Design Project: Research

As of 19/06/17, I have begun a new design project using Bible Society New Zealand as my client.  My design outcome is to be a paperback scripture resource for teenagers. Please refer to my brief under the ‘Portfolio’ section.


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Bible Society New Zealand (BSNZ) are a charitable organisation dedicated to making God’s word ‘available and alive so that all people may experience its life-changing message’ (About Bible Society, 2017). The first establishment of the Bible Society was in London, 1804 by a small group of people who shared the same passion for God’s word (Our Story, 2017).  The BSNZ strive to make God’s word easily accessible and understandable through digital formats, translated study bibles and various versions of gospel books for specific demographics. As a part of their mission, BSNZ are very much aware that, in some countries, the Bible is not easily accessible or translated into native languages. BSNZ partner with Bible societies from other countries to fulfil projects and ensure that the word of God is made accessible for all His people (About Bible Society, 2017).

Their mission statement is: “To make the Bible accessible to everyone and encourage interaction with it”.

For my brief, I have decided to propose that Bible Society NZ are in need of a paperback book designed to help teenagers deal with specific emotions through scripture. This idea was inspired by my own walk as a young adult; having good days and bad but always reminding myself to turn to God’s word – to remember His amazing gifts and promises over my life. I want to make a booklet that gives young men and women a resource where they can clearly see words of encouragement to place over their daily lives. I want to make a booklet that refreshes scriptures through a contemporary aesthetic and is appealing to the teenage demographic.

An example of some of the existing paperback resources that the BSNZ produce are these small individual series of gospels; Matthew, Mark, John and Luke. They were made specifically to be distributed throughout New Zealand’s annual ‘Easter Camps’ to provide a contemporary, clear insight accompanied by visuals, so that youth may enjoy and understand the living word of God. The books also contain sections where questions are posed to engage the readers to reflect on what they have read.

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These designs are the first point of influence on my design ideas. They are A5 in size meaning they are lightweight and able to be easily carried around. They use a mixture of photography and illustration; this leads me to the idea of wanting to explore both mediums in my own designs. These books contain a lot of text as they are whole gospel stories as well as study sections…my book would not contain as much text so I would need to consider the layout to ensure all visual and written elements are balanced.



I continued to look for more examples of scripture used within contemporary book design and stumbled upon a group of artists who collaborated to make a book called “Create” using scripture from Genesis. The aim of their book is to serve as a learning guide in the visual arts like photography, illustration and comic book making. They have quoted scripture about God’s creation to reinforce that we were made by an amazing creator and in His image; therefore we have the ability to create and learn too!

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This book emphasises imagery as well by filling both spreads with illustration, a pull quote (typography) or by using contrast between positive and negative space. Bright colours against stark white backgrounds further emphasise contrast and allow for type or images to ‘pop’ out from the negative space. There is a sense of movement from the placement of letters or from the curvature and patterns within images.

Another style of publication that I am currently interested in is the handmade ‘zine’. There are two artists who I am using to influence my own design ideas; Kristyna Baczynski and Lize Meddings. What I am drawn to by these two artists is their use of hand-drawn illustrations, which they scan and print in their own methods. Winter Wild is a risograph print on 90gsm pastel green and cream paper, while Cute and colourful confessions is a direct scan and print onto recycled paper with a 300gsm hardcover. The imagery and text are laid out in columns or a single column is used to allow the imagery to frame the page and confine the text within. I like the minimalism established by keeping the layout similar, having a particular set of colours so as to harmonise the design.

ZinespirationAll of my art influences have lead me to two individual ideas that I’d like to explore and combine. The Bible Society gospels and Create books have inspired me with their use of large photographic and digital imagery as well as their brightly printed pages. The zines have inspired me with their use of illustration and text created by hand. I am drawn to these particular elements as they are very bright, visual and youthful with the cartoon/naive drawing styles that would appeal to a younger demographic which is my aim. I intend to explore marrying both the digital and handmade together to create a paperback book with a contemporary zine aesthetic.

I will start with designing only one of my five chapters, and if it is possible, I will endeavour to make a finished paperback book.



Before delving into research on layout and other visual elements of my book, it would be best to consider the size, binding and paper for my potential book. 

Size: As previously stated, I would like to design my book to an A5 format. This is because the book would be small and light enough to be carried around by teenagers as they commute or wish to take the book somewhere (school, on holiday, to church etc). The format is small enough to make for more economical printing using less ink for the large imagery, yet is large enough for images and text to be readable. 

