Exercise: Point of Sale Display

What’s the brief?

The local green grocer has asked me to produce a point of sale display to go above the fruit and vegetables in their shop. They want the display to be seen from the street through the shop window to attract passing shoppers in order to boost their trade.

What are the key words?

  • display to be seen from street
  • A1 landscape
  • fruit & vegetables
  • attract passing shoppers
  • boost trade
  • seen in peripheral vision
  • visuals clear & dynamic
  • colour & tone
  • surface marks

For whom is the message?

  • potential customers old & young
  • people passing on foot or in cars
  • parents and children on their way to the primary school

This has been a very steep learning curve for me. I first created the mock-up to check size and try to work out how large the different components of the banner would have to be.

I then sketched on the paper a simple selection of fruit.

Then I tried to find possible colour schemes by using pastels, crayons and pieces of material. The key words “clear & dynamic” visuals were foremost in my ind so I decided the posters should be predominantly greens and reds. the greens to indicate freshness and the reds to draw attention. These colours would also be easily seen from the street either by those on foot or even those in cars. (see mock up in my diary)

I took some images of individual fruit and vegetables and assembled on a plate. I created a thumbnail of these:


I ‘cut out’ the fruit and vegetables from their plate and copied them to a green background. (see reflections below about colour matching).



I then placed the image in the poster. I used the transform tool to resize it and place it in the correct place.

I cut out the individual fruit from their background for dot over “i” and for tomato ‘eyes’


I used the calligraphy brush to draw the mouth and eyebrows. I am sure these could have been done better but I had no idea what tool to use.

Finally I found the SPAR logo on the internet and used this. I left it on it’s white background as I thought it needed to stand out.

The poster had to contain fruit or vegetables but with some fun element to attract children. I am not sure if this worked in the vegetable banner so I omitted it from the fruit one and just used the orange to dot the “i”.

Basic RGB


Basic RGB



My technique of cutting and pasting the fruit and vegetable images needs to be improved. I am not sure how to do this but will seek help.

I like the vegetable poster but do not know if I have added sufficient information to indicate that the shop is SPAR. I just used the logo.

Although I used the colour coordinates from Illustrator in the PS background when I copy and pasted the image back in the colour was different. I think this is because I have sRGB set in Illustrator and RGB in PS. Also when i printed these images as JPG’s from PS the colour was totally different to that on the screen. I have not calibrated my screen for a while but the difference was dramatic. I need help with all this.

Although the fruit is not perfect I think it works ok. I probably should have ‘removed’ the marks from the pineapple.

I have asked two graphic designers for comment:

Sandi’s (a graphic designer) criticism by email:

There were a few probs. The balance & spacing was off. Be careful to make sure with something like this that there isn’t much dead space. In order to balance I would have the fruit all around like a border with your type bold and strong in the centre. I would stay away from script typeface, looks dated. Also I think the colour you used was too similar to background . You need it to jump out. Hope this helps and is not too critical….sorry!

Deidre’s (a graphic designer) criticism by email:

Firstly, excellent balance and proportion over the poster, great clarity of focus, there is a clear hierarchy so that a viewer can read that it’s crispy freshness, an image demonstrating this freshness and a small logo.
Secondly, I would say the font is not so easy to read at a glance from a distance, which is how the poster is likely to need to function. It is a friendly, casual font, which works for this type content, but maybe not on a poster. A plainer font, possibly bolder might be more legible.
Try out www.dafont.com for a fantastic range of fonts to choose from. Most are free for non-commercial use such as education and available in Mac format.
Thirdly, and this is really subjective, in consumer based posters a background with a bit of texture, an abstract something or other, with a 3 dimensional air to it, is often effective. 

 You use your photographic skills to good effect here in your tests. However, I think your green background dampens the vibrance of your fruit and it looks tastier on white. Photograph 906 is beautifully constructed (those eyebrows!) and just perfect for this project. All that might be needed is a simple tagline such as “visit a friendly face at your local greengrocers” and you’ve got a humdinger of an advert containing some strong graphic design principles (a nice image accompanying some clean and clever text to contextualise the image) and the job is done. 

