indication to the quality of the paper.

Working out the pricing for both the Medium and Large options for the 48 pages (to give an equivalent to the Blurb books) comes to £16.79 for the medium (compared to £15.44)and £26.59 for the large (compared to £22.74)

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 12.41.59

As I unfortunately expected, setting up a photo book in iPhoto (for this example using images I took on a trip to Margate a couple of years ago) strongly restricts you in terms of design. While this is the point of Apple’s service to make the process as easy as possible, this is not suitable for me as I wouldn’t be designing anything!


This has been a very illuminating part of my research, and I now know very clearly what direction I will be heading in. Blurb will be the supplier for the project, and I will be choosing a ‘brochure’, which will most likely feature the maximum 48 pages. As for the content of the book, I shall spend some time in a future blog post refining how the book will be filled in a way that makes sense for the audience.

How to realise the poster/print?

Thinking about how to realise the poster/print draws me neatly into my past experience with the Land Speed Record posters that I printed on some A2 Epson Professional Premium Lustre photo paper that I bought.

Why A2?

As I previously discussed in my research for the previous project, I think the same paper is suitable because the use is the same, so the same reasonings apply. To summarise, A3 is too small to have as a poster/print because not enough detail can be placed in, which is critically important for a star chart. A1 is extremely large, which has benefits obviously, but is very difficult to handle and to have a space that will fit it. That leaves A2 as the happy middle ground which is large enough to have detail but small enough to fit in more spaces.

Size comparison between A1, A2, and A3 paper although the A2 sheet looks distorted here.
Why Lustre?

I’ve chosen lustre because with gloss, while the colours are very vibrant, the reflections are too great to see the design properly in the vast majority of situations. Matte paper solves this, but soaks up more of the ink on the page, giving a much duller appearance that is not as appealing for this format. So lustre is very much the best of both worlds, having a slight sheen that lets colours be vibrant, but is not too reflective.

Epson Professional A2 Premium Photo Lustre
Epson Professional A2 Premium Photo Lustre

While it is possible to ask a printers to print my final piece, to me it does not make sense, financially or logistically, when I can print the final piece at college on their Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printers, as long as it is no larger than A2, which I have already decided is a sensible size for the final piece as I found in earlier research that the A1 posters were too large.

Epson Stylus Pro 3880
Epson Stylus Pro 3880

With the Land Speed Record project earlier this year, in my evaluation, something I picked out that could have been improved was the printing of the final pieces, as they looked slightly washed out. In hindsight, I would have benefitted from a trip to the Photography technician at college for a chat.

So the other day, when a fellow student in our group came to print a piece using the same paper I had used and plan to use, I thought I’d tag along on her visit to the technician for advice. However, he was too busy, but in the printing room there was an information board, and handily, a couple of helpful photography students!

It’s clear now to me what the best settings are and as her design printed well, it’s a good indication for when I print. I have learnt the correct settings I need to use are:

  • View > Setup in Photoshop and choose custom printer setup.
  • Printer: Epson Stylus Pro 3800.
  • Color Handling: Photoshop Manage Colours.
  • Printer Profile: 1-FS… (needs checking)
  • Scaled Print Size: Scale to Fit Media = ON.

Conclusion & Reflection

This has been one of the most important sections of the project so far, as it has allowed me to really start setting down some markers for the project, and has given me a clear target of what I am designing for. The next step now will be to really focus on the design work, and get some ideas on paper and the screen as quickly as possible.

FMP: Further Research into space books and planetarium app

For this blog post, I want to conclude my research into designs relating to the subject of space and astronomy. I will still need to research in much greater detail into the content I will be including in my final designs. However, should I see something else that catches my attention, then of course I’ll discuss it.


In a previous blog post, where I analysed some inspiring designs on a space/astronomy theme, I found it was really hard to look at books and comment on them, when I didn’t personally have access to them save for a few screenshots taken from Amazon. Thankfully though, an Australian family member does own a few lovely space books, and was very kind in taking some photos for me, which will form the majority of this blog post.

