Image Image

VCD Unit 2 AOS 2

Type and imagery in context.

Outcome 2

On completion of this unit the student should be able to;

  • manipulate type and images to create visual communications suitable for print and screen-based presentations, taking into account copyright.

What you will do

This task is from the field of communication design. 

This is a large task with a large area of knowledge about design with type and images and how they are combined to communicate ideas and concepts to a target audience.

The first part of the task is concerned with learning about type, its history, styles, ways it communicates and how designers arrange type in space.

The second part is about different types of digital images and how we use and manage them for visual communications. 

The third deals with the most useful technique for layout of communication design - the grid layout.

Finally, you will be asked to use the design process to create a soft drink label and website logo in a design task. This task will be your practical demonstration of all the knowledge you have acquired during this Area of study.

It is large but vital as this knowledge underpins any communication design you will do in Year 12 Visual communication design.

Quick menu

Model answer

A label and bottle design recalling the clinical theme of medicines and chemical insignia. Deborah Nguyen, 2018.
A label design recalling the happy, light filled styles of 1950s story illustration. Alana Lacy, 2018.

Learning intentions

Learning intentions should be set at the commencement of each unit, then at regular intervals during the task.

Read through the content on this page. Discuss what you think could be learnt and form them into three 'learning intentions'.  Use sentences like, 'I will learn about making 3d drawings', or I will learn about 'media codes'.

Write your three learning intentions.

For advanced learning intentions, go with 3 different levels. 

  • 1 - What you will learn. (For example, the media code of camera describes the techniques camera operators use to record a scene)
  • 2 - How what you will learn can be used to create meaning or structure. (For example, camera techniques are combined with sound and/ or editing to create suspense).
  • 3 - How could your understanding of the learning be extended or related to other learnings. (For example, the use of camera has changed over the years and the invention of digital formats have allowed anyone to become cinema photographers)

Success criteria

Success criteria should be negotiated between students and their teacher. The class group agrees about what is successful completion of the task. Identification of success criteria is done at the commencement of each unit, then at regular intervals.

Now that you are familiar with what you will learn in this task, it's time to lock in how you will be able to demonstrate that you know it, or can do it. 

Write three success criteria, using sentences like the examples in the next column.

I will demonstrate that I have mastered the learning by;

  • 1 - I Can identify all of the camera techniques used in the selected clip.
  • 2 - I can use a camera to film clips in the ways I have identified.
  • 3 - I can explain how camera is combined with other codes to create meaning in a narrative.

Knowing type

Research and understanding

Before we get into this task, before we even start to research alphabet posters and apps, we are going to get into exploring everthing about type. We will look at type styles and history and find out everything we need to understand for VCE VCD. In addition, we will do a series of exercises aimed at developing our love and understanding of type. Let's get started.

Who do you follow?

There are heaps of type resources around. I follow these three on Instagram. The provide an endless selection of creative ways to approach type in the post Helvetica, digital age.

There are heaps of resources containing new and innovative ways to approach type in this post Helvetica digital age. Many of them explore hand formed type recalling the age of 'letterpress' printing.

Click on the images below to visit the sites.

Some type sites



Let’s learn about type. What are different type styles and when did they emerge in history? We will learn and define Font or typeface, Serif or Sans-serif, and stylistic categories of type forms.

Take a look at these videos.


Watch this cool video about the history of type.
All® content is available for free at

Practical exercises

We are going to experiment with drawing and making type forms before we get into serious analysis of type and its anatomy. Take a look at these examples of creatively hand formed type.

Font formed from other materials

Look at this cute font I found in the "Plein Air Cafe" Chicago University, 2015.
You can see how it's made from twisted wire. What idea could you use to make a new typeface?

student examples

Image Image

Two lovely examples. 'School tie', Daniele Sapiano 2015, 'Blossom', Chloe Knight 2015.


a really fun set of letters found on the @sagmeister instagram.

Tasks 1


Draw an example manually of 1 example typeface from each of the type categories shown in the video. (For example, draw one example of modern, slab serif, etc). Put them in your visual diary.


Create a new type face made with any weird materials. Use pencils, your hands, wire, etc to form your letters. Be creative with how you create your type forms. Scan or photograph your type to form a name for the type face. Stick it in your folio.

1.3 Going digital

Make a creative interpretation of the word "typography" using different typeface and non-type techniques you can find to illustrate the word. Use Illustrator and save it as a JPEG. Learn how to delete a background for an image and save it as a PNG in Photoshop.

See image below for an example.


Should take you about 30 minutes on computer to whip this up!

Type anatomy

It's time now to examine type more closely. Let's look at different kinds of type then look at the various parts of a letter. This is called 'type anatomy'. It may seem a bit over the top but seriously, an understanding and language to describe exactly how type shape is made up and works, leads to your ability to analyse the function of type in a visual communication. 

In the task below you are going to be asked to make a type anatomy chart like the one at the right. 

Search 'type anatomy' in Google images to find heaps of examples.

Zoe Blair-Holt has type set a word to look like an eye test for her chart identifying type anatomy.
Deborah Nguyen made the word Hydrogen to illustrate type anatomy. 2018.

Type styles and anatomy

A quick introduction into the world of different fonts.
Getting more serious with parts of letters.

Tasks 2

2.1 Type anatomy

Create a chart to teach people about the different components of type forms. Choose a word or even your name and identify and annotate most of the components shown below. Do it digitally or manually. Make it a nice piece of graphic design.

  • Base line,
  • x height,
  • upper case,
  • lower case,
  • ascender,
  • descender,
  • serif,
  • bowl,
  • terminal,
  • stem,
  • counter,
  • loop,
  • finial,
  • crossbar,
  • ear.

2.2 Describe fonts

Type set and alphabet in two different fonts. Make sure they are very different from each other. Write a short paragraph to describe two typefaces you have found. Use the type terms and identify 5 anatomical characteristics of the two typefaces as a whole, rather than discussing individual letters. 

What can I say about a font? How do I describe it?

There's a good chance you're stuck on this one. You might say it's bold or wide. Not too flash, so let's look at some key characteristics of fonts we can discuss.

