My Preliminary Rockwell Poster Designs

A part of my research into creating my own poster showcasing the Rockwell typeface, I decided it was necessary to draw up a number of sketches. These pieces were to explore aspects of existing posters I’ve drawn inspiration from, visualise my own ideas, and see which aspects combined well and which did not.

My first attempts were done to explore my own ideas without much influence from other sources. I wanted a clear image of what my own ideas would look like. I am happy with both, they each give plenty of information regarding the typeface without being over crowded. I’ve made good use of space, leaving large areas blank so as not to overwhelm. I was of course, not going to use either. But they provide a good starting point.

Taking inspiration from several existing pieces I researched, I decided to explore sloping my text to give the poster a more vibrant appearance, being confined to grey scale, I am forced to find means other than colour to bring life to my piece.

In my piece captioned ‘concept 3’ I began by incorporating the underlain digits from one to nine. Before drawing a box that would later be removed to enclose my ‘Rockwell’ heading in the centre. This allows for the lettering to be playfully jumbled while still being orderly and confined. I also drew the lettering so that it could still be read left to right despite appearing randomly placed.

In my piece ‘concept 4’ I decided to use an effect I remember from a TV series, logo. Although I can’t remember the name of the series in question, I remember appreciating the way some ascenders and descenders continue beyond the boundaries of  the type size and to the edges of the screen. After attempting this I realised that an unintended effect was to break up the page into sections, giving a dividing line between different features, this clears up the poster and makes it more navigable without giving features borders,which would make the poster look blocky and detract from its aesthetic appeal.

I have come to realise that part of creating a lively, yet clear poster design lies in creating the illusion of randomness while cleverly hiding the fact that each detail has been meticulously designed and redesigned. While I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made between my first pieces and these, the process is far from over. There are many more features I wish to explore such as creating letter with negative space, switching between solid text and outlined and furthering my exploration of the us of grey scale.

Instead of fixing a design in my mind and making slight adjustments with each new revision, I decided to depart entirely from the other pieces and explore entirely different features. In my ‘Concept 5’ I began by changing the page orientation to landscape. I decided to frame the base of the poster with ‘Rockwell’ instead of centring it. I also played around with the idea of utilising negative space in the word. After elongating the leading serif of the ‘R’ to span the page I decided I would amplify the effect by adding two more parallel lines and highlighting the word by contrasting the black lines with white inside the letter-forms. The lines were intended to look as though they were travelling through the letters.

I am pleased with the full alphabet bordering the top right corner of the page. It was a late edition to the piece and it turned out perfectly. It defines the edge of the poster nicely. It was intended to only span the top of the page but I quickly realised it wouldn’t fit. I therefore continued it down the page. It was sheer coincidence that there was just the right gap between the ‘L’s of ‘Rockwell’ to position the ‘Yy’ and ‘Zz’. Although the poster has many features I wish to  incorporate into my final piece, the overall look isn’t what I want. It feels crowded and rather unremarkable. Slanting my poster is one of my favourite design features so a poster without that would feel lacking to me.

My final sketch, ‘Concept 6’, although not necessarily depicting what the finish product will look like, has incorporated all of my favourite aspects of the previous five. The slanted lines of text, either parallel or perpendicular to each other, spread out like branches from the central title of the poster. The placing of the varying pieces of text opposing one another clearly demarcate them without the need for spacing or bordering. And the varying point sizes allow a clear visual hierarchy.Giving a minimalist aesthetic that I find pleasing to the eye. The thick black strip across the centre of the page gives a sense of contrast and is fitting due to the very bold nature of the typeface. I’ve experimented more with the use of negative space in the word ‘strong’ and I’m happy with the effect, though I may change the wording. I also plan to use the same effect on the word ‘Rockwell’. Where the type protrudes from the black strip, I may colour it black to contrast it against the white background. Overall, there are certainly changes to be made, but I’m satisfied that these concepts were valuable preparation.

With all the planing in the world, my process for creating a piece of work tends to be rather haphazard. For that reason, I’m confident that the final piece will have numerous differences to anything I can sketch prior to its creation. But that’s not to say these concepts won’t have a huge effect on the final result.



Author: David Rothwell

I am a Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan School of Art and Design If you like any of my work, have feedback (good or bad) or would like to get in touch, please do

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