Sarah-Elizabeth Elliott

20 year old first year, BA (Hons) Graphic Design student at Colchester School of Art. This blog documents reflection on practical and contextual work and general inspiration

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LINKS:
PDP
Module 1: Introduction to Graphic Design Processes
Module 2: 30 Years of Mac























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Reflecting on 30 Years Mac

Upon completion on this module, I thought I’d reflect on it as a whole regarding how I personally feel it has gone, as opposed to just reflecting on what I have done design-wise and why. For me, this module has been the most successful of the year thus far. The ‘investigation’ part of the brief being the key word, was what encouraged me to work slightly differently from usual, and I feel this has benefitted me greatly and can only mean good things for my future work ethic. I spent much more time on this module researching in great depth, from various different angles. Because of the outcomes we had to produce, I looked much more into what Apple are as a company, their ethics, their history and their demographic. This gave me much more of a context for my work and a stronger starting point that just looking at designers, which I have done in the past. I also continuously researched all the way though, going off on tangents, returning back to points I’ve already looked at at a later date and pushing my ideas further than I have before. For me, this is has been very rewarding for both my work, and knowledge base and has helped me to engage with the brief on a much more personal level, not just academic.

My practical outcomes have been worked on on new-ish software for me. I have been familiar with the Adobe suite for some time now but this time, I have pushed into foreign territory with creating vector imagery and particularly with using animation for the first time. This has not only suited the brief well but has made me think outside of my previous comfort zone. I have felt that to an extent I have been held back with printing resources at times and I struggled to get my final outcome as I wanted because of the difficulties with printing onto card but this is just something to learn from in the future, and I now know to look further a field if something can’t be done to the level I want it to be done on campus. 

Overall I’m very pleased with my work for this module, I’ve taken a lot from it and I feel my work both practical and research based have been more indepth than before because of being sure to focus on the word investigation. I will take what I’ve learnt in this to future work.

3 months ago with 0 notes

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Final outcomes for all 3 parts of ‘30 Years Mac’

1) Typeface - 

Based on a combination of Helvetica (lighter weights) and Apple’s early pixel typefaces, this was a hybrid of oldest and newest Apple typefaces. This brings the old into the new as a celebration of the anniversary. The type sheet shows the typeface in standard alphabet form - created on a grid to ensure maximum consistency in shape, the typeface in use, and icons that were an alternate, unreadable concept that could double as a way-finding system for The Mothership. Icons inspired by those of Susan Kare, the designer of Apple’s first interface, System 1, icons.

2-4) Game Concept - 

Inspired once again by Susan Kare and System 1, with a nostalgic and ‘retro’ game style of both graphics and animation, this game combines simplicity with addictive qualities of being an easy yet rewarding game. To appeal to Apple’s ethics it is a reverse idea of a shooter game, inspired by Space Invaders, that can also be educational as it teaches users the use of Apple’s icons and what they mean. It is inspired by Space Invaders in that they are of a similar age and similar staggered animation style. The difference is that as opposed to moving an object to shoot, you are moving to catch - much more light hearted - that and the fact that because this is that much more modern, it is to be played both on a computer, using arrow keys, or on iPad/iPhone by tapping the screen. The layout is of very close similarity with the screens of the System 1 interface, which will both appeal to older users, that are familiar with this, as well as younger that can appreciate the ‘old school game’ feel. I felt Apple would want the game to be much like their products - suitable for all ages, easy to understand and fun to use. 

