I was contacted about a charity craft fair at the Bents Green Church in Sheffield. The fair is raising money for their dementia cafe. Crafty Business Sheffield were organising the fair and wanted a poster to promote it, and of course I was happy to oblige. The fair is taking place on the 12th of October and will have a range of stalls selling candles, books, bath bombs, vintage items and more. The church is providing refreshments and cakes.
So I read a beginners e-book and a book called Python Coding on the BBC micro:bit which lead me to start a course on Future Learn called Object-Oriented Programming in Python. The course is mainly aimed at programmers who are familiar with functional languages, however I have no experience of them so I think I’m starting this a few paces (that’s being optimistic) behind everyone else.
Anyway, here is my latest piece of code:
It doesn’t do anything other than put some shapes on screen, I choose to use the colours of the Python Logo – not sure why, but it seemed appropriate. By the end of the online course I should have created a mini-game in Python – I’ll post an update on that in a few weeks time.
I only started learning Python because I got given a Rasperry Pi – which has spent more time in it’s box than out. I really need to find a use for it.
Like with anything if you don’t keep doing something you become rusty. I used to draw a lot many years ago, even doing life drawing at college. To be fair that wasn’t by choice it was because it was part of the design course I was on but hey I still did it!
Anyway I have decided to practise my drawing skills. Mainly trying to draw people – because that it is hard and if you can draw people I feel you can draw most other things too.
So I decided today, with the aid of tutorials and how-to-books to give drawing faces ago. Only cartoon ones (no life-like stuff here!) and here is the result of the first day.
The main aim of the project is to create an app to report park issues such as vandalism. The app is to be run alongside a website and forum. Posters for the app will be placed in parks to promote its use.
Although I considered a wider audience initially, after feedback on my idea I have decided to aim the app at parents. Parents of younger children in particular who are visiting the park with their children. This could still cover a large age range from parents in their 20s to 40s but most live births are to mothers and fathers between 30-34 so it is likely the app would be used by parents in the 30s to early 40s.
“In 2015, over half (53%) of all live births in England and Wales were to mothers aged 30 and over and two-thirds (68%) of fathers were aged 30 and over.
The average age of all fathers increased to 33.2 years in 2015, compared with 33.1 years in 2014. For mothers the average age was 30.3 years compared with 30.2 years in 2014.
The average age of first-time mothers was 28.6 years in 2015, compared with 28.5 years in 2014.” – https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/bulletins/birthsbyparentscharacteristicsinenglandandwales/2015
I have looked at style and layouts of park/outdoor related apps. Apps with a lot of visual detail are cluttered and it is harder to find what you want. Keeping the layout simple and clean is important to make the app easy to use.
Logos feature a lot of rounded elements – no sharp/harsh edges, the typefaces are rounded too. Hand-drawn style typefaces are popular too.
As the logo will need to feature on an app and website it needs to be simple too (it will appear small on screens, especially of smaller smartphones). I have therefore played around with heart/leaf motif and tree inspired designs amongst others as these represent parks and nature. I experimented with hand-drawn and modern sans-serif typefaces as these are popular styles aimed at parents.
Current Design Trends
Gradients have made a comeback and I would like to incorporate this trend but in a more subtle way. Some of the gradients are too “young” for my audience, but a softer gradient would keep the design looking fresh and modern but not alienate my audience. I will experiment with gradients for the poster/app and website.
I put my designs on the Graphic Design Forum requesting feedback:
Some of the feedback received:
“Look at the logos in your post without clicking on the images. That’s the sort of size they will be on the screen. They are too small and blurry. #4 is the simplest but it looks like a zillion other ‘green’ logos.
“Personally, I like where you’ve gone with these and although there is some room for improvement I think you’ve done well here.
I tend to like No4 the most but I see what you’ve done with the others also.
Green/community logo type stuff can be hard to do and re-invent the wheel so to speak as they do tend to have a similar vibe anyway.
