Module Reflective Essay

When we had the first lecture, Dr Corrine Beaumont brought two loaves of bread to class. I was baffled at the idea, firstly because I had no clue what this had to do with branding design and secondly since it’s not every day that a lecturer uses such an approach. As it turned out, this was a metaphor in helping us understand the building blocks of branding/graphic design. We each had to take a slice of bread, taste it, feel it and make observations about it. In reality this is what we as new students in the world of branding design had to adapt to. This meant that in conjunction with the six elements of design, which are space, form, colour, value, texture and time (Beaumont, 2011) we had to be aware and observant of our surroundings. Personally I already follow a number of design websites such as www.dezeen.com, www.behance.net and www.designtaxi.com, however having realised that I only viewed them at face value I can now articulate a better understanding thanks to the aforementioned six elements.

Thereafter, each of these six elements of design together with the multitude of design principles, were incorporated into our lectures in some way or another, making us ever so attuned towards design in general. While the lectures on typography and colour where inspiring, I have to say that we haven’t even touched the surface. For me a typeface resembles a character that expresses itself in the way it is written. This means that the interplay between each element in the anatomy of the typeface represents how it is personified. Therefore choosing the right typeface has to be congruent to the design of the whole project in order to express and convey the message. Furthermore, I recently came across a blog by Brown (2014a) that illustrated the ten commandments of typography. To name a few, these are to know the different font families, having a maximum of two contrasting fonts is key, not to mix different moods and to use different weights of fonts in the same family (Brown, 2014a).

Selecting the right colour is equally important. While to designers colour is second nature, I for one found it quite daunting in understanding how different colour schemes complement each other, keeping in mind that colour also has psychological properties that evoke emotions and behaviours (Wright, 2008). Social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn use the colour blue in their logos since it is associated with trustworthiness, safety, dependability and reliability, which are particular traits that one would want when sharing sensitive information online (Haller, 2011; Brown, 2014b). Furthermore apart from choosing complementary colours and finding the right balance in the hue, saturation and brightness one must also consider that colour is also culturally dependent. For example the colour red is associated with luck in Asian countries and power and fear in European countries (Behr, 2014). It is apparent that colours have contrasting effects.

That said we only skimmed the surface. However, having garnered as much knowledge as we can, this was sufficient enough to help us kick-start both our individual and group assignments. My observation is that design is limitless creativity within the confines of its own rules.

Considering that all of my other modules were purely research and theory based, I lacked a certain creative edge. Such a skill like any other skill is cultivated over time and is built through Confidence, Experimentation and Observation, especially in both of our assignments. I came to understand that these three terms are reciprocal and cyclical in nature, building confidence through experimentation while keeping abreast to your surroundings through observation. I undertook this approach in both of my assignments. My first assignment involved creating brand guidelines for Ġin – the concept was a Maltese Gin with Mediterranean heritage and botanicals. This was achieved through a trifold approach. Firstly, putting pen to paper – sketching whatever came to mind in order to have a visual representation of my ideas; secondly, creating a mood board (just like planning an essay) with all the elements that I felt were an inspiration to my brand; and thirdly getting to grips with Illustrator and Photoshop. I came to realise that the first idea that pops to mind is not always the best; you need to dwell on it, get constructive feedback and most importantly be patient. The Ġin project took me roughly two weeks to complete and I am very pleased with the end result.

The group assignment in which we had to take photographs, create three different posters and online content took a whole different approach. After a couple of brain storming sessions we came up with the idea of repositioning microwavable meals as a healthy food option, as a good alternative to home cooking and a meal to be enjoyed by oneself as well as with friends. We had a sound concept but the execution left much to be desired. After testing the campaign with our colleagues it was apparent that the hidden message was not coming through. This was very frustrating, however it motivated us to sack the entire campaign and start from scratch. A very challenging feat that we managed to accomplish in one night. In the end we created a campaign to reposition Estée Lauder for men by creating adverts with images of men that have rough textured skin and after having smooth skin, signifying the importance of moisturising cream for men. Overall feedback was very positive and both my team and myself were proud to deliver such a campaign.