5-8) 30th Anniversary Card - 

My anniversary card was a much more up to date version of the 3-piece set I tried to retain throughout this brief. I wanted the type, game and card to all be visually linked as a type of anniversary promotional package from Apple, to make it that much more recognisable and clear that all three are linked to the 30 year anniversary. Because the card was a printed piece, I felt I needed to modernise it that much more. It is because of this that it is much less busy and mainly that the typeface has been changed. I used Helvetica Neue Ultra Light this time, instead of a pixel typeface, because it is the current iPhone interface typeface (for iOS7) that was adored by Steve Jobs. This made sure that when it was sent to the users of Apple products, it was more familiar to all of them as it used type that they would already associate with Apple. It also looked much more professional and less gimmicky, as the card needed to seem sincere. I also brought the icons up to date, still keeping them very minimal. I used Apple’s timeline as a template and created the Macs on Illustrator, in a more rounded fashion, as Apple’s products have become more round in appearance over the years - no hard edges like with the very old machines. The card eventually ended up being printed on paper. The quality was perfect from the printer, very crisp and smooth, and when tested on card, the ink simply cracked and it wasn’t folding nicely.

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Thank You Card Concept: 9 - Card Packaging

To package my card I felt it only seemed right to replicate packaging that I got with my MacBook this year. The simple card fold requires no glue and just one sheet of card, and is minimal, clean and very simple - very much like Apple products. I used black because although usually Apple packaging was white, this would look out of place against the card inside it. I finished it with an authentic Apple sticker as this was the only element of detail on the packaging - no more information is needed and the receiver will instantly know who the package is from. This piece doesn’t have any print on it saying where to be mailed and it also doesn’t fastened securely enough to be posted, so like Apple’s version of this envelope fold, it will be slipped inside more appropriate packaging when sent - such as a standard envelope. I tested this idea in paper and 2 other weights of card. Paper was far too flimsy and other card I used cracked when it was folded. This was the ideal weight and the finish, like the card, is very crisp.

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Thank You Card Concept: 8 - Final idea applied to another year

I applied my general theme to another year (1984, the birth of Mac and linked it to the 1984 LA Olympics, as California was where Mac was founded in that year) to see if I could make it work the same way no matter what Mac the user had selected. I noticed that because the section that folds inwards only goes half way, only half of the Mac choices could have a working ‘window’ through to the inside section from the front. To make this work I simply decided on a general placement on the inside section for the Macs that the middle section doesn’t reach and I’m happy with this as it’s consistent.

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Thank You Card Concept: 7 - Refining and re-developing final idea 

I went back to the drawing board after a crit on Monday and decided that I needed to make my card bigger after my feedback. This way it allows more space for the design to breathe as Apple’s design work is not generally ‘busy’. I also decided to add an extra fold to my card, and so it will be made up of 3 sections. Made up of two 160mm x 160mm sections and one of 80mmx160. The 160mm x 80mm will be folded inwards in the card and that will be where the icon shows through the cut out window on the front. This way it doesn’t interrupt the inside of the card, nor does it look out of place when open. I also felt that I needed to bring in more relevant imagery to the year that I had used. I decided to remove the part about Pulp Fiction and just focus on Mandela becoming president, this way there is more about one important date than a vague description of two. To focus more on the mention of Mandela, I created an image out of him sticking to my System 1 icon based graphics and colour scheme. My plan now is to test printing this on different paper weights and trial one for another year.

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Thank You Card Concept: 6 - Finalising ideas.

I printed out the two of my designs that I decided to take forward and have come to the conclusion that I will be continuing with image 1 (top). The overlay on the background makes it much easier to read the type without adjusting the weight to the point of it becoming harder to read/too different to how Apple use it, and in image 2, I feel the design looks empty without the names of the Macs. The names of the Mac are what give it the feel of a progression through time and make it informative, without them, it is just like a pattern and doesn’t really have a context. I also think that the overlay on image 1 ties in with the Apple on the inside of the card, the second use of the darker grey overlay makes it look less random. It also makes the type and the Macs on the front stand out much more and look more clean and crisp. Although it means that you lose some detail from the iconic System 1 background, it seems to smooth it over and modernise it a bit, making it fit with the use of Helvetica Neue UltraLight. I think this makes it look like a much more natural combination of old and new Apple design style. Lastly, the darker background in image 1 one means that the window cut out to show the selected Mac has the same colour behind it, whereas on image two, the lighter grey front with the darker grey behind made it stick out too much. For these reasons, image 1 is the design I plan to finalise.