A bit like optician logos. “
“They really need simplifying, remove all the additional texture and fuss and just work with a black shape for now. No.4 would be my favourite to work up, the heart/leaf motif would transition well, and a heart is a recognisable app icon already, so could be worked into the UI for saving/favouriting content. I’d use a stronger font though, what you currently have reminds me of a day care centre or something (though the colours could have something to do with that). Look at the National Trust font, that’s a serif which feels traditional, but it has character of its own.
Also try it out in some different contexts – a sign in a park, livery on a van, engraved into a bench, hell even mowed into a park field so it’s visible from above! Really go to town with the idea and push it to see what works and what doesn’t. Generally the simpler something is, the stronger and more versatile the branding elements around it can be. If it doesn’t work, well you’ve got some decent research for your final project, which is generally what gets you those points anyway.”
“Does the app even need a logo? The words OurPark with the right font and colours is all you really need.”
I have decided to work on the leaf/heart idea more and I will also test out just using a typeface without a logo. However, with it being an app and website some sort of logo, even if just a monogram, would be needed for favicons, app icons, etc.
John looked at the logo numbered 1 and said that it looked like OurPork and suggested changing the leaf/heart to point upwards, as shown in logo 2. Joe then said that number 2 looked like OurPork but the other ones didn’t. I don’t want to create confusion, so I put the leaf/heart in the O. Although I think this feels cramped.
I also experimented with several typefaces, looking at curvy/rounded typefaces. Lee gave feedback on that the Kirvy typeface was too futuristic. I agree with Lee as I was going through several typefaces to try to find something suitable and this was just one of many I was trying out.
I really want to get several good logos before showing my audience. As the rest of the design work will be based on the logo it needs to be perfected further which is why I’m spending a lot of time on this part.
Feedback from parents about the logo:
“I like the first one and the last one” – Roxanne
“The “OP” one seems friendlier than the rest, it’s not as corporate looking” – Mike
“The second one is my favourite because the leaf looks like a heart and I like that but I like the colours on the last two more, I’m not keen on the darker green.” – Sally
The opinions were mixed but most people preferred the last design. I worked on this more including trying different typefaces and colours and spacing.
I did try a few different typefaces but the typeface I originally used has a friendly feel due to it’s curves and this will appeal to the demographic. The logo works on colour and black/white which is important as it may appear on other materials. The tree motif was tidied up slightly to create more space in between elements, this was done to stop the elements merging when shrunk down on a small screen.
When on a white background I have chosen a green and blue-turquoise colour to represent nature/parks/the natural environment found in parks. On a coloured/dark background it will be shown in white.
Event Poster Research
Illustration is a popular choice for fair/festival posters, this is probably because you can communicate a sense/feeling of the event through illustration something which can be hard to create through a single photo as there is usually a lot of different things happen at one event. Therefore, I will utilise illustration for my event poster but also for app promotional posters to go in parks.
Current illustration trends:
App Promotional Posters
I have researched the sort of posters found in parks (such as littering) and also “no parking” posters aimed at parents.
Several of the no parking ones I have seen online and outside of schools feature illustrations of children. The pick up the poo poster would likely have a larger impact on those dog owners with children or grandchildren as they would think about their own child/grandchildren picking up the poo. Featuring a child/children in the app posters is a good way of getting the attention of my audience (parents). But it could also grab the attention of children who may mention it to their parents (something my 6 year old does).
Illustrations/Sketches/Ideas for Posters
I sketched out several ideas and illustrations before scanning the illustrations in. I then used these to make vector illustrations for the posters. I tried out different colours, textures and shading before deciding on simple white illustrations for the app posters with highlights using gradients. This created simple bold illustrations which “pop” when on a coloured background. This draws attention to the poster.