The most challenging aspect in each assignment was that I knew what I wanted to achieve but the process of getting there proved to be difficult, especially getting used to the different tools and functions in Photoshop and Illustrator.

I found the speech given by Andre Campbell – a Brand Strategist for Wolf Ollins – very inspiring to say the least. In actual fact it’s a role that enthuses me and as such I would love that someday to work for a creative agency here in London. Eventually I would like to be self-sufficient and build a brand for myself. I very much like how food and drink are integral to one’s own culture bringing people together. Indeed my aspiration is that one-day I would open my own restaurant, the place where food, drink and culture are moulded together.

In retrospect even though the module was a challenging one, it did meet my expectations. It was challenging partly because I had no formal training or background in the subject matter and partly because my educational upbringing was very much theory based. I strongly suggest that this course should be integrated with the Masters course right from the start, allowing students to fully comprehend and shape their creative minds.




Beaumont, C.E. (2011) Basic Design Anatomy. 2nd Edn. Ellsworthio Press.

Brown, E. (2014a) [INFOGRAPHIC]: The 10 Commandments of Typography. Available at: http://www.designmantic.com/blog/infographics/ten-commandments-of-typography/ (Accessed: 21 April 2014).

Brown, E. (2014b) Why Social Media Sites Prefer Blue in their Logo? Available at: http://www.designmantic.com/blog/social-media-sites-prefer-blue-logos/ (Accessed: 22 April 2014).

Behr, S. (2014) Colours and their meaning to design. Available at: http://sumse.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/colours-and-their-meaning-to-design/ (Accessed: 22 April 2014).

Haller, K (2011) social media branding – the colour psychology of blue. Available at:http://karenhaller.co.uk/blog/social-media-branding-the-colour-psychology-of-blue/(Accessed: 22 April 2014).

Wright, A. (2008) Psychological properties of colours. Available at: http://www.colour-affects.co.uk/psychological-properties-of-colours (Accessed: 22 April 2014).







One Step Closer

This week 3 words resonated throughout the Branding Design lecture, confidence, experience and observation. Building confidence through repetition and not being afraid to go beyond your limits; increasing your experience by being willing to test what you are doing and to try something completely different outside your comfort zone, such as using different tools and mediums; being observable of what is going around you, building a library of objects that you find interesting and that interest you.

This lecture geared us towards the creation of our logo for the assignment. As I said earlier being confident is only achievable through repetition and inspiration comes from the elements around you. Quantity is key in building ideas, in fact we were given a sheet with 20 thumbnails in order to draw images that consisted only of circles. Each thumbnail was only to take 15sec (give or take). The end result (for me at least) was a few empty thumbnails with fairly decent images. The purpose of this task was for us to be confident in the sketches we drew within the short time span and to use our surroundings for inspiration. Lesson well learnt!!

What I’m beginning to realise is that in design there is no such thing as a mistake (in a way) until reaching the end result. It is a process that where anything is possible as long as you set your mind to it. I’ve always wanted to nurture the creative element within me, so I guess this is definitely going to help me. Our next task for the next lecture is to come up with 20 different sketches of a logo for a brand of our choice in relation to the assignment. Having no artistic background and the closest I’ve ever come to a sketch was a couple of doodles and stick men, for me this is going to be challenging. I do have 2 brand ideas which need some refinement, however I need to let loose from my rudimentary thinking and explore different approaches for both ideas.

We also had a refresher on the very first lecture we had, which was on the elements and principles of design – and how one must use the principles to manipulate the elements. We viewed an example of a branding guideline for our assignment which was very helpful as I now have a clear understanding on the approach I will be taking.

Quoting my friend “style comes after substance and form is the result of function”, the mantra that I will adopt during my assignment.

Add Some Colour to your Life!