Universe (ABC Books)

IMG_3470edit_web IMG_3471edit_web

The covers for the book immediately project an aura of quality and reliability thanks to the use of a simple layout, fantastic imagery and good typesetting. This is perfect for the intended purpose of the book; to be a complete guide to the cosmos.

IMG_3446edit_web IMG_3447edit_web IMG_3448edit_web

The first few pages of the book sees the excellent imagery permeate throughout, making every spread worthy of looking at, even for those pages which do not normally attract attention. The type continues to be well laid out, making for easy reading. The traditional serif typeface, which carries an element of quality and stability in its characteristics works very well for long passages of text in the book as the serifs are designed to make text easier to read.


As the contents pages reveal, the level of detail contained within the 575 pages of this book is astonishing. I really can’t think of what you might want to know that is not included. Just as well it’s not a handy pocket-sized guide as otherwise my designs could be redundant! Each section is strongly defined and clearly labelled although from a design perspective some of the alignment could be better selected to make use of the space available.


One of the design queries I know I will spend a lot of time thinking about is the background for text. Images in space feature a lot of black, and this harshly contrasts the white background the text is placed on. With dark text easier to read on a light background, this is something I will really need to consider.


The page above highlights an aim for the design I will create. There is a lot of text here, which I am not criticising for a book of this format, but for the audience I am appealing to in the type of book I will design, I want the information to be much more instantaneous, hence why I will be building the design around infographics.


I thought the above spread was very interesting in discussing the three dimensions of the universe. It is very easy when looking up into the night sky to see it as a two-dimensional canvas which spins above our heads, when in reality it is not.


Above is a very clear diagram of the planets that make up the Solar System, with three main categories; terrestial, ‘gas giant’ and dwarf. Placing the Sun just off to the left gives an conventional idea as to the scale of it compared to the rest of the planets as opposed to the unconventional method seen in the motion infographics design I researched in an earlier blog post.

IMG_3454edit_web IMG_3455edit_web

The pages about the Sun are packed full of rich imagery and illustrations that help to build up the audience’s knowledge of it. As I have stated before many times, I really think the imagery is a pivotal part of the book, as if you can see what you’re reading about, it will be far more interesting than if you can’t.



Diagrams feature throughout the book, from simple schematic drawings to illustrate points to larger double page spreads that illustrate important concepts such as the formation of the Universe. They are very easy to follow and understand, which will give the audience the information they want and/or need.


This beautiful spread has really opened my mind to what form of illustration I could use for the poster I aim to design highlighting the night sky. It takes me back to an original aim of the design to show how the constellations received their names and to show what they look like, with this being an example of how that could be achieved.


A lot of detail is provided about each one of the 88 constellations, with a fact file showing where it is in the sky, how to view it, and well as information about it such as the named stars within. I have also been kindly provided with an extract from one of the constellations that states why this one received the name it did.


“The Arabs perceived the stars of Cetus as a whale – strange as their waters do not normally support whales. The Greeks associated it with the sea-monster of the tale of Perseus and Andromeda. Sixteenth and seventeenth century cartographers such as Plancius and Bayer drew Cetus as a curious and somewhat comical mixture of whale and monster. Plancius and Schiller, the cartographers who devised the ‘Christian’ star-atlas, interpreted it as the whale that swallowed Jonah. This is the likely source for the modern Cetus – Latin for whale.”

Hubble: Imaging Space and Time (National Geographic)


Interesting design touches are visible in this book, such as on the contents page, where Hubble is set against a pure black background, with the contents kept to a minimum (such as page numbers behind the text) to accentuate the black.


With regards to typesetting in this book, it is easy enough to see the strict visual hierarchy afforded to this spread, with the different sizing and spacing of elements, justified text, large margins. In general, it works well, but it is hard to judge how effective the justified text is for reading, as it needs to be set up properly to minimise (and hopefully prevent) unequal character and word spacing, as I discovered in my St. Luke’s Church project earlier this year.


