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


Click the image to see the whole version

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

Click this image to view a full-size PDF of my design.

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

Click the image to view a full-size version of my design.

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.

Jessica Stinger’s Conceptual Design

For my conceptual design, I chose to do the robot story. I chose this story because the idea to have a robot typing came quickly to me, and I wanted to work off of that. I decided to utilize a keyboard and a robotic hand to convey the idea that stories are being written by robots now. It seemed like the simplest way to convey the idea without any confusion.

From there, I chose my color scheme. Almost all electronics are gray, black or white so I wanted to work with this idea. But I also wanted to incorporate color in some way. I decided on green because it is one of the colors that many different electronics use. That was my idea for the pops of color within the design in order to make it more interesting.

I chose a simple san serif to keep my design clean. Along with that, I think sans serif typefaces are typically more modern, and so are robots so I really thought this fit with my overall idea and the story. I chose to only include a certain amount of text to keep the focus on the robotic arm, and to continue my idea for a simple, modern looking design.

I also added texture to my robot hand by making it a gradient. Robots are typically metallic, or at least they are in my head. I think that a metallic looking hand would easily illustrate the idea that this was not a person at a computer. Additionally, I gave my keyboard a 3D effect because keys stick out from it.


Conceptual project

This is my conceptual project.

Click the image to see my design larger.

When it came to picking a story to design, I was drawn to the piece about carbon dioxide emissions. As an environmental science minor, I am interested in the movement to phase out nonrenewable sources of energy, like coal, for renewable sources. Although the subject is rather complicated, I saw it as a challenge. It combined two of my personal interests–sustainability and graphic design.

I began the brainstorming phase by thinking about the word “game.” I knew I wanted to depict some type of recognizable game and pair it with the image of a coal-burning factory, the major producer of CO2 emissions. The story talks about how the purpose of the game is to “locate all the power plants around the world and quantify their carbon-dioxide emissions.” With this in mind, I tried to think of a game that had a clear start and end and a clear sense of movement. The word “hunt” makes me think of a treasure hunt, and the word “game” makes me think of a board game. I combined these two ideas by illustrating a typical board game layout modeled after Candyland. I borrowed colors from Candyland’s board in order to make the illustration more recognizable at first glance. 

The board game idea did not come easily to be. I worked through a couple ideas (for example: a card game, a video game, etc.) before realizing that a board game best depicts the story. A board game has a clear beginning and end, just like the scientists’ purpose to locate all the power plants around the world. I added shortcut arrows and small power plant icons throughout the design, reminiscent of recognizable board games like Candyland and Life. The power plant icons also give the sense that the player is collecting them throughout the game, just like the story says.

To combine the ideas of “CO2 emissions” and “game,” I drew the start of the board game emerging from the power plant’s smoke stack in the lower left corner. The board game path is supposed to represent the path of smoke coming out of the tower. As the reader’s eye moves from left to right along the path, the game progresses until the reader reaches the end of the game–the headline “Game over CO2.” The placement of the headline is purposeful because it represents the finish of the game and the area of the page the reader’s eye lands on last. From the headline, the reader moves down to the subhead, which leads him or her into the story.

In terms of typographical treatments, I chose Oswald, a modern sans-serif typeface, for the headline, deck head, byline, and folio. Oswald is one of my favorite typefaces because of its tight kerning and tall letters. I thought about using a more cartoonish display type to mirror a board game’s typography, but it made the design look gimmicky and childish when I tried it out. Oswald elevates the design from a simple, flat illustration, to a more dynamic and sophisticated design. I gave the headline a slight drop shadow and colored backdrop to make it stand off the page and draw more attention. Instead of placing the words directly on top of each other, I staggered the the words in the headline in order to add a sense of movement and interplay between words.