Some Brief History

I come across colour on a daily basis but I never really stopped and wondered about the components of colour. Colour theory dates back before the 15th Century and encompasses mathematics, physics and chemistry. The Bauhaus school understood how colour is formed and the relationship between the different colours. Staff and students in the Bauhaus movement developed colour theories that evoke particular moods and emotions in conjunction with different architectural forms and designs.

Colour Systems

There are 2 primary colour systems by which is colour is reproduced.

Additive – Any source that emits or radiates light uses additive colours. Example a monitor uses additive colour to generate all the colours that you are capable of seeing. The colour reproduced varies according to the wavelength of that particular light source within the visible light spectrum – that is visible to the human eye. A mixture of the different wavelengths creates different colours.

The additive colour is based on the primary colours Red, Green and Blue (RGB). The RGB values are widely used in anything that is represented on screen.  It is based on decimal numbers and is related to the pixels on the screen. So for example when the Red value is set to 255 a pixel on screen is turned on. RGB can be set either in decimal or hexadecimal format. In additive colours, white is a combination of R, G, B set to 255 respectively and black is the absence of colour where R,G,B are set to 0 respectively.


The other colour system is subtractive and works on the basis of reflected light.  Meaning that a particular colour pigment reflects different light wavelengths that determine the apparent colour to the human eye. Example how colour is seen on printed material such as a book or magazine. Subtractive colour has three primary colours, which are Cyan, Magenta and Yellow (CMY). Contrary to RGB, white is the absence of colour, while black is the combination of colour. There is a 4th element K (key) – CMYK, which is essentially black.


The colour wheel shows the relationships between colours. As I wrote in my previous blog post, the colour wheel is comprised of the primary, secondary and tertiary colours. The colours that are complementary to each other are apposite to each other, those that are analogous to each other are adjacent.

Components to a Colour

There are different shades/tints, saturations and hues to a colour, which lead to the three primary components of colour.

Hue: This represents the actual base colour without any tint or shade. For example a perfect colour of yellow will be positioned at 56° on the colour wheel.

Saturation: How saturated or rich the colour is – the perceived intensity of a colour. A low saturation is less of the overall colour, when a colour is fully desaturated the colour eventually becomes grey. Saturation is a percentage between 0 and 100%. At 0% saturation the colour becomes grey.

Brightness: How bright a colour is and is also represented between 0 and 100%. Example a green colour at 0% brightness is black, while the same green hue and saturation at 100% brightness will be the full green colour.

 Hue saturation

There are online colour mixing tools to help designers (and myself) to come up with colour combination choices. The Adobe Kuler aids to generate an entire colour scheme from a single base colour, you can also upload images and extract colours from them and is also integrated with the Adobe Creative Suite. There is also Color on the Web that accepts a single colour in hexadecimal or RGB and outputs a set of schemes to be used for online media.


This is my second blog post and I will be talking about Typography. To be honest I’ve always heard about this buzzword but never truly understood the meaning of typography. In our Branding Design Class we barely touched the surface, but here goes nothing…

From what I can fathom is that typography is a science and an art form in itself, that is concerned with the creation and arrangement of type that fit proportionately together to create words and language. Typography involves arranging type, type design and modifying type glyphs. Arranging type involves changing the point size, leading, width, letter spacing and kerning; while type design is the art of designing typefaces.

Below is a very detailed visual representation of the terms used in typography. x-height, serif, counter, descender, ascender and the stress of a letter are the principal terms in typography, while  loop, spur, tail and link are not as influential.

We also came across the term baseline, which is the line upon which a line of text rests. In most typefaces the descenders of characters such as g or p fall below the baseline. The baseline is the point from which other elements are measured, such as the x-height and leading.

X-Height, Serif and Sans Serif

X-height is the height of a lower case x and determines the visual size of the type, which varies from typeface to typeface. Typefaces that have large x-heights tend to have small ascenders and descenders. Leading (aka line spacing) refers to the baseline of successive lines of type, meaning how far apart is one line from the other. As you can see below.