Kind of font = Is it sans serif or serif, and within that are they thin wedge serifs or large 'slab' serifs?

Shape = Break out your visual analysis language. Would you describe the type forms as geometric, organic, linear, curvy?

Stroke contrast = Do the type forms have high or low contrast? This means the difference between the thickness of parts of the letters.

Figure-ground relationship = How much of the space of the type form is black. Is it a thin or light type form with a weak figure-ground relationship, or a bold or black type form with a strong figure-ground relationship.

Style, aesthetic qualities = Is the overall effect formal, casual, informal, etc?

X-height relationship = We describe X-height as a percentage. A letter who's lower case x height is half of the capital letters in the same face has an 'X-height' of 50%. Type faces who's lower case x is more than 50% are said to have a large X height, over 75% its very large. Less than 50% its small, and less than 25% is very small.

Distinctive features = Think of ascenders, descenders and terminals. How do the letters end? These can set the type face apart.

2.3 Reflection

Make a creative half page for your visual diary. Use a variety of hand drawn or collaged fonts for headings. Then answer these two questions;

  • What have you learnt about the structure of letters?
  • What is the design thinking concept behind one of the type faces you have studied?

More on type

Thinking routine


Generate – Sort – Connect – Elaborate

In this exercise, we are going to view some material from the documentary 'Helvetica' (Huswit, 2007) the type face, then determine the main ideas expressed by the graphic designers interviewed. In finding these main ideas and making them visible you will be able to understand how type needs to be both legible and expressive.

Two opposing views on Helvetica

Click here to see 'Helvetica' on Youtube

Two opposing views on Helvetica:

  1. An explanation of how Helvetica changed the face of design entirely. Through comment by Michael Beirut and the design of the 60s. (Watch: 24:24 – 28:03)
  2. The post-modern response to such a uniform typeface. Through Stephan Sagmeister, David Carson and deconstructed design. (Watch : Stephan Sagmeister 49:46 – 54:00), (54:00 – 55:25) David Carson watch: 55:25 – 1:00:00.

Process for the thinking routine

You will view the clips. (Your teacher will choose the best sections. I put the first one (24:24 – 28:03) in to background the post-modern response). After watching you are going to create ‘concept maps’ (like a mind map) in groups of 3 or 4.

Then we are going to use this thinking routine to get inside the ideas expressed by the designers in the film.

1 Generate

Create a list of words or ideas you have gleaned from the video. Write them on a list or on separate post its. Think of at least 4 or 5 each. Your teacher may want to show the video in stages to allow you to record words or ideas as you go.

2 Sort

Take a larger piece of paper (A2) then  write their words or ideas onto the sheet. Before you start, put the word “Type” in the middle of the sheet then  record your ideas. Put the most important concepts toward the centre of the sheet, and least or tangential ones toward the outside. This may cause some debate.

3 connect

Now draw lines to connect related ideas together. Give each line a title to explain the connection by writing it on the line. Connect related ideas, connect lines. One idea might lead to another, etc.

4 Elaborate

Next pick a few central ideas and elaborate them with a small paragraph of text. This breaks the ideas into smaller parts.

5 Share

Each group will come out to the front of the class room to discuss their understanding of the ideas expressed by the designers – and ultimately state their opinion: Do you agree Helvetica is the best, because of its simplicity, clarity or do they agree with Carson that it is sterile and communicates nothing?!


Before we head into working with type, let's explore more details about type.

Type is expressive

Everyone knows that type communicates via the words it represents. What few people know or understand is that it is not only the words that communicate emotion, tone or feeling in communication design, it is the shape of the type and way the words are positioned that are expressive long before words are read. In this section of study we examine some of the factors that influence how type communicates.

Try out this massive video on the history and communication of the typeface 'Cooper Black'. You'll love it.


These are two words that are often used interchangably and/or incorrectley. A complete style of letters is called a typeface. This is the traditional or old style way of naming each set. For example 'Arial' or 'Dido' are typefaces. These days each on computers, each style of type is also known as a font. You may know letter styles by this name. However, the term font has a specific, different meaning.

Movable type began in Europe with the Guttenburg printing press in Germany in 1439. Each letter was formed on the end of a square piece of metal, like a stamp. When they were lined up they created a words. Each typeface was a complete set of glyphs - meaning a complete set of letters, numbers and symbols. How then did they change the size of the letters if they wanted headings? Initially this was not possible, but soon type foundaries (foundary is the word for a metal works that casts metal forms from molten (liquid) metal) began to produce complete sets of the same style type in different sizes. Printing houses would have huge chests with flat drawers. One chest would house a typeface with each drawer housing complete sets, including tens of the same letters, at one size. A complete set of glyphs at one particular size is called a font.


Designers are challenged by presenting information including for example, a display heading, sub headings, body text, picture captions, by lines, in an organised manner. Choosing different typefaces will create a random 'type salad' (disorganised mix of type faces) and detract from the information. To achieve unity in documents and to ensure that typefaces are adaptable for a wide variety of uses type producers create typefaces in 'type families. This means the same basic font has been altered in terms of stroke width and/or character width to make separate yet related, different fonts that work well together. Shown here is a family of Helvetica Neue typefaces.

From 'ultra light' to 'black', the Helvetica Neue family.

These font samples are from the same typeface. Each one is called a different 'weight'. In addition each typeface comes in different widths. These are 'condensed', 'regular' or 'roman' and 'extended'. Can you imagine some different uses for each weight and width?



Type is usually measured in a unit called a 'point'. A point is an imperial measurement (not a metric measurement). There are 72 points to one inch (25.4 mm). Although Australia changed form British Imperial measurements to Metric in the late ninteen sixties, we still use points as a unit for type size. When we see '12' in a type size box, we don’t say, “The letter is size 12” but we say, “It’s 12 point type”. Points are abreviated to 'pt'. However, to say that a letter of 72 pt is about 25mm high is wrong. Type exists in a complex space, made of up letter heights, and the space above and below. This comes from the days when type was made in metal blocks. You can imagine that a 72 pt type block included metal above and below the actual letterform to separate it from lines above and below.

Designers and typesetters use specific sizes of type for each job.

