After the discussion I had with the professors last time, I was stressing out. The deadline was so near but my manual was still not in proper shape. I couldn’t get anything to align, despite the grid. My definitions weren’t consistent. Nothing was consistent. My illustrations didn’t look like illustrations and distracted the eye too much.
I got help with aligning at that point. I couldn’t make my spacings consistent or align type properly without it breaking the grid. In the end I found that I could totally break the grid as long as I was using the baseline grid. I didn’t like the idea of this, because I always thought that baseline grids are restrictive, but since I was aligning things across spreads they were very helpful. I just needed to know how to use them. Another big mistake I made was to ‘cleverly’ flow my words separately from their definitions. That made the spacing between them inconsistent because I was stuck on adjusting the spacing manually.
I fixed the spacing by flowing everything in one box and adjusted the alignments by using the baseline grid. An eye-opening moment was when the professor showed me how to align images with the x-height of a line of text. Until now, I didn’t realise that that was a thing. I didn’t think that you could just align images to the text, regardless of the grid. But he did and it magically made the illustration align with its definition.
^ I was also suggested to use lines or some kind of visual cue to help the eye follow the definition to the image. I felt like a page like this one, for example, didn’t need it, since everything was aligning perfectly anyway.
^ research like this helped me ‘professionalize’ my manual. I got rid of my dot leaders and instead used these as cues for the table of contents page:
^ I heard that we had to cite our illustrations as well. This meant that I needed to find a way to specify each image, so I had to include captions like (fig 1, fig 2). Got the opinions of 2 non-design students and a design student on which way looked better. The non designers went for the one on the right, the designer felt like the one on the left looked better. I decided to go for the one on the right, mainly because I felt like it made the captions have a stronger, clearer connection with the illustrations.
^ In areas like this I went for the one on the right, because the one on the left looked too stifling.
^ I tried to figure out interesting ways to add colour to the non-chapter pages of my manual. In the end I scratched those experiments because they looked too forced. Like I was trying to force the index to connect with the rest of the manual.
It was only after I had printed for my final discussion that I got the idea of switching the order of my illustrations. I thought of this when I thought about how I was going to justify myself if my illustrations looked too distracting again. If they were on the right side page, the readers eyes could be forced to the right, then to the left where the text was. But if the spread began with the illustrations on the left, the eyes would flow easily from the left to the right hand side.
Another argument is the whole digital natives/digital immigrants divide. People these days prefer to skim things quickly for information they need, looking at images more than the text. So naturally they will want to look at the images first, then go on to reading the definitions if they really wanted to, or if they wanted more clarification. But most people would skim the book for the pictures, to get a general idea of the definition of the word.
At the end of it, my justification was the last thing I needed to worry about. There were many more issues or ‘challenges’ that I had to overcome. The way I was using the grid to create inconsistent blocky shapes did more harm than good. I thought I was making it easier to see what was illustrating what, in reality it looked chaotic. It was difficult to comprehend any system. The lines that I thought were guiding the eye ended up being too forceful. There was also the issue of my illustrations touching the tabs at the edges, I think that switching the pages will solve that problem.
My most successful illustrations were the ones that were a simple box. Even in that though I discovered problems with printing. I did all the things that resulted in poor printout of colour. White type, small pt size, on a dark background, serifed typeface. Type barely showed:
After the critique my friend also suggested that I alter my front cover. I felt the same, my initial concept was that you start without knowing anything (dark) and end the manual with the knowledge of the chapters (colour at the bottom). It again looked childish. That’s not what I was going for. Apart from that, the positioning of my name reminded her of a PowerPoint presentation. Now that she’s said that, I can’t unsee it. So I’ll be shifting that around as well: