Material Design Research

Material Design is something that was initiated in it’s operating system after the flat design trend took off. It was designed to add levels of depth into an otherwise completely flat enviroment. The idea is that material is a metaphor for the “unifying theory of a rationalized space and a system of motion, this is emboldened by print based design techniques that fully take advantage of typography, grids, space, scale, color and use of imagery. This means  it creates a brilliant visual hierarchy, meaning, and focus. Another element of material design that perfectly fits my brief is that by adding motion to the techniques previously mention, the user is then presented with an easy to understand UI that is visually pleasing to most users.

A lot of techniques apply to material design, and they improve the overall look of the UI. The first is the use of light and shadow;

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Depths of the elements also matter;

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The use of images create really powerful pages and amplify the meaning of the content;

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There are even specific colours that should be used, there are multiple resources in which you can find them.

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It is also important to remember there are multiple tones to remember;

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Below are screenshots of the iPhone adaptation of the Google Calendar application, you can see a great example of the shadow technique being employed.

Next up is the Google Maps introduction, note here the use of the colours, the same ones found in the palette shown above.

These examples perfectly show how to mix the palette and images to create the perfect visual content



Promotion Pack – Flyer

The flyer was designed using the colours of my logo, I also used white as the text to stand out from the background. I decided to make certain words bolder and leave the rest of the test in the regular font. Once I was happy with my overall design I decided to print them out to make sure they worked properly. Below you will see my analysis.


As you can see the general layout works really well and actually looks very professional but you can see the lighter font doesn’t work when it is smaller. This means I need to remove this, so instead I will use sizing of the font to differentiate from the different areas. Below is the second and final version of the flyer, there are a couple of things worth noting in this version though. Firstly the background colour looks more like a black, I think this is more to do with my home printer than the colour being wrong so I will test this using the professional college printers and decide from there if I need to change the colour. The only other ‘issue’ is that at the top you can see the logo on the other side of the paper, this won’t be an issue in the final stage as it will be printed on thicker paper therefore will not show up.

2 3Below you can see the three different iterations of the flyer I would be sending as part of my promotional package. The oldest on the left has faint text and is made from flimsy paper, the next is made from slightly better paper and has adjustments to the the type to made it readable and then the final piece on the right is printed on card with a gloss which looks very professional.


Business Card Research

To create a strong, professional brand, I will need to apply the same visual identity to all of the products that I produce. Materials used in letterheads are very important, there are lots of types and thickness of paper that can be used depending on style and design of the actual letter. I spoke to a company Marqetspace, they mass produce trade printing from business cards to letterheads to flyers and asked them to send me examples of the different types of paper that they print on. A couple of things i learnt from actually receiving the products were that thickness generally provides the user with a sense of quality and luxury while the opposite is said for the thinner pieces of paper.


Above are pictures of all the different cards that they sent me and it allowed me to actually touch the cards, feel the material and have a deeper understanding of how they different card effects the overall feel of the brand. I found the “600gsm uncoated” card to feel the most professional out of all the examples I was given.


This is the book which had a sample of all the different card types from G.F. Smiths which had a bigger selection to choose from. In this book I was given during my visit there is a large collection of different colours, transparencies, gloss, coating, thicknesses and materials. I selected my favourites, cut them out the book and you can see them here;


The first one that I decided I liked was the Softy White 380gms, the reason for this is that the thickness makes it feel like it has a real luxury quality to it. The front is covered with a soft fabric which makes it nice to touch, if a clever design was printed on the front it would make it a really interesting card.


The second one I chose the Peregrina Classics 336gsm because its reflective shade of red on the front making it stands out from all the other materials in the book. It still has a quality thickness and comes across as very professional card before it’s even been printed on.


Another nice material was the woodside garden pine, this is styles as wood and you can seed it almost blends in with my wooden table, the only issue with this card is that there isn’t much of a contrast between the silver typography which makes it difficult to read, especially in low light conditions. That being said the thickness is the highest at 398gsm so it does have a quality feel, so it would depend on your trade as to whether you wanted to use this card.


The most professional of the cards I liked was the Loreenzo White 220 gsm as it was a plain white card with a very subtle design on it using a very small layer of fibres on it. This card is probably the one out of the four that would be most widely used in the market as it isn’t too extreme and can easily be printed on.

It is important to have a creative business card design as it would help promote you and make you look better than your competitor if your card is better than theirs. First impressions count, and the right business cards will improve that. A good card works around of the them of area of business, this fitness trainer has hit the nail on the head by allowing the client to tear of the fat mans stomach to make them thinner – the whole purpose of going to gym.


The design below is really interesting and could be used as inspiration for my business card as my logo is a graph, It could be a purple card in a black envelope which has holes in the shape of my logo. Then when the card is pulled out they have my details on the back. This card gives the client a nice visual experience.


Again relating the card to you specific business is what the best business cards do, you can see this picture frame company business card uses a frame with the details printed on the back;


This plumber has created miniature plungers with his details as one way to stand out from the rest, so there are a ways to stand out out that dont even use the tradition print method, this is an interesting way;

This business card is very professional as instead of being made from paper it is actually made from dried meat which suits the company perfectly as they work in there area of survival training.



Self promotion research

Self promotional item is important because promotes you and your services, if done correctly it can gain you customers. There are many things you can do, from providing a portfolio of your work to a simple toy or gift that the customer will want to keep so that they are constantly reminded of you.