  • They rarely use 12 pt type. This size is used for letter writing.
  • Body text is set in sizes ranging from 8 to 11 pt.
  • Headlines and display text are set above 24 pt.


Type can be 'set' (the designer's term for written) in several ways depending on how one wants it to communicate with the reader. The term 'case' refers to the kind of letters in the font; Capitals (big letters for the start of a sentence or emphasis), Lowercase (for letters in words). The use of the word 'case' originated from when typesetters kept their metal letters in strong wooden cases. The 'upper case' held the capitals and the 'lower case' held the letters for writing normal words.

Names for case styles;

  • 'CAPITALS' is all capital letters
  • 'Sentence case' is upper and lower case letters as normally used in a sentence
  • 'Title Case' is using a capital for each new word
  • 'lower case' is non capitals for all words
  • 'tOGGLE cASE' is like Title case but in reverse


Type is usually aligned to a tab left or right. There are several frequently used alignment positions for type. Different kinds of alignment work for different purposes of typesetting.

See how many different ways we can align type. Consider what each way communicates to the reader.

Three kinds of type forms


A Roman serif type form

Type forms with serifs grew from Roman letters that were carved from stone. The serif decorations made at the edges of the letters were initially part of the carving process. Strong serif typefaces became associated with institutions that were part of Western heritage. Governments, banks, schools, newspapers and wine lables used them. In time they came to communicate the values that characterised those organisations.

We can use serif typefaces when we want to communicate similar values. Test it out for your self. Think of some traditional institutions and see what style of type face they use for their branding. Think newspapers and schools and wines. Then when you find some don't use serif type faces, like banks, consider why they have made the shift. What is it they are trying to say to us now?

A well known serif type face is Times New Roman (1931). As you may imagine, by the date of its creation, it is not a new font. However, its association with 'The Times' newspaper ensures its tradition and authority.

The implied meanings embedded in serif typefaces are;

  • authority,
  • experince
  • wisdom,
  • judgement,
  • tradition and
  • knowldge.

Stroke contrast

Serif type forms are usually constructed from different thickness (or contrasting) 'strokes' (or parts of the letters). Contrast in type refers the the difference in weight (thickness) between the thick and thin parts of each letter. This ratio of thick and thin parts of the letter forms themselves implies meaning. The fashion and cosmetics industry favours very stongly contrasting stroke thickness in letters. Type faces Didot (late 1700s) and Bodini (1798) communicate 'glamour' themselves. We imagine the most stylish super models as forms with varying thickness curving, waving and finishing in the finest, softest points.

By complete contrast, imagine a strong, dark cowboy, sun in his eyes, atop his horse, riding a dusty road into town. It's a picture or strength.Typographers in the Wild West favoured Slab serif (or egyptian as they are also known) fonts. These have strong thick strokes and finish in solid square serifs. Typeography using slab serif fonts will always look strong and uncompromising.

Body text

Designers use serif letterforms for body text (the bulk or body of a story) because of the contrast in their stroke's thickness. . The continual variation in strength makes reading small text set in serif text easier and holds readers attention longer (than with body text set in sans-serif fonts).



An italicised sans-serif type form

Sans-serif type faces are constructed from simple strokes of more even width. The term 'sans' is French for' without'. Without serifs means the type forms are without embelishment or decoration. They are plain. It is for this reason they are also known as 'Gothic' fonts. Gothic, meaning barbarian, un-cultured, philistines (people we don't like). (Think typeface Century Gothic (1991)). Dispite their implied meaning, type forms without decoration are not really new type forms. In fact; Gothic typefaces were use several hundred years before the birth of Christ. But as type without decoration was considered ugly they were seldom used. Therefore, sans-serif fonts are considered 'new' because their frequent use in mainstream typography dates from mid Twentieth Century. They are also considered influential because their forms replaced serif type in institutional used dating from the 1950s, but because their simple, clear and apparently honest letters brought with them a whole new approach to graphic design.

The most common sans-serif font is called Helvetica (1957). It was designed by type foundary Haas in Switzerland in 1957 as an update for Akzicenz-Grotesk (1896). It quickly became available in a wide range of type styles including condensed, regular, and extended and in several weights. Most commmercial printers use Helvetica but nearly everyone has a copy of this famous type face on their Windows PCs called Arial. It is a similar type face that is designed to have the same effect but be just a bit different, so that it’s creators at Microsoft didn’t have to pay the license fees to HAAS for Helvetica.

When Helvetica was designed the world was in the process of reconstruction after World War Two. There was growth and development in building and infrastructure across the world. Helvetica was first used in central Europe and had gained popularity in transport signs in Milan. It arrived in America in the early 1960s. Much of the corporate sector used it for newly designed stationary. Not only did Helvetica become the standard typeface for organisations’ new branding but its distinctive clarity and balance between figure and ground, bought a completely new style of design and layout for commercial design. 

From mid 20th Century Helvetica and sans-serif fonts, acquired the implied meanings of;

  • newness; a rejection of the baggage of the past,
  • fresh ideas,
  • non judgemental,
  • suggestion,
  • objective facts and,
  • even ideas from Europe.

The large X height (the height of the lowercase letters) in relation to the capital, made Helvetica suitable for display text set in sentence case (capitals and lower case letters); used in this way it has a tone of suggestion rather instruction. Furthermore, when used in lower case only it is a departure from the authorititarian tone seen in the past. Sans serif type faces are used because of their legibility (ease to read) although, their main use is for display text (banners and headlines) because of their robust simplicity rather than for body text. Type with minimal contrast in stroke width makes for boring reading in long passages. However, this is changing; sans-serif fonts are now becoming standard for Web or screen text as tiny serifs in small size text, do not render well on computer monitors.

Helvetica is ubiquitous (everywhere), but although it still continues to communicate the concepts shown above, today's new generation of designers feel it has become impersonal and institutional. They see expressive limits, not only in the use of the typeface but in the whole manner of minimalist design.



A variation on 'Blackletter' display font.

Decorative display (heading) fonts emulating wood type, hand brush script, military stencils, neon signs, were used in print right through the twentieth century. But the shift to computer for graphic design, (late 1980s) allowed designers more flexibility in typesetting and brought a resurgence in the use of decorative fonts. There is a huge range of decorative type. Their distinctive visual qualities communicate meaning to their audience through their aesthetics. We respond to them emotionally.

"Don’t confuse legibility with communication and just because something is legible it doesn’t mean it communicates.” (David Carson quoted in film ‘Helvetica’, produced and directed by Gary Hustwit, 2007 Swiss Dots Limited).

By this Carson means, although Helvetica is easy to read, the shape of the letters is cold, neutral and unexpressive. He believed that the very outline of a letter should contain inherent meaning just as any shape, colour or texture does in visual communication.

In the early nineteen nineties Californian designer David Carson produced an experimental magazine called Ray Gun (1992). During this period he began to deconstruct and overlay type, sometimes making it very difficult to read. His style was original and cheeky. It became influencial and known as 'grunge' typography, The name grunge was taken from a style of music in Seattle led by pop group Nirvana. Carson then took his style into mainstream press when he became art director of Transworld (1983 - ) skateboarding magazine. From there grunge typography became the signature of skate and surf advertising and clothing design. Grunge fonts now are true post modern design works as they rely on deconstructing, erasing or damaging previous well known typefaces. Grunge designers incorporate errors, the backgrounds of rubber stamps, scratches or mirrored letters, into their work to build deep textural experiences.

tasks 3

3.1 Thinking routine

Do the thinking routine on the documentary Helvetica as a group. Write up your results and present them to the class.

3.2 Using type language

Create an A3 page of visual research to illustrate the terms described in the section above. Construct your page as a mind map and annotate each image with a large heading and description of how each type term is evident.


Type adjustments

This section will explore exactly how type is set out and spacings are adjusted for expressive effect.


For designers to have full control of their work they need to be able to adjust type settings. But why do they if the computer is working it all out for them? The reason is that computer publishing programs are set with default settings for 'tracking' (letter spacing) and 'leading' (line spacing) that work best for 'body' text (text in the body of a paragraph - this is body text). If one simply enlarges type for a large heading, with the same settings for tracking and leading, the letters and the lines will be too far apart. This is know as 'loose' tracking and leading. In the same way, if we were to reduce the size of type used in a heading to use it for body text, the letters would be too close and the vertical space between the lines, to thin. This is known as 'tight' tracking and leading. Designers control text settings when typesetting.

To get started on this, let's look at these videos.

Plans and elevations to describe the space

Watch type in action with this introduction to typography Karen Kavett. This explores type anatomy, type styles, type adjustments, alignments, tips for using type.
Part 2 by Karen Kavett recaps on the history of type with type styles and categories, the difference between ‘free fonts’ and licensed commercial fonts for purchase, numbers in two styles, kinds of cap sizes, typesetting – widows and orphans, grid layouts.


(Tracking and kerning later)

Spacing letters correctly is an artform requiring much training. When letters were first designed for mechanical reproduction it was thought that each letter should occupy the same space - how else would typesetters be able to interchange letters on lines of type without getting awkward spaces? Remember each letter was on a metal block. Spacing with the same width space is called 'mechanical spacing'. But letters are not always the same width.

When typewriters were invented they had to deal with the same problem. That is, each letter punch had to be of a fixed width to fit it in the mechanism. To solve this type designers designed 'monospaced' letters. This typeface had thin letters that were widened with large serifs to take up the space of wider letters. Modern variations of this typeface are called Courier and American Typewriter. This worked fine for typewriters but did not translate so well come the digital age. What is really required is something much more sophisticated.

When designers started to typeset with phototype and Letraset (rub down letters) in the 1960 - 80s they used optical spacing. Optical spacing not only acknowledges that each letter is a different width so takes up a different amount of space, but that when different letters are next to each other they need varying amounts of space - sometimes even negative space if one places a capital A next to a V.

There are many models for spacing letters, here are three.

Type form WIDTH

Text width refers to the width of a letter from the left to the right. Although typefaces come in different set widths, narrow faces are called 'condensed' and wide faces, 'extended' (see type families below), designers sometimes want to be able to change the width of some or all letters for special effects. This is called adjusting text width. Adjusting text width is not adjusting 'tracking'.

Text width is the width of the letter, not the space between.


Beyond spacing designers also want to be able to adjust each space between each letter. As mentioned above the space between letters needs to be adjusted for type of different sizes. This adjustment is known as 'tracking'. Letters close together is called 'tight' tracking. Letters with wider spacing is called 'loose' tracking.
Tracking adjustments can be made to letters in words, sentences or paragraphs to make the text feel differently or fit in different locations in a document.


When computer set optical spacing fails to deliver great results designers have to move individual letters in a word to make it look good. Changing the space between one pair of letters is called 'kerning'. Remember, kerning is adjusting tracking to one pair of letters. One cannot kern a word. One adjusts tracking.

Kerning is used to make pairs of letters look more balanced.


Leading refers to the vertical space between lines of type. The term 'leading' originated from hand typesetting with metal blocks where typesetters would insert 'slugs' or strips of lead of varying thickness between lines. Leading is quoted in 'points'. Corresponding with text size, points are 1/72nd of an inch. 'Auto' leading is the default of publishing programs and is about 120% of the type size used. Lines close together are called 'tight' leading. Lines with wider spacing is called 'loose' leading.

Leading is the name given to the space between lines. Designers adjust leading according to the purpose, size and location of type in a document.

Tasks 4


Grab a headline or proverb and typeset it in different ways in Illustrator to see how changes in typesetting adjustments emphasise or detract from the meaning.

Learn how to control all the typesetting adjustments including tracking, kerning and leading to give the phrase more or less impact.  

Play with as many of they type adjustments described above as you want.

Annotate your work, describing what you are doing with the type and what effect it is creating.

The idea of this task is to type set examples the show an increase in weight and impact from softest to strongest.

Special note: don’t confuse tracking (the space between letters) with type width. Designers don’t usually alter type width (although sometimes sign-writers do!) Remember a typeface is designed very carefully and its proportions should not be tampered with. If you need a thinner or fatter type form, choose a condensed or extended face from a professional type package.