I created this following the tutor advice but am not sure it is strong enough:


Exercise: Too Much or not Enough Information

Look around locally and identify a coming event – it could be a jumble sale, a local gig, concert or play, an exhibition or sporting fixture – and design two posters to promote it.

Make the first poster full of details and descriptions about the event, when and where it’s taking place, what’s going on, how long it lasts, how much it costs and what to expect. Include all the details that you think your audience might need.

For the second poster apply Occam’s Razor to pare back the information to a bare minimum – be extreme: how little information can you get away with and how few words can you use? Challenge yourself to be as simple as possible, but don’t forget the essentials or the poster won’t do the job it is intended for.

The poster is advertising a jazz concert due to take place in the next village to mine, next Saturday at 6pm. The group is called ELIZA. There is no charge but a contribution would be appreciated. The venue is very famous as it is where Marel Pagnol’s film Jean de Florette was filmed. This fact has nothing to do with the present concert but I added some of this information to the first poster. I also added information about the group. I invented this as I could not find any information about them.

This is the poster:

Concet Poster 1
Concet Poster 1


I then stripped out all but what I felt was the absolute minimum of information required. I also made the poster in B&W to increase the idea of minimalism.

Concert Poster 2



I think I have fulfilled the brief but I wonder if the second poster is not a little ‘dry’ and lacking in information about the very famous church where the concert will take place?

I asked the opinion of two friends which I really need to take on board:

Jo: an artist

  • Poster 1 is on the way to being a pamphlet with lots of bits of information and doesn’t quite gang as a whole for me yet.
  • Poster 2 is too simple – it looks a wee bit amateurish and like something I may do with my limited IT skills, 
  • Neither really reflect your v accomplished sense of design. Perfection lies somewhere between the two ( of course)

Bev: a dancer 

  • You have certainly filled the brief for “overloaded” and so much content diminishes the intent and attention to important information. The eyes don’t know where to go next. When you say you know nothing about graphic art, you certainly know your own impressions when you read posters. You must have come to some impressions on the ones that have been posted. THe first is overloaded with information and varying graphics. What saves it, if one can say that, is the white background.
  • The second poster also fills the second brief very well. It is pure (the black and white) The lovely different shapes of letters, each suiting their information. The middle and lower area has the softening lines of the instrument font sizes and shapes very suitable. all the needed information. Everyone knows the village, its history.  For those non locals who would in their travels come upon the poster, I suppose saying 13 century church of St Barthélemy. to start adding history etc begins the same problem experienced in the first poster.  It is a really strong poster.

….The second image is certainly easier to read – however with three different fonts used at altering sizes you’ve still some way to go to make this fully minimalist. What are the fonts of minimalist design? Usually sans-serif and very clean. How about the imagery? Once again, perhaps only block shapes. You will cover more type throughout the course but you may like to read here about ‘purposeful hierarchy’ and avoid using clip-art in your work – your illustrator skills are superior!

Just like within a lot of natural orders, a strong and purposeful hierarchy is a pretty powerful tool. Within the realm of design, hierarchy concerns the arrangement of visual elements in order to signify importance. So, the more important elements are made to hold the most attention through scale, colour, type etc. and the least important elements are made to hold less attention.

An element that hierarchy is most evidently used in is typography, so let’s look at an example of hierarchy using some type. In the included example, have a look at the way the first invitation is laid out, all the type is given the same size and weight, making all the information hard to gather in a quick skim. The example to the right, however, has had a little bit of hierarchy introduced to the type. Even with just the smallest adjustments to the colour, weight and size of certain elements, the information becomes way easier to digest and make sense of.

Keeping the ‘purposeful hierarchy’ and block shapes into consideration I have re-worked the poster 2:



Exercise: Visualising Your Ideas


Paper is something graphic designers take for granted. For this exercise you will explore some of the different ways you can fold paper to make a leaflet.

You have been asked to design a leaflet for an organisation, inviting people to to volunteer for a task. (You can choose the task for example, school governor, fundraising or building a community garden). In addition to a title the information has been broken down into four chunks each of about 120 words. You will also need to leave space for contact and address details.

Working with a sheet of A4 paper or larger if you prefer, and ignoring the actual words and subheadings, explore the different formats for leaflets that are possible. Consider and experiment with options for final size and types of paper as part of your visualisation.

