Monday, 5 November 2012


In todays lesson we received our new brief following the past weeks of research on a story we found in the national press. I collected a bulk of research on Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader.  I enjoyed collecting the research as I did not initially know a lot about Castro, after researching into his life and rise to power I became really interested in him.

Firstly, in lesson we had to find a partner who we would explain our research too, as we had collected more since our last crit. We were then each handed a sheet were we wrote down what we wanted to communicate, what tone we intend to use and who our target audience are.

 After this exercise we had to find people in the group who had researched the same story. Moreover, once we were in the group we discussed common features of our research and how we intent to progress. Next, we were handed the brief that stated that we are going to produce a set of posters, I am really happy with this outcome as I researched into Cuban political posters and propaganda.

I first produced a set of spider diagrams looked at possible design choices such as colour.


  •  A consistent colour scheme must run throughout the set of posters
  • I will think about using blue and red as a colour scheme as it is the colours of the Cuban flag, which is relatable to Fidel and the posters content.
  • I should consider using the colour green to represent health and Fidel’s time spent as a Guerrilla fighter.

Above are my notes and diagrams regarding information that I could include on the typographic poster. Using my research I then wrote a body of text that communicated that Fidel is still alive, and that rumours of his deteriorating health were lies. The sixty-seven word long body of text describes how Castro is healthy and alive in an informative way, I took the tone of an independent journalist as I intend to inform people interested in the nitty gritty of foreign affairs. Below is text I intend to use.

'Fidel Castro is healthy and alive despite claims from imperialist media he was on his deathbed. Former Cuban leader Castro has had repeated false claims his health is deteriorating, however, these have all been lies. Castro has been photographed looking healthy and strong at his home, proving to the world that at the age of eighty-six the old revolutionary still has plenty of life left in him.'

As I had the information needed for the type poster I decided to produce this first. I started by creating a spider diagram of ideas regarding the design and layout of the poster.


  • Centrally placed text to represent the central line on the Cuban flag.
  • Experiment with using a thinner column and running the type off the bottom of the page to represent Fidel’s long life.
  • I need to consider how I will place the text and background together.

Next, I focused on the image poster because this, much like the type poster, only uses one method of communication.  


  • I want to produce an image of Fidel looking healthy and happy, I will look at images from my research for a reference.
  • The image will need to be produced using a method that will look good when printed in one colour. I want to look at producing stencil illustrations similar to the ones created by Shepard Fairey .
  • I need to consider wether I will position my poster landscape or portrait, this is a decision which will affect the composition of all my posters, as they all need to utilize a similar layout.
  • As I can’t use text to communicate my message I will look at using semiotics to help convey the posters meaning.

Finally, I focused on the type and image poster. Using both type and image will make communicating my message easier, however, I now have more considerations to make regarding layout and the relationship between text and image. 


  • I believe I need to include limited amounts of type, using two words or less to help simplify the design.
  • I will use the same illustration used on the image only poster to help with the production time of the posters.
  • The colour scheme will be in theme with all other designs.
  • The poster will need to be in context with the theme used in the other posters.

The spider diagrams gave me a chance to document important ideas about the design and function of each poster. I next produced design sheets that looked at possible layouts for each poster. These enabled me to experiment with different compositions and visual elements. Moreover, I also had chance to see how well the poster would communicate the intended message and if it was clear and instantaneous. I produced twenty-seven variations of each poster, which helped me refine my designs until the strongest were left.

To conclude, my strongest designs use a centrally placed column of type which represents the stripe down the Cuban flag and Fidel's long life. Moreover, I have experimented using different borders, some let the type run off the page others are closed and encase the design. Finally, I have included elements of the red triangle which also can be seen on the Cuban flag.

Next, I repeated the same design method, producing possible layouts for the image poster.