A really descriptive page above, that details the main events in the timeline of the Hubble Space Telescope so far, as well as some of its best/most famous photographs along the way.

IMG_3431edit_web IMG_3432edit_web IMG_3433edit_web


The imagery is astonishing, with a small piece of text at the bottom and side of the right page stating the name and how far away it is. This is a really clever way of providing information to the audience while barely taking away from the image. I also think the image directly above with the placement of a thought-provoking quote can lead to a greater interaction and context between the image and the audience.


Seeing the above spread reminds me that I should consider having these chapter pages to break chapters in, as these can be a chance to give imagery room to dominate with minimal type.


While showing a stunning image is enough to attract the attention of most in a very successful manner, with the most famous images there is not much new to see. However, here, it is very interesting to see a close-up image next to the main image, which in this case, brings the interest back to life, as it offers the chance to see new areas of the image that could not be seen in such detail before.

IMG_3437edit_web IMG_3438edit_web IMG_3439edit_web

The three images above of conventional pages in the book (with both imagery and text) are well laid out, with good margins, large-scale images that bleed off the page, and type that is legible and in suitable column widths. One negative point I would make is that by incorporating the captions into the body copy, it means that it is not as visible as it should be, I think it would be better to have beside the image so it draws more attention to what the image shows.

Orbit: NASA Astronauts Photograph the Earth
(National Geographic)

Another National Geographic book, designed very similarly to the Hubble one above, so I see no point in repeating my comments save for the fact this book obviously features amazing images. One point I would state is that I think it would be better if the images bled off the page instead of being trapped in a distracting thick border.

IMG_3442_web IMG_3443_web IMG_3444_web IMG_3445_web

Astronomy 2010 Australia


A different type of book to the others examined so far in this blog post, this is much more of a guide designed to be used out and about, especially being classed a yearbook, in this case, 2010. The main focus here is the content, not the design.

From reading the blurb, I think it is really encouraging how it states you don’t need a telescope to enjoy the night sky, as this is what I would like to get across to the audience, that it can be enjoyed with the naked eye, and without any expensive equipment.

IMG_3460edit_web IMG_3461edit_web


Being a yearbook for Australia specifically, this allows the book to go into far greater detail about the upcoming events of the year, as is visible in the above images. This book really has a strong niche, which makes it very interesting as most guidebooks have to be broader in focus because they are designed to be permanent, hence why they can discuss things monthly, but never to the same level of detail.

IMG_3467edit_web IMG_3468edit_web

The diagrams throughout are really impressive due to excellent legibility and simplicity, it is very easy to work out what they are about and what they are stating. This ease of understanding is what I would like to build into my designs.


The above page makes some very interesting points, especially in the section A Matter of Distance. I think it will be important to remind the audience how just because two stars share equal magnitude in the sky, does not mean they are the same brightness, if they are both at different distances away.

Planetarium App

There are many planetarium style apps out there, and most are pretty much the same from what I’ve seen, but I thought I would analyse the Neave extension available on Google Chrome that I use if there’s something in particular I want to investigate. I thought it would make an interesting contrast being an interactive digital media format.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 14.25.35

The first thing to note is how simple it is to use. A simple toolbar at the bottom allows the time and date, as well as the location to be set. There are also options to see the sky in daylight or in darkness and whether to see the constellations pointed out or not. Clicking and dragging on the map moves you around the sky manually. Hovering over the stars reveals basic information about them.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 14.25.45

I found it very useful one evening this winter, where I wanted to see what planet I could see out of the window, near Orion, as despite living down low surrounded by trees, I always get a great view out to Orion in the South during the winter. With binoculars, it’s possible to pick out a faint red glow from Betelgeuse.

The view of the screenshots is roughly the right view, but the wrong date. The map allowed me to quickly pick out that it was Jupiter I could see, which was interesting as I had previously assumed it would have been Venus due to its low magnitude (high brightness.)


