Exercise: Birthday list

For this exercise you are going to make up a poster list for yourself. It is intended that you keep it pinned to a noticeboard or wall to remind you of the dates and, as it will be there a long time, it needs to look good.

Start by collecting all the birthdays of your friends and family. You’ll need their name and birth date, to decide whether or not you buy them presents or just send a card, text message or email.

When you have all this design a page to include all this information for example:


Below are some of the calendars which I liked in a Google search.

I like the idea that the whole year is visible. The colours are a bit dull.

I love the wooden background. The pegs are a little impractical as the birthday papers would fall off.

This would work over an office work station as it looks like anyone’s peg board.

The calendar I have in mind is a little like this.

My handbag birthday calendar will be a little like this.


  1. I made a list of family and friends birthdays.
  2. I decided to have vertical boxes for each month. The month would be indicated in a box X25, Y-10, W25, H15.
  3. The month name is the letter in Trajan Pro 24pt.
  4. The baseline shift is -5
  5. The boxes are at 5mm from each other.
  6. The bounding boxes are opts and the colours are from the swatch list
  7. The ‘birthday boxes’ are 25 x25mm and filled with the border colour of the month. I had to reduce the opacity of the dark blue and red to make the print legible.
  8. The date is Ariel 10pt Regular
  9. The name is Ariel 12pt Bold
  10. The symbols are screen shots for Gift, Text, Facebook or Card. Depending on what I send someone for their birthday I use the symbol. If the calendar was to be used for other members of the family it would be better if these were separate and it was possible to stick them on the calendar. Different members give or donut give gifts, cards or messages.
  11. When compete I tried to line up the text horizontally by placing a grid line at the point where I wanted the text to line up. I found this difficult to get precise – not sure why.
  12. Finally having printed an example I realise that some of the background box colours were too strong. I reduced the opacity in these.


I decided to make three different versions of the calendar


A simple  wall version

I used a   simple photo image I had of birds in the sky. I then laminated my wall calendar. I will use this on my wall and expand it.

A mounted wall version or a handbag version

I found a nice piece of old drift wood and sanded it down. Because it was still very wet I dried it out on a radiator. This caused a split to open wider. I used wood glue on this and clamped it. The calendar can be fixed to it with a stud.

But I wanted to keep it for my handbag!!


Exercise: Giving Information

Find some examples of information graphics. For example bus timetables, city maps, diagrams or representations of statistical data. Look at the way they are designed and try and work out the decisions the designer made. What can you learn from them and when would it be appropriate to use a similar design solution?

For this exercise you are going to describe your immediate surroundings using information graphics; this could be a plan of your desk, the layout of your house, the arrangement of objects in your cupboards or your morning journey; anything will do.

Before you start you will need to think about scale and about how you will break down the information for your design. Create a graphic that represents an aerial or front on view of your location. Be mindful of the hierarchy of the elements in the composition and the dynamics needed to draw the viewer’s eye from one stage to the next. Use typography, numbers and colours to describe what is being represented. You may want to produce a key to help us understand what is being shown, as well as a diagram title to put things in context.

Keep all your sketches and notes in your learning log.

I did some research on info graphic designers. I added this to my “Graphic Designers” page.

This is a great site about the 25 best ideas for Infographics.

This week I was asked to map a trail map for an upcoming event on the island where I live. The curator and I listed what we wanted on the map. She decided that she wanted an A5 folded sheet. The logic for this was that if it was raining a small map would be better than an A4 sheet. The map needs to show the location of 8 art locations. It also needs to contain the ferry timetable and the phone number for the island bus.

We used the existing ferry timetable which was designed by our ferry crew man. He is a keep drone photographer and has a great deal of computer experience. It is clear and simple to follow. The only problem is that the ferry owner sometimes decides to change the ferry times!!!! We have a mobile phone alert system to inform us of changes…

I think Greg, our ferry crew man, used excel to create this and then probably made a PdF and imported it into Photoshop. I used a map of the island on which we would place the trail. I would have preferred a blank map but the curator wanted the town lands on the map. We did remove some in Photoshop. Below is the only one that existed. I did not have the time to create a new one…

I took the map into InDesign and added the red dots. I numbered each dot and put a list of the artists on the inside of the folded sheet. We did not have all the relevant information so it is still a work in progress.

This is a very simple information graphic. I looked up some others on the web. Below is a screen snap of some. 

I had never really considered ways to demonstrate information graphically. I have worked with Excel and produced histograms and pie charts. But these were produced automatically. I have added colours to differentiate information contained therein. But I never gave much thought to the effectiveness of what I was creating. I assumed most of these info graphics were created in Illustrator.

I have wanted, for a long time, to create an information map for visitors to my garden. Time and lack of inspiration have not advanced this project…. But now I can use this exercise to, hopefully, produce something which will be of use to me in the future.

This site gives the ten best infographc designs. These are mostly about ways of gardening rather than mapping a garden. I like this one below about composting. It does not give much useful information but it is attractive. The colours are ‘earthy’

I like the way the following one is set out with the main map of the design in the centre and the information on either side. I could use something like this with the garden site in the middle and plant lists etc on either side.

I think both graphics were probably created in Illustrator. The second one is the sort of map/information sheet I would like to produce for my garden. However I find it a little too fussy for my needs.

This is an amazing info graphic about using recycled items in a garden. This is something I am really interested in and use continually. I would like to add the information about my own recycled items on my graphic. But again it might make the map too confusing.

I have made a copy of the post code site map of our site:

This is not a very accurate map as we have purchased a little more land since this map was created. I will correct it in photoshop before using. I will use this in my log to mind map what I would like to be included on it.

This is the google map of our garden:

Worked on the outline map in my log. I like the result.

