Draft 4 Feedback and Targets

During the Christmas holidays, over teacher looked over our current drafts and gave constructive feedback. Below is his video feedback.

In summary I agree on a lot of his comments. The cover and contents need reworking, especially the masthead. He mentioned that I might have muddled my genre and I can see why. I was originally going for alternative music music band, but looking at it  now, it does not feel like it. Its quite bold, the mis-en-scene is quite intimidating and loud. He mentioned to look at the band Kasabian, which actually I was listening intensively during the period of making the magazine (the analysis of album was that introduced me to it). I’m certain it influenced me a lot during these design process, I got the idea of Rezov aiming the guitar as a gun from one of Kasabian’s music videos “Fire” specifically. At this point I think I might go for a rock magazine. It wouldn’t require a lot of changes as my magazine already feels like it. The only thing that requires intensive work is probably the star image and target audience.


  • The contents will be reworked, to show its not only about Rezov, and it will show I’m not a one-trick pony.
  • The cover will be reworked, with a new more appropriate masthead, with constructivism added in.
  • The typeface overall requires improvement, aside from the Soviet font.
  • I’ll have to make the double page spread more appropirate for text.
  • Spice up the photographs, what if implement a constructivism style to one photo of Rezov?


Latest Drafts

Here’s the links to the latest drafts so far:

Front Cover:

Contents Page:

Double Page Spread:


So.. How is it Going?

We have been asked to consider if our brand is clearly reflected in the work we have done so far, such as in imagery and design. This to make sure our magazine is not communicating different genres and messages.

I think I made a huge oversight somewhere during this design process. I’m aiming for an alternative music genre magazine, yet so far it does not look like anything remotely to the genre. Categorising the alternate genre is quite hard in the first place as its quite ambiguous, as you can have alternative rock, pop, etc. Despite the ambiguity, I’m certain the connotations with alternative is not bold or intimidating, in contrary what my star’s mis-en-scene suggest.  Aside from the star looking out of the rock genre, with all the poses and such, the design is also quite intimidating and bold, due to the Soviet swatch, which again the genre is not recognised for. It should be more friendly, relaxing and less revolutionary.

The best way to compare the difference, is to compare an alternative band (in this case, R.E.M. on the top) and the star I have designed below. There’s a massive difference.


Another problem is that I’m supposed to make a star image, and a brand for the music magazine. So far, it looks like the two are exactly the same, the star appears everywhere, as if the entire magazine is devoted to him. For example, compare the three pages. They look very similar simply put. It does not showcase my skills as well, since I do not deviate from this theme at all.



This is serious problem, as one of the main tasks was to make a star image and music magazine brand, not combine together.

To fix this problem, I should either cut the star out,  do a total redesign (which means a lot of work will be wasted), or switch to a different genre. I think I’ll go for the latter option, as the main star looks like a rook star, with the mis-en-scene. I’ll ask my tutor before any major decision is made.


Design Skills 2

During the rebranding of the magazine, I learnt several new skills, especially in InDesign. One of which is extensive text wrapping skills. While its easy to implement text wrapping onto any frame and therefore making the page look better, its harder to perfect it. For example, below, while text wrapping is on, the letters are digging onto the picture. This makes it hard to read the text.

There’s a way to fix it of course. In text wrap options, its possible to to change the distance between the image and text. By going for 2mm minimum distance, the text is no longer digging into the image. Looks much better.

However, some of the text here elsewhere on the page is too far from the text, thus wasting space, which means you can’t fit some parts of the article in an appropriate place. If we’re to reduce the distance, it would undone the previous step, so we don’t want to do it.

What you want to do is give the effect frame the property of ignoring text wrap. This can be found in the Object tab. This results in the frame ignoring the text wrapping. While this means the text will go through some of the image, this can be ignored by moving the text normally. This results in less wasted space and the other text remains away from the image.

While InDesign has nice special effects, its nothing professional, as InDesign was designed for layouts, not creating good looking images. That’s Adobe Illustrator’s job. Its possible to change the effect of brush, allowing to make different types of strokes. For example, these are quite different from the typical brush lines. Its also possible to replicate this style to other shapes too. With this, its possible to make professional images. I used this to make the redesigned masthead. The best thing about these is that these are vector images, relying on vectors (the things you learnt in maths a along time ago) to construct the image. This means the images cannot be at all pixelated. I wish I knew on how to convert raw images into vector if that’s even possible, as it would certainly boost the quality of my images.


