Digital Development and Poster Evaluation

I decided to go for a more graphic approach for my poster designs, making use of silhouettes of iconic London architecture and strong value relationships. The introduction of colour later on using various colour schemes and harmonies adds an extra layer of depth and intrigue to the images.

After multiple development and ideation sketches in my sketchbook I moved into the digital medium to start creating the silhouettes for my posters. I gathered reference images that were front on for the most part to make the silhouette creation process easier.

I initially tried to create the silhouettes with a combination of basic shapes such as squares, triangles and rectangles but that proved to be difficult to manage in regards to layers and overlapping. I then tried to use the pen tool aided by rulers to trace the outlines of the buildings. Once the major silhouette had been created, I then worked on the inner complexity of some of the buildings. I manipulated various basic shapes to create the inner details and used circles to cut into the silhouettes themselves. The way I achieved this was via a technique we were taught earlier in the year where a shape on a layer above another shape is grouped with the lower one. You then navigate to the pathfinder tool and choose the Minus-Front option to cut into the lower shape on the layer stack.

This preparation allowed me to quickly ideate, thumbnail and create layouts and designs quickly and efficiently through the use of modular elements. My direction being graphic and bold for these poster designs, I decided to juxtapose the strong verticals and horizontals of the buildings with circular elements to create higher contrast, not only in value and colour but in shape as well.

Some of the silhouettes were scrapped early for being confusing or not working with my desired composition, two of these were the London Bridge and Cathedral/Abbey silhouettes.

Using the layer stack and overlapping, I situated the main circle behind the front silhouettes of the buildings to create depth and take advantage of relative colour, value and contrast. Having the front silhouette dark, the circle bright and the background a mid tone forces the viewer to look at the area where the silhouette and circle overlap, captivating the viewer. Once their attention has been held, they are free to look around the rest of the poster and are guided by the verticals and diagonals towards the heading ‘London Festival of Architecture’ and logo.

The logo itself is quite bright and saturated, this means that it easily distracts from the rest of the poster if proper value and colour harmony, as well as compositional layout, is not achieved. To help combat the effect this logo has, I used value, colour and composition to help minimise its distracting qualities. For the silhouette based graphical designs I experimented with placement and size, eventually settling on a small logo in one of the far corners and payed close attention to visual balance and weight so as not to tip the image to favour one side.

To help move the eyes of the viewer around and show them what I intend to show, I made use of various compositional rules such as the rule of thirds, leading/directional lines, implied lines, the golden spiral, and value, colour and shape contrast.

As I progressed, I tried out different combinations of silhouettes and shapes to see if multiple silhouettes could work in the same composition together. Ultimately it proved to be confusing, too busy and would require a large amount of value separation to bring clarity to the image. I also experimented with the placement of the logo, attempting to place it into the negative space of the silhouettes and onto the silhouettes themselves. This proved to be visually uncomfortable and moved quickly away from this approach.

I used several architectural landmarks from London to form the basis of my designs and used abstracted silhouettes to communicate my message. The triangle, being the most abstract and least direct, represents the Shard while the others are more obvious in regards to their intended real life counterparts. For the Shard posters I directed the viewer’s gaze throughout the poster with the use of directional lines and pointing in regards to the way the triangles aim and guide the eye towards the intended focal point.

I experimented with the placement and value of the text quite a bit, trying to find a good hierarchy and balance without making the text disappear or overpower the image. For the most part the visual hierarchy was established through value and composition, as well as sizing and proportion. The silhouettes were used to capture the viewer’s attention with their high contrast and juxtaposition and they are then directed towards the text that makes use of bright white and dark black to show what is important and what is not immediately of importance to view. This is supplemented by the text size, with the large white text of ‘London Festival of Architecture’ overpowering the small ‘1st – 30th June 2017’ text below it. The viewer will also note the smaller logo in the corner but not linger long on it, it being away from the rest of the more interesting visual stimuli and being harsh on the eyes with its bright saturated colours. A way that I minimised the intensity of the logo was by making the background around it both light and similar in colour, as to distract from it by lowering the contrast.

