Conceptual Design

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This project was tough for me to get a start on. I stood at the four different ideas for maybe 30 minutes, stumped. Everything I thought of was either too difficult to execute or too literal. The idea of conceptual illustration is fun and exciting in theory, but difficult in practice — especially on days you’re feeling uncreative.

I finally first came upon my idea when I forced my brain to combine images of pollution clouds and 8-bit video game style squares. I wondered what it would look like if a smooth cloud slowly morphed into a video-game style image, as if the pollution itself was turning into a video game. To me, this conceptually went along with the idea of someone creating a video game that revolves around such a unique and unexpected topic. You wouldn’t expect the smokestacks to turn into video game squares, just like you wouldn’t expect someone to make a video game on the topic of pollution.

I began to sketch and mess with the idea. It seemed like it could possibly turn out all right, so I transferred my thoughts to Adobe Illustrator. I decided to keep the color scheme gray and gloomy, to go along with the idea of pollution. I added a pop of color with the green headline, the font for which I chose to match with the video game style.

I wasn’t happy with the look of my spread at first. It looked awkward and forced, and my idea wasn’t coming across. To resolve this, I tried adding some more 8-bit-video-game style boxes around the shapes of my clouds and words, to make everything blend in the background more.

After fiddling with it some, I was happy with the end result. Though I wish I’d had more time to mess with the general look more and smooth out some of my shapes, I’m proud of my idea and execution. I think it was creative, unique, and my thoughts came across in my work.

Conceptual Design

This project was overall the project that perplexed me the most. I thought of several designs that came across at too literal for this assignment. Stepping out side of the box to really challenge thinking and creativity was not easy.

I chose to create a design about the harmful effects of CO2 because this happens to be an issue that I find very important. With everything going on in the world now and the talk of environmental change, I wanted to create a design that exemplified all of the negative effects of climate change and our roll in creating a safer environment for generation to come.

However, I decided to focus on toxic admissions from factories and building in cities and other overpopulated areas globally. To demonstrate this, I designed a simple globe with big buildings resting on top with smoke emissions. I placed puzzle pieces in my design to exemplify the “game” aspect. Looking back, I would have like to incorporate them in the smoke or even place building on different countries and have them unify in a cloud of smoke-a  daunting image, I know. I also would have played with the font of the headline.

Although I think it came together, there are changes I would have made if I could go back and do it again. 

Conceptual Design

Conceptual Design Image

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At first, this project was a bit difficult for me. While I was struggling to come up with a solid design idea for any of the stories provided, I also couldn’t find any story that particularly appealed to me. So, the planning process was probably the most difficult. I didn’t want to make anything too literal or anything too difficult to understand, so many of my ideas didn’t seem feasible. Finally, I decided to make a design for the CO2 story, and settled on doing a design that incorporated Pac-Man.

Pac-Man was the first thing that came to mind when I was coming up with design ideas. I knew it’s a recognizable game that just about anyone would know the concept of. In the game itself, Pac-Man is trying to “eat” the dots ahead of him with he’s chased by ghosts. The main idea behind the story was to have gamers chase down factories emitting dangerous amounts of CO2, so I thought the two concepts paralleled each other well. From here, I developed the idea to reproduce the ending screen on Pac-Man that appears after Pac-Man has been caught.

Overall, I like how my design turned out. I think I did a good job of utilizing white (black) space, and making the page look developed without too crowded. I was worried about having a black background and the readability of white text, but I think overall it works for an opening spread. For some reason, I really struggled with the placement of the byline. I’m not sure why, but I felt like everywhere I put it, it threw off my design. I also struggled with whether or not to add the dotted lines on either side of it; without them my page seemed to bare but with them it almost seemed like the middle was too crowded. Ultimately, I decided it looked better with them included. I also struggled with bringing in more color, and deciding what color to bring in. I think red tends to always go with black, so I chose to use red for the initial drop cap. Despite this, I still think the color is lacking where the text is, and I wish I could have come up with a way to add in more color. I played around with making the byline and/or the dotted lines on either side of it a color, but then ultimately decided it looked better white. I was a little worried about making the factory Pac-Man piece, because I wasn’t sure how to make it both realistic and computerized, but I was satisfied with how it came out.

