When I started brainstorming ideas for this project, I wanted to ask myself why I had chosen foreign language as a topic. I knew that it was a topic I was interested in but wondered what goal I had in mind. What I hoped to achieve with the goal was creating some space where perhaps I could get more people interested in learning a second language. Once I had settled on that, the idea of a poster encouraging foreign language studies came rather naturally.
I wanted to create something eye-catching that would if nothing else get the thought running in their mind. I thought about what might encourage me if I was on the fence about learning a language. One of the things I hadn’t realized until I started studying them was that there are so many languages that each work differently and having different uses. Many friends I know took Spanish during their middle or high school years and believed that they didn’t like studying foreign languages. One, in particular, decided to pick up German, and wound up loving the language and studied it out of fun beyond his classes.
When I began the design, I searched for images that seemed like they might make a good base. Eventually, I found a picture of a world map and the idea for the countries with texts over them came into my head. With that in mind, my other two images were a classroom which ultimately didn’t make it into the final image and a picture of a dictionary page. Later on, in my final draft, I would collect a picture of a door, as well as a word cloud of words from various languages. The images collected during the original process were found on FreeImages.com while the pictures collected later were found on Pixabay.com
Starting from the creation of the image, I first had to find a way to get the picture of the countries one color so that overlaying the image would be easier. For that, I used a selection around the white background to remove the background, and then applied a color overlay from the blending options menu. Afterward, I selected the now pure-colored image and placed the dictionary image in a new layer above it. I inverted the selection of the countries and used the selection to delete everything on the dictionary page that was not covering the image below it. Inverting a selection is a useful tip when you have a complicated image that has a relatively simple background.
I had originally planned on using a pure blue background. However, I felt it made the image look flat. I used a gradient tool and took two similar colors and used that as the background instead. This proved to be a lot more effort down the road, as due to some technical difficulties I wound up losing the original .psd and had to work using my rough draft as a single layer. Not having the blue as a solid color made removing elements from the design laborious without just covering them up which is what I wound up doing for the original classroom image.
Knowing how critical the typography would be to the image, I made sure to incorporate several rules of unity in the typography. Using a circular design via the text tool’s arc setting in the largest text, it made my headline for the image the most eye-catching of the texts, giving it hierarchy in both shape and size. Additionally, the design is also appealing as it appears to form a complete shape. Then, using a smaller text with a similar layout, I managed to make the image flow downwards while making the smaller text still look like it belonged with the larger.
As I moved forward with my final draft, I tried to pay attention to as many details from my feedback as possible. When I talked to my TA, the biggest point of criticism was that the image I had used on the bottom half of the image seemed unrelated. With that in mind, I thought about various ways I could improve that area of my poster before deciding to scrap it entirely. Instead, I discussed with them for a while and decided to use an open door as a symbol while using words from various languages inside.
The door was another free image found that luckily already came with transparencies set. Unfortunately, the fact that I was revising my draft without the original .psd file meant that I had to go and fill some of those transparencies using a mixture of the shape and brush tool. I wound up looking for an image of the various languages that was colorful. Lack of eye-popping color was a recurring piece of negative feedback from my peer review, but colors have always been an incredibly difficult element for me to grasp. I most likely had I had my original .psd file changed the stroke around the main texts to add color, but instead I wound up using this as a way to introduce some colors.
The final design process for the image was the smaller text to the right of the door. In my rough draft, I used underlines to break the lines apart, but I was told this looked awkward, so I switched to bullet points. There isn’t a bullet point option in Photoshop, so I used a code on my keyboard which due to past experiences I have memorized. Holding down ALT on a Windows keyboard, I inputting 0149, which yielded me the • character. There are thousands of codes like this, which make using odd characters in Photoshop a lot easier.
The image creation process had a lot more obstacles than I had anticipated. A few tips I would recommend for avoiding the struggles I had can be applied to most projects. For one, always save a copy of your base layers before you change them. Second, always back up your project via email or the cloud or some other method. Three would be to use objects like drop shadows and stroke borders when an object has trouble fitting into your image. Finally, always play on the side of caution when dealing with white backgrounds. If you are selecting the white background to try and remove them, always select a couple of pixels more than you think you might need so that you don’t have a thin white outline on your image. Many images also have pixels that transition from the color to white, for example, a pink between a red and white background, which might not fit with your design.