Binding: Perfect binding is a method commonly used in paperback publications and works by arranging the pages in order, using a blade to texturise the spine to allow an adhesive glue to bind them all together. A cover is then glued on to complete the book (Bookbinding methods). This would be the most suitable method for my own work as it requires little equipment and allows for a straightforward page layout within InDesign. If i get to the stage where a final book can be made, I have found a video demonstrating paperback binding using the single folded sheet technique. 

Paper: The paper is more tricky than you think. According to Book Printing UK, an ideal paper for a book with a lot of colour would be either a 100 – 120gsm uncoated paper or 115gsm gloss or silk paper. For the cover, a 250gsm stock is ideal for novels. I would think it best to personally take a look and feel papers for myself before printing.

Perfect bind example

I also have to consider that when designing, the content should not fall into the gutter or else it will not be easily read once bound. This is because a perfect bound book does not open out flat, but rather has a curvature coming out from the spine (Designing for Perfect Binding, 2011) .


Because it has been a while since I last designed double page spreads, I’ve decided to research some fundamentals of layout design. 

The Golden Ratio is a natural mathematical phenomenon found within the natural world. When applied correctly to man-made designs, the Golden Ratio will create a matrimony of harmony, balance and overall an aesthetically pleasing design (Canva, Learn. What is the Golden Ratio…2015).  The numbers to remember are this 1:1= 618 (How to use the Golden…2015). The idea is that the spaces are divided up into portions that fit into each other and form the natural spiral shape. This method is used within layout design to form a clear hierarchy, harmonising each element together. 


The rule of thirds is yet another technique used in design to clearly establish a fore, mid and background. It is established when the design is divided by a three-column grid which can aid in helping a designer to align specific focal points together (How to use the Rule of…2015). The rule of thirds ensures that the eye will be lead across the image and that the contents are positioned proportionately.

Grids are used to provide hierarchy and flow. Grids allow for a designer to space columns and place images and text together with consistency (Types of grid system useful for layout making. (n.d.). 



I began my research about colour by finding some information on colour theory within branding. Colours are a psychological and sensory experience. How we perceive colour with our eyes may not be the same as with our minds and feelings. Their significations are interpreted differently throughout cultures and nations; where one culture may associate white with purity and peace, another may use it to symbolise mourning (Digital Skratch, 2017). Colours can be used to evoke or reflect emotions and personalities. That is why it is important what and who you are designing for – so that colour choice can be executed correctly to carry the appropriate messages across.

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My demographic are teenagers (male/female, 13-18) from the western world (NZ). Because I am a part of this society and close in age to the demographic, I understand what colours evoke and relate to certain emotions for a westerner. Red is associated with intense emotions like passion or anger, while cold deep blue tones can reflect grief. Reddish-pink tones can be affiliated with love, while oranges and yellows can be connected to happiness, joy and encouragement.

I would like to connect the emotion of each chapter in my book with a colour that reflects it. This is something I will be exploring in my portfolio work.



My initial idea with colour is to connect the emotion of each chapter in my book with a colour that reflects it. This way, the book would feel broken up into its appropriate sections. However, to keep it cohesive, the different colours would rest within the same or similar tonal range. The final palette would be what I use in my digital design experimentations. It will also serve as the guideline for my handmade illustrative colour work as well.

I have used Adobe Color CC online to play with their customisable colour wheel to make up some analogous, complimentary and custom colour palettes that could possibly work within my book design. This website allows you to rotate the dials to create various colour sets.

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I made sure the dials were as outward as possible so that my colours were bright and not pastel or pale. After this process, I found that the complimentary palettes wouldn’t offer enough colour variation for my emotions as desired.
The analogous palettes begin to offer more variation, however I feel that they are too similar and not exactly right for all of my emotions. The magenta and more hot pink tones are throwing me off and I do not see them relating well to my book. 
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Therefore, using the ‘custom’ setting, I had control to move the dials one by one to any part of the wheel. This way, I could create a few palette sets with a clearer variation of colours that I feel correspond far better to all five of my emotions/chapters. The tones are bold and bright but not overpowering. Out of the three, I am leaning towards the last set because the colours seem more gender neutral. The pink is not too overpowering and the violet and grey-blue are more relatable to the emotions anxiety and grief. My next pick would be the second palette as the colours all seem to rest within a more cohesive, analogous tonal range.
The next step is to apply these two palettes to my photography and to pages over in my portfolio section.

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