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Thank You Card Concept: 5 - Refining ideas

I began to refine my ideas after I had settled on the simple card fold. Apple tend to keep their design work clean and simple and so I felt that if I over complicated the fold, it wouldn’t fit very well with that. I also have a relatively busy - although simple design - and as I found out, shrinking it down wasn’t effective. These are my 3 design options based on narrowing down because of things that went wrong with the others. I plan to print them out and see what they look like in person before determining which works best. I won’t be able to tell this on screen as the background looks much different went printed and this piece isn’t going to be used on the web. Currently, I already think that image 1 (top) is not going to work as the impact of the background drowns out the typeface (even with the stroke increased) and that making it any bolder would make it less readable or too big for the image. - for this reason I will not be continuing this idea. I will also need to increase the weight of the typeface in the image of the Powerbook, on both remaining designs so that its stands out more against the background.

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Thank You Card Concept: 4 - Ideas in Context

I applied my various ideas onto the card shapes to see how they would work in context and I soon realised that my suspicions that the image wouldn’t look good shrunk down was right. The design looks far too cramped and the type almost unreadable. Based on this I will be pursuing the ideas that remain in a square shape to best suit the design. I also don’t think the design with a partly transparent apple over them work when in context. The design is far too busy and it detracts from the timeline of Macs. 

Thank You Card Concept: 3 - Ideas

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Practising applying imagery that I designed onto the card ideas that I came up with to give them context. I will be assembling these cards to see how they come out. One thing I have already noticed is that the stroke on the typeface is currently not enough to compete with the background, which is something I will resolve in my further development of my ideas. 

4 months ago with 0 notes

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Thank You Card Concept: 2 - Card Folds

I began experimenting with card folds to establish how I would present my card. Because of Apple’s design work generally being kept minimal, I felt the card should represent this. This is the reason for all of these cards being basic, one sheet folds that are easy to put together. I also wanted to retain a square/rectangle shape, almost replicating the sort of shape of iMac/MacBook screens. I decided to develop examples 2, 3 and 6. 

2) Because it is very simple, a basic centre fold, this won’t detract from the design work on it. It also has a little window cut out of it, through this window - when the card is closed - you can see an image on this inside. I think this little subtle detail just makes a slight difference to an otherwise bog standard idea. - Like Apple, thinking different.

3) I also chose to develop number 3 because it’s very similar on the outside to any other single fold card, but it changes it up inside. I like that it is simple in appearance but also opens up a bit like a box - like opening up a box with a Mac product in it.

6) I picked 6 to develop because it reminded me of opening doors, which is exactly what Mac have done every time they have progressed with a new product. This and again it is also a very simple design - like Apple’s design and simple to reproduce.

I will be continuing with card 2. This is because I wanted to confine my card to 1 sheet of A4 - to make production easier and have less production involved - making it more green, which is something I feel Apple would appreciate. This means that 2 is the best choice as it doesn’t involve shrinking the image down any further, as my idea may not work on 6 as it would be too small. I will test this to see the result.

The design of these cards is mostly based around what it can show, not it’s function. I am not basing my decision solely around aesthetics and making them elaborate, as that is not what Apple are about.

Thank You Card Concept: 1 - Initial Images

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Inspired by both the research that I used in parts 1 and 2 of the brief, and the tea towel image of ‘great Brits’ that I found at Pick Me Up, I wanted my card to not only be a thank you card, but to be a documentary piece of material that shows the progression of Mac visually over the years. I also decided to keep the on-going System 1 and Susan Kare inspired theme with the style of graphics and the colour scheme, but this time, in contrast, I brought in Apple’s newer typeface used on iOS7 and up, which is Helvetica Neue UltraLight. I did this to keep the design more current I wanted to show the contrast between new and old Apple design. Simplicity and being educational/informative will remain themes in this part of my work as it did in my Typeface and Game concepts. These are traits of Apple that I feel are important and should be shown when representing the company.