On the left I listed what I wanted to include. I think the map I have produced is a little too fussy so I will scale it down in Illustrator.

Having created my symbols I placed them on the map in Illustrator. I added a key for symbol explanation. I also added a little information about my garden and house.

Here is the result:


I think the above map is a reasonable start to my project of producing a garden plan for visitors to my garden. I like my hand drawn map better as it contains more detail. But I think it might be too detailed and a little confusing for visitors.

I will give it to a few friends who know my garden and see what they think.

Deirdre Ní Luasaigh

Hi Nuala

I love it!!

My comments in general

  • Great clarity. Clarity in the garden sketch as well as in the key to the left. This is hugely difficult to achieve and in my view critical to all good design, but especially so for infographics.
  • The piece of writing is great and simple and again easy to understand.
  1. To pick out modifications, two things struck me.

‘Studio’ word is small and difficult to read on the sketch. Possibly could use a letters system on the sketch to identify ‘house’ , ‘ruin’ & ‘studio’ connected to the key on the left eg and a dot with the letter inside for each building on the sketch

8 Buildings:

  •             a house
  •             b ruin
  •             c studio

2:  There is more detail in the writing that does not quite match the key – references to ‘new house’ and ‘old house’ , ‘stream’­  and ‘the elms’ Maybe find a way to include these in the key as well.
Deirdre Ní Luasaigh


Need something to indicate the entrance…

So here is the final version:

Well I thought it was the final version until I used it for this weekend. I had the garden open to the public for an Open Islands Festival. I gave out my Infographics and asked for comments. One lady who was a book editor and proof reader gave me very useful feedback. She indicated spelling errors, I had a comma at the end of the tree paragraphic and not at the end of shrub paragraph. I had a space before the “The” in the second last paragraph on the right. I have corrected all these and her is the Final, final result!


Project: Magazine Pages

Choose a magazine, newspaper or journal and work out the grid or grids they have used.

You will probably need to look at least four pages to get a feel of the layout.

Measure the size of the pages, the margins, the text columns and the gaps in between them. How many columns do they use? Is it the same on every page?

Can you identify the fonts they use? Do you have it or one with similar properties?

How do they use photographs and illustrations? How much ‘white space’ on the pages is there?

Draw up a two page spread using the same grid as the magazine. Indicate text using Lorum Ipsum and indicate images by either filling a picture box with a 10% tint or using a picture from your collection.

When you have done this see if you can develop the grid further.

Select a title and images and see how many variations you can come up with. What happens when you alter the body font or headline font? Do different kinds of images change the ‘feel’ of the publication? Do you think the readership for each of your variations would be the same? Does the image you choose suggest a different design?

Which ones work best and why? Make notes in your learning log.

I looked at several magazines before deciding to use Graffiti Art Magazine. I choose this because I have a special inters in street art.

I get this bi-lingual magazine any time I am travelling through a french airport. I had never examined the layout in detail before. I was quite surprised that it is so sober. For a magazine dedicated to graffiti art one would expect something more adventurous. I felt the layout could be made more interesting. There is dry little white space making it very dense.

First I examined the layout and measured the gutter and margins..

I created a double page spread in InDesign using two column layout with a 4mm gutter and all the margins as they are in the original article.

The typeface was pretty easy. it was sans serif. I reckoned either Arial or Helvetica. I settled on Helvetica having examined the differences between these two typefaces.(see diary entry date 4th March.). The column on the left is the french version of the article and english is on the right. The left column seems to use ‘regular’ and left ‘light’ Hevetica. I used 10 as point size for the main body of the text as these seemed to be the point size used.

I decided to use my own graffiti images even though they did not fit the article which was about using words in Urban Art. I just wanted to work with something more colourful.. I measured and cropped the images to fit the areas allotted in the article.

Then I added the other attributes on the page like: page numbering, image captions, headers etc. The image captions proved difficult. They were numerated from 1 – 4. I made a list of the first two on the LHS page in 8pt type. I wanted to continue the numerated list beginning with the number 3 for the RHS page. I found a very non-intuitive method on the Internet. I am not sure I could re-create it. I had to decrease the tracking for the headings to -70 or -100. I used bold for the footer heading.

This is how the final product looked:

I find this layout almost overwhelmingly boring. Something I would not expect to find in a Graffiti magazine. The amount of white space is minimal making for a lot of dense reading. Since most young people are used to reading Twitter style material I feel the article would deter all but the most dedicated graffiti fans.

I then tried to make the layout more attractive using more relevant images. I did some sketches in my logbook.

Then I combined ideas from different bits of each and came up with this layout below. I have to remember that this is a bi-lingual magazine so French and English must be catered for in all layouts. The first one I did I envisaged French on the left page and English on the right. I met the graffiti artist in Chile, he was happy to be photographed.


I did some more sketches and then received some layouts from my tutor as part of my Assignment 4 feedback. Using these I tried some more sketches in my log book.

I tried the top one since this accommodates a bi-lingual layout. Below is the layout I came up with. I left large margins on the outside as I like white space especially with blocks of text.

I still feel that this is too dense and a little boring.

Using different images in sizes different from the original article I wanted to create something which I felt would appeal to a younger more trendy readership. Black as the background, I felt, would show off the images. I did keep to the brief in that there is text, albeit very little on some, but not all of the images. I wanted the main image which is text rich to bleed across the centre fold. I decided the language differences would be accommodated with different type colour. I also decided that it would be better to intersperse the different languages.


I feel the readership would be very different for each of these three designs. The first one might be a fairly general audience of people interested in graffiti art. The second one is, in my opinion, close to the original, and not very interesting for anyone other than the converted… The third should attract a young audience both for the layout and the images.