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Design Process Overview

This section uses specific examples to showcase my design process and workflow. In Research, I've provided a creative brief to demonstrate initial project research, along with site maps and task flows to show the important role organization plays. In Discovery, I've presented several wireframes, moodboards, and sketches. Workflow documents the entire step-by-step production process utilized to create a series of two advertisments.


An example of a creative brief (SOA Senior Show Wayfinding) is below. For this wayfinding project, surveys were conducted, along with careful inspection of the physical location. It quickly became clear that navigation was impeded by limited visibility and lack of building identifiers throughout the campus. Identifying these problems led to a map design that incorporated these obstacles rather than ignore them. Click the brief to open a PDF.


In addition to historic, competitive, and user research, some projects require extreme organization, especially when dealing with large amounts of data. For Web Fundamentals, an instructional website, a visual site map was created prior to discovery and design. What is shown below is the third version, factoring in multiple revisions. Additionally, visual task flows were created to optimize organization and benefit users. Click the images to open a PDF.


To develop the logo (and avatar) for Co-op Labs, 46 sketches were made. Early in the process, the OCP logo from Robocop (1987) was a source of inspiration, as well as other comic-styled superhero imagery. Through the process, it became clear that the logo should play upon extremely recognizable symbol for handicap access (the stick figure person in a wheel chair).

The final design features the wheel of the handicap symbol as a source of strength (disability = proability). Custom lettering was created to ensure cohesion throughout the logo. Additionally, the lettering can be removed, allowing the design to serve as an avatar.


For websites, I begin discovery with wireframes. The following four wireframes are final iterations for my proposed National Space Society website redesign. Design elements are kept to a minimum, and focus is kept on refining navigation and user experience.


After I finalized my wireframes for the National Space Society website, I created two mood boards to hone down the visuals. After getting feedback on these options, I made decisions on what should be used and what should be left out.


In this section, using my Tongs advertisement series as a showcase, I've included a detailed step-by-step account of my production process. Design projects require a diverse variety of approaches. However, the manner in which large tasks are broken into small separate tasks is consistent.

Final Discovery

At this point, a considerable amount of time has already been spent conducting research and discovery on the subject. From those phases, I have already narrowed down my series to class three tongs and will explore the common misconception that tongs are intended primarily for kitchen use. In reality, tongs play a major rule in research labs and are considered the snake handler's tool-of-choice. Discovery has led me to the rough concept concepts below. Eventually the third Indiana Jones themed advertisement will be abandoned (even though it was the first I thought of!). Despite my fondness for the snake concept, it's simply less-accessible than the Superman and Dracula themes.
I also sketch out some aesthetics that weren't clear in my head. A major component of the advertisements is the clenched fist, a recognizable symbol of power. The sketches on the left side address my concern that the fist appear differently from more iconic, cliché fist graphics.


To begin, I purchase a high-resolution image of a body builder's arm and fist. Within Adobe Photoshop, I carefully separate the image from its blank background. The white background requires close work, as some white value needs to be preserved on the arm's edges.
From the matte, I create a blue contour of the entire arm and fist. I then use composite effects to create a dark value and light value. I use this technique for many projects (especially illustration), as it allows quick rendering of shadow and light.
The light and dark variations are blended together, using image masks in Photoshop. Using a Wacom Intuous 4, I adjust the image until it looks right. I then trim a sleeve cut and add a fine red trim. While the red trim is not technically accurate to the Superman comics, I feel it will make the concept more recognizable, by suggesting the color scheme of the character. I also want to make it clear that this is a parody of the character.
Shadows and highlights are then added to the red trim. The super fist is now ready.
For the tongs, it qucikly becomes clear that adjusting existing images will be inefficient (the angle must match the angle of my super fist). I go out and purchase the most generic class three tongs I can find. I snap a few quick photographs with a digital camera, until I'm sure one will work. The quality of the digital photo doesn't need to be perfect as I'll be fine tuning the image digitally.
After choosing the best match, I separate the tongs onto a transparent background. A portion of the handle (obscurred in the photograph) is recreated. I make color correction and minor tweaks throughout the image. The tongs are then introduced to the super fist, and a portion of the handle is removed to complete the effect. Slight shadows are added to the super fist. While recreating the handle was not necessary for this advertisement, at this point during production, I want to keep the tongs image available as an option for the Dracula ad.
For the kryptonite, I purchase another high resolution image of a generic crystal. The crystal, which was originally purple, is shifted to appear vividly green and subtle dodging and burning effects are added to strengthen contrast throughout. The crystal is added to the tongs in the main composition. Shards are added to the bottom to make the crystal appear less like another green icon.
For a subtle glow, I render a lens flare in Photoshop (on black as a single, flattened layer) and place it in the main composition with several composite effects.
The super fist, tongs, crystal, and glow are now rotated and trimmed, defining the edges of the print. This can be adjusted later, which is why I always give myself extra to work with. A subtle background is added behind the art, and temporary text is placed as a placeholder. At this point, I will switch to Dracula, and will resume work on typography when I can focus on both.


Searching for an image to serve as the role of Dracula's hand proves fruitless. While it's easy to find generic people dressed as generic vampires, all lack the aesthetics I require: dead flesh. I decide to take my own photographs, utilizing a rubber, severed limb I just happened to have. The limb is first placed in a white shirt sleeve, within a suit and overcoat. I then experiment, taking multiple variations of the angle I want. Early on, I attempt to include the tongs, but eventually decide to add this separately.
From the photographs, I combine two to create the image of Dracula's fist. A signature stone mason's ring is digitally added on Dracula's ring finger. The image is then converted to black and white, lab color (to play up the Universal Monster element) and subtle detail work is completed on the fleshy areas. The background and trim dimensions from the Superman ad are included.
While using the previously photographed tongs was considered, I decide to take a new image. The tongs are separated from the photo background and placed in Dracula's fist. I intentionally punch up the color of the tong metal a bit. It's too early to decide yet, but I might want only Dracula to appear in black and white (as though he stepped out of the movies into the world of today). The placeholder text is placed in the composition as I will need to be mindful of its location.
After obtaining an image, garlic cloves are placed on transparency and added to the tongs.
I photograph a cross, place on transparency, and weave the chain into the garlic. Due to the very small holes within the chain, and light reflections, this process is time consuming. In retrospect, using a colored background during photography (such as a blue/green screen) would have been more efficient. Subtle shadows are added to the chain where appropriate.
A wooden stake is then cut from its background.
The stake is then added to the composition and slightly desaturated to properly blend with the garlic and cross. Desaturating the entire art was attempted but I decide to keep pure black and white limited to Dracula. I also decide not to include Holy Water as originally planned. The art, with placeholder text, is now ready, along with Superman, for the final phase: typography.


At this point, the message When touch is not an option is revised, eventually becoming When safety is an issue. Multiple variations of type are selected and ruled out. It becomes clear that the type needs to mimic the humor of the imagery.
Within Adobe InDesign, I decide on two typefaces: Trajan Pro and Shardee, a script for emphasis of the single word Safety. The kerning is optically alligned and thin rules (the double lines) are added.
The lettering is exported as an EPS, and fine tuned in Adobe Illustrator. The kerning is adjusted and small gaps are made inside the rules.
The new lettering is placed within the advertisements. Springsteel Light is used for the call-to-action (website URL) at the bottom right of the advertisements.

Final Deliverables

An additional mock-up is created to simulate the advertisement's appearance in a real world scenario, in this case, an outdoors bus stop display.