Imaging Week 10-15
The title is something that makes me want to yell in frustration just by looking at it. The last 5 weeks have been nothing less than stressful. This blog is a culmination of everything that happened in this time.
Starting off, I want to make clear; I did not like InDesign very much initially. This is because I always thought InDesign is a very restrictive software and thus I had to listen to the software before it could listen to me. When I was told about the project brief, and making a whole 30 page long booklet in this software, it worried me. I started by looking through some different styles of coffee books. The one thing that I noticed in all of them was that there was very sparse text. Most of these books were covered in photographs arranged in different layouts. They even arranged some of them were even in the same layout throughout the book. The intent of these books was to give this photo is the chance to take the spotlight, and display them. So I understood that I had to keep the text as limited as possible. I also realised that the best way to allow these photos to shine through would be to have a dark background.
After looking through some of these books, I tried to make one of my own. I based my first attempt off of a template I saw online, and I used the colours black and yellow. I used a slab Serif font for the titles and went with a simple Sans serif font like Helvetica for the body text. I tried to keep the indents, the lines, and even the blocking as minimal as possible. When I showed this first draft to the faculty, I was told to make several changes. She said that the font size that I used was too large, and the black and yellow was giving too much of a contrast to the book. She said maybe I could use different colours instead, incorporate some white, and try switching the fonts. For me, this meant changing the whole layout, and experimenting with a new one.
In my second attempt I used the most basic colours on the colour palette, black and white. Thus I ended up searching the font that magazines like Vogue used, and that’s how I found Didot. Didot is a serif font which has a lot of variations in its letters. Once I fixed that for the headers; I went with Roboto for the main body text. I was clear on the fact that I wanted to put in my custom illustrations in this book. Which is why I used an external software named Procreate on my iPad, for the illustrations. I successfully did the illustrations by either referring to the original drawings present in my history project, or if some of them needed improvement, I referred to photos from the internet.
I labeled each of these chariots with their significant features, and had a distressed paper background which was beige or brown, to give the paper an old texture effect. I placed these chariot illustrations on the right side of my spread. This right spread placing ensured that everything looked emphasized even when the reader flipped through the pages. These illustrations themselves took up a lot of my time, more time than it took to set up the layout of the booklet.
Then I made three Master pages. My first master page had a section divider on the left, which was in black. I kept the rest of the page white. I kept the right page black as I mentioned, because there was a chariot illustration on that page.
My second master spread was black. This was for chariots that needed a second page of explanation. I also used it as a background for the timeline page.
My last master page was white on the left and black on the right. I used this spread for pages like declaration, table of contents, and preface. I then set up the layout, adding in content that I had already kept ready on Microsoft Word. In every section header, I used Old English MT for the numbers of the spread; I used Didot for the main chariot titles, and a small description below the title included an overview of the civilisation mentioned, which was written in Roboto Italic.
Next, the white space in every left page of the spread had a map of the civilisation. For these maps I found some free for commercial reuse maps online, and imported them into PSD, recoloring them to look brown, and adding texture to them again, giving the old paper effect. I then placed these in the InDesign document.
I tried to keep all my text columns from 2 to 3. The first mistake here is that I was splitting every text frame into two or three, instead of creating three different text frames. I realised that this was affecting the spacing a lot, and it did not allow me to align properly.
When the faculty looked at my second attempt at the booklet, I had a huge issue with the alignment. And everything was floating, with a lot of things to be fixed. I was avoiding the baseline option, i.e.,Ctrl+Alt+C, which ensures that all the text is aligned to the base of the text box. This feature allows me to align the text better within the columns.
Another mistake I was commonly making was going into the gutter space of the columns.I was constantly doing this involuntarily, and the faculty was patient enough to explain that I had to decide a division for my spreads. For example, it could be two and four, three and three or four and two. But I had to keep this arrangement in mind when arranging my images and my text. This feedback session was actually a huge eye-opener for me. I immediately began realising where all my mistakes were, where things were going out of margin, or alignment, and I spend a substantial amount of time trying to fix all of this. I also understood that we were not supposed to use the indents or any other of the paragraph options to align our text and make it look perfect, but we were to do this arrangement manually.