4.2 Type adjustments level 2

See The Ultimate Challenge below. Scan an example of type as used in a newspaper headline. Place it into an Illustrator file. If you use an example of type from the Herald Sun, type set the headline in Arial Black, but then use type size, width, tracking and kerning adjustments in the character pallet to copy the type as set in the example. Be careful, there is more to this job than there seems.

4.3 Create a type glossary

Go back over the type terms you have read on this page so far. Make a list of them then write a simple definition of each. Print it and place it in your visual diary.

4.4 Analyse the use of type

Collect an example of print communication design. Using type terminology from your glossary write a (max 300 word) report to analyse the way type has been used.

In your report refer to the kind of typeface and the way it is typeset.

You don't have to analyse all of the type in the visual communication, just the parts that are relevant to the function of the design.

Place this report in your visual diary.


Take a look at the way the typesetting adjustments leading and tracking change the way a piece of type communicates.
In Adobe Illustrator we use the Character pallett to make type setting adjustments.

The ultimate type challenge

In this task we use type adjustment controls to replicate existing typography from a newspaper.

processing images for a purpose

Type is often accompanied by image. Just as we have found many terms to describe how type is made, type set and used we will learn about different kinds of image files and ways to adjust them in computer applications.

Image types and adjustments

One phase of this Area of study that is easy to overlook is the understanding of processing images for the purposes we intend. Although this can get pretty technical, a basic understanding is required to complete 'Type and Imagery in context'. In this section we will study;

  • Purposes for images,
  • Image type: vector or raster, file type,
  • Image mode,
  • Image size and image resolution.

Purposes for images

Images are made in different ways for different purposes. Seems obvious but what we are asking an image to do will vary according to its context. For example; putting a logo on the side of a plane requires a very different kind of image kind from that which might be used on a website.

Consider the images required for the different contexts and purposes shown in the image at right.

In our study, the two purposes we need to concern ourselves with are print and web.

Image about-us/our-company/fleet/ qantas-b787-9.html

Image type: vector or raster, file type

There are two kinds of images in computers. An image is created and stored in computers in two different ways. Both involve mathematic formulas.

One way is to 'see' an image is as dots known as pixels. Each pixel is a small square. A bitmap image is a 'map' of these pixels. Each pixel has a location, a colour and and in some cases different levels of brightness. The whole image is a series of numbers representing all the locations and colour information or each pixel.

The other way to 'see' an image is to use mathematical formulas to 'graph' lines, curves and shapes. These shapes can also be coloured. This is a vector image.

Raster or bitmap images

A bitmap image or ‘raster’ image is a picture made and stored by mapping pixels in a grid, recording their position, colour, and brightness. Bitmap images are resolution dependent. More about resolution later.

The main advantages of bitmap images are;

They are realistic because the pixels graduate in tone, They are realistic because shapes can have fuzzy edges, They can be viewed in almost any default browser or viewer without the need of specialist software like Photoshop.

The main disadvantages of bitmap images are;

As you increase the image size/zoom in they loose quality, As you increase the image size and the resolution (to keep the quality consistent) they file size grows, Once they are compressed for web or any other purpose they cannot be un-compressed / enlarged without loss of clarity.

  • Examples of bitmap images are; JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) = compressed graphic file, used for photos and web because of its variable and high compression.
  • GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) = used for images of simple solid colour or lines, like flags or logos on the web because of its extreme compression. Suitable for graphics liek logos not photos. Is limited to 256 colours on a 'colour look up table'.
  • TIFF = (Tagged Image File Format) – a much lower compression to retain more tonal information for publishing in CMYK colour space.
  • PNG = (Portable Network Graphics) An image format that can have a transparent background
  • PSD = (Photoshop) file that can be edited in layers
  • BMP = Usually an uncompressed file. A Windows native file.
  • RAW = Uncompressed graphic file from a camera, recording all the information about pixels.

Vector images

A vector image is one made from shapes described/stored as mathematical formulas.

The main advantages of vector images are;

The files can be much smaller than with raster images (at a high resolution). For example the data needed to describe a red square by a mathematical calculation is smaller than the data needed to describe each pixel that make a square.
As vector images are not images at all but calculations, they can be re-sized at any size without -
loosing any clarity
blurring as you zoom in
increasing file size, even for big ones! (try doing that with a .jpg!)

The main disadvantages of vector images are;

That they have crisp outlines (unless effects applied through vector editing programs like Adobe Illustrato.r
They require vector reading software to look at them. Examples are Illustrator, Flash or Corel Draw.

Examples of vector images are;

  • AI – (Adobe illustrator) file. A vector file for editing, can have layers
  • EPS = (Encapsulated Post Script) – a vector file for vector images. Useful because it can be scaled without any
    loss of detail or increase in file size
  • SVG = (Scalable Vector Graphics) Developed by WWWConsortium uncompressed and suitable for editing in a vector editing program.

Image mode

Depending on the purpose of an image we need to be aware of how the colours will be separated for reproduction.  Three common colour separation modes are:

  • Mono,
  • RGB,
  • CMYK.

A mono image will be of one channel. This is a black and white or greyscale image. Solid colours produced from a single channel are called spot colours.

RGB is for screen use, since a screen makes it's colours from three coloured lights - red, green and blue.

CMYK is for most colour printing use since colour printing is made by four coloured inks covering paper - cyan, magenta, yellow, black.

And sorry to disappoint, but the primary colours are not really red, yellow or blue? All colours are called process colours and are made from mixtures of CMY and K (Black = key colour).

In addition, you will need to know that there are two ways to produce colour in visual communication. Additive and subtractive colour models. RGB is addictive because a screen starts from black when it is off then illuminates all the way to white. CMYK is subtractive because in printing we begin with white paper then hide it with inks, all the way to black. Additive and subtractive colour mixing works in opposite and strange ways.


When we talk about image size we could mean two things. First we could mean the distance from the left to the right of the picture, usually in centre metres, or secondly, we could mean the amount of information stored in the image. Both these factors affect the file size or, number of MegaBytes (MB) it takes to store it.

