Assignment 3 – Colour Me Developing Ideas

Poster 1

I wanted to try and use each of my poster variations to explore a different area of visual dynamics covered in this section of the course. For my first I decided to work with blocks of colour and drew a giraffe in illustrator using geometric shapes to create contours and outline. I chose the giraffe as its colourings are very varied and tonal.


I thought I would be able to use a variety of shades and tints of yellow to highlight and define its features. I picked a variety of “Yellows” including ‘canary’, ‘butter’, ‘honey’, ‘pineapple’ and ‘daffodil’


The result was ok and it was exciting to see the colours bring the design alive but I did find the combination of so many different yellows kept pulling my eye in different directions. It also appeared more 2-dimensional than I had hoped. Remembering my research on the use of a monochromatic palette, which had cautioned being mindful of too many colour variations, I decided to try again using a yellow and four of its shades.


By alternating the use of slightly different shades in each cluster of shapes I created the depth and contours I had hoped for and by limiting the colour the design was more visually cohesive and restful.

Yellow and white can work well together – particularly in patterns and wallpaper but a white background here did nothing for helping my giraffe to stand out as a featured element of the composition. I experimented with a variety of different background colours and shapes.


A block of colour shaped around my giraffe serving as a background border worked most successfully to give contrast between the giraffe and the rest of the design. Both the pale yellow and the purple border worked well although the pale yellow on black seems more balanced. The black versus purple backgrounds both worked well in terms of visual dynamics – the black and yellow has more punch and a feeling of strength whereas the purple is softer and almost melts together.

My next experiment was to try playing with the size of the giraffe.


For me, making the giraffe smaller did add a bit of visual interest as suddenly the other colours and elements became more significant. I still wanted the giraffe to be the main feature of the composition though and didn’t feel that centring it had really achieved this. The impact that changing the shape had had on the overall balance made me consider adding in some additional elements. I drew a sun in Illustrator and tried adding it into the composition, trying different variations of the elements as in the ‘Seeing the light’ exercise earlier in the unit, to see the effect of layering and contrast on the visual dynamics.


I liked the layout with the slightly larger giraffe which draws your eye and defines it as the most significant element. It did seem however, that the sun also being yellow detracted from it standing out. I tried a new image, this time of a safari silhouette and changed the colour to purple to generate contrast.


The effect was as I had hoped for and I decided that the contrast of the complimentary colour worked best. I played around with the hue/saturation and brightness/contrast in Photoshop and created my final version of my first poster.


Poster 2

My second design concentrated on celebrating Yellow in connection to my friend whose favourite colour it is. One of her favourite phrases is ‘when life gives you lemons make lemonade’ and I used this as the inspiration for my design. I was looking at some headshot photographs of my friend and her smile was a really defining feature. I remembered Jan Willem Kooijmans Batman Lip Art


and was inspired to try and create some lip art of my own. I wanted the shape of the mouth to be making the ‘life gives you lemons’ phrase and so drew some lips that were a very open shape. I then drew segments to make them look like slices of lemon. The writing inside the shape was much more tricky and I became pretty frustrated with the process at this point. I tried drawing the letters with the pen tool which looked amateurish. I then tried manipulating existing font which completely lost the integrity of the type. An online tutorial introduced me to the ‘envelope distort’ tool but the lettering was pretty illegible


In the end I printed out the shape of the lips and drew the words by hand and then scanned the image back in as a guide for drawing over.


I made the fill colour of the letters and the lips the CMYK yellow but it was a bit bright and jarring. I tried again adding 5% magenta.


The yellow was pretty jarring overall and there wasn’t enough contrast between the type and the lips so I made the colour of the lemon segments a lighter tint of yellow and this gave a better balance.


Thinking back to my research and my giraffe poster I remembered how effective a black was with yellow so put my lemon lips central on a black background. It worked well but was quite stark. I then tried a very dark shade of purple and felt that this diversified the design nicely. The purple simultaneously gave a richness and mellowed the composition which I thought was interesting as they are quite opposite effects. As an experiment, I tried changing the background to be a photo and while this did work quite well visually overall it lacked clarity in the message of the design so I returned to the idea of a block colour for the background.


I tried the elements of the design at different sizes and with additional text.

I like the balance of the first layout but feel that introducing the typographical element into the second design actually meets the brief a bit better and is more connected to associations of and celebrating Yellow. For this reason it is my chosen poster number 2.


Poster 3

My third poster drew on the associations of Yellow I had discovered through my research. I enjoy tattoo art and had been looking at some designs which incorporated drawings of scientific molecules.

Serotonin, Dopamine and Acetylcholine are all known to cause effects in the body which are associated with Yellow. I was inspired to use drawings of these molecules within a design celebrating Yellow. I did some initial sketches of possible ideas.


Originally I thought about reproducing the images of the molecules completely accurately but when I was drawing them I realised that the structure of the serotonin molecule reminded me of a bee hive and I started to explore how I could maybe merge images associated with Yellow with the structure of the molecule itself. I decided to focus on Seratonin and drew some further sketches….


I used the sun that I had drawn for my giraffe design and also created a sunflower and a cartoon Bee in illustrator. I had some yellow and purple patterned craft paper which I scanned in to the computer and used these and some stock patterns from freepik to add detail and texture to my drawings.

<a href=””>Background vector designed by Freepik</a>

<a href=””>Background vector designed by Starline –</a>

<a href=’’>Designed by Freepik</a>

This added depth to the design as simple block colour visually wasn’t very stimulating. I then experimented with different designs using all of the elements.


Some of the layouts were just too simplistic and amateurish but I had trouble choosing between these two for my final poster.



In the end I chose the poster with the Yellow background. It felt more balanced with a definite focal point. It makes good use of negative space to create quite a seamless, cohesive look. The background also establishes Yellow as the dominant colour and the deep purple is just used as an accent which emphasises the message of the design. In the other composition, the individual elements of the sunflower, sun and bee are all dominating the design and there is more visual tension. The success of a design does depend on the target audience though and this was not defined in the brief of the assignment… audience would be very relevant in choosing between these two layouts as they have very different styles. One is minimal and sophisticated and the other playful and busy.


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