20: Teaching Support | Degree Show book

Each year, in June, the fourth year students at Gray's hold a week long show of their work called the Degree Show.

A book was designed for the 2007 Degree Show to promote student work and to provide information about courses within the art school.

When you are dealing with a document involving multiple pages such as a book, it is a good idea to plan your project on paper or on the computer before developing final artwork.

1 Initial concepts

It is helpful to first create a few rough layouts so that you have an idea of how pages in your book will look.
This lets you experiment and make creative decisions about your project without having to work on lots of different pages at once.

Developing a 'grid' on which your pages are to be laid out can be very helpful. This creates a structure upon which all your pages will be laid out so it is a good idea to make this one of the first things you do.

2 Layout Grids

A grid has a function which is a little like that of the foundations of a building.
A grid provides an underlying framework on which elements like logos, text and images are placed.

Grids allow us to make broad layout decisions, based on size and proportion of page or screen.
They also allow us to establish clear hierarchies of information, text and image.

Grids provide the underlying structure to enable us to visually align objects to one another and be consistent in
the spaces between different elements. They also provide a means of applying a house-style and maintaining consistency in the layout of work involving many pages.



A grid is generally made up of horizontal and vertical lines
(and sometimes diagonal and curved lines although this is more unusual.)

• Vertical lines refer to the widths of columns of text.
• Horizontal lines refer to the amount of space occupied by text within each column.



Grids bring visual organisation to a document whether it is intended for print or screen.
Their use makes content within a printed page or web page appear ordered and so easier to read and make sense of.

The same grid is generally applied to all pages within a single document and this creates a feeling of visual consistency throughout. Consistency from page to page makes a book or website feel like a cohesive whole.
If each page had a completely different layout there would be no sense of continuity when moving from one page to the next.

• Click here to see a grid with a number of different layouts applied to it.

Grids allow degrees of variation from one page to the next, but within a consistent and structured system.

Opinion on layout grids varies - some people find them extremely helpful, others find that they are restrictive. However, most page layouts are built on a structure or involve some form of repeating system of organisation.


Grid - variation


One of the first and most crucial stages in designing the Degree Show book was the creation of a grid.
The page grid defined the overall appearance of the book and so was very important.

Each double page spread uses the diagonal format below.
Applying the same grid format to each page gives a consistent look thoughout the book.


• The grid in this case is based on a diagonal line running across two pages, along with the two perpendicular lines at the lower left hand side and the top right hand side.

This is the cover
(The two light blue vertical lines indicate the spine of the book)

Degree Show Book Cover

People have to interact with printed pages just as they have to interact with web pages.
For this reason it is worth considering the development of a book from a 'user's' perspective just as you would a website.

eg You should consider -
• how best to structure and order information into different categories and sections so it is easy to find
• colour coding information becomes recognisable and easy to find
• tactile qualities ie the materials you print on - thickness/texture of paper etc.

• The book was designed to be readable from both ends.
The idea was to have the Design section and the Fine Art section sitting at 180 degrees to each other, so that the book would have to be physically rotated by the user/reader in order to be read and made sense of.

• The above image is a heavily 'typographic' solution.

Other than the dotted lines and logos there are no 'pictorial' elements as such. Type is present to decorate the cover as well as to be read.

• Colour coding
Colour coding has been used to differentiate between the Fine Art section (yellow) and the Design section (blue).
Colour coding can help to organise large quantities of information so that people can tell easily what different blocks of text refer to. To communicate large quantities of information it can be helpful to give aesthetic aspects
(eg colours used) a function so that they support the overall message or purpose of a project and go beyond just being decorative.

Opening double page spread
Dates of the show on the left hand page and an index on the right hand page.


The grid exists as a framework upon which to place logos, text and images.
It needs to be adaptable for use in different situations.

The specifics of this page - colours / textual content etc are different to the front cover.
However the overall general appearance is consistent with the cover.

(Move the mouse over the image to see the underlying grid structure.)

Another double page spread
Textual introduction from Head of School to the Design section of the book.


• The main diagonal line remains visible but behind the text.
• The shape of the blocks of text continue the angular format.
• Rotating the blocks of text to follow the diagonal line was considered at one stage.
However this would have meant reducing the word count significantly and so was not possible.

(Move the mouse over the image to see the underlying grid structure.)

Double page spread
Landscape format student images and contact details.

Gray's book - Grid 01

• In this situation, these students supplied images in landscape format.
• Text (contact details) have been rotated to match the orientation of the landscape format images.

(Move the mouse over the image above to see the grid as applied to a typical double page spread.)

Double page spread
Portrait format student images and contact details

Gray's Book - Grid 02

• These students supplied their images in portrait format.
• The grid is adaptable enough to allow the students' contact details to be rotated to match the orientation of the portrait format images.

(Move the mouse over the image above to see a slightly different version of the previous grid arrangement.)

The Middle Bit

The middle section of the book was intended to be orientated as below.
The diagonal grid is sufficiently versatile that text and images can also be applied in this situation.
The overall feel remains consistent with previous pages.

The first page of this section is marked The Middle Bit Achievements 06-07


The next double page spread within 'The Middle Bit' is below.


(Move the mouse over the images above to see their underlying grid structure.)

4 Dimensions

You should consider the physical size of your book based on initial layout experiments.
Consider the context in which your book is to be used and/or the message your artwork is intended to convey.