This unexpected research has allowed me to build a much greater understanding of books produced about this subject and also helps to clarify some thoughts about the book and poster I am to produce.

I have also seen how a planetarium app can be much more intuitive than printed star charts as the level of interactivity minimises the time taken to set it up, maximising the time to enjoy the view.

What to include?

This is probably the biggest question for me in relation to content. While I have already discussed what content will make up the book in a previous blog post, I now will need to seriously think about the detail I will go into. The Universe book is 575 pages long and contains astonishing levels of detail, not something I am aiming to replicate! I will discuss what approach I will take in my next blog post.

FMP: Other Inspiring Designs

This blog post follows on from the last one, which looked at inspiring designs on a space/astronomy theme, whereas this will cover designs from all other areas.


Fume Leads to Death
Fume Leads to Death by Heng Chun, Liow
Fume Leads to Death by Heng Chun, Liow

The subject of smoking is highly controversial, with many anti-smoking adverts designed to shock with repulsive imagery, and while I’m sure they have been effective to some, I think more deliberately ignore them due to this. Therefore to see this clean, minimal, but very thought-provoking set of infographic posters is interesting.

Even as a non-smoker, I was especially surprised to see some of the facts, and I had no idea just how many chemicals are in cigarette smoke, and what else those chemicals are found in that you definitely would state was lethal such as paint stripper or rocket fuel.

Fume Leads to Death by Heng Chun, Liow
Fume Leads to Death by Heng Chun, Liow

Part of the campaign also included some conceptual posters, of which I thought the particular poster above was especially impactful as the use of cigarettes instead of bullets in the gun is built on the connotations people have connecting guns with death. The facts are kept subtle and discreet unlike the current trend of making everything large and bold to supposedly make the facts unavoidable.

Left vs. Right: The World
Left vs. Right by David McCandless & Stefanie Posavec
Left vs. Right by David McCandless & Stefanie Posavec

What inspired me with this infographic was how it was split into two symmetrical (connotations of an equal viewpoint rather than a bias) sections, both of which are incredibly detailed, but is ordered in a logical manner so that the audience can logically process what they see. I think it is great how the design makes it easy to compare the two sides unlike some less well thought out comparison infographics where the information is not comprehensive enough for comparisons to be drawn.

Scale of Devastation
Scale of Devastation by David McCandless & Miriam Quick
Scale of Devastation by David McCandless & Miriam Quick

This infographic I thought worked fantastically at explaining and presenting in proportion, how much land had been destroyed by certain disasters. Colour-coding according to popular connotations (blue = water) makes it easy to understand.

Something that is not pointed to in the infographic, but subliminally inferred to I think is the mismatch in size of disaster compared to the amount of media coverage it received, no doubt depending on the number of people affected and where they were. Then by comparing it to the surface area of the UK really brings it into perspective just how much land is destroyed by disasters.

Books & Magazines

Countrywide: Infographic Report
Countrywide: Infographic Report by The Design Surgery
Countrywide: Infographic Report by The Design Surgery

This infographic book is inspiring to me because of its format in particular. Up to this point in my mind I had been thinking of producing a very smart, perfect bound book. But here, I can see the potential of saddle stitching, which would allow for a smaller turn-in, which allows the book to be laid flat and be more flexible, something that would suit my audience well. I had not previously considered this due to the expected quality, but this design looks of a really professional high quality that would give me confidence to go in this direction for my book.

Countrywide: Infographic Report by The Design Surgery
Countrywide: Infographic Report by The Design Surgery

Looking inside the book, the infographics have a strong level of contrast (even if I am personally not keen on the dark purple background) that make it very clear to see what is being pointed to, which is very important for this type of design.