A digital image is made of dots. Dots can be big or small. The size of an image is not created by one thing but is a product of the combination of the number of dots (from left to right) and the size of those dots. Some images are very clear and detailed and some are quite coarse. To compare the size of images then, we need to ensure that the size of the dots in the two images are the same.

The amount of the dots per unit (cm or inch), called pixels, is called the resolution of the picture. Pictures of low resolutions have smaller file size than those with higher resolutions.

Different purposes or transmission methods require different resolutions.

Image resolution is expressed in ppi (pixels per inch) or ppcm (pixels per centimetre). Given that we always want to keep a file a small as possible, then the main factor influencing the choice of resolution for a picture is the viewing devices capability in rendering resolution. (The delivery platform). If you consider your eye as a viewing device for a magazine or book, it can see dots down to about 300 in an inch or 118 per centimetre. The viewing device for looking at the internet, a computer monitor normally renders to 72 ppi or 39 ppcm. However, now Apple's 'Retina' displays render to 300ppi.

Both these pictures are the same size in terms of their height and width. However, the this picture has few dots per inch. It is like magnification of a of 72 ppi image. The right picture on the right is 4 times as clear (has 4 times smaller pixels). This is a magnification of a 300 dpi picture at the same scale. Which do you think is the smaller file?

If the left picture was 100 kB (kiloByte) then what size would the picture on the right be?

Simple, it has 4 times as many pixels so times 100 by 4 and its 400kB.

tasks 5

5.1 Image file types and mode.

Before you start, get two images. Find one from the web and one from a digital camera. Copy them to a folder in your computer.

Open each image in Adobe Photoshop. Learn how to change the mode from RGB to CMYK.

Re-save it as a CMYK JPG, TIFF for print and an RGB JPG, PNG and GIF for web.

Discover the effect these image file types have on file size. Consider what we want in a print image and what we want in an image for web.

5.2 Image size and resolution

Open up both of the original images - from web and camera again. Select Image/ Image size in Adobe Photoshop.

Determine the image size in number of pixels in each image. Then the image size and resolution in cm and ppi. Compare them.

Now here's the challenge, work out how big each image would be at 72 ppi and at 300 ppi respectively.

Create a heading on an A3 piece of paper. Write up your findings. Answer the following questions:

  1. How many pixels wide does an image need to be to print at A3 @ 300 ppi? Can your mobile phone picture be used for that application?
  2. If I found an image on the web that was 400 pixels wide. How big would it display on a webpage if it was saved at 72 ppi and how big would it become if it was saved at 300 ppi for print. No Photoshop needed, just a piece of paper and a calculator.


grid layout

The organisation of type and image is as important as the individual components themselves. Although grid layout may not be used in the final outcome for this Area of study, the study of composition techniques fits within this Unit. It is essential for communication design in VCD for you understand grid layout.

It won't be too long before you realise that effective communication design is not just a matter of spreading elements (type, images and shapes) randomly across a page. Mid way through the 20th Century designers began to realise that a more systematic approach would make communication more readable and therefore more effective for their audience. They began to base their designs on an underlying grid kind of structure. Now grid is everywhere, in print and all over the web.

Let's learn how to build one. Take a look at the fantastic website by pressing the image on the right. You will find that communication design grids are made using;

  • margins,
  • columns,
  • gutter,
  • modules,
  • spatial zone,
  • flowlines.
Click on the image above to visit a great website on grid layout.


Here is a typical set up for a newspaper page.
Note the margins around the content and the way the content is organised into columns. Even the pictures and ads run in multiples of columns.
Now see how each separate component is organised into 'spatial zones' - which are multiples of 'modules'.

How is grid layout used in generation of ideas and development?

Take a close look at these images below. They show how tertiary design student Zoe planned her font poster by using a grid layout in small thumbnails from the start. You have to get the underlying structure right first. 

Good students will make several different options for development. 


Here is a page of initial layout sketches by student Zoe Blair-Holt. What she is seeking here is to create a balance between components of the design.
Another page of layout sketches. Wonderful divisions of space.
The finished poster. Can you spot the underlying grid structure. Working in only two colours is a nice touch. Creating a simple effect draws your attention to the type.

tasks 6

6.1 Understand grid layout

Find a piece of print or web design. Print a copy for your visual diary. Make sure that it's about A5.

Now, jump onto a light box and make a tracing of the layout. This time draw in the flow lines, margins, columns, gutter, etc and identify modules, spatial zones in annotations on the sheet.

Finally, take the traced grid plan sheet and overlay another sheet. Make up a new ad, try promoting your favourite subject, using the same grid structure. Only draw it as a rough layout - like shown in the student examples above.


Legal obligations

Working with type and image

This section is not intended as a full resume of the legal and ethical obligations designers must follow but rather a simple outline of the correct legal use of type and image as they relate to this area of study.

Type faces and images are not free. Each are professional design products that have costs in their design and manufacture. In addition, type and image are works of art and therefore covered in Australia and overseas, by copyright laws. In order to use type and image legally we need to understand that they are products too.

This section will cover a brief description of how professional designers use them and how we as students can.


For designers

Type faces are original artistic designs. There is a whole field of design for type called typography. People can spend their entire professional life as a typographer. Several large firms own the licence to reproduce and sell ranges of professional typefaces.

Before we go any further we need to distinguish between professional or commercial use of type and student, hobby or personal use.

As we are student designers we need to understand that professional designers make money from their designs. Their designs carry words in various styles of type. Professional designers need to purchase licensed copies of every font they have and use. Often fonts are purchased exclusively for a client. Professional designers cannot use free for personal use type faces. Fonts are expensive, if you click on the image at right you will see that each weight in Helvetica Neue is about AUD$50. This makes the entire font of 109 weights and widths well over $5000!

For students

As students and educators we need to be aware that the programs we use have 'education licences' and cannot be used for commercial work. We can usually use free for non commercial use fonts. These fonts, from sites like are often starter sets that don't contain all the characters or ligatures. We need to read the 'read me' file carefully and understand the terms of use. The type faces may need to be acknowledged.