The organisers are particularly interested in trying to attract new people. Your job is to find a way to make people want to pick up the leaflet. Be creative and playful in developing a range of ideas. Will the leaflets be put in racks? Will they be handed out or sent in the post? You will need to do some research to see how other people have solved similar problems.

As you try different folds write on each new page what is going on it and which way up it will be. Choose a combination of different ways to visualise your thinking, such as mounting or photographing your mock-ups and prototypes, presenting thumbnails or drawing your ideas.

In your learning log describe how you found turning ideas into visuals. Did you discover anything unexpected?

Ways of folding an A4 sheet:

These are just some of the ways an A4 sheet can be folded. If one is creating a brochure it is necessary to establish how or where the brochure will be distributed. I work in a craft shop and we only have a limited space and one stand to stock brochures. We are the only information source in this very popular seaside village. It is important the brochures conform to size.

Our shop stand
Our shop stand
A5 fold
A5 with ‘gate’



DL size
complicated triangels
Triangles boat








Design a leaflet for an organisation, inviting people to to volunteer for a task

A mind map, created in InDesign, helped to concentrate my mind on what the leaflet should contain.

Brochure mindmap
Brochure mindmap

I worked with three of the above formats:

  1. A5. I created this in InDesign, as a simple, probably quite cheap, solution to the problem. The cover contains the call to volunteer. The inside pages will contain the information about what you should volunteer, how much time is involved and what we want to achieve. The back page contains contact information

.Volunteer brochure 1

  1. Volunteer brochure


2. DL frmat – triple fold. I created this as a prototype. It would also be cheap and would fit most leaflet display holders. The first page has the call to volunteer and contacts. The rounded window shows an image of the island. The interior would contain the information as above.

DL Brochure
DL Brochure




3. Boat Shaped leaflet. I think this would be expensive to produce. I tried to create this in Illustrator. The end result was not very satisfactory but gives the idea of what I was trying to achieve.

Basic RGB
Boat shape brochure



If cost is the greatest priority the 1 is the best solution. Maybe a more attractive image on the front which will attract young people. The second leaflet is the best solution if the brochure is to be left in retail outlets in leaflet holders. Number 3 would attract more attention but would be costly to produce.

Crit by my niece who is a graphic designer…. I asked her to look at leaflet 1 only

The leaflet1  does need seem to work. I would suggest not having white as your background colour.  I think it looks more professional with a solid colour for background. The title at the front is too small and the two lines are drifting without an anchor. I suggest that one of either line is the hero, blow up big, make strong by giving a drop shadow or outline and then the other can be a tag line. At the back possibly put each of the questions in a box (can be an uneven shaped box) of their own overlapping each other, maybe using the three colours in your illustration.

Crit by may daughter, an executive in a big multinational company

Regarding your brochure; I like the picture and the colours bit I think there is something to be improved in the text ‘ Its our island etc. ‘ it looks a bit clunky. Not sure if it’s the block colour around it? 
Also, although I like the picture and the colours i wonder if they are a bit muted? Pink Neon is very ‘in’ these days but might be too much here… depends on who you want to appeal to? And your message? If it’s nature, calm quiet people and hard workers this brochure should work. 
If it’s millennials and those looking for some fun, probably not 🙂

.. As this was ideas focussed rather than a fully refined project, the ‘clunkiness’ your family members point out is not a problem (though very useful insight). You clearly outline three different initial approaches from ‘illustration led’ to adding interest via a ‘peephole’ or altering the full outer shape. I consider this a shrewd investigation into piquing an audience’s interest. I also really like your lady gardener’s image and hope you develop more images like this as part of your practical toolkit.

I was happy with this feedback.

Exercise: Book cover design

Your brief is to design a stunning and contemporary cover for one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed authors, HG Wells. Known mostly for his science fiction writing, HG Wells also wrote social novels that are still relevant today, covering topics such as the mid-life crisis, class, feminism, materialism, consumerism and love. Your challenge is to create cover designs for three of his books that work as a set and establish the books as timeless fiction.

The books will be published in a paperback format and need to include the title, author’s name, publishers name and trademark. You only need to design the front cover and spine.

