Three Small Handbooks On Big Bears | Term 2Posted: February 12, 2016
The three week field project is over, and I have my final outcome, finally! Although I had a lot of fun designing these three books, I don’t think I have ever been so stressed and nervous about a project in my life. That may sound a bit over the top, and maybe it is, but I tried so hard to make these books the best that they could be.
When starting the project, titled ‘Significant Information’, I was struggling to find an interesting topic that hadn’t been done before. I had loads of ideas, for example I was thinking of doing something about violence in video games and films, or maybe an animation all about how famous musicians and athletes get where they are today with practice. I then came up with an idea of making an infographic all about infographics, which would show statistics about them and what the most popular designs are. Although unfortunately due to the popularity of infographics, the idea had already been done before.
So I went back to the drawing board, but not for long. I couldn’t decided on what I wanted to do so I just said “screw it” let’s do it on bears, bears are cool. I was also wearing a bear jumper at the time so that probably contributed to the decision. Another part of the reason was that I wanted to take advantage of the freedom of this project, and the fact that I could do it on something as cool as bears was awesome. It also meant that I could experiment with the imagery and form of the bear, as well as the statistics.
So as a quick bit if primary research I went to my local Tesco’s and started asking people questions about bears. Surprisingly only 3 out of 30 people could answer where Black Bears come from, the answer being North America (they are literally called the American Black Bear). This made me determined to inform people about bears, and I made a pledge to myself and the animal kingdom to make this task a great success.
My very initial idea was to create a poster on bears but after my first tutorial with David, he suggested making handbooks, which I thought was a great idea. A handbook for each bear, with the bears being polar bears, black bears and brown bears. I envisioned the handbooks being short and sweet, so an A5 size paper seemed to suite them quite well.
So to start of the design process I drew and vectorized three bears, which would then set the style and colour pallet for the handbooks.
Once the bears were sorted out it was now all about the content. I wanted to split the book up into 5 sections. All being double page spreads, so it would be 10 pages of content in each book. The sections covered the basics of the bears, which included their size, what they eat and where they live. David also suggested a page of typography would work well to split the book up.
The first couple of designs went well. I created a good front cover, and started to develop and explore the theme. My first main tutorial with David was incredibly useful, and he really helped in the development of the books. He thought that the books needed to be more open, with the text being smaller and the icons bigger. And after doing so I realised how much more it opened the book. Below is an example of how the pages changed.
As you can clearly see, making he icons bigger and the text smaller really brought the pages to life. Having a plain colour background was another suggesting that David made, and again it really improved the final product. It made the contrast between text and illustration a lot clearer, while also simplifying everything.
One of the initial ideas of the books was to design the bear’s environment, but after some testing I realised that this would be too much work and would limit how many pages I could create. I still wanted to feature their environment in the book somehow, so I found some amazing pictures from photography blogs on the internet (not copyrighted) and added them subtlety into the design. Each bear has its own environment, and each page will feature it in some way.
This project has been so much fun, and I have really enjoyed making the three books, even though it was a lot of work! I have learnt so much about design and page layout, plus how to handle information and make it understandable and clear while also being beautiful. I am looking forward to improving these books until they are perfect, and then getting them printed off at a professional printing studio. Below are the mock-ups of the three Small Handbooks for Big Bears, editions 1, 2 and 3.