After playing around with the design I realised that a green background would not stand out in a park (too much grass and trees around). I tried out different colours and settled on orange. Although this is an unusual colour choice for a poster for a park related app I think the fact that it is unusual will help it stand out and catch people’s attention.
I also had the idea of having pairs of posters which could either be used together or separately depending on the circumstances/needs of the park (council and park groups could decide which type of posters they would like to use or use them in pairs). The pairs would be positive v negative, before and after. Showing the positive of using the app – children enjoying the park with working play equipment. With one with a straight call to action – report it to our park. And the other more subtle – entices the viewer in to read what it is about – help your park with ourpark.
Festival Poster Final Design
The design is bold and colourful to attract both children and parents. The “sun rays” draw the eye to the text. The same typeface has been used (Bariol) as for the Logo to keep a consistent feel. Also the same green gradient which is used on the website and app is used for the background to again provide a tie between the event and app. The flower includes guitars and ice lollies as petals to represent what the event will include and the flower also represents parks/nature and summer.
Poster Mock Ups
I looked at design best practice as well as studying other apps to get a feel for how apps are designed. Users (including me) are used to expecting certain things to happen and trying something that doesn’t flow with the what is expected from other Android and Apple apps can confuse users.
Examples of things users are used to seeing are “call to action” buttons which contrast from their background, which I have used on my app. Also using cards or tiles for groups of information – I have utilised cards for the events page to separate each event.
A large “call to action” next button stands out from its background. Using a border around each section on the events page creates “cards”.
Greens/blue-turquoise colours have been used to represent the environment/nature.
“Cut Out The Clutter
Good UI design is all about delivering relevant information (signal) and avoiding irrelevant information (noise).
By cluttering your interface, you overload users with too much information: every added button, image, icon makes the screen more complicated. Clutter is terrible on a desktop, but it’s even worse on mobile devices where we don’t have too much free screen space to play with.” – https://medium.com/blueprint-by-intuit/native-mobile-app-design-overall-principles-and-common-patterns-26edee8ced10
I did find to start with that it is tempting to add too much information on app. In the end I kept the design as simple and clean as possible. This is to avoid users getting confused but also encourage users to report issues – if it is straight forward then users are more likely to use the app again if they see another problem.
Sam W. liked the app’s colour scheme and also the logo, in particular he liked the gradient used.
I tried several layouts and played with gradients as well as the current trend of large type on websites (often used to make a bold statement on the homepage).
I realised that that the design was becoming overly fussy and needed to be paired back to keep simple and easy to use. I stripped away detail and the main feature of reporting problems was placed in the top left of the design as this is the area users look at first and the left side tends to get more attention (https://conversionxl.com/blog/10-useful-findings-about-how-people-view-websites/)
I researched several types of forum platforms and forum layouts before laying out the forum. (https://xenforo.com/community/, http://www.ukbusinesslabs.co.uk/forums/, https://www.vbulletin.com/forum/forum/vbcloud/account-management, https://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/, http://www.madeformums.com/forum/, https://www.justparents.co.uk/forums/5/, https://www.netmums.com/coffeehouse/children-parenting-190/, https://www.sanparks.org/forums/, )
I again wanted to keep this simple and easy to use especially as Friends of Groups are run by people of all ages and technical abilities. The final design uses a limited colour scheme that is in keeping with the app/rest of the website. A consistent feel across all design elements aids users to find the information/use the app/site quickly as they don’t have to re-learn the visual code for each platform. But at the same time there are differences due to the nature of each platform.
I haven’t been able to update my blog as much as I would have liked. With a 4000-5000 word essay plus practical piece to do it has been a bit hectic. However, tomorrow we are on the final stretch – Major Project time. This is pretty much it now, apart from has been described as a “long, slim module”, that is Professional Development. But the majority of the time will be spent on the Major Project, and that is the last project.