Overall, my biggest struggle was in the fine line between creating a clean design versus an overly simple design. While I think I did a nice job on my overall project, I wish I could have developed it a bit more.

Gamify pollution-tracking

Game On This was probably my favorite project in the class so far. I love the challenge of starting from basically nothing and conceptually creating a design to go along with a story. Unless it’s a relevant photograph, I usually prefer these kinds of conceptual designs when I see or craft things.

In this spread, I went with the CO2 story after playing around with the other stories and possible designs. This just seemed to be the most concrete and thoughtful design of the ones I came up with. I liked the idea of making some sort of game on the page to complement the idea of CO2 emission recording. To go with the design, I thought “Game On” was more fitting than “Game Over” as other designers may have used. This is because the game seemed to be just starting and available to the public. The problem hadn’t been solved yet, so this headline conveys more of a push to get people excited and/or involved.

I originally planned to make the entire page the actual PACMAN game screen. However, once I started designing, that just became too busy. Instead, I thought the single lines of dots worked really well as just accent pieces to go along with the main design. PACMAN himself is the only yellow item on the spread, which seemed strange to me at first. However, I think it made sense to keep it that way because that is half of the main idea, in addition to the CO2. I tried making the drop cap yellow, but that just didn’t seem to work as well as it does in red. Additionally, a plain white background seemed very stark and difficult to look at in the beginning. So, although it’s difficult to tell, I made the background a few shades darker. I wanted to keep the white feel without actually being white, while also not matching the gray of the smoke too closely.

For the display font, I wanted something bold, big and bold. I considered and even tested the actual PACMAN font, but that made an awkwardly sized fit and seemed inconsistent with the design style on the rest of the spread. Therefore, I went looking and ended up with this chunky Sigmar One. It seemed to match the design of the factory well, while also still being easy to read in the deck. So, although it doesn’t necessarily resemble a game, it kept the flow in my design.

Lastly, the rising smokestack was an easy choice (and was actually one of the first things I sketched out). I knew I wanted something subtle to let the reader know the connection immediately. I think the smoke also does a good job to break up the large chunk of black in the headline, as well as helping the reader to follow the information/spread from top to bottom.

Overall, I believe this is a strong design that conveys the idea of the story provided well. For me, I immediately see a factory with smoke and think “pollution,” and then obviously revert to “games” with PACMAN. Although it took a while to come up with a solid sketch to work from, I enjoyed the challenge of bringing this story and design to life.

Jack Stanton’s Conceptual Design

For my conceptual design I chose the CO2 topic regarding gamefying emission outputs. For this I chose to play on the “game” of it by depicting a large factory with chess pieces as smokestacks and the clouds from their emission slowly turning into soft white clouds.

I chose thisFactory with smokestacks as chess pieces image because in my mind, it seemed quite striking. I love chess and the design of the pieces always strikes me as very powerful and meaningful. They are also tall and slender which makes them perfect for my needs.

My idea came from a combination of things, mostly from the images I have always seen associated with pollution. Billowing smoke coming from huge smokestacks. This is not only an image I have seen in media, but everyday life as well. The image of that is vital to my thought process and I wanted to connect it. I also wanted to show the power of this “Gamefication” by showing the clouds becoming less and less dirty as they went up into the sky. This hopefully conveys a sense of progress.

I wanted to have my design have some hints of constructivist design. That is why the factory has an angular design as well as heavy red and black tones. I wanted this to contrast with the open blue and green of the sky and ground below.

I wanted to have the clouds come across the pages until they finally appeared clean. They direct the eye to the Factory and I think it has a powerful effect in forward or reverse.

I chose the chess pieces and constructed them from scratch using a 3d revolve. Chess is  one of the greatest game ever conceived and certainly one of the most iconic, so I knew it would work in the image. I had also originally planned to have Dice for the windows of the factory but decided it would be too much for one image.

For my main title I used the After Shok font, which comes across as highly stylized and mucky, this segues into the clean serif of Georgia for the last word of the title as well as the body. I feel as though the change of font and font color is justified here as it sends the message of cleansing.

For the headline, I chose “Not Just a Game” which conveys the theme of the article as well as the imminent threat of pollution. Also, having “Game” as the last word proved useful for visual creativity.