Unfortunately, I found these tricks late into the design process, when I had to redesign the masthead to fit the rock genre. I knew about the potential of Illustrator, however being used to Adobe Photoshop, I found difficult and confusing to use it, so I avoided it. I’ve only discovered this thanks to my tutor showing me on how to redesign my masthead. If I learnt about how to use some of these effects earlier, I would have certainly implemented them into my magazine. It would certainly helped to make my magazine look more professional.


Draft 3 – Double Page Spread

First Draft

Now its time to design the double page spread. For this one, we had to balance text and image, with the article in mind, as well as integrate it together. I decided to have one giant image rather then the multiple small ones, such this will help to integrate text and image much more better, such as text being wrapped around the main image. With an image with lead space, its quite effective in getting the audiences attention.

The are some issues that I can spot already. The image of the artist has a white crispy edge, I’ll edit to get rid of it.  The text wrapping is in such a way that its hard to read the nearby text, however, this issue will be addressed once the proper text will be implemented, which will be as soon we have our lesson on writing articles, as they will have the actual letters I’ll need to move around.

Currently, I have two potential designs. One with a more soviet feel to it, while the other is more in line with constuctivism style that was implemented in the other pages. So far, I find the latter one to be more visually appealing, although it does deviate from the established theme, so far the only hint you have of being Russian is the font and colour, there must be more otherwise it will fall flat.  While constructivism art was used by the Soviets, most people don’t know that, and won’t therefore ascribe the style to the Soviets. I doubt that my target audience would know that fact, so I’ll need to change it to be more Soviet. A combination of both is what I should aim for, however, I’ll need to improve my skills first before such an attempt.

Peer Feedback 

For my double page spread, it seems like I hit the mark, I’ve successfully implemented the constructivism background, the typeface is great, the photo is great. The background seems great, the placement of  the photo of the artist is great. There’s no immediate problems I can spot, aside the text wrapping, and I’ve been told to make sure the two different text boxes which represents two different paragraphs, otherwise the reader might continue reading downwards into a completely different part of the article. Oh and polish up the image, some of the edges are too sharp, and therefore does not blend into the background that well. I’ll have to blur the edges.

I have been told that the maybe one image is not enough, maybe go for a second one. I feel that I don’t have space for a second one, although I’ll ask others for this.

I’ll start resizing the text boxes when I’ll start putting in the text boxes.

Targets for Improvement

  • Make the two different text boxes much look much more separated
  • Make the text wrapping look pleasing
  • Polish up the image, there’s a few loose pixels from the magic wand

A New Improved Draft

Following the advice I received, I performed some subtle changes. With the first draft of the article in place, it helped me to assign sizes of text boxes, font and quotes. While they aren’t final (as the final version of the article might be longer or shorter), it helps to set down what to aim for. I decreased the size of the black line in the middle of the page, so that the text and the pull quote have more room, looks less squashed. The size of the horizontal line I increased to make the the two different text boxes look much more separated. I also gave the two text boxes a drop capital each. Again, this would help the audience  to identify that the two text boxes are separate.

I polished up the image, getting rid of loose pixels and blurred the edges of the main star. I also erased some of his hair, because his outer edges of hair had gaps in between, showing the previous background. Removing the background in each gap would have been too time consuming, so I simply trimmed his hair a bit.

I’m very happen about these two pages. I don’t feel like there could be any improvement to them, of course its folly to think this so I’ll ask about my fellow classmates about any blemishes they can spot.

These pages will be edited a bit once I put in my final version of the article, as the article could be too big and the text needs resizing, etc. I do feel the top right quote is rather weak, while I fear the bottom might have inappropriate language. I’ll ask if one of the words needs to be censored or not.


Design Skills 1

After designing two pages, I’ve learned a few design skills. One of my favorites new tricks is the special effects option in InDesign. It allows certain effects to be present in some of the text. A drop shadow is a famous example of one of these effects. It certainly helps to make the text much more imposing and bold to grab attention, and that helps when designing a main cover line. Other effects include directional feathering (it applies an effect that makes the edges of the text look like it has been sprayed or bitten off), directional glows and satins. While these effects have the potential to look good, they don’t look exactly professional. They need another designs to make them feel appreciated.