Making notes in your learning log:

  • Identify the research you might need to undertake and the gaps in your knowledge. Can you identify any primary research that will help you? What resources could you use to undertake secondary research?
  • • Use the mind mapping technique to explore your keywords. Explore both extremes of obvious and radical solutions to the brief; what’s the most obvious way of responding to it and what radical creative solutions can you come up with?

When you have a range of ideas, as well as the notes in your learning log, make some rough drawings or sketches to show your ideas. You can do these on paper or on a computer. If you are using a computer don’t forget to keep some of the tryouts and early ideas. Call them something like idea #1, #2, #3 and keep them in a separate folder. You may well want to come back to them later and use some of the ideas that you didn’t use this time for another exercise.

Research on HG Wells:

Wells was born in Bromley in Kent. United Kingdom. His mother worked as a maid for the upper classes. His father was a shopkeeper and professional cricket player. Wells  was forced to leave school at fourteen and became apprenticed to a draper. He won a college scholarship and studied science. He did not graduate at this point. He obtained several teaching posts and eventually completed his science degree. His varied positions and sporadic studies provided him with material for his books.

He was a prolific writer and wrote  in many genres, including the novel, history, politics, social commentary, and textbooks and rules for war games (1). His early novels were science fiction but he also wrote factual and biographical books. The first of these being Kipps. His two volume The Outline of History (1920). He wrote a shorter version of his history entitled A Short History of the World (1922). A list of his non-fiction can be found here (2)

I bought and re-read The Misery of Boots and The Story of  Great Schoolmaster. A Modern Utopia is online so I will peruse this.

Research on Book covers:

I looked at a lot of book cover images. I realise that I never buy a book by its cover but always by recommendation or reading a review. I found this research quite eye opening. Many of the covers of the books I have read seemed, to me, to have nothing to do with the book content. I then looked at the 16 ‘best’ book covers of 2016 (3). These were amazing.

I then looked at the 50 Coolest Book Covers Ever. (4) I was really happy to see many of my best loved books and authors represented. It was interesting as I have just had new book shelves built and I was replacing my books on them. I stopped to check many of the covers and one that really jumped out was Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, which I had read many years ago and the cover had lodged in my memory. Also covers which appeal to me tend to be very simple, many abstract and with few colours. I am not sure I would be convinced to buy a book on the basis of the cover as I have never, to my knowledge, done this.


Book 1: This Misery of Boots


Book 2: The Story of a Great Schoolmaster


Book 3: A Modern Utopia




I did not use Thumbnails for Book 1 and 2 but I did for Book 3. I made a couple of covers for the first two books and will put these in my log book. Below are the the thumbnails I made for Book 3. I really liked this process and will use it more in the future.


After my research I created the following three book covers.

Book 1:



I could not find the logo of The Ball Publishing Company. They seem to only publish gardening books now.

Book 2: The Story of a Great Schoolmaster


Book 3: A Modern Utopia

Despite having done the thumbnails I liked my first idea, created in Illustrator, best.

Modern Utopia


I have a lot to learn about Illustrator and In Design! I was unsure, in some cases, which publisher to use as these books have been published and re-published by several publishers.

I can see the difference in sharpness between the Photoshop covers and the Illustrator one (Book 3).

I am not sure if there are conventions about where to place publisher information but from my own library it seems to be on the spine, mostly. For This Misery of Boots the publishers name was so long I put it on the front. I was also unsure if I could split the name in several lines.

I do not think the three covers make a great set but I could not work out how to make them form a cohesive group.

Many things to be learned but much more to learn.


.. You’ve managed to put together your book jackets proficiently with new digital skills. The overall type you’ve used is nicely laid out and begins to help you to theme your three books (though you shift to a seriff font for your final book?).. 

Of the three books, the third seems to satisfy your own tastes towards more abstract and simple. For this cover, I wonder if you need that red line around the objects (do you know how to remove the ‘stroke’ in illustrator? Perhaps one to look up if not!). 

I changed the typeface to Gill Sans and removed the stroke:

Your mock-up of a chalk board for the second book is a great graphic concept. However, your own handwriting is beautiful and rather scholarly in form; I feel there’s a missed  opportunity to have used some of your own photographic skills to mock this image up on a interestingly lit chalk board in real life. 