For example, the Degree Show book is 105mm x 132mm. This size is practical and meant the book was small enough and light enough to be carried around easily and made use of by visitors on the opening night of the degree show. It was also found that other books of this size felt good to hold and had a certain visual appeal.

How a book feels to hold and look through is as important as the way it looks. If you are trying to think of ideas in terms of size etc you may find that it is worth visiting a book shop and look around to see if there are any formats that you think could be adapted for use within your project.

5 Structuring the content of your book

In planning your book you should consider the order in which its pages are to sit.
You should make logical decisions about how someone reading/using your book is to be directed through the information you are presenting to them.

Planning out the way that content is to be structured provides an overview of your project and can also help to avoid potential problems - eg missing out information you had intended to include.

You may also want to check how many words fit comfortably onto a typical well laid out page so that you have an idea of how many pages to allocate to each section within your book.

For example, the Fine Art section of the Degree Show book is structured as follows -

1 Index of contents
(Appropriate to begin with this so that people understand what they are about to look at)

2 Introduction to the Fine Art section of the show from the Head of School.
(To welcome visitors to the show - appropriate near the beginning)

3 One page of textual Information about the Painting course
4 A page for each Painting student

5 One page of information about the Printmaking course
6 A page for each Printmaking student

etc etc until each Fine Art course and each Fine Art student have been included.

Click this link to see a detailed plan of the Degree Show book.
(Please note that although this forms the basis of the final book, a few pages were added/removed prior to printing.)

6 Stock

You should consider what kind of materials (stock) are to be used in the production of your book.
eg the weight and texture of the paper/card you intend to print on

Depending on the nature of your project it may be appropriate to make use of materials other than (or as well as) paper and card - eg plastics or metals.

7 Quantity

You should also consider how many books you intend to produce.
(Setting up the printing press initially to print your project contributes greatly to its cost and you may find that the cost of printing - for example - 500 copies of your book as opposed to 400 is around the same price.)

8 Choice of printing inks

A lot of commercial art and design work is printed using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks. When printing, these four colours are mixed together in different quantities to provide the millions of subtley different colours we see on a page when an image is printed on its surface.

When Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks are used in combination on a print project we refer to the project as being a 'Four Colour Process CMYK' print job. (Also referred to as using
'Process Colours' or 'Full Colour.') The Degree Show book is such a print job and could be described using the terms above.

It is also possible to produce print using just one colour of ink (possibly mixed from Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks) with the paper colour acting as a second colour. This is referred to as a 'Monotone' print job.
(If we print with two colours of ink this would be referred to as a Duotone print job.)


Spot Colours
We can also make use of colours outwith the CMYK colour palette.
These are referred to as Spot Colours and are more expensive to print with than standard Process Colours.


Depending on your project it may also be appropriate to make use of Varnishes.
Transparent varnish - just like inks - can be printed on selected areas of your work.

A varnish has been used on the Degree Show book cover with the intention of drawing the viewer's attention to the words 'THE PROFESSIONAL ART SCHOOL' (also printed in grey underneath the varnish).

In this case the varnish takes up only a small area of the cover of the book. However, varnish can be applied to any surface in any quantity and can be quite subtle in appearance as it becomes most visible when the surface it is printed on is held at a particular angle.

Varnish adds to the cost of a print job and only a few commercial printers in Scotland have facilites to apply it.
This tends to add to the time your work will take to produce because it will have to be outsourced to a company able to apply spot varnish. (This is especially relevant if you face a tight printing deadline!)

9 Speak to a commercial printer

By this stage should you should have some idea of the following aspects of your book -

• General appearance in terms of layout etc
• Physical dimensions
• Number of pages
• Stock to print on
• Inks / varnishes involved

The printer will be able to advise with regard to the cost of different kinds of printing stock (ie varieties of paper etc.) They should also be able to advise you about cost and use of specialist printing inks if you are in any doubt.

• Timescale
You also need to be able to tell the printer when you would like your printed work to be delivered to you.
Always build an extra 'emergency' week into your planning so that any unforeseen delays do not cause a problem.
For example, an unexpected difficulty with binding the degree show books meant that their delivery was delayed by two days. However because the agreed delivery date was a week in advance of the Degree Show (as opposed to the day before for example) this delay was not a problem.

By working backwards from the delivery date, the printer will be able to tell you when to supply him with finished artwork.

Please be aware that the more time you give a printer to produce a print job the less expensive it will be.

• Quote
Having discussed your requirements with the printer you will receive a quote indicating the approximate cost of printing and delivering your work. It is worth speaking with more than one printer to ensure you get a good price!

Click here to see an example of a printer's quote.

10 Pagination

When a book/booklet is printed the pages are presented to the viewer to be read/viewed in sequential order - ie 1,2,3,4,5,6,
7,8,9,10 etc. However any 'multipage document' is made up of sheets of paper placed on top of each other and folded.

If your book is to be printed by a commercial printer, pagination will be done for you by the printer
(unless agreed otherwise) so you should supply your InDesign artwork as it is intended to be read - ie 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 etc.

However, if you are printing/assembling/binding your booklet yourself you will also need to work out its pagination yourself. eg Perhaps in the case of a booklet which is only a few pages long and you are constructing it from laser copies. (Also in the case of a mockup.)

In this situation you should work out how pages need to be laid out in InDesign so that they appear in the correct order when the booklet is printed and bound. The sequence for an 8 page booklet is indicated in the diagram below.


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