For colors outside of the factory, I wanted some spring light colors that showed a world worth protecting. The whole design together sends a powerful message and I thing gets the point across of the article in a creative way.

Rachel Berry’s Conceptual Spread

Carbon Sweeper SpreadFor my conceptual design, I chose to design around the article about gamifying pollution research because of the technical angle of the story. As a result of being in the technology industry, I have studied gamification a lot, and I felt I could relate to the story and the goals of the environmental researchers; therefore, I thought that I could draw the most inspiration for a concept from this story.

I had two ideas for this story. One of which I fleshed out as the final concept. My first idea was a play on the video game, Super Maria Bros. In the game, the characters run through a course, jump over obstacles, and collect stars to earn points. My idea was to replicate on of these scenes with smoke stacks being the obstacles the character would have to jump over and some type of wind energy icon being the stars they would earn. Although I originally liked this idea, I thought my final idea captured the essence of the story more accurately.

In my final idea, I drew inspiration from the classic computer game, Minesweeper. The goal of this game is to use number clues to click on the squares that do not have bombs hiding behind them. By successfully finding all the squares without bombs, players “diffuse” the bombs and win the game. Minesweeper more accurately depicts the game that the researchers implemented, which is a also a computer game. Hunting for bombs, as players do in Minesweeper, is more analogous to tracking down power plants, as players in the researcher’s game do. To encompass this idea, I decided to use power plant smoke stacks instead of bombs to represent that this was the risk discussed in the story. The last element of the story that I really wanted to reflect in my design was that the researchers project and game where a work in progress. I accomplished this subtly. The game represented in my design is not a finished game. There are still the embossed tiles on the board, and an analysis of the number clues would show that some of these tiles have more smokestacks under them if they were to be clicked.

In terms of style and design elements, I wanted the look of my spread to be influenced by industrial styles. I decided to use a more industrial style rather than a technology influenced style because I felt that the story influenced that they were trying to solve pollution caused by industrial problems with a technical solution. The reference to Minesweeper represented the researcher’s technical solution, so I used more industrial colors and a display font with an industrial feeling. I used the embossed detail of the unclicked Minesweeper tiles in the headline, which not only provided consistency within the design but also added to the industrial feel of the typography.

Overall, I am pretty happy with the final design of my spread. I think it represents several different aspects of the story in an interesting way. I think reader would be able to pretty quickly understand that the story was about technology, gaming, and pollution. If I were to work on the design a little more, I would focus on the balance of the design. I think the left side might be a little heavy compared to the right but that could be balanced out with a little more attention given to the placement of the elements.

Old Technology Revive


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This conceptual design is the third project of this semester. When I look through the four given stories, I decided to do the “old tech” one, since I thought I understood this story better than others. This story roughly talks about that people think when new technologies come out, the old one may be substituted and will disappear in the near future. However, surprisingly, some old technologies do not disappear but are still liked by the public. This one is kind of like the class exercise “vinyl boom”, and the article also mentions vinyl. Therefore, to choose this article, the main challenge for me is that how I can create different spread from the “vinyl boom”.

In the article, besides vinyl, it also mentions film cameras, print books, and Kindle. Since I did not want to use the technologies mentioned in the article, at the very beginning, I thought the old steam train was also an old technology which could be substituted by high-speed rail. However, the main point in the article is old technology popular again, then I think the train is not a good idea, so I come back to film cameras since more and more people like to develop films by themselves.

First, I started to draw a film camera as my main illustration on the magazine spread. This part was not hard because I drew lots of items this semester. I downloaded an old film camera photograph and traced its shape. I also provided some details like flashlight button and screen to make it seem like a camera. For the roll film, I wanted to make it have some interaction with the headline, so I drew it very long but still connected with the camera itself.

After I got this illustration, I put it into InDesign and started composing. At that time, I met a problem was that I only had one illustration, so it was the only object on the spread, which left plenty of white spaces. Then, I tried to find some photographs. I wanted very modern photos but put it on roll film, which meant modern people also like to use roll film to take photos. However, the color and style could not satisfy my requirement, and it was very inharmonic on the whole page. Thus, I deleted all of those photos and decided to compose a totally different one.