Other important elements that need to be accounted for are letter spacing and kerning. Letter spacing is the even and uniform spacing between letters regardless of the characters, while kerning is adjusting the spacing between individual character pairs with the aim of improving readability.

Serif and Sans Serif Typefaces

A serif is a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter. A typeface with a serif is called a serif typeface, while a typeface without a serif is called a sans serif typeface (meaning without).

serifsanserif copy Typography, type and typefaces

There are general groups of serifs such as bracketed, hairline, slab or slab bracket.

serif letters1 Typography, type and typefaces

Interesting Finds

I recently came across a blogpost by David Addey in which he examined in depth the typography that was used in every scene in the cult movie 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. A very interesting read I must say, but be careful for spoilers though!!

I also came across a very interesting video on youtube about how two pioneers John Warnock and Chuck Geschke founded Adobe after having years of experience with XEROX. Warnock then developed the Adobe Postcript a vector graphics computer language for 2D graphics to solve the problem of how to make fonts look good at low resolutions – meaning at the pixel level. The first postscript language was used with  the first Apple Laser Printer and gave rise to desktop publishing.


Graphic designer Sam Barclay launched a Kick Starter project to publish a book called ‘I wonder what it feels like to be dyslexic’, whereby he created a typeface that typifies how dyslexic people view lines of text. This project visualises a variety of typographic theories to plainly portray the experience of reading with dyslexia.

Penguin Books re-released 5 of George Orwell’s books with new covers that have been designed by David Pearson – an award winning typographer and designer. Each cover has a different typeface reminiscent of the theme of the book and the era that it represents. Follow the link here

The last article I came across is about a type foundry between Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones – one of the most prestigious type foundries (are now splitting up). They are the creators of the typeface Gotham, which was used in 2008 Obama Election and they also launched the ‘cloud typography‘ – a cloud service for an annual fee giving access to a plethora of web fonts.

From now on I will never look at type the same way as before. The amount of detail and thought that undergoes in creating a typeface is extraordinary, something I need to consider when I’ll be doing my assignment. The chosen typeface must be properly integrated with the brand concept and in line with the aesthetics.

Hope you liked the read!

My first ever blog post

To start off, this is my first ever blog post…I’ve been meaning to blog about something for quite some time now, but I never got around to it nor did I have a topic to blog about. We were given a task in our Branding Design Class to create a blog and every week I will be writing on what we learnt in class and applying the principles to any form of media that I come across. Well here goes nothing!

I’ve always been intrigued both by marketing and design. While both have their own schools of thought, one cannot exist without the other as they do share common ground, in fact they complement one another. Quoting Aristotle “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. While this module will only skim the surface, the main purpose is to bridge the gap between marketers and designers by giving insight on the different elements and principles of design with the scope of better understanding the design world, leading up to creating a design brief. This will benefit me personally as it will fulfil my creative needs as I’ve always asked the question whether I can put into practice both areas (i.e. Marketing and Design)?

In our first lecture we first talked about the 6 elements of design, which are Space, Form (shape), Colour, Value, Texture and Time.

There are two aspects of space, actual and virtual. The former being the actual and measurable space on which the design will be implemented such as the actual dimensions of a poster or a billboard. The latter (virtual space) has to do with how design is implemented on a two dimensional medium giving the illusion of depth. Meaning that distant objects (in the background) are smaller than closer objects (in the foreground). The illusion of depth is achieved through different perspectives, leading up to a vanishing point as seen below. Renaissance artists made use of this technique.

Vanishing Point

The second is Form or Shape. A shape is the area that stands out from the space next to it or around it, either because of a boundary line or differences in value, colour or texture. There are varying types of shapes that have different physical forms that also direct eye movement. Shapes that are too complex are difficult to remember.