One crucial part of Adobe InDesign I have learned is that the layer function. With this, is possible to put different objects into different layers and with that, its possible to arrange the layers so that one object appears on top of another. Its also possible to lock the layers, meaning that its impossible for you to accidentally click one one object  while you’re trying to get another object. This helps to avoid situations were I accidentally move a the incorrect text box. I another helpful part of layers is that its possible to hide one layer out of view. This can allow comparing multiple designs to see which one is best, like comparing two masthead designs and their effect on the page. One piece of self-advice is to give myself is to name the layers with their respective objects inside them, like “Main Cover artist photo”, as it takes some time to find the layer I want to edit. By doing this, it will certainly save time.

Another skill I’ve learnt is that when using the magic wand to get the main subject by itself, you going have to add a temporary one colour background and zoom in close, you might spot some loose pixels as there’s a likely chance the magic wand tool missed them. If you don’t, you might find out later due to the increased in size image on InDesign, there will be a few loose pixels present, which will go on top of the other parts of the page, and therefore ruin it. I had to do this several times. Also, the colour background can also tell help to identify whether or not the edge of the image has slight bits of the background. When the image is exported as PDF file, you can spot some contrasting edges which degrades the image a bit. I had to trim the edges manually, and then add a blur effect so that the edges of the image does not look too sharp.


Draft 2 – Contents Page Draft

Draft of the Contents

Next’s up is the contents page. I decided to stick with the block style, as it more effective, and fits well for the constructivism theme I’m aiming for. I went for two design choices with the fonts for the contents list, either keep the same, or keep it different in order to have the fonts give an impression about the nature of the article. For example, a sans serif font denotes the prestige of the subject. I also added an inset, as a teaser for upcoming content in the magazine. Looking back on it, I think having only two images is not good. The addition of only one image make it feel like it was added in as an afterthought. Looking back on examples of professional magazine content pages, they either have a single dominating image without any accompanying images, or with. I have not seen any that has only just one accompanying image. I should either go for one large image, or one smaller one with more accompanying insets. I’ll wait for peer feedback before such a decision is made.

Another problem which I can identify now is that the right image, wasn’t edited correctly. I’ve used the magic wand tool to get rid of the background, however, it failed to select certain pixels, and are still left on the image, which can be spotted. I’m wanting for peer feedback before I decide on which I should do.  Also, the edge of the image and the background is quite sharp, it makes it look like as if its more artificial. Next time, when I cut out an image in Photoshop, I’ll add a blur/smooth effect on the edge of the image, which will make it blend into the background much more, and therefore look much more better.

Another concern is that the current block style feels artificial, without any texture present. Comparing to the examples of constructivism on the web, the shapes have texture and feel to it, while my ones feel much more artificial. I’ll ask others if they agree.

Looking back, I can notice that the contents list is quite scarce in actual content, looking back on professional magazines, they have a longer contents list, with the a much smaller text. I’ll have to edit my contents list to a similar style, as this the current list size denotes amateurism. Also, the layout of the contents is a bit stiff, and unimaginatively conventional. I’ll experiment with different layouts for the contents, maybe the contents dotted around the page rather than being restrained in a list?

Without font differentiation.

With font differentiation.


Peer Feedback

Again we analysed our work we have done so far, and gave each other constructive feedback in order to improve our work.

One thing the whole class realised was that professional and puiblished magazines have a bigger contents list than the ones we have made. All of us will increase the size of the list when possible.

Going for the list layout is very conventional and does not fully represent my creative side, I should experiment with other layouts, such as more freestyle one, with titles and page numbers scattered about  the place.

One of the images has some random pixels attached to it that is encroaching the page, I’ll get rid of those.

After some thought, I have realised that I might be overdoing it with the constructivism style and the main cover artist. While its essential at the cover and the double page spread where the main cover artist takes spotlight, its not essential in the contents, or the very least . At this point in time it might seem that my entire magazine is devoted to this one artist, which is not the case. Its suppose to be an alt-music magazine,not a Russian alt music one. What I think I’ll do to fix this issue is to tone it down on the contents page, with the style only present near the main cover artist. The rest of the page will have a design that will appeal to the intended target audience, this will break the monotony of red and yellow.