Countrywide: Infographic Report by The Design Surgery
Countrywide: Infographic Report by The Design Surgery

The final point I wanted to make about the design of this book is the grid that underpins it. I know I will need a good grid to underpin my book, and seeing this design split into three columns seems a really good use of the space to balance between text and images, while the vertical divisions make good use of guidelines and different type sizes to create a visual hierarchy that orders how the audience will view the page in a logical, ordered manner, perfect for their audience.

Road Book
RoadBook designed by Pentagram
Road Book designed by Pentagram

This up-market magazine places a great importance on imagery, hence why it inspired me as I see a similarity between that and the book I will be producing. By bleeding the image off the page and placing a stroke around the main ‘F1′ text with no fill, allows the image to remain visible with no hidden areas, but still stands out.

Chicane by Tim Bisschop
Chicane by Tim Bisschop
Chicane by Tim Bisschop
Chicane by Tim Bisschop

The book makes excellent use of a bright orange spot colour used on the spine and title on the front cover. It surprises me seeing just how it makes the book stand out, and really enhances the design, being such a contrast to the murky image. The other thing that makes this design interesting to me is the grainy texture of the image contrasted with the smoothness of the text and orange spine.

Astray Travel Co : Trip Book
Astray Travel Co : Trip Book by Rebecca Williams
Astray Travel Co : Trip Book by Rebecca Williams

I was first impressed by these travel books when I saw the front covers with the topographical design fitting into the images. It sets a scene that set an adventurous tone for the book’s contents.

Astray Travel Co : Trip Book by Rebecca Williams
Astray Travel Co : Trip Book by Rebecca Williams

With the map of South America above, it is interesting to see it is printed on translucent paper, which lets the image from the page below rise through to form a background. I think it’s a really clever great looking idea and I think could work well in the type of book I am producing to reveal sections as the reader progresses.

It could even be used to reveal constellations, so for example you could have an image of the night sky, and then have a cover sheet with the lines marking the constellations drawn onto them, as is visible in the below idea I have shown.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 16.28.42

The mock-up above (albeit rather quick and unrealistic in some areas) also highlights another interesting point, I immediately thought having an opacity as low as possible (25%) would be best, but actually a higher opacity (75%) is better as all the stars are still visible, but the brightest ones are now more noticeable than before.

Astray Travel Co : Trip Book by Rebecca Williams
Astray Travel Co : Trip Book by Rebecca Williams

What inspired me with this was how a little book looks to have been incorporated into the main book, a very clever idea that could have lots of potential for many different subjects as well as providing an intriguing surprise for the audience. Overall, it would be a great way of separating content from the main pages.


PSB. Inside and Outside 
PSB. Inside and Outside by Vladimir Andreev
PSB. Inside and Outside by Vladimir Andreev

This illustration immediately attracted my attention being of a Formula 1 car, and upon closer inspection, I was very impressed at the level of detail in the cutaway drawing, certainly a more detailed look at the inside of an F1 car than is possible. Much in the same vein as the Space Shuttle illustration I spoke about in my last blog post, it shows how successful a detailed illustration can be at gaining and keeping the audience’s attention.

PSB. Inside and Outside by Vladimir Andreev
PSB. Inside and Outside by Vladimir Andreev

Scrolling down the page and seeing the other illustrations, I was really interested to see the one above of the train, where the cutaway drawing is reflected from the original illustration. I think this is a very clever way of illustrating it as well as showing its inner structure, which makes me wonder if it would work with a planet, something I will be experimenting with as the project progresses.

Canadian Olympic Committee Rebrand
Canadian Olympic Committee Rebrand by The Still Brandworks
Canadian Olympic Committee Rebrand by The Still Brandworks

The reason this design inspired me was because of its boldness through a combination of geometric shapes, and made me look at a design I would not otherwise have taken much interest in. It made me think how it can be possible, with the right design, to attract people who may not be actively interested, but could be potentially drawn in.

Conclusion – How will this inspire my designs?

After looking at these designs, there are a few points that stick out to me which I will summarise below and be thinking about when designing the solution to the brief. As many of the designs are inspirational for similar reasons to those in the last blog post, I’ll include the same summary below and then add to it.