Creating layouts for the image poster was much harder as I had to use a silhouette of Fidel to represent where I would position the illustration. Despite this, I believe the designs have progressed to a strong, refined outcome. My final designs pull aspects of the background from my type poster, so the posters stay in theme. The poster utilizes a boarder, and a representation of the triangle found on the Cuban flag. To replace the column of type I have used a solid line similar to the actual flag design. I want to use adapt aspects of the Cuban flag so the audience can relate my illustration to the flag to help identify Fidel. Finally, I have placed the illustration centrally in the bottom third of the design.

Finally, I produced a set of designs for the type and image poster.

Finally, much like the past two poster designs these layouts also pull aspects from the Cuban flag such as the triangle and central line. However, the composition of the posters is different due to the combination of type and image. My final designs both include the word ‘Alive’ which I think is vital in communicating my posters message. 

After completing design sheets for each poster I started to digitally rendering my strongest designs. My preliminary designs gave me all the information regarding layout needed to start production. Before I could start producing my posters I first set up my document. I set up the measurements to fit the 2:1 restriction on the brief and ensured that the document was set to CYMK, as the document is being made for print. 

First, using the pathfinder tool, I made a simple boarder by overlaying two rectangles, this formed the base that my design would fit within.  Using my design sheet as reference I replicated the long central column that the type would be placed within.

Above is an example of different layouts that I experimented with. The aim of which was to put the audiences focus on certain important words.  However, there were certain aspects of the design such as the use of negative space that I wanted to improve.  Therefor, I started producing different typographic layout variations.

Initially, I used the same layout as my first design (above). However, after looking at the balance between the two colours, and the overall composition of the red triangle, I decided it would be beneficial to adapt the design slightly. I Pulled aspects from other designs generated on my design sheets, and combined them with my final layout choice to form a new poster base design.

To avoid my design looking too busy and confusing I limited myself to three typefaces. I ensured that the typefaces had different characteristics but similar features, so that they mixed well when presented next to each other on the page. I chose to use a display font called ‘Cubano’ due to the boldness of each letterform. Moreover, the typeface reminded me of fonts that I looked at when researching into Cuban propaganda. Secondly, I used a tall, condensed typeface called ‘Vevey’, it compliments the display font due to the difference in letterform, Vevey is a tall skinny typeface where as Cubano is bold display font. The final typeface I chose to use is called ‘Blanch’, the sans-serif typeface has features such as rounded caps, similar to “Cubano’ I used this font for the smaller text as it is legible at a small size. 




I noted in my initial design notes that importance should be put on certain words such as ‘Alive’ to help convey the intended message quickly. I highlighted important words by increasing their size and influence on the overall design. Therefore, when glanced at quickly the audiences’ eyes are subconsciously attracted to the larger text. 

One of my final type layouts.

Moreover, when I had finalised my type placement I changed the type so I could print from different computers without losing the fonts.  By using the ‘Create outlines’ option I essentially changed the letters into shapes

Finally, I explored some different design outcomes. Firstly, I experimented with running the type off the edge of the design, this concept was generated on my design sheets and is a representation of Castro’s long life. Cutting a segment out of the posters boarder created the space for the additional type.  This created my first type poster variation.

Next, I focused on producing the image poster. When initially generating ideas I noted that I wanted to produce the illustration in a stencil style, similar to the work of Shepard Fairey. 

First, I decided to produce the illustration. I used an image of Fidel that I blogged as part of my research. The image shows Fidel at an old age smiling and healthy, which is the main reason I chose to replicate it. My intended message is to inform people that Castro is healthy and alive, so the image of him smiling and alive communicated this well. I started by using the pencil tool to trace his predominant features and facial shadows. 

The image slowly came together as I continued to layer his facial features. Moreover, I tried to capture as many wrinkles as possible to give an indication to the audience of his age.

Once I had a completed illustration I started producing the image only poster. I utilized the same base design as I did for the type poster, this ensured that a similar theme would run throughout the poster set.