Also, one fellow student with good memory, remembered the lesson on the links between design and human physiology, aka leading space. Rezov’s face is aiming to the right, which means that he looking either at advert (if this was an actual magazine), or into empty space as this is the second page. The latter applies. Its better to flip otherwise the audience will be misled to empty space. Although he is also looking at the contents. I think I’ll flip the location of the contents.

Targets for Improvement

  • More contents
  • Experiment with different layouts
  • Polish up the images
  • Experiment with a block style with different textures
  • Reduce the constructivism style significantly and design the general look for the magazine, and make Rezov take less space up

A New Improved Front Page

I followed the advice I was given and totally redesigned the contents page. I tried to give a recognisable style for the magazine, when its not swamped by a constructivist style. I didn’t exactly add an extended list of contents, but rather a contents list with small descriptions underneath. The writing present here is not my best, they are the first drafts. Rezov now has a smaller influence on the page, with him being edited to be in the appropriate art style. However, I feel his placement is now out of place and forced.There must a better way to introduce him.

The layout is conventional, and certainly won’t be praised. However, this was the only way to implement picture of the other star. As a requirement, I need 4 original pictures done by me present in the magazine. With this layout, I have achieved that requirement.

I’m not happy about the typeface still. I think I’ll go for distinct fonts for each of the contents I think. It will help to identify what will be present, e.g. a grungy typeface will hint of the grunge genre.

I think I should try to create a more recognisable brand of magazine, because otherwise it will look my entire magazine is based around contrucivism.


2nd Photo Shoot Contact Sheets

I would say this shoot went rather well. This time I went for a model with an emphasis on pride, military might and femininity, which would contrast well against the first model. The location this time was a castle (a western one, not a Kremlin style one), it was a good place to get a mis-en-scene of military might, such as posing with cannons or looking over the battlements. The costume I went for was a more of a typical Russian wear, with a fur hat, none of the Western consumer wear in usage. Although I did not manage to get the clothes I had originally intended, the substitutes were a good intimation.

Instead of posting all the photos into one whole contact sheet, we were instructed to sort photos into “good” and “bad” categories, and the reasoning behind them, resulting in lesson of what not to do the next time we go for a photoshoot.

For the most of my bad photos, out of focus is the reason. I’m not used to taking photos without a tripod, and I got unusually shaky hands, this leads to a higher ratio of out of focus camera shots. However, as rule of thumb, photographers should aim to take multiple shots of one subject with different settings. Since I followed this rule, I’ve managed to acquire some good photos. Other things that ruined a photo include the model moving, bad framing (this was due to vivid experimentation), and in some cases bad lighting. It was particularly cloudy on that day, thus the photos were much more darker than normal, although it did lead to some interesting backgrounds.


The good photographs are the polar opposite of the bad photos, in focus, good framing and some creativity are present. I successfully implemented canted angles, rule of thirds and leading spaces. There are some “bad” photos in the good photo category, that’s because I think I can salvage these via photoshop wizardry, and cropping them into a better frame.


Risk Assessment

For the next photoshoot, we’ll be going to Castle Cornet, a local landmark. Since its out of school, we gotta do a risk assessment. The file is right below.



Production Meeting Agenda for the 2nd photo shoot

While the photo shoot was successful, it is folly to think that it is enough. By going another shoot, this time outside, we can be more creative, and take photographs of new models, like for example, an inset on the front cover, or the contents page.

For my next photo shoot, I’m aiming to do the same, except that instead of a male model, its going to be a female model, with more emphasis on pride and elegance, rather then intensive brooding or posing with a guitar. The costume will be purely a Russian based, there’ll be no trackers or Adidas etc., but rather fur hats and thick fur boots. The location of the shoot will be at Castle Cornet, that’s going to allow some photos with a historical and urban background, which will benefit my model. With a big location there’s a lot of room to be creative, like using stairs as a leading perspective, or posing with a cannon, this photo shoot can give variety to my photo selection. While there will be no artificial lighting, I will have access to a reflector, which means I can manipulate and direct light to the model in order to bring high or low key lighting.

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