Through this process, I understood a very important feature, the paragraph and character styles. At first, when I was making my seminar booklet for project one, I did not find it important enough to use paragraphs and character style since it was only a six-page book. But here I realised that when you are formatting a 30 page book, it is very important to have consistency. And it is very easy to vary any font in Adobe InDesign, and the font could be varied by as small as of 10 point kerning, or even a one point font size difference. But it would still show through and mess up the alignment. So I set up definite paragraph and character styles for my document and I really understood how this helps me work faster, and it made my workflow easier. I was also slowly getting used to all the shortcuts which helped me speed things up.
Another thing I learnt was that it is difficult to find free resources online. Especially when these resources need to be in high-quality. Till now I had blatantly been saving images of the internet without giving proper credit. But this process helps me learn that citation is important, and if one does not want to pay the price of a license, then one has to find a way out by using a free domain or a free uploading website.So finding the images I needed was a struggle, but I was lucky in this case since I was illustrating several things on my own.
A very interesting part of my process what is the timeline that I created. I realised that all the chariots that I was including in my booklet were restricted to a very specific area on the world map. And thus I found it pointless to use the stock world map. This is because the stock world map usually came as a full vector and editing it would mean I would have to use Illustrator and Photoshop back and forth.Looking at my Dell monitor I knew this was very tough to do. So I customised the entire map. I did this by first taking a pre-existing physical and political world map, and imported it on Procreate. I then used Procreate for creating outlines of continents, rivers, and places that I wanted included in my world map. This was then imported as a PSD file, and over to Photoshop, I used it for colouring these continents, colouring the background, adding texture, and labelling everything. This was a very interesting process, since I felt like I was creating a fantasy map for my game, and I was physically labelling every geographical aspect of the map. For this I also had to go ahead and find a free cartography font online. Then I looked up for a free compass rose and included that as a multiply layer in my PSD file as well. In Illustrator, I imported a chariot icon that I saw online. I did not want to use the entire icon, so I pen-tooled the part that I wanted to use and customized it according to my own needs. Taking this over to Photoshop, I added a rectangle around it, and created stickers for every civilisation. I place these stickers over the map where the civilisation and the chariot was located. Finally, I connected these using dotted lines to show some flow in the timeline. I also used a free textured kraft paper as an overlay onto this timeline layer, and this helped me bring out some texture in the timeline. For the font on the timeline, I used Felix Titling.
I was done importing everything, and creating a proper InDesign document. The third feedback from the faculty was that everything was looking in place. But I still had to clean up my document. I kind of understood what she meant by cleaning up, because I myself was not completely satisfied with how the book looked. First I had added a quote section to the book, but that didn’t look good in either Didot or Roboto. So I had to incorporate a third font specially for this. The first decision that I made was to change the entire header font from Didot to Felix Titling for every page. This change really upgraded the book a lot more than I thought it would. I also changed the background colour from black to a very dark brown. This is because I was told that the black was in very sharp contrast to some images I had used, so I had to mask some of these images and reduce the contrast that the black was giving. The change to dark brown really helped soften things up a bit. To support the dark brown, I also changed the font colour from white to a very light yellow.
As for the cover page, I was in the hunt of an illustration or some graphic that encapsulated the drama and wrath that chariots brought in with themselves. Luckily, I found an exquisite concept art online, showcasing the battle of Kadesh, the greatest example of the wrath of the chariot. For the back page, I masked a few chariot illustrations and placed them, covering the rest of the space with a quote.
I have used Smart Object Mockups before, so it was easy for me to make the mockup.After stacking up the layers, I finally created the frame animation for the final gif. And believe me, the moment I hit upload in my Google Drive folder for the final gif….the feeling was surreal. Because all these weeks of trying to understand InDesign had finally come to an end, and with a satisfying result. I like InDesign now.
I think throughout this process, the most important thing that I learnt is the reminder that I am not designing for myself, I am designing with a user in mind. This translates heavily to the appearance of my book, the elements I use in it, the readability, etc. Secondly, I understood how to make my InDesign workflow a lot more efficient. I learnt the concept of font pairing, styles like serif, slab serif, Sans serif and the impact they have on the reader, what font families and font foundries are. And lastly, I finally understand which Adobe software is to be used for what. In conclusion, the Imaging II course was able to give me some very important and helpful tools that I will surely expand on for the rest of my career as a designer!