I wanted to put the roll film diagonal, so the second problem was that there were many triangular white spaces which seemed weird. I could not get rid of them, since if I put the roll films horizontally, it would look very boring and kind of silly. Thus, I thought I should do some sketch and think about it first. When I started sketching, I thought I should give a different headline to this article. I firstly called it “Hard dying old technology”, and I put it all on the roll film. However, this headline was too long, so I changed it to “Old technology revive”, which could embody old technology popular “again”. Furthermore, I enlarged the font size of “revive” and only put this word on the roll film. Then people could be attracted by this huge word. Moreover, I made “old technology” horizontally stayed on the page, which was also a contrast to the diagonally stayed roll films. I also applied another roll of roll film, which cooperated with the roll film on the camera.

Since the sketch was not bad, I composed it on the computer, and finally, I put the deck, byline and some starter of the article on the spread. Then everything was done. However, I thought the white background was very boring, so I found some old paper texture online because first, it would give some interesting background, and second, it helped represent the feeling of old.

I am kind of happy with my project, but I think the main problem is that the illustration is still a little bit simple. I started late this time, so for the next project, I will start earlier, so that I will have much more to think about it and create a better project.


It is always excited to me to design some works during this semester. This assignment is to design a magazine spread page. I created this magazine for the article named as Robot Writer. I love this story because it is very interesting that human journalists are replaced by robot journalists.

I love the design idea of simplicity so I applied this concept and decided to keep a major part of my magazine as white space. I arranged the keyboard part on the top of the magazine, put the robot hand from the bottom so it looks like a robot journalist stretches its band to type something. This also makes an effect of the eye following. Based on the direction of the robot hand, audiences’ eye can naturally follow the direction of the robot hand and finally focus on the headline. I made a clear alignment on the one-third part of the magazine.

When I read this story, a robot hand came up into my mind, which is exactly what I drew. I decided to draw a typical old fashion robot hand that is trying to type on the keyboard. I got this keyboard idea from the scene of a robot sits in front of a computer and tries to type something. As you can see that the font of the headline I used is very unique, which is called “Robot”, and I downloaded it from online. I think this font works appropriately with the theme of this magazine design. The keyboard looks like a real keyboard. I used the pen tool to trace the outside line of the keyboard keys and drew the lines inside of the keyboard keys. I think it would be a clear way that readers can know it is keyboard keys. One of the keyboard keys is using a different color- red. I want to emphasize the idea of the human being journalists is shifting to a robot journalist.

I made the keyboard key as the iconic so that I applied this symbol with the author name. Because I want to audiences looking this magazine spread smoothly, I put the subheadline, author name and the main content as one place. I sized up the first letter “M” of the content because it is easy for the audience to aware of the place to start reading and to capture the readers’ eyes.

I really enjoyed the process of the design, I love the style of this magazine, I think there are still some parts that I need to improve. Overall, I’m satisfied with my design.


Taking over: Harley Wiltsey’s Conceptual Project

Harley Wiltsey's Conceptual Project

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When I began this project, I originally thought I wanted to do the gamification story. I thought it would make for some great illustrative opportunities. However, after sketching and exploring the robot story, I decided to pursue a conceptual illustration for this story. I was really surprised that the final version of this project was not the original illustration idea that I had. I had sat on that idea for a few days and I was certain it was the best idea. However, after sketching out a few more options, I landed on a photo illustration of a press pass with a robots image. I think that photo illustrations are much more appropriate than more artistic illustrations for serious stories like this one as they do not run the risk of being comical or silly.

I chose to run with the press pass idea because I thought it got the story across quickly, but in a clever and relatable manner. The press pass is an iconic symbol for journalists and reporters. The robot is also a clearly representative symbol for a robot. When most people think of a robot, this is the image that comes to mind. I wanted to mesh these two ideas together to create the image of a reporter robot. This image when placed next to the headline creates a portrait of the story that it is telling about how robots are taking over reporters’ jobs and in a way, replacing them (even though the story frequently reassures that this isn’t the case). “Taking Over” is also a common phrase in robot or alien movies. The movies portray people panicking about foreign beings taking over the world so this headline plays on that.To begin my illustration, I needed to find a lanyard with a nametag slip I could photograph. I was unable to locate a lamination slip on a lanyard that I could create something and insert into. To get around this, I found a press pass sitting around the newsroom and took images of it against a white background. I created a shape in Illustrator the exact size of the contents of the original press pass and covered the image. I tried printing off the illustration I made and creating a more realistic version, but this did not come out as well as I expected. I think the final version with a photo with the illustrative element was a good compromise between the two. This whole process took much more time than I anticipated. After I incorporated the new press pass into the image, I exported it all as a JPEG and I took it to Photoshop. I blurred the edges of the white box to help make a seamless and more natural image. I wish I could have added another light filter to the white box to make it a little more natural as the white box does stand out maybe a little too much.