I finished the design by adding a textured background over the illustration. Instead of flat white, the textured background gives the page the look of an old board game, weathered and yellowed. It brings out a bit of dimension from the flat design and makes the page as a whole more interesting to look at. If I were to go back, I would spend more time illustrating the subtleties of the power plant and board game elements. I could have added more icons around the board game path. Overall, though, I think my design successful illustrates the concept of “gamifying the hunt for CO2.” I’m happy with how I executed this idea.

Decrypting Detoxes

When choosing which story to design for I saw the word detox and thought ‘oh, detox means fruit and juice cleanses! That will be fun to design for.’ Well, the story is NOT about fruit and juice cleanses. It actually talks about foot and colon cleanses, which are not the most tasteful concepts to design for. Regardless, I took the challenge.

The main idea in the story was that modern detoxes have historical backgrounds, so I wanted to do a historical twist on a modern design. I was very frustrated at first because none of my ideas seemed possible with my limited design knowledge. I thought of designing an outline of a woman in a modern sauna with her shape filled with ancient tiles. After several sketches I decided that didn’t work. I honestly thought about this project a lot and finally an idea came to me. I thought that a take on hieroglyphics would be an appropriate visual element because I could use ancient symbols while incorporating images from detoxes. I searched online for glyphs that were related to health and wellness. I ended up finding a lot of options, but chose ones that were relevant to the story. I also wanted to use some playful takes on traditional detox elements, such as towels and water. I created those symbols on my own after several sketches.

I began sketching the symbols on the left page but I thought if I used the arrow symbol it would work well as a transition to the rest of the story, as it points to the coming pages. Professor Layton showed us several examples of spreads with lines that added color in unexpected places. I wanted to break up my design and thought that flipping the headline would create an interesting visual. Combined with lines I thought the design worked well together.

The typeface I chose, Nova, made me think of traditional detox labels. I wanted to color and my choices reflected what people think of when the word detox comes up, which is vegetables and fruit colors.

I designed my visual element in illustrator and had trouble importing it in InDesign. After a ton of googling I found out I could place the .ai file directly into InDesign! I am really happy with how the spread turned out and think it stands out with the simple design and lines.

Hogue Conceptual

Magazine spread of robot arms

Click on the image to view a PDF version of the project

My conceptual spread that I chose was about robots writing news stories without people. The first designs that I drew were very literal, mainly of robots writing or typing at a desk or holding up a newspaper written in zeros and ones. I wasn’t very happy with these designs because I felt that they were too obvious and I was missing the point of the conceptual assignment. However, I didn’t have any better ideas so started to go with a design where the robot’s arms were holding a newspaper. After I drew the arm I was playing around with it and the letters in the headline.
I decided to make my design the robot arms moving around/placing letters in the headline. I thought this would be a good streamlined design that clearly displayed the idea of robots writing stories. I also really like my use of white-or in this case greenish-blue- space on the page. I think it doesn’t look too cluttered and gives all the focus to the main elements.

I chose the typography that I did for the headline because I wanted it to somewhat convey that robots were thinking for themselves. I didn’t want to choose a typical serif font because that would look too automated and I didn’t want to use something flowy because I thought that would convey too much creativity, which after reading the story the robots were not. Instead I wanted something in the middle, that looked a little futuristic/unique but was also bold/thick enough for the pinchers to grasp.

I chose the blue/green color that I did because I thought it was very visually appealing and would draw a lot of attention to the page. I also chose it because I really liked how the white arms looked on the page. I liked the contrast and that they looked like a part of the page. I tried to bring the white theme and tie it into other objects on the spread by making the drop cap white and the folio line white. I chose to make the text a dark grey instead of black because it reminded me more of the metal typically used for technology and complemented the other colors.

One of the things that works really well with my design I think is the simplicity. It’s important for designs to not look too overproduced or complicated and I don’t think I’m trying to communicate too much at once. However, if I had more time and better abilities I might want to try to make the arms look more realistic. I tried using a few 3-D effects but it looked terrible so I do wonder what my design might look like or if it would be better if the arms looked more real.

Overall, I am happy with my design and think it conveys what the article is about as well as being aesthetically pleasing.