What is the point of this piece?
This piece of self-promotion is something you can send a potential client when they are half interested in your services. It needs to contain some person info to make me interesting, tel the client what I do, why i’m the best and then close the sale to get them to contact me to take up my services. I will research this then decide how I will do it myself.

Jon cleave created a wonderful experience which is a portfolio of his work in a book, a business card and a letter all sealed in a large envelope with wax stamp, you can see this here;


Wong Sockying is a graphic communication graduate from Singapore and this is what she sends to her clients;


It is design help sent in a box, all the cures for every types of different design jobs, this way the client has a fun experience of the designer but also learns what Wong does, brilliant self-promotion.

Another designer, Christer Dahlslett has gone down the route of being medical, by providing a operating table and surgical equipment and also the doctors notes card which has all her personal details, you can see this one below;


Farm design go in a complete different direction. To brand their company and all the different services they provide they have likened themselves to a set of ice pop. Each Ice pop represents one of the different services they do, and they have a flavour board which describes each one. This one works really well because it arrives in a cool box so it would have to be opened straight away and contains quite a few so has to be shared with colleagues within the office which gets them talking about the company, and the more people that know about the business the better. Also who doesn’t like ice pops? Check them out here;


Something I noticed is that each one has a consistent design throughout, which helps with continuity. This can be seen here really well too where George has put a portfolio of his work together and uses a colourful diamond system to give it a nice overall design.


So from my research I have found that continuity in the design is important, making it interesting for the client to use is a massively important and if you can get them talking about it to others, even better. In a sense having a gimmick, something for the client to play with makes them look at your branding longer so you are winning more advertising time with them. Continuity, interesting and gimmicks are the three most important things I have learn’t from my research so my next step will be to decide what I will create.


Wyke Printers company visit

To understand the process of creating a physical hand out like a business card or letterhead, I found it was vital to research the companies that produce these things. I organised a visit to G.F. Smith, the paper manufacturer and Wyke Printers.


One of the first things I learnt when being showed around Wyke Printers was about the ‘blueprint’, a paper cutout of anything that needs to be folded and cut to create a certain shape. The photo below shows the blueprint design for a folder that the company Lincat are paying Wyke printing for. You can see the design has dotted lines for folds and hard lines to be cut. The layout of the content is shown as it would be so that should there be any mistakes, they can be easily resolved. There are many machines in the building that do lot’s of different jobs, things like stapling books together, printing, checking colour levels  etc.


Along the top of each piece of paper printed, there is a set of colour codes which are read by the computer system, this will determine whether each machine has the correct amount of each colour in it. Wyke use CMYK (reason for this has been mentioned in previous research). You can see the numbers on the machine actually match up to the different colour sets on the paper.

Finally I shared the initial ideas for my self promotion material, and was shown the piece of equipment you can see below, if I was to create my designs on a mass scale, I would use a printing press, this basically is laid out like the blueprint you can see at the beginning of this post and will make the relevant scores and cuts on the paper, this saves time and money. Then all that needs to happen is the relevant folds, glue and and then they are shipped to the customer. This is obviously ideal and has shaped the way I will arrange my designs. This is the press I was shown:


G.F. Smiths Paper Company Visit

To understand the process of creating a physical hand out like a business card or letterhead, I found it was vital to research the companies that produce these things. I organised a visit to G.F. Smith, the paper manufacturer and Wyke Printers.

G.F. Smith is a paper manufacturer founded in 1885 by George Frederick Smith. The start of any printing process is with the type and style of paper you are going to print on, so i took a trip to the premises and got a private tour. I spoke to a manager about the history of the company including how debt almost destroyed the company in 1915, supplies being shortened in 1939 because of world war 2 and the purchase of the Hull premises in 1969.

During the tour I was shown the room with their clients whom had had used their paper in their packaging. It also showed off all the different colours they could offer their paper in. You can see an example of this book here:


This room full of different types and colours of the paper which was for clients to touch and feel the actual materials they might be using in their product. The most important lesson I learnt during my visit, was there are different weights of materials measured in GSM (Grams per square metre), different colours,  and effects that can be applied to the card such as a gloss. These allow the card to be styled in a certain way. The company also offer press services to imprint the card with a certain design, a client would buy a press designed specifically for their needs for anything up to £2,000 depending on size and intricacy. You can see one of G.F Smiths presses below

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Companies like G.F. Smith offer hand made services as well, to do jobs that cannot be done by machine, things like making bespoke envelopes. You can see a team of women sat at a table here making hundreds of these type of letters. With hundreds of clients around Yorkshire, they have a huge warehouse that stores all the paper. This means they can work hand in hand with a company like Wyke printers to meet a clients need for a really speedy delivery on the deadline.

I was also shown another client area, where customers can come and physically feel the paper itself. As you can see with these images:

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There are lot’s of different types so by having the client actually being able to touch the product they would be buying is a brilliant way to make sure you know what your buying, having the right quality material is very important for any business and the market is estimated to be around $23.8 Billion a year.


An example of self promotional material

Irecieved a letter from Marketspace, a printing company based in London, this letter was to make me aware of a christmas promotion they were offering their customers. Included was a pop out – make it yourself christmas tree. I thought this was a brilliant example of self promotional material so I have decided to share it on my blog. Below you can see the images of the document and then the final version of the tree cut together on my desk.

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treeWhen a company gets you to play with a self promotional item they have sent you, they have effectively won you as a customer and they are more likely to be used over their competition.