I created all of this from scratch on Adobe Illustrator, using vector images and type.

I also decided on using the year 1994 for my card concept. I chose this mainly because of it being Mac’s 10th anniversary (it is also the year that I was born so I was interested to look into what happened that year), and went on to research events in the world and popular culture during 1994 and discovered that it was the year when a lot happened globally, with conflict and resolution - with the Rwandan genocide and Mandela becoming president, and in the media with the release of iconic films such as The Lion King, Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump. I felt it would be a nice approach to use one iconic world event along side a slightly less important, but equally relatable media event. So I put together one of each - insuring both were positive as I didn’t want a negative reminder in the card)image 

4 months ago with 0 notes

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Layout of PDP presentation to round up the year thus far. This is an opportunity to reflect on the year as a whole. On the progress and development my work has made because of the things I have been taught and things I have discovered this year. I have tried many new things as well as revisited and refined old skills and this presentation brings all of that to light in a critical and comparable way. 

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Screenshots displaying technical processes used throughout the production of my work for the 30 Years Mac module. Including vector images completed on Adobe Illustrator CS2 and animated GIFs created on Adobe Photoshop CS2

Pick Me Up 2014 - Somerset House

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On Tuesday 29th April we visited Pick Me Up for a second time. Pick Me Up is a graphic arts exhibition displaying contemporary work from up and coming designers. This year was particularly inspiring to me not only because of the vibrant illustration - that always interests me as it’s something I myself don’t feel confident doing - but because there was material that coincided with our Mac brief. 

Firstly, image 6 shows a card game designed by a small design company named Puck Collective. They have created their own spin off of Top Trumps. This relevant to our game project because for mine, I have taken inspiration from existing games and have found that remaking a famous one is a brilliant way to appeal to a wider audience. We all picked up on these and thought it was a very clever idea and I’m hoping a similar thing could be noticeable with my game concept. 

Images 9/10/11 also show a game related piece from Pick Me Up. Designed by Melvin Galapon, this was a physical and graphic game that means users have to reenact formations in a group, with their bodies, once they see it on a game. I was greatly interested in this as it is a good way to engage many different things in one, such as education, thinking, physical activity, teamwork and problem solving. I had not seen a game in this format before and it made me consider different approaches to my own game. 

Typically of Pick Me Up, there wasn’t much that could inspire me specifically with any uni work, but it is always beneficial because of the amazing typography and extremely interesting use of colour. These things just give me general inspiration to take forward and remember for future use. 

Image 4 is one that did actually inspire me specifically. It reminded me of tea towels that were traditionally made at primary school, when each member of the class would draw themselves and it’d be printed on a towel. I decided to take this approach to my thank you card part of the mac brief to document a timeline of Macs. I won’t, however, be using illustration. Mine will be vector images. 

4 months ago with 0 notes

8 - Developed Chosen Concept - Concept 1, final animation

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Lastly, here is the game in action, demonstrating fully how it would look during game play. This could be used, had I more time, to be put into a promotional video by Mac to introduce the game to potential new players. The game, although best suited for touch screen, could also be used as a Facebook game if required and instead of tapping the screen left and right to move the basket, the arrow keys could be used. 

I am happy with how my game has progressed and I think Apple would be too. It not only iconises their original interface design, giving a nostalgic feel and a celebration of Mac’s history, but it has addictive and educational qualities that would make it likely to be played a lot and teach new Apple fans about what the roots of Apple’s quirky and sweet icons actually were. 

You can also see when put into action how I was inspired by Space Invaders. The consistent colour scheme, very simple graphics and minimalism that made it such an iconic game. 

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Source.

4 months ago with 0 notes