For designers

You will understand that photos are also works of art. As a professional designer you generally have three choices when you need an image;

  • First, you can shoot the image yourself. This is often impractical as time spent away from the studio is money lost. Plus you may not have the latest equipment, know how or access to locations and models.
  • Secondly, you can commission a professional photographer. Costly, but you will expect them to have the latest professional equipment, studios, know how and access to locations and models.
  • Thirdly, you can use stock images. These are images owned by image bank companies and sold to designers for use in web and print in a variety of ways. They may seem expensive at first but considering they can be sold over and over again to many clients, they are far cheaper for designers than commissioning one-off photography.

For students

As students and educators we are faced with similar choices.

  • By far the best option is to shoot our own images. Remember professional quality is not required in student work.
  • Secondly, we may be able to buy licensed stock images for individual projects. Subscriptions to computer programs or your school may have access to certain stock libraries.
  • Never, use an image from an internet site in an original design. Even with acknowledgement it cannot become part of another design.

In research it is you may copy text or image with proper, consistent acknowledgement. Cite the actual site from where you found the content, the author, photographer, studio and/or art director (where possible), the date the resource was made and the date it was accessed.


Click on the image above to the Linotype site.

Click on the image above to visit Shutterstock.

tasks 7

7.1 Apply practices that fulfil legal obligations when using existing typefaces and imagery

There are no specific tasks for this section. However, you work will be graded on how consistently you acknowledge copyright owners of any image you use in your work.


Type and imagery design task

Task description

Now we move onto putting all that we have learnt into practice. We will respond to a brief and design using type and imagery to express ideas and concepts for both print and web.

We will design a label for a new flavour of soft drink. You will choose the flavour and an angle to use in your promotional design. You will research past and historic designs, make connections with them, research beer labels as a resource for contemporary interpretations of period design.

You will work though the design process including creative thinking and evaluation of your techniques and finally export and print your design for two different communication design platforms - print and web.

What creativity and ideas could you bring to bottles like the ones shown here?

Soft drink label challenge

How would you promote these flavors?



Getting started

In this section you will read and rewrite a brief, research past and historical designs and products then start your creative thinking process with a mind map exploring flavours and concepts.

*Apologies to the designers of the fabulous beer and cider labels shown here  for educational purposes. If need be please let me know and I will remove the image.


Communication design need

Dalston's drinks London are a specialty soft drink company looking to expand their market into a range of drinks designed to appeal to inner urban young adults. They are hoping to design new flavours and have a suite of eye catching labels that are able to hold their own on the shelves beside the huge range of craft and imported beers. Dalston's require a label for their bottles to promote and identify their drinks.

You can find the Dalston's website here

The audience is for young adult men/ women living in inner urban locations with disposable income to be buying higher end low production specialty soft drinks. They are interested in independent live music and frequent bars and clubs of the city.

The purpose of the label and logo are to identify and promote the new range of soft drinks.

The context will be in bars, bottle shops and supermarkets as well as on the company web site.

The expectation is that the imagery should be strong, express a particular concept or theme and be made in the popular 'retro' pre 1960s visual style.

The presentation formats required for delivery are;

  • A3 portrait poster showing the label on a bottle,

tasks 8

8.1 Mood board

In this activity we are going to try to get inside the function and the aesthetics of the Dalston's Soda company. Visit the site, look through each page carefully. Collect images and make a carefully designed mood board to reflect their brand. Create your mood board on one A3 portrait layout page, using a grid layout in InDesign. In your layout include the following;

  • 2 images of people doing things,
  • text to describe the 2 values of the company,
  • Similar typography as used in the site. Describe it in an annotation.
  • 2 objects seen,
  • at least 2 of 3 examples of the use of dominant design elements, colours, shapes and textures.

Get your mood board to shout Dalston's in the same way their website does.

8.2 Mind map

Make a mind map to explore two main concepts - flavors and concepts that enhances them.

Consider the following list of concepts to support your flavor. If you're not sure how a concept can support ideas about a flavor, take a look at the beer labels I photographed below. Look at how they show 'summer' for example.

Concepts for consideration:

  • Strength
  • Courage
  • Patriotism
  • Summer
  • Winter
  • Beach
  • Mountain alpine
  • Forrest
  • Wood grain
  • Frivolous fun
  • Glamour
  • England
  • Japan
  • Germany
  • Asia
  • Australia
  • Africa
  • USA
  • Desert
  • Jungle
  • Ocean
  • Surf culture
  • Skate culture
  • Ski culture
  • Wood cutter
  • Hipster
  • Soldier
  • Stage act
  • Movie star
  • Pop star
  • Punk
  • Flower garden
  • Tennis

To complete your mind map identify a new and fabulous flavor for your drink.

Complete a wild, creative mind map.

8.3 The brief

When you have both a flavour and a concept to drive your designs, rewrite the brief specifically for your ideas. Make it your own.

Beer and cider labels April 2018

Cricketer's arms
Young Henry's
Bridge Road Brewery
Pacifico brewery
Matso's brewery
Barossa cider co.
Asahi, Sapporo breweries
James Squire, Montieth, Red Hill
Brooklyn, Cricketer's Arms, Coldstream
Burleigh brewing
Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma brewery
Mercury brewery
Karl Strauss brewing
Shepherd Neame's brewery
Shepherd Neame's brewery


Now that you know the flavour and the concept you are going to use to drive your design, it's time to do some research to inform your work.

Research needs to be broad. Look at like and unlike products and ways the concept is represented both in images and typography.

I have put together a page that might help with some of your research. The rest is up to you. Click the image at right.

Soft drink label challenge

Click on the image to visit this page.

Research and investigation from a variety of sources

Research and synthesis. Maple Morel, 2018.
Research from real bottles. Deborah Nguyen, 2018.
Research and synthesis. Kristina Pirsl, 2018.

tasks 9

9.1 Research, observation and synthesis

Conduct broad and insightful research and analysis of soft drink labels, beer labels, other labels, and ways to represent the concept you have chosen. Search both relevant images and typography. Some suggestions for broad, divergent and insightful research will include researching;

  • similarly flavored drinks from the past and present,
  • taking the driving concept literally (strength = barbells),
  • examining the widest range of liquid container forms,
  • looking at any ideas from the distant and near past,

Annotate your research to describe how concepts are communicated in type and visually.

