Preliminary Task: Project Evaluation

For my foundation portfolio i chose the print (magazine) pathway. When first presented with the 2 different options, i initially preferred the idea of creating a short film in the video pathway. I am a fan of video and felt i would enjoy it greatly, however the many elements and challenges that come with the print option appealed to me greatly. Our task was to produce the front cover of a school/college magazine using an image manipulation program (Photoshop). The cover had to feature a photograph of a student in medium close-up with appropriately laid-out text and a masthead. To demonstrate our understanding of the program used, we also had to create a “mock-up” of the magazines contents page. All of the images that we used had to be our own and completely original.

After being given our assignment brief, we then moved straight into research and development of initial ideas. Firstly, i chose to simply examine examples of established magazines (music magazines ‘Q’ and ‘UNCUT’). I examined firstly the magazines as a whole entity, analysing complete articles, general page style, etc. I did this in order to see whether magazines maintained their style throughout, and also to see how the magazines particular style was enforced into simple things like page layout and articulacy of headlines. I then studied the magazine front covers in great detail, noting the use of colour schemes, text placement, font, etc and then examined how these elements blended and worked with the main image on the cover. I found that ‘uncut magazine’ in particular tended to use black and white imagery on the cover which effectively contrasts with the use of the colour red is used in both their title and main headline(s). This gave me the idea of choosing an unfamiliar colour scheme. When studying other magazines including Rolling Stone magazine, i found that they also adopted the popular colour red to integrate into their magazine style. I then decided to make sure red was not included in my style and although it is clearly popular and works well with mastheads, etc, i wanted my magazine to clearly stand out in terms of its colour scheme. I also concluded that the font used in the title of a magazine was very important and because, in many cases, the magazines title is it’s logo, i wanted to really dedicate as many new skills (in Photoshop) as i could into creating the title’s appearance. 

After noting numerous style details of different covers, i then began drafting ideas on what my magazine would essentially “be”. Because the assignment brief is a moderately specified one, i initially assumed that the choices i would have to make in relation to the magazines genre and style would be very limited. However, when studying the brief again i noted that it only specified the magazine had to be for a school/college and for its students, it did not give specific detail into the college itself. I then had the idea of creating a fictional college of which my magazine would be for, thus of course allowing much more imagination to be put into the project. At first. my ideas consisted of recognisable specialist colleges such as a sports college, a performing arts college, etc, however i felt that by having such a large “blank canvas” and only filling it with simple ideas was a waste of an opportunity to show creative imagination. I then come up with the idea of a college of astronomy. This would mean i could feature very indifferent headlines and give insight into a community that would otherwise remain quite unheard of.

With several ‘initial ideas’ to think about, I then finalised 3 of them which i would put before a focus group in order to take feedback about which sounds most interesting and which was of course more popular. These 3 ideas were all based around my idea of having a specialist college which would house my magazine and i had a un-finalised title, main headline and theme for each of them. After proposing all 3 ideas, everyone agreed that the astrology magazine would be the best to create. The main reason they gave was that it was very different to anything else that had been suggested. The focus group of about 30 students also agreed that “PLANET” would be the best title for the magazine, as appose to 2 others i had suggested which were “Cosmos magazine” and “Stars magazine”. Using the focus groups strong feedback and opinion, i finalised the magazine as belonging to a college of astronomy and being named Planet.

Before construction could take place, our class (with the majority opt for the print/magazine option) were given approximately 5, 4-hour-long sessions including training and tutorial on how to use the image manipulation program; Photoshop. Were were taught how to use basic features including layer management. Whilst learning new skills in college, i also used the internet at home to learn more Photoshop skills which i would also practice at home using the latest version of Photoshop. Every session i would create a new idea about the creation of my magazine cover as new skills were given to me, for example, the many elements put into text and font. With training over, we were then asked to begin the construction process. This could have been done in several ways: some chose to create draft after draft, taking teacher/mentor feedback every time in order to improve the next, while others chose to put a lot of time into specific elements resulting in a very detailed and refined production.

Day 1 of construction and i chose to start work on the title, an element of my cover which i really wanted to stand out above other elements. With the title, “Planet” now finalised, i began browsing different fonts in different sizes to see how well they blended with the word. To gain a realistic idea of how my title would look against my original image, i chose to create drafts of the title against a random image i took from Google Images. The font i decided on was Stone Sans ITC TT. I chose it because unlike other fonts it remained simple looking even when i added a bold effect and if it was given a drop shadow. Now happy with my font, i spent a long time creating the effect of my title. I decided that my yellow, green, black and silver colour scheme worked well with the shape of the title and also experimented thoroughly using different ‘text-tweaks’ and warps. My finished masthead looks, in my opinion, very effective and because of the high level it has been tweaked; totally unique. I now however had a very unusual colour scheme to work with and i thought i would struggle to integrate it into the remaining elements of my magazine cover, but this was not as challenging as i first assumed. I concluded that by not including any or too much green in my original image, the text would contrast effectively with the remaining colours in the image.


~ by Henry Phillips on March 16, 2009.

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