I removed the central column and type from the first design, and then recreated the triangle, this formed the base design for my image poster. I then placed my illustration in the bottom third of the composition. Initially, I had the illustration connected to the boarder, but this had to be changed as it looked strange in context with the triangle, as the triangle was offset. I flattened the illustration so it was one object and used the pathfinder ‘Minus front’ tool to detach the illustration from the boarder.

Finally, I placed a blue star centrally on the red triangle, this was included to further reiterate my base designs reference to the Cuban flag.

Next, I produced the type and image poster, this poster was produced last as it mixed elements from the two previous posters I created. When generating ideas for the poster it was mentioned that the same background design, fonts and illustrations should be used when creating this poster to ensure that a strong theme runs throughout the set. Moreover, the typographic focus should be put on words that communicate that Fidel is alive and well. 

Looking back at my design sheets enabled me to see that the final designs for the image and the type and image posters shared similarities such as layout. Therefor, to create the base for the newest design I simply removed aspects such as the star from the image only poster, leaving me with a base to work with. Creating the poster in this way enabled me to save valuable time that was then spent on preparing the document for print and selecting stock.

After the base design for the poster was completed I selected my typeface. As the poster need to capture the viewers attention and communicate the posters message instantly I needed a legible, bold display font. Moreover, it was mentioned in my design sheets that the same fonts needed to be used throughout the set of posters. I reviewed the fonts used on the type only poster, two of the fonts were not suitable due to the thinness of letterform. Therefor, the font called ‘Cubano’ was selected. 

Cubano is a font that I downloaded from a website called the ‘Lost Type Co-op’ a website that specialises in producing retro styled fonts. It is an easy to read, bold display font with rounded ascenders and stems, all features of the typeface I need for my poster. Moreover, The font reminds me of the display fonts used on retro Cuban propaganda that I researched.

I then started exploring different compositions, experimenting with placing the type at the top and bottom of the design. Initially, I chose to focus on the words ‘Fidel’ and ‘Alive’. I chose to use ‘Fidel’ as I wanted to indicate to the audience instantly who the poster is about. Moreover, I thought about using ‘Castro’ instead, however, in my research it was mentioned that Fidel passed his power on to his brother, who shares the same second name. To avoid confusion between the two I used Fidel’s first name. Additionally, the word ‘Alive’ was selected as it communicates that Fidel is living.    

I created outlines for the type so that the font was not changed when printing from different macs. 

After the text had been converted the design was finished. I explored different design variations for each poster, changing elements such as the colour.  I experimented with colour variations to portray the message more clearly to the audience, the colour green was selected due to its associations with health.

Additionally, I also produced more design variations that also experimented with different colours such as a dark green. I like the relevance of the colour green due to its association with health. However, I believe it takes relevance away from the flag concept. Therefore, I have decided against a colour change.

Finally, when I presented my designs to a classmate prior to the deadline a comment was made regarding a change in the design of the type and image poster.  He suggested that I should change the ‘Fidel’ located at the top of the posters composition, as it was obvious whom the set of posters was about. Instead replacing it with a star similar to the image only design.  This would further enforce the strong theme that runs throughout the set of posters.

Finally, after exploring the suggestion I decided that swapping ‘Fidel’ for a star was beneficial to the overall aesthetic of the set. It strengthens the theme that runs across the posters and directs the audience’s focus on the word ‘Alive’ which is essential in communicating the intended message that Fidel Castro is still alive.






To conclude, the feedback made it clear to me that my posters are straight to the point and communicate the message clearly. One thing that I could have improved was to make the image poster clearer, as when looked at singularly it doesn’t communicate the intended message immediately. I could have overcome this problem by including a symbolism of health such as a heart or cross.

Moreover, my posters met all restrictions set by the brief, such as the 2:1 size and two-colour restriction. It was noted that the colour scheme and flag background formed a strong theme that ran throughout the poster set.

Finally, a type mistake was spotted, something that I had not noticed throughout the production. In future I need to proof read my text and get a second person to double check it to avoid mistakes like this. 

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