Mockup of 'Shade' Zine cover and spread

'Shade' Experimental Zine

An exploration of practical and digital text manipulation

The Brief

In first year, we were tasked with creating a zine to show typographic exploration, which I undertook both practically and digitally through a series of workshops. The project focussed on form and visual arrangement and encouraged us to explore a range of media and techniques to express ideas visually.

The brief was very broad and open to interpretation, giving us the creative freedom to design in any style we wanted. I really enjoyed this freedom, which is a rarity now that we have begun to work on live briefs and my work is much more client focused.

Initial Mark-Making Experiments


For our initial type development, we had a workshop where we experimented with mark-making using different tools to produce different type outcomes. In the workshop I used a toothbrush, twig, sponge and leaf to create alphabets and initials. I enjoyed the hands-on approach to the workshop and the interesting results it produced.

Masthead Development

Masthead development
Masthead development
Masthead development

When developing type for my masthead I thought I would play with the title ‘shade’ by making stencils of the word and shining light through to cast shadows, which I made more interesting by bending the stencils to distort the shape of the letters. I also printed the type and used a scanner to make distortions by moving the page as the bar moved across.

I enjoyed playing with type practically to create masthead ideas. I then began to develop the photos I had taken using Photoshop, using filters and moving the colour channels to make different effects.

Tina Touli Workshop

Text distorted by bubbles and washing up liquid
Text distorted by bubbles and washing up liquid
Text distorted by bubbles and washing up liquid
Text distorted by bubbles and washing up liquid

In our next session we had guest lecturer Tina Touli leading a workshop for us to make work inspired by her own process. This was one of my favourite parts of the project as I loved her work and we used techniques that I never would’ve thought of, using washing up liquid, bubbles and glass to distort type.

It helped me to produce new imagery rapidly the work I produced was much more interesting than the work I was making digitally. I went away and produced more responses using ideas from the workshop and decided to incorporate this work heavily into my zine.


Flatplan of zine

After creating the initial layouts, I began to plan the rest of the spreads in a flatplan, trying to keep it simple but also give an overall feel for the style of the zine which I could refer back to during my design process.

Making the flatplan helped me to have a sense of continuity which I don’t think I could’ve achieved if I designed the zine spread by spread. This is where I think my zine began to come together and made the project seem a lot less daunting. After making the flatplan I decided to refine my ideas and also came up with new ones, so some of these spread ideas didn’t make it to the final design.

Image Manipulation

Blurred image taken from the pier limited to blue and white
Image of car park limited to blue and white
Image of jellyfish limited to blue and white
Image of bubbles limited to blue and white

So far, I had no photography incorporated in my zine, and I wanted to add new imagery without straying too far from my initial ideas and style. To achieve this, I used Photoshop to edit my own photographs in a way that limited the colour palette to just blue, making the images fit in well with the rest of my zine so far. Editing all the photos in the same way helped to make my zine flow and fit together better, and I enjoyed using a more experimental approach in Photoshop.

Zine Highlights

Below are some of the highlights of my zine, however if you would be interested in seeing the full zine, please contact me, I would love to share it with you.

Looking at my zine all together, I am proud of the cohesion I have achieved. I like the consistency of the colour palette and gradients, however I have also explored different routes and shown variety. I believe I have used the right amount of repetition of techniques for the pages to have strong visual links without becoming boring.

This project encouraged me to be more experimental and hands-on in order to generate ideas more quickly, processes that have continued to help me through more recent projects. It also further developed my love for typography, particularly text manipulation and distortion being used to make visually interesting designs.