Juggling family life and studying has been difficult at times but I’ve learn’t to work as and when I can. Which might meaning working for a few hours in the evening and then not doing anything for the rest of the week because I don’t have time and the week after I’m doing little bits here and there but no big chunk of time. I would recommend to any parent studying to do as much as you can when you can because you don’t know when your next study session will be – unless you have a very organised family life!
I’m hoping that the this last part of the course will be easier to manage, time-wise. It will be all done by the end of April, with an end of degree show in June – a chance to show off.
End of Year Show
Not sure of the dates yet or where it will be but it is usually held in June at The Workstation in Sheffield City Centre.
Last years show showcased several disciplines including Games Development/Design, Photography, Art and Graphic Design. Many of Sheffield current Graphic Designer’s and future Graphic Designers will attend.
So here’s to the final part of the course! Bring it on!
It is that time of year, so to get me into the Christmas spirit I’ve been making some Salt-Dough Christmas Decorations.
- 1 cup of salt
- 2 cups of plain flour (you can use cornflour if you want a whiter dough)
- Small amount of vegetable oil (I add a bit to make the dough smoother but you don’t have to)
- Enough water to form a dough
You can then leave it to air dry or put it in a cool oven, around 120c. If the oven is too hot the dough will rise and form air bubbles.
I use Acrylic paint, at least two layers required for the base coat. I then add other colours, such as gold as a highlight (one coat). Details are painted on twice, you can do it once but it doesn’t look as good. I then add two coats of Modge Podge to seal and glaze. To finish off add ribbon or string so you can hang the decorations from your tree.
Good old Juan Sheet, yes he might be a love or hate character but the below advert was a clever idea.
This advert might have been around for a some time and I just haven’t seen it. But thought it a clever play on the “if you can’t see my mirrors then I can’t see you”.
The Juan Sheet character was brought in 2010 after Bounty changed to Plenty to replace the old characters of Brenda and Audrey.
Juan Sheet – “SCA describes as “the sexy, Latino, cleaning superhero” forms one of the final stages of the brand’s migration from Bounty to Plenty.” – https://www.marketingweek.com/2010/04/14/plenty-unveils-new-juan-sheet-brand-icon/
I’m actually surprised that in the current climate using a character which fits to the stereotype of a sexy Latino dressed in a bull fighter style outfit hasn’t been deemed racist. However, the character still carries on. Perhaps because the UK doesn’t have a large Latino population it hasn’t been picked up on yet?
Having found out I can’t get help with Childcare (see post here: http://blog.aysheasiddall.co.uk/2017/08/06/children-childcare-grant-studying/) I’d calculated that I would need to pay for approximately 2 1/2 hours extra each week. OK, not too bad I thought until I received a childcare bill.
My youngest child is in the college attached nursery which he enjoys and the staff are good. But one thing that wasn’t explained to me that I was paying for sessions. When I went to take a look at the nursery it was explained that they would accommodate the hours of the course.
I didn’t realise, nor was it explained that they would book my son in for the whole session. So for example on Fridays I am in from 10.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. but they book him in for the whole day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is standard is most nurseries but because they said they would accommodate my hours I never thought to check this.
This has mean’t that I’m paying for 9 hours extra each week that I’m not using. Also the first week Elijah was in he was only in for a couple hours to enrol and then we were told to not come in for the rest of the week. So he wasn’t using any paid hours at all that week.
Currently I’m been charged £41.30 a week which is a lot when I’m only using a couple of hours over his free 15 hours.
Last Wednesday was my induction for the Creative Practice (Graphic Design) course. First hurdle – finding the room. Luckily I wasn’t alone, there was quite a few of us who couldn’t find the room. Plus I had the excuse of only being in that room once before!
It was a bit overwhelming, a lot to take in but hopefully it will make more sense when I officially start which on the 18th of September.
Critical Studies Essay
There is a 4000-5000 word essay to write which I don’t find that scary actually, once I have decided what it is about I should be able to break it down into chunks. The hard part is deciding what I want to write about. After this is complete I will start start planning the final major project and this begins in January next year.