I could not get my hands on a small chalk board to re-work this cover.


  1. Wikipedea. H. G. Wells. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells. [Accessed 3 October 2016].
  2. Works by H.G. Wells – non-fiction (no date) Available at: http://freeread.com.au/@rglibrary/HGWells/NonFiction/NonFiction.html (Accessed: 26 September 2016).
  3. pastemagazine.com. 2016. The 16 Best Book Covers of 2016 (So Far) :: Books :: Galleries :: Paste. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/07/the-16-best-book-covers-of-2016-so-far.html. [Accessed 06 October 2016].
  4. ShortList. 2016. The 50 Coolest Book Covers Ever | ShortList Magazine. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/the-50-coolest-book-covers#. [Accessed 06 October 2016].

Exercise: Working to a brief

These are extracts from briefs set as part of a student competition. Your task is to read and analyse them. Ask yourself:

  • • What are you being asked to do?
  • • How will the client will judge a successful outcome to the brief?
  • • What are the keywords?
  • In addition log any other questions you would want to ask the client.

Brief 1

Create packaging for Quaker’s new ‘Chilled Creamy Oats’ product for young women looking for a truly delicious healthy snack. The target audience is young women juggling many jobs and priorities everyday. They like to eat well but also love treats and hate feeling hungry. They like the idea of oats for their natural goodness but find the idea of eating them bland and unappealing.

The first thing to do is to check if I have all the information in the brief. Since I am totally new to design I go find a site which will help me. This site is based on the availability of Illustrator. The site gives me a few Plug-ins for package design.

What am I being asked to produce?

  • I am being asked to create a package for a health food bar that is chilled.
  • I have no idea of the package size? When I have established this I would proceed.
  • I need to analyse the product. I looked up Pinterest to see what designs were already there using”Design for packaging for health bar” as search terms. There are 16,100.000 images. An original design would appear to be nigh on impossible. I decided to look at some of these to see how “health” is portrayed.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-13-46-14 screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-13-47-53


I don’t find either of these particularly attractive so I go to my log book and brainstorm some ideas.


I am being asked to create:

a packaging that

  • looks healthy. So packaging is in a ‘healthy’ colour of natural paper! Has some health symbols on it like a healthy young woman or oat sheaf.
  • Looks like the content is full of natural goodness. So oat sheaf or something might feature on the wrapper.
  • appeals to young women. So must be fresh and light looking
  • looks like a treat without being fattening. No hint of added sugar showing!
  • can be eaten on the run for busy people. So packaging must be easy to remove and not be multilayered.

How will the client judge a successful outcome to the brief?

  • He/she finds the proposal immediately attractive.
  • It fulfils the brief as described above
  • Comes in on budget
  • timely response to the brief
  • happy with the contact and being informed during the process
  • mock-up or prototype is well presented.

Keywords for this brief are:

  • natural
  • healthy
  • young women
  • busy
  • treat
  • oats
  • chilled

Brief 2

Most of us have experienced a long rail journey – we witness the dramatic contrasts of the changing landscape, the inter-connections at various points along the way; various people embark and disembark; the dynamic is ever- changing… finally we reach our destination. This brief challenges you to take a metaphorical journey on the theme of connections. Explore the theme as broadly as possible and take us on a journey that might link, amongst other things – people, events, philosophies, theories, objects, movements, inventions, history, literature, etc. Your journey is only limited by your own imagination and the quality of your research – surprise us with the juxtaposition of your selected themes but be sure to communicate to the viewer the ‘connectedness’ of the thinking within your design. Define your market, and how you will target it.

What am I being asked to do?

I am being asked to take a metaphorical journey on the theme of connections. A metaphorical journey is not a real journey but one that is used to represent something else. This journey will be on the theme of connections. So I am free to decide what my product is. The ‘journey’ must link some or all of the following themespeople, events, philosophies, theories, objects, movements, inventions, history, literature, etc

Trying to come up with the core theme I looked at the following ideas

  • internet: people are linked, chainlike worldwide by a connection passing through wires or the air. Data of every possible type and subject is shared in a chainlike fashion. Events are publicised and shared with open or closed groups. Wide ranging subjects are discussed online. There are myriads of examples designs to represent the internet. Maps and globes are the most common surface onto which are placed the chainlike links. These can be simple straight lines, linked paths or lots of other ways.
  • conference, meetings or seminars: I loved this poster for the 2016 design connections seminar.screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-10-04-37all possible subjects and topics are shared and chain linked at such meetings
  • another interesting idea I came across was a travelling exhibition of Irish design artists. The locations are marked simply on a world map. People would meet and interact with the designs.screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-09-30-01

My own idea was to express the journey undertaken in Distance Learning:

All of the people represented on the OCA map started by looking for a creative art course.