  • Colour is a very important visual tool to identify elements.
  • The simpler, the better when it comes to explaining content.
  • Use simple illustrations when explaining content.
  • Use detailed illustrations to immerse the audience.
  • Unusual features can hold the audience’s interest. 
  • Including defining features can evoke connotations.
  • A different format can hold the reader’s interest if done well.
  • A colour scheme can also build a visual hierarchy.
  • Do something different to prevent a boring stereotypical design.

FMP: Inspiring Designs – Space & Astronomy

For this blog post, I want to analyse the space/astronomy designs I have encountered on my research so far that I have found inspiring, whether for aesthetic or communicative reasons. I will also produce a blog post highlighting other inspiring designs that are not space or astronomy themed.


Mars Rover Curiosity
Mars Rover Curiosity by Paul Mullen
Mars Rover Curiosity by Paul Mullen

This design inspired me on many levels. Firstly the design is aesthetically pleasing due to the strong contrast between the orange and black used throughout. This enhances the legibility of the information, which is already well structured by being split into sections with a good set of illustrations to match the text. Using guidelines between the different sections allows the brain to separate the sections to focus on them one by one, helping them to process the information.

Mars Rover Curiosity by Paul Mullen
Mars Rover Curiosity by Paul Mullen

Being printed onto GFSmith Colorplan Mandarin paper allows for the presumably monochrome design with varying levels of transparency to be printed onto it, creating a striking result. This is not a technique I have come across before.

Big Brothers
Big Brothers: Satellites orbiting Earth by Michael Paukner
Big Brothers: Satellites orbiting Earth by Michael Paukner

This infographic is inspirational to me due to the simplicity of the communication to the audience. The design references the topic with satellites orbiting the Earth, and both type and shapes are used to give a perspective to the quantity of orbiting satellites produced by each country. A simple key is provided and is needed.

The only slightly negative point I would make about the design is that being monochromatic reduces the contrast and immediate impact that a colourful design can have, which would decrease the time taken to understand the information and brighten it up.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mission Paths
NASA JPL mission paths by Southpaw 661
NASA JPL mission paths by Southpaw 661
NASA JPL mission paths by Southpaw 661
NASA JPL mission paths by Southpaw 661

This infographic was immediately noticeable to me because it showcases the Solar System, but also has an additional function, similar in many ways to the Big Brothers infographic discussed above, but this time it examines the number of satellites in total that have orbited each planet and their moons. The bigger the mass of circles around the planet/moon, then the greater number of missions there have been. It also builds on a point I made previously where I stated colour would be a nice touch to have, and it makes this infographic more vibrant than the one above.

Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle by Space Facts
Space Shuttle by Space Facts

This infographic really grabbed my attention with the fantastic technical illustration of the Space Shuttle. The detail it goes into is just extraordinary, sucking the audience in to examine every last detail to see what it does, as after all, this is the best opportunity the majority of the audience will get to see what makes up one of these incredible space vehicles.

Being so complex means facts are needed and components and key features pointed out, which is done minimally and cleanly, so as not to distract from the illustrative focal point.

Motion Infographics

The Solar System

A magnificent motion infographic that explains the Solar System and for me, really sets the bar for infographics at a extremely high level. While I am not here to discuss the motion aspect of it as I am working towards a printed design solution, I have to say the animation and voiceover is very impressive and slick, really capturing the attention of the audience. Below are some screenshots to discuss.

The Solar System by Kurzgesagt
The Solar System by Kurzgesagt

It seems so simple when done, but I haven’t seen anyone before discuss how you can split the solar system into two halves, the terrestrial planets and the gas giants. This attention to detail makes it very easy for the audience to be interested and follow along.

The Solar System by Kurzgesagt
The Solar System by Kurzgesagt

Because of the simplicity of information presented to the audience, this means they can digest more of it, a good example being when examining the temperature extremes reached on Mercury. While most declare the maximum and minimum temperatures, here they have compared it to 0ºC, a common value the audience understands.