This is the part of the course where I need to show some sort of development of my skills career wise. It has got me slightly stumped as my plan was to concentrate on graphic design rather than teaching right now. I don’t want to take on too much, I wanna make sure I pass this course first.
Thinking along the lines of learning more software, possibly Experience Design CC. Although I’m not that interested in the competition side of things, there are design competitions and entering them would at least give me some more design practice. Got a lot to think about and I’m not really sure where I am heading with the Professional Development part of the course.
Not even thinking about this one yet as it ties in with the essay. What ever I end up writing about will influence the final project so until I have at the very least started the essay I won’t be thinking about this.
Elijah’s First Day
My youngest, Elijah, had a great day. When I asked “Did you miss me?” he responded defiantly “No!”. When I said we needed to go home he didn’t want to, I had to bribe him with a Barney Bear. He has settled in very well, too well in fact – I think I could have left him there and I’m not sure he would have cared!
Only downside is the Monday afternoon session, I’m in from 2.00 p.m. to 5 p.m. He gets up early, around 6 a.m. sometimes earlier and is often in bed by 5:30 to 6 p.m. I am hoping that once the first lot of lecturers are completed I can come in earlier and leave earlier. Also 2 p.m. is my “drop” time. For anyone who’s got kids that get up early you’ll know what I mean, the time that you suddenly feel like you wanna go to bed, those last hours before bed drag and the only thing that helps is very strong coffee. And lets be honest even that doesn’t work that well!
I’m panicking less than I was on Wednesday, such a lot to take in but I think I will just have to take it all one step at a time and hopefully this will come together and make more sense next week when I head back in.
It is one of those films that I never wanted to watch as it just sounded like absolute shite. The title alone is enough to put you off, never-mind the ridiculous concept of snakes escaping on a plane and killing people. Really, how many ways can snakes kill you?
Anyway, the other night me and the my husband settled down to watch the film, thinking if it is that bad we would just switch it off. The signs were there for a not very good film, the opening shots consisted of bikini clad women – which of course had nothing to do with the film. Eventually, the title appeared SNAKES…long dramatic pause…hang on…wait for it…can’t have the rest of the title just yet..ON A PLANE. Loved the pause between the “SNAKES” and “ON A PLANE”, it really added to the sense of drama.
Being fair to the film, it was funny. Not because it was meant to be funny (apart from the scene where the male air hostess puts a snake in the microwave to kill it and there is a button for “Snake”) but because it was so awful. But not awful enough to stop watching.
At this point I’m sure you wanting to know what this has got to do with Graphic Design. Well it reminded me of a logo I saw on a van whilst on the M1.
Bit like Snakes on a Plane it does what it says on the tin, except this tin says SNAKE……dramatic pause to build up tension……….ON WHEELS. I mean who the fuck came up with that monstrosity? Not only is it an awful idea, it isn’t draw that well and to top it off it suddenly stops being a 3D snake when you get the bottom. Where is the other side of the snake? Really, where is the other side of the snake? Where is the rest of the tail? I feel ripped off, I wanna see the whole thing! I watched the whole of SNAKES ON A PLANE, I wanna see the whole of SNAKE ON WHEELS.
As I was fair to the film, well as fair as I could be bearing in my the piss poor plot, this might not be the Graphic Designer’s fault. For all I know Serpent Motors’ logo could have been designed by the owner’s mate down the pub. Or perhaps the Graphic Designer in question was forced to do it through gritted teeth as it is what the client wanted. It is just something as a designer you need to deal with, its not about what you want it is about the client. They are the ones paying and if they want a SNAKE…ON WHEELS you best get drawing a SNAKE…ON WHEELS, no matter how much it pains you to draw it.
But it’s still shit no matter who came up with the idea.
For more funny and just plain awful logos: http://www.boredpanda.com/worst-logo-fails-ever/