Reference every image or type design you collect with the URL or source.

9.2 Observation and synthesis

As you populate your pages with research images and annotations, begin to sketch some of the ideas you see. Start to combine ideas and images. Start to change and adapt ideas, fonts and designs to create new ideas.

Use this process to help shape the direction you will take in your use of visualisation drawings in the next stage.

You should complete 4-6 A3 pages.

9.3 Connections with past and contemporary typography

Collect one of the images from my Typography Survey page and one piece of contemporary typography. (You can compare two from either ends of the time scale on the page if you want).

Press here to visit this page

Analyse connections between past and contemporary typography. Write a 300 word report on how typography has changed over a period of at least 50 years. Use typographic terms you learnt in this task to describe specific characteristics of type that have either changed or remained the same.

Title and print your report for your visual diary.

Generation of ideas with visualisation drawings and development

The emphasis in the first part of the folio is to generate a range of ideas that can be developed. Use creative thinking techniques like SCAMPER to help you change and adapt your ideas. Remember don't evaluate your ideas here, just keep them coming. The more the better.

In this section you will create your development folio. Create 4 - 6 pages of different ideas. Work with different scales, colours, textures and shapes. Make your ideas as different from each other as possible.

Select and apply design elements and principles to develop ideas

As you become more confident that you have some good ideas begin to try the same idea in different ways by emphasising different design elements and principles. Re draw them with or without line for example. Change the balance, scale or hierarchy of the components. You can get a whole page from the one idea adapted in several ways.

Select and apply materials, methods and media ideas

With the knowledge that different methods and media create different effects, make deliberate decisions to try making your images with a range of methods, materials and media. If you look back at the examples on this page and on the Typographic survey page you will see evidence of paint, pen and print making. Try these out.

Work manual and digital

You will begin with manual methods and media. As your work progresses move to computer. Try scanning and working with bitmap images on Adobe Photoshop and then try creating vector artwork with Adobe Illustrator. In the same way that manual methods create different effects, so to do digital ones. 

Remember to print each version or revision of your designs.

reflect on suitability of conceptual options in annotations

Your design journey is a process. Your marks will be derived from the way you undertake and record it. Each idea is described and evaluated for its effectiveness in relation to the brief. Ask yourself questions about the way it communicates the ideas or concepts you set out in the brief.

When you use creative thinking techniques like SCAMPER, or parts of them, identify the techniques and describe the changes made. 

Identify potential options by circling them. Describe how they are of value and how they could be developed and refined for the purpose and audience.

Generation of ideas with visualisation drawing

Visualisation drawing. Alana Lacy, 2018.
Visualisation drawing. Alana Lacy, 2018.
Visualisation drawing. Alana Lacy, 2018.
Visualisation drawing. Alana Lacy, 2018.
Visualisation drawing. Krisitna Persl, 2018.
Visualisation drawing. Deborah Nguyen, 2018.

Development of concepts

Development with oil pastels. Alana Lacy, 2018.
Development with Copic markers. Alana Lacy, 2018.
Refinement with digital methods - raster and vector programs. Alana Lacy, 2018.

tasks 10

10.1 Generation of ideas

Produce a wide range of design options with visualisation drawings. Populate your pages with drawings in different scales and weights. 

The emphasis on this stage is to come up with different options. Change the components in your designs and re-arrange them, change their scale, the balance, and figure-ground used for example. 

You should complete 2-4 pages of visualisation drawings.

10.2 Creative and critical thinking

Pull out some of your best ideas. Photocopy or redraw them on a new page. Reflect on their suitability against the brief.

Annotate them to describe both their best features and how they could be improved more to suit the brief.

Title this page critical thinking.

10.3 Development of concepts

Work through the each of headings above to begin to develop your design options. Be deliberate in your selecting and trialing of design elements and principles and materials, methods and media.

Work manual and digital. Bring all your components together on computer.

You should complete 4-6 pages of development of design options.

Final presentations

The final part of this task is to complete your final presentations. Look back to the brief and ensure you know how the labels and logo should be presented.

  • Export your files in the formats required.
  • Print, label and mount your work.

A final presentation

Final presentation. Kahlan Axiak, 2018.
This final presentation was made with colour pencil then composed in a vector digital application. Kristina Persl, 2018.
Final presentation. Tiea Sacco, 2018.

tasks 11

11.1 Final presentations

Create your final presentations in the ways required by the brief. Save and export your work.

Print, label and mount each presentation.

Design how they are to be presented. See image above.


Evaluation and deeper learning

In this section we will think about the learning we have done. We will review the main topics and evaluate our learning. Follow the steps in the tasks shown here to prepare your folio for presentation and grading.
What have I learnt?

Answer the following questions (on paper or computer);

  1. Look back at your final design and the research that underpinned it. Identify and analyse connections with past and your, contemporary typography.
  2. Describe how you have been able to work in ways that observe copyright during this task.
  3. What are a couple of reasons why it is important for designers to work legally, observing copyright?
Putting it together

Find where you wrote up what you thought the success criteria might be. Check that you have done something for all of the steps you wrote down.

Print final and organise your folio for submission.

Check the assessment criteria below to see if you have prepared your folio for each criteria. If not, take the time to complete each section.

Hand up your work on the due date as instructed.


Evaluation and deeper learning

Complete the evaluation, deeper learning and rating tasks as shown above.

Print them and add to your folio.


Assessment criteria

Below is shown a broad indication of the evidence a student should show.

Click here to download a complete assessment rubric for this task

The extent to which the student:

  1. Analyzes type forms with appropriate terminology and analyzes its use in visual communications
  2. Makes connections between past and contemporary typography in written and visual work
  3. Generates ideas using type and imagery (preliminary and design task work)
  4. Reflects on ideas for suitability of conceptual options
  5. Manages files correctly and applies techniques to manipulate type and images using digital design technologies
  6. Selects and applies media, materials, methods presentation formats and conventions to fulfil the requirements of a brief
  7. Applies practices that fulfil legal obligations when using existing typefaces and imagery

Please note:

To achieve good marks in criteria based assessment you must remember to include some work for each part of the task required. Spread your time evenly across the task.