Keeping the main visual elements and the value transitions on the rule of thirds help push forward the focal point and detract from the less important logo that lies in the corner of the image.

After I had developed the first two posters, the graphical ones, I moved on the digital development of the perspective poster.

Information regarding the specific development of that layout can be found here:

This one proved to be more challenging and time consuming, required the meticulous manipulation of angle, grids and line weight to ensure a pleasing and balanced composition using black, white and pink as the only colour information. The process was sped up however once I had discovered the Perspective Tool in Illustrator, only after I had manually set up the grids for the tower. However, I still kept some of these initial grids and perspective lines in, editing them throughout to help aid the layout. Once I had everything blocked in, it was only a matter of refinement and polish before the poster was ready to be printed along with the other two.

While the first two graphical posters aimed for a more stylised, graphical and atmospheric approach to help evoke a mood and sense of time, the perspective layout was more of a nod to architects with the exposed perspective grid lines and technical line work, supplemented by the bold line weight to help push that depth created by the perspective. All three posters are designed to communicate the ‘London Festival of Architecture’, but each one adds a bit more nuance in their own unique ways. The Shard inspired one evokes a sense of time and nostalgia with its cool background and retro burning sun, aided by the graphic triangles the viewer is guided throughout the layout as if on a journey towards the main text; London Festival of Architecture.

For the Strata (The Razor) Tower poster I was more concerned with creating the feeling of power and solidity that is oh-so-important in architectural design. The strong verticals anchor the design in place, with the spreading diagonals sending the eyes towards the high contrast circle behind the main silhouette. The arc and sharp points at the top of the silhouette send the eyes up and into the text above, once read the viewer most likely returns to the high contrast silhouette, or perhaps is sent down towards the logo and date in the bottom left and right corners. The gradient from dark to light, as well as bluish-purple to warmer and softer pinks and yellows gives a sense of mood, the curvature of the earth and the feeling of a cool misty morning warmed by the suns first rays of light before the rest of the day begins.

As mentioned earlier, the more perspective heavy poster was in the direction of creating a dynamic feeling of structure and purpose, aiming to communicate the regal nature, solidity and power of the Elizabeth Tower through the use of line and perspective. It stretches and towers above and past the viewer, appearing to go on further, if not forever. The only colour in the image is from the logo, which has been repeated in two ways; the repetition of the logo itself and the main colour of the logo being used in the title, ‘London Festival of Architecture’. This creates powerful focal points, with the only areas of colour being bold, saturated and mainly on the middle and right of the page, it balances out the visual weight of the tower on the left hand side of the layout.

In comparison to the researched poster designs I analysed earlier in this assignment, I believe that I achieved good quality work. I was definitely inspired by both the contemporary and modernist way of creating bold a graphical designs using a few colours and values, aided by the placement of text and the use of font. The modernist poster I analysed helped to inspire the perspective orientated layout I did, using the grid lines in a similar way to help direct the viewer towards the focal point. That same poster also served to help with the creation of the more graphical posters, especially because of the simple to complex nature in regards to the construction of the shapes used in the head of the main subject matter. I found the interplay between dark and light text and background quite interesting in both the modernist and contemporary posters, with the inspiration of the graphical shapes stemming from the contemporary posters I researched as well.

I found that while the modernist layouts aimed for a more graphical approach to communicate the message in the least complicated yet most elegant way, the contemporary ones attempted to emulate this while adding a busier, abstract and more visually complex series of design choices. The modernist’s seemed to value graphical simplicity and clear messages above the wow factor of complexity that the contemporary’s displayed.

My work, especially the graphical designs of The Shard and The Strata (The Razor) Tower posters, aimed to create a sense of simplified elegance similar to that of the bold, silhouetted designs that the modernist posters communicated.



Sketchbook Evaluation

Evaluation can be found below sketchbook images:


Sketchbook Evaluation:

My initial direction when I started involved the contrast between verticals, horizontals, diagonals and curves/rounds (circles). My idea for the circle came from the sun or moon combined with the London Eye. With it stemming from the London Eye, I played around with including the carriages/carts from that but it seemed quite busy and distracted from my graphical approach. The sun and moon motif helped to communicate the time of day that the festival is going to take place on and also communicates a sense of mood and atmosphere. Multiple thumbnails of the silhouettes, the layout and composition as well as combinations and experimentation of silhouettes and media allowed for quick ideation. I made notes regarding the directions I wanted to take, changes, ideas, techniques, processes and plans for the various layouts and much more.