Thirdly, colour. To understand colour is to understand the basic principles of colour. The colour wheel is made up of primary colours which are red, yellow and blue. A combination of those three colours yield the secondary colours which are orange, green and purple. When the secondary colours are combined they form tertiary colours, which are the rest of the colours in the colour wheel. Colours opposite to each other are complimentary colours and provide contrast when used with each other, while neighbouring colours are analogous to each other and provide a more harmonious effect when used together. Saturation gives colour brightness or darkness, it is used to describe the intensity of the colour of an image. Colour can either be warm (red, orange, yellow), cold (blue, green and violet) or neutral. Hue refers to a pure colour, one that is without a tint (added white) or shade (added black). Colour is the last of the design elements.

Value is the level of light or dark in a colour – the relative degree of lightness and darkness in a design element. Value describes objects, shapes, and space. It is used to add emphasis and can evoke feelings, example high value (dark) contrast evokes drama and conflict, while low value contrast creates a calming and quieting effect. 

There are two forms of texture, actual and visual. In a 2D design, actual or tactile texture is the feel of the canvas or the surface of a book cover. On the other hand visual texture or simulated texture is suggested texture through the use of the design elements, they are perceived visually but interpreted tactilely. Texture can be used to accent an area so that it becomes more dominant than another.

Time. Capturing time in a still image is a difficult thing to pull especially in a static 2D medium. This however, can be overcome through motion blur when capturing objects, thus instigating the process of continuity through space and time, as seen below. The time element impacts how a person perceives the design and may evoke emotions.

These 6 elements of design are just the ground work. The crucial step is the successful interplay of the elements together with the design principles to produce a final successful design. Author Alex White in his book The Elements of Design says that the “one goal of graphic design is to achieve visual unity or harmony”. 

The design principles are:

Alignment: when objects are lined up with each other giving off visual uniformity

Contrast: an image with high contrast attracts the eye – instigating that the viewer is directed towards that image (this can be a juxtaposition of a subject or a value or colour contrast

Opacity: the degree of an object being visible or invisible –

Stepping: a form of measure either increasing or decreasing

Symmetry: a symmetrical pattern gives a sense of order and structure

Rhythm: the timing of events – in design this would be represented through the visual beat of an image

Foreground/Background: images/designs that appear near or far, this is achieved through the use of different colours and space

Overlapping: creates a sense of space and depth

Repetition with variation: showing objects in repetition but varying one object by changing the colour, value or texture

Positive/Negative: using the value element to create a negative or positive design

Balance: when a design is to heavy or light sided, leaving the viewer to trail off to other areas of the design. Important to have balance

Isolation: depicting something in isolation shows the importance of that object. It directs attention to that object.

Sharp/Soft Focus: used when trying to identify objects that are close in their value or the texture suggesting that the object is different from the rest – making it stand out.

Pattern: a repeated design that imposes a mechanical way of viewing things

Rough/Shiny: variations in the texture that show that an object is either rough or shiny and evokes different moods

3-Dimensional: adding a shadow gives 2D objects the illusion of a third dimension – however must be used with caution

Reflection: making the object look shiny or lifelike

Organic/Geometric: organic objects are those that are free flowing, whereas Geometric objects are precise and clear cut

As I said earlier the elements of design are used in conjunction with the above principles to create any form of design imaginable.

Earlier today I came across an article on a technique called photogravure. I found that it is a print making technique developed in the 1800s whereby a copper plate is coated with a light-sensitive gelatin and then exposed to a film positive, the copper plate is then etched creating a high quality print. Its use was to immortalise fine art prints and to create a photo reproduction of paintings due to its high quality and richness. Its unique qualities allow for varying tones in the ink, since the depth of each etch varies the shadows are etched deeper than the highlights, resulting in a detailed print with a mysterious feel to it. That said the process is much longer than the brief description that wrote. Applying from what I have learnt, I would say that there is a sense of balance in the resulting images through the use of colour and value. The images seem to have a soft focus and because of the use of the copper plates they have a form of texture.

Using A Centuries-Old Printmaking Technique To Immortalize A New Museum

Hope you liked the read!