The Solar System by Kurzgesagt
The Solar System by Kurzgesagt

The flat design is worth discussing as well, as by paring back the Solar System to a series of flat vector circles, they have made the display cleaner and clearer to digest the information. It is possible to do this because of the fact that practically everyone has an understanding of what the Solar System looks like, even on a basic level, so although the flat design looks nothing like the real thing, it still creates the right connotations in the mind of the audience.

The Solar System by Kurzgesagt
The Solar System by Kurzgesagt

By comparing the main feature of Mars, Olympus Mons to our own tallest mountain, Mount Everest, it is very clear to see the difference in scale, allowing the magnitude of scale to register for the audience.

The Solar System by Kurzgesagt
The Solar System by Kurzgesagt

Impressively, they have devised a clever way of ensuring infographics are used to put the proportion of the solar system into perspective, which is a real challenge to do, but when seen in this bar chart format, it is really impressive and surprising to see the results, such as Jupiter containing 70% of the solar system’s mass.

The Solar System by Kurzgesagt
The Solar System by Kurzgesagt

Then, comparing the Solar System’s mass to that of the Sun’s suddenly snaps into sharp focus just how enormous it is. My research has shown me this is an extremely hard subject to cover, but here it appears so simple and easy to understand.

Distance to Mars

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 17.32.28

As with many of the other infographics so far I have looked at, this one also focuses on explaining the magnitude of a space figure, this one being ‘How far is it to Mars?’ Such a simple concept, it is very well executed in the form of a automatically scrolling website. Starting at Earth, which is equated to 100 pixels, when the user starts scrolling, the site takes over…

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 17.44.00

… until the Moon is reached, 3000 pixels away, being just 27 pixels in width. This really makes the information easy to understand for the audience, so scrolling on again lets the website take over the scrolling for seemingly ever………..

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 17.45.12

… until Mars is reached. It seems to take ages, but is such a clever way of highlighting just how far Mars is in comparison. It is something I had never quite realised until I saw it, and it explains just why solar exploration to Mars hasn’t happened yet and won’t happen for a long time yet unfortunately.

Posters, Maps & Illustrations

Celestial Maps
Celestial Maps by Rida Abbasi
Celestial Maps by Rida Abbasi

This is a design close to what I am looking to produce, and I think inspiring for many reasons. Aesthetically, it is a very sophisticated design with the bright yellow content contrasting a ‘midnight blue’ background, a highly legible combination. However, my design will obviously look different because I am aiming for a different audience.

Celestial Maps by Rida Abbasi
Celestial Maps by Rida Abbasi

As for the map itself, everything is reasonably well laid out, with the planets picked out in blue, although I wonder if they could have been picked out in colours closer to how they are seen in the night sky. It is interesting to see this map include the Milky Way in it, as many I have seen do not bother covering this.

Celestial Maps by Rida Abbasi
Celestial Maps by Rida Abbasi

A key is provided, which is simple and clear, although I wonder if there could be more variety with colours as I’ve discussed earlier on in this blog post with another design.

What Space Really Looks Like
What Space Really Looks Like by Nina Geometrieva
What Space Really Looks Like by Nina Geometrieva

The above vector illustration is inspiring to me for this project because the design is engaging with the use of interesting shapes and glowing effects, while the colours are incredibly vibrant, making for a colourful piece that attracts the audience’s attention.

Glow-in-the-dark posters
Bottleneck Gallery's Glow-in-the-dark poster exhibition
Bottleneck Gallery’s Glow-in-the-dark poster exhibition

Seeing these glow-in-the-dark posters made me think how really these are two designs in one, for day and night, and it wasn’t too much of a visual step to think how effective it could be for a poster of the night sky for example. It is something I think that could add a real level of interest to the design.