I experimented with font for a while, trying to decide on something that would compliment my graphical poster designs without detracting from them. The font also needed to reflect the subject matter, architecture, and perhaps even evoke a sense of nostalgia when combined with the colour palette to create a captivating and emotional mood. I leaned more towards a tall and thin font, a nod towards art deco poster designs and font types. I also tested out different combinations of thickness, value combinations and placement.

Layout and composition were quite a big focus in my thumbnails, with multiple iterations the elements changed and were placed in different ways with different text, silhouette and logo locations. Adding to the thumbnails are notes, more sketches, general and multi-media experimentation.

In my sketchbook, after spending a large amount of time on the development of the graphical poster designs, I moved towards a more architectural and perspective heavy layout and design approach with the Elizabeth Tower/Big Ben being my main subject matter and the focal point, with the logo projecting from it. I wanted to make use of line weight, perspective grids, lines and value/colour contrast to make both the building and logo focal points have a clear visual hierarchy. The use of lighter, thinner grid lines and thicker lines on the building allowed for interesting experimentation in regards to visual weight and composition. The creation of depth helps draw the viewer in and the splash of colour from the logo creates a strong focal point and hook to keep the viewer captivated.

I tried to place another building into the poster, such as the Gherkin, but it made it too cluttered, busy and distracted from the focal point. The perspective, for the most part, is 2-point. However, I decided to create another vanishing point inside one of the clock faces. This vanishing point projects out the logo and conforms to the other vanishing points as well, creating a dynamic and interesting perspective grid and arrangement. One large challenge here is controlling the clutter, line weight, visual weight/importance, hierarchy and amount of lines present in the image without detracting from one of the selling points of this image; the raw architectural feeling communicated from the grid and line drawing.

I did multiple practice grids and forms/constructions to warm up for and experiment with the layout and design as well as the elements within it.

In regards to multi-media experimentation, I made use of pencil, various pens, fine liners, markers and colour pencils.

Designs making use of abstracted patterns and textures were also explored and provided interesting results. Both 2D and 3D emulating layouts were experimented with. The more 3D abstract designs proved to be more dynamic and interesting than their 2D counterparts.

I decided to go for a graphical approach with my digital development, and later worked on the perspective poster design I mentioned earlier. I also needed to find out the type of font and colours that I would be using, so after I had settled on the final layouts for the graphical posters I moved onto colour experimentation. I used Adobe Color ( to help find different colour schemes for my posters. I used the pink of the logo as a grounding point and reached out from there, trying out triad, complementary and a few other colour schemes. Once I had found a few I liked I printed out screenshots, stuck them into my book, and drew up the layouts of my posters. I then used gouache paint and colour pencils to implement these colour schemes, first mixing the colours and finding the right balance and mixture of hues, tints and shades to create the right colours combinations that I needed.

Using gouache, fine liner, marker and colour pencils allowed me to creatively explore the colour schemes within my designs. I pushed a slightly more painterly style with the brushstrokes on some parts of the layouts, not trying to get a clean flat colour but rather dynamically change the colours and textures throughout as a way of rapid ideation, instead of re-creating the layout and painting it again each time.

Afterwards, I did similar work with the font, printing out images (that I found online as inspiration) and analysing them, deconstructing them and picking the parts I liked to inform my font choices during the digital development stage. After experimenting with various types of font, from thick to thin, art deco to bold and chunky, I settled on thin, structural and elegant text. I also included a re-created example of the anatomy of typography from an image I found online, highlighting the key elements of font and text.

Dark on light and light on dark text experiments were attempted as well,similarly to earlier in the sketchbook, trying to find the right balance between contrast of value and size of font. This font development expands upon the earlier text and font work in the sketchbook, allowing for a more polished end result.

After the font and colour development in my sketchbook, I drew out my final graphical designs, with my final perspective design being slightly  earlier in the book.