How would I design the metaphorical journey that I am on. The journey starts with me researching courses on the web. It continues with my first contact with OCA officialdom. It proceeds when money is transferred from my online bank in Ireland to the OCA account. I am first linked with a tutor who lived somewhere in the UK. Other tutors follow as the train moves from station. My contact web starts to build as I develop a virtual community of people, worldwide, all studying on the OCA train. From time to time physical contacts may be made with fellow students and tutors. The web is growing and covering so many topics. We are all on the train moving and interacting but ultimately making our way towards that final destination which is a BA(Hons)….

How will the client will judge a successful outcome to the brief?

If OCA were the client a successful outcome for them would be if I had created an original and interesting poster which would attract more distance learning students. The poster would have to demonstrate that studying with OCA is exciting and educational leading to a successful outcome.


  • interconnections: people, events, philosophies, theories, objects, movements, inventions, history, literature, etc
  • dramatic contrasts
  •  journey
  • market definition
  • market target

Brief 3

To raise awareness of the risks of underage drinking and contribute towards a cultural change in society’s attitude towards alcohol. The purpose of the Department for Children, Schools and Families is to make this the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up… to make children and young people happy and healthy and help them stay on track. With a core proposition of ‘Alcohol leaves you (or your children) vulnerable’, the campaign will urge parents to talk to their children before they consider drinking, to help avoid vulnerable situations. The messages to young people will get them to think about the effects of drinking. Creative ideas should use the campaign identity ‘Why let drink decide?’ to extend the campaign’s reach and specifically target young people aged between 13 and 16. We are open to ideas about the media or format you think is most appropriate to reach the target audience.

What am I being asked to produce?

I am being asked to create material to raise awareness of the damage caused by teenage drinking.

I think the first thing would be to decide which medium would be used. The following media are possible:

  • cinema
  • TV & radio
  • magazines
  • billboards
  • online
    • facebook
    • twitter
    • YouTube

If a video was the preferred medium it could be used across several platforms e.g. cinema, TV and online. A billboard campaign could also be used in a scaled down version in magazines  or as advertisements in TV or cinema. Radio needs a special voice based campaign.

I like the idea of Billboards to target this audience but I feel it would need to be backed up with online material. The billboard would carry the campaign identity ‘Why let drink decide?’ The following keywords or concepts would need to be included:

  • best place to grow up
  • risks
  • underage drinking
  • cultural change
  • vunerability
  • healthy alternative
  • effects of drinking
  • parents talking to children about all of the above

This page has many interesting posters to raise awareness of underage drinking.

How will the client judge a successful outcome to the brief?

The main thing for the client here would be if my design hit the target group. If it informed them about the dangers of underage drinking in such a way as to prevent them going down the road to over drinking. If it encouraged parents to have that conversation with their teenagers about the dangers of drinking excessive alcohol.

Having analysed the briefs which one do you think you would most like to tackle? Is it the one with the most restrictions or the one that is most open to interpretation? What do you think your chosen brief would offer you? In what way do you think it would stretch your skills and abilities? Make notes in your learning log.

I think I would choose Brief 2 if the client was sufficiently interesting. I find the idea of this metaphorical journey really interesting and feel it would fit my scientific and photographic background best.

I would love the challenge of producing a video for Brief 3 but feel completely under qualified to carry out such a job.


Project: Working to a brief 

.. I think this is an excellent overview of your insight into the three briefs. It’s a real breakdown of your own ideas and approaches to how you might start to understand, engage with and sculpt the brief based on initial collations of information. You outline clearly the missing elements of information and I have no doubt you’d tackle any of these briefs with pragmatism. 

I am happy enough with this result.