Creating a 'zine, need crit on graphic design/layout
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  1. #1
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    Creating a 'zine, need crit on graphic design/layout

    So for my studio class we've been assigned the task of creating a 'zine with the theme of obsession ("50 of anything is interesting"). I decided to make one on skating as it's pretty much my only hobby besides drawing. These are the pages I've done so far in reading order. This isn't how I'm working on them in Photoshop. I just cobbled the pages together in MSPaint to make it easier for people to crit, so apologies for weird trimming etc.
    Basically, I don't feel I fully understand what constitutes a "bad" design when it comes to 'zines. I've been studying the principles of design and trying to follow them, but it would be nice to get some feedback as this is totally out of my comfort zone. I do intend to print in colour as well. This is all very, very WIP and I'm open to anything anyone has to say.
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    Back/front cover. I really struggled with picking a font for this, and it's still just a place holder. I don't know if I should further manipulate the cover image itself (an old drawing I did from reference which has been long lost), maybe darkening the lines and putting a plain white background instead of the obvious paper scan that it is?

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    Pages 1-4. Not sure how I feel about the white bar on Page 1. I wanted to have a line of photos down the margin but I couldn't really find anything that would have suited it. I do have an actual story I've written that follows page 2-4, but I didn't feel comfortable sharing it on CA. I left pages 3-4 blank here to show the collage behind the text.

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    Here's what 3-4 would approximately look like with text.

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    Pages 5-6. I'm really unsure with page 5. Everyone I've shown it to loves the amateur look of it, but I'd really like an artist's opinion on it. Page 6 is still a WIP. I intend to go into the science of how carbon fibre is made accompanied with magnified images of the fibre itself and the carbon structures.

    Please tell me if this is awful and I need to scrap it, you won't hurt my feelings. I'm well aware of the fact that I don't know what I'm doing.

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  2. #2
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    look at current graphic design centric magazines!.. analyze what they do... typography-, illustration-, composition-, whatever-wise.

    im from the pre-millenium-design-school-attendants-generation and i really grew to love a mix between otl aicher/adrian frutiger and trying to be messy, revolutionary and wild (as wild as someone spending 16-18 hours behind a desk each day can be considered).

    on your sketches... just filling space with text without a concept wont get you very far. lets see some exploration. and remember... if youre doing magazines... the typo is at least as important as the pictures. treat it as that.

    [edit] adding to that last 2 sentences... i dont remember alot from what ive been told in school... what i do remember though is my typography teacher telling us, that you have to grow some kind of pervert love for typefaces to be a good designer if it comes to text... and i think shes (still) right. typefaces are all about rythm... flow and where it stops. investigate that. and never ever fill a page from left to right, top to bottom with some pixelated arial/timesnewroman-fake or stencil-variant again. if its not for a reason.

    Last edited by sone_one; September 28th, 2012 at 08:27 PM.
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  3. #3
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    I'd scrap everything except page 5. It's the only page that doesn't look like a random mishmash of conflicting elements. Although having the text look like you own a ruler might be nice.

    #1: Negative space is as important as positive. Have some!
    #2: The pencil drawing on the cover looks really amateurish and the bright red graphic design of the rest of the cover completely overwhelms it. I'd do something in ink and/or marker and then match it to the back cover.
    #3: You can't see any of the collage and it interferes with reading.
    #4: Unify the whole thing somehow. Right now every page is totally different and unrelated to the one that went before it. You have it unified by theme but it could really use a unifying visual element too. Since right now your most successful page contains photos and handwriting, I'd probably try to redesign the thing as a photo collage with hand-drawn elements, and then maybe vary the colour, composition and shape.

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    Use an ipsum lorem generator for filler text. Works well at simulating natural spaces and word lengths, and is much better than 'text text text'. You're current filler text creates artificial vertical lines that wouldn't exist were it real text in place.

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    Thanks guys. I'll definitely post more WIPs as I go. I have a feeling this is going to be a very long thread.

    Regarding the text, I hope I didn't give the impression that I'm randomly including text to reduce the number of pages I have to work on. I genuinely do have a 1000 word story about how and why I got into skating as a hobby. This is what page 3-4 actually look like with what I've written:
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    The story itself would connect the roller derby intro through the speed skating collage and out the other side with a dissection of my skates, but I suppose that doesn't matter much anymore since I'll be scraping it all. Still sort of digesting the comments and figuring out how I'd like to continue, but I'll update as soon as I have something.

    Is having consistency for opposing pages important? For instance 5 and 6 were very different in appearance. Should opposing pages be unified by similar colour schemes or is it okay to break the rules on that?

    Fake edit: Just saw hexokinase's post on the ipsum lorem generator. I'll keep that in mind for future WIPs.

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    Consistency for opposing pages is important, yes. It doesn't mean they have to be very similar or symmetrical in any way, just that they should use the same color scheme, fonts, grid and treatment of pictures and so on.

    You've gotten a lot of good advice in this thread. If there's something I think is especially important, it would be vineris' point #1: have some negative space! Add some empty space around the whole edge of each spread. Add lots of it, it'll look good!

    Last edited by nouge; September 29th, 2012 at 03:38 AM. Reason: typo
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    Back to the drawing board! I did a lot of graphic design/typography research while I was at work, sketched some thumbnails and made one new page. Does it look like I'm starting to get the idea or do I need a bigger shove in the right direction? I realize the thumbs are really rough but I didn't want to get too into them at work. You can also ignore the fonts I wrote down. They were more general reminders of ones I wanted to download later on when I got home, not hard "this is what I'm going to use on this page".
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    I was really inspired by Kevin Cyr's vehicle series that portrayed vehicles in various states of decay instead of the typical glossy mint-condition look. I thought it'd be neat to do the same thing for my main pair of skates as a front/back cover. This is the work I've done on the front cover so far, along with my reference picture. I'm in the last week of this project with twelve pages to illustrate still, so I don't have much time to make major revisions. If I could fill the last twelve pages without resorting to using the pages that were vetoed by CA, I'd be content.
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    This is also the top of another page I've been working on, as well as the thumbnail that I'm working from.
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  9. #9
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    I think I finished the front cover (which might also double as the back now) for the 'zine. Only twelve more pages in five days.Name:  cover WIP2.jpg
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