To begin my illustration, I needed to find a lanyard with a nametag slip I could photograph. I was unable to locate a lamination slip on a lanyard that I could create something and insert into. To get around this, I found a press pass sitting around the newsroom and took images of it against a white background. I created a shape in Illustrator the exact size of the contents of the original press pass and covered the image. I tried printing off the illustration I made and creating a more realistic version, but this did not come out as well as I expected. I think the final version with a photo with the illustrative element was a good compromise between the two. This whole process took much more time than I anticipated. After I incorporated the new press pass into the image, I exported it all as a JPEG and I took it to Photoshop. I blurred the edges of the white box to help make a seamless and more natural image. I wish I could have added another light filter to the white box to make it a little more natural as the white box does stand out maybe a little too much.

In terms of layout, I structured the image to be conducive to a readable layout. I wanted the lanyard to cradle the type. I also wanted the headline to interact with the image in a way so I used cutouts and made the R go over and under the rope of the lanyard. One thing I really struggled with was choosing the typeface. I had already used a bold sans-serif font for the press pass so I wanted something that would compliment this. I considered using a serif font, but it just didn’t feel right. I settled on a thin, tall sans serif font. I think this font kept with the clean, tabletop look that I was going for. I also continued this type into the subhead, byline and drop cap. I chose to put a significant amount of type on the page, but I think it is appropriate. I think with much more white space it would just be too much and would feel empty rather than intentional.

Overall, I am pretty happy with this final project. I think the placement of the press pass could have used some work, but by the point that I decided I wanted that, I had already put two hours into this final image and didn’t have the time to start over. Despite that, I think it came together nicely. I like the interaction of the photo and the headline and the cleanliness of the image. I also like the way the image created a natural gradient with a slightly ominous dark background.

Sarah Monnier Conceptual Design

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For the conceptual design project I was drawn to the story on detoxification because I felt that it was something I could be inspired by and illustrate in my style more so than the other stories. When I began sketching I knew that I wanted some kind of natural, goddess-type figure to serve as the main visual element of my design. I went through a few different ideas of what I wanted the figure to be doing and decided that just having a close up of the face somehow sweating would be creative and representative of the story. Reading through the story a few times I was reminded of the old, VHS workout tapes with Richard Simmons called “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” that my grandma had. I decided to play on that idea for the headline because detoxing is the newest health trend that is drawing from the past.

I chose to have the figure be shades of green with long, flowing hair and flowers to represent the “natural” vibe of the detox story. I also decided to put a faint steam texture behind the open, cream-colored space to allude to the saunas and hydrotherapy referenced in the article.

For typography I decided to use a very decorative typeface, Academy Engraved to give the design an elegant, sophisticated feel. I used that typeface for the headline, by line, deck and folio to provide consistency throughout the layout. For the body copy I used a serif font for readability.

When setting up my layout I chose to have the illustration be very large so that when the fold creased the image it wasn’t across her face or any text. I knew I wanted the figure looking into the story to draw the reader to the text. I also chose to reflect the size of the headline on the second page with the size of the deck and body copy to create symmetry. For a finishing touch I added flowers from her hair to frame the text and draw some more color onto the second page.

For the folio, I pulled the color from the flowers and the typeface from the headline. I decided to only put it on the left page because I thought it would make the right side too crowded and distract from the illustration. I also decided to put a drop shadow on the folio to help it stand out a little more and add dimension.

Overall I am very happy with the way my design turned out. I was able to experiment with the pen, paintbrush and stroke width tools a lot more on the illustration of her hair, which was a nice way to learn more about Adobe Illustrator. I think the concept is effective in relating to the story while also not being too straightforward. If I could work on the design more I would probably make the steam texture more visible because it is barely noticeable in this version. I would also like to detail the flowers a little as a finishing touch.