Bottleneck Gallery's Glow-in-the-dark poster exhibition
Bottleneck Gallery’s Glow-in-the-dark poster exhibition

Using a glow-in-the-dark ink can also reveal some different features as the above poster shows. I think this would be a very interesting technique to use as I’ve shown in a mock-up below:

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 15.24.25
Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 15.24.11
…Night time!

Books & Magazines

For all the National Geographic books below, the designs are pretty similar, so I’ve grouped them together, but they’re identified in the caption. I’ve also had to take screenshots from Amazon, which limits the amount of pages I can see so I’m looking more at aesthetics than content. 

ORION by Karoline Tynes
ORION by Karoline Tynes

This conceptual magazine front cover is inspiring for the way the image is allowed to dominate the content, but how well the text is positioned above it so as to be legible. The sans-serif typography is also worthy of note due to its clean strokes and clever use of different weights for emphasis.

National Geographic books
Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond
Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond by James Trefil
Hubble: Imaging Space and Time by David DeVorkin & Robert Smith
Hubble: Imaging Space and Time by David DeVorkin & Robert Smith
Sizing Up the Universe: A New View of the Cosmos by J. Richard Gott & Robert J. Vanderbei
Sizing Up the Universe: A New View of the Cosmos by J. Richard Gott & Robert J. Vanderbei
New Solar System: Ice Worlds, Moons and Planets Redefined by Patricia Daniels & Robert Burnham
New Solar System: Ice Worlds, Moons and Planets Redefined by Patricia Daniels

The front covers visible above are tied together by one main theme; the use of the main image on the front cover that is seen as the major gateway to get people into the book. While this is always the case with books, here it seems more pronounced because of the fact that imagery makes up so much of the audience’s interest, if they didn’t find it beautiful, the majority would not be as interested, if at all.

Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond by James Trefil
Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond by James Trefil
Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond by James Trefil
Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond by James Trefil
Sizing Up the Universe: A New View of the Cosmos by J. Richard Gott & Robert J. Vanderbei
Sizing Up the Universe: A New View of the Cosmos by J. Richard Gott & Robert J. Vanderbei

The above pages are examples of how text can be placed into images so as to minimise the disruption over the image and not to distract the focus of the reader. I think this is an important design element to get right, as captions are needed to provide the reader with the background knowledge that will enhance their understanding and make the subject more enjoyable to them.

Sizing Up the Universe: A New View of the Cosmos by J. Richard Gott & Robert J. Vanderbei
Sizing Up the Universe: A New View of the Cosmos by J. Richard Gott & Robert J. Vanderbei

Including images such as the one above is important to get the audience interested by letting them see what is possible, even though realistically, few people have access to skies without light pollution, so can’t witness such extraordinary skies.


Rolls-Royce Phantom Celestial
Rolls-Royce Phantom Celestial interior
Rolls-Royce Phantom Celestial interior

Watching the Inside Rolls-Royce documentary recently, it reminded me of the Celestial Phantom bespoke special edition, built around the night sky theme, with an amazing fibre-optic headlining that replicates looking into the night sky. Although widely unrealistic, it would be fantastic to have that sort of facility within a poster.

Designing the Rolls-Royce Phantom Celestial's fibreoptic headlining
Designing the Rolls-Royce Phantom Celestial’s fibreoptic headlining

Watching the promotional video for the bespoke design and construction of the car, it is visible to see above how the headlining was designed, and how Rolls-Royce marked the constellations on their design software. Having only seen straight lines to connect the stars before, it makes me think how there could be better alternatives so this is something I will need to consider.

Conclusion – How will this inspire my designs?

After looking at these designs, there are a few points that stick out to me which I will summarise below and be thinking about when designing the solution to the brief.

  • Colour is a very important visual tool to identify elements.
  • The simpler, the better when it comes to explaining content.
  • Use simple illustrations when explaining content.
  • Use detailed illustrations to immerse the audience.
  • Unusual features can hold the audience’s interest.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 130 other followers