PRACTICUM: Week 7

This final stretch of the practicum was spent finishing the two spreads focused on baseball for the next issue of the magazine, and creating cover imagery for issue 68 of Bazoof!. Shorter days, given the number of hours I had left for the practicum, really helped keep me energized and engaged after the excitement and exhaustion following the grad show.

Being able to finish the baseball spreads really meant a lot to me. Given I played softball for ten years while growing up and really got invested in the Toronto Blue Jays over the last five years to the point where I have notifications on the games pop up on my phone and commonly watched games while working on projects throughout my time at IDEA, these two spreads were perfectly suited for me to work on. With my knowledge of the sport I was able to have a lot of fun with the spreads. For instance, I decided to make the background a bird’s eye view of a baseball diamond.

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Baseball Spread 1

The decision to include information about injury prevention on the spread was a really great choice on TeLeni’s part. Growing up, my dad – who was my assistant coach – and my coach Mike were very adamant about preventing shoulder and elbow injuries. For a low contact sport, it is incredibly easy to do damage to your arms playing softball or baseball. I remember my dad nagging my best friend Paige – whose photo I included in the spread – about her habit of throwing side arm as it put her at risk of really wrecking her elbow. TeLeni had asked me if I had a picture of myself playing softball I could include in the second spread as we had some extra space, but I seem to have always been the one taking the photo from the dugout so with Paige’s permission we included a photo of her at bat instead.

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Baseball Spread 2

TeLeni took me out for lunch one day this week and it was really great to be able to talk to her without stressing about work. We had a great conversation about the grad show and keeping in touch as there might be opportunities to work with her again in the future which I would really love. Working for Bazoof! was a really great experience.

The other projects I worked on were illustrations for the cover of issue 68. I had been working on an illustration for one of the children’s stories that was a very action-packed story. This story was scrapped however as TeLeni felt it was too open ended but the girl who sent it in did not want to rewrite the ending. The story was swapped for one about a superhero lion which was fine by me as I love illustrating animals. This was the final illustration and assignment for my practicum and it was a really fun one to work on. I can’t wait to see it and the other work I did for Bazoof! in the upcoming issues!

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Issue 68 Cover
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PRACTICUM: Week 7

PRACTICUM: Week 6

This week my work was quite varied and a divergence from a lot of the spread layouts I had been working on for the majority of the practicum. I was given the chance to work on updating some of the imagery for Bazoof!’s social media and website which was a nice change of pace.

While web focused illustration and design are far from my forte and a lot of my work this week was focused on digital elements of the magazine. I started the week by creating sliders for the homepage of the website promoting subscribing. One was focused on encouraging subscribing for summer reading and the second one I created was encouraging people to subscribe as a gift for a child’s birthday. I also created updated profile images and cover images for the Facebook and twitter pages.

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Updated social icon for Bazoof!

On the more print-based side of the equation, I redesigned a subscription page and an ad page for the magazine. TeLeni had decided she wanted to begin to use one specific alien character in all of the advertising for the magazine to keep it consistent. In the past, she had used a more feminine looking alien character but decided that this other alien would appeal more to both genders and be less likely to drive away young male readers. With this in mind, I created alternate poses for the alien so he could be used in multiple iterations of the advertisements but accommodate for different layout choices. I created a subscription page and two different versions of an add with this little, quirky alien on them.

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New promo alien.

Back in the world of the world wide web, I helped TeLeni prepare some extra content that we had from the last issue to be featured on the blog. With her help, I added the extra images and some videos from the interview we featured in issue 66 with a boy named Hayden about his experience with motocross.

Thursday presented a more illustration heavy day for me. I was primarily focused on a story TeLeni gave me to illustrate to be featured in issue 68 and likely go on the cover. The story was a fun, action-packed thriller written in to the magazine by a child. Being a very action-packed story the posing for the character was both challenging and also a lot of fun to work on. I also worked on revising some previous illustrations that I had done for issue 67.

Friday was incredibly fun and unique given the printed issues for issue 66 arrived that day. The morning was spent working on mailouts. I was given the opportunity to write cards to send with some of the issues to children whose work was featured on the pages that I worked on. It was really exciting and rewarding to think about how excited they will be to see their work published in the magazine.

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Another pose for the promo alien.

The afternoon was split largely working on the illustration for issue 68 and completing the digital version of the magazine as it would need to be ready by the time the printed issues were sent out. We had initially intended to work on this earlier but had run into some technical difficulties. While our time spent on hyperlinking the digital copy ultimately paid off and was completed this time, we did encounter a number of weird glitches on what should have otherwise been a pretty easy task. Technology is both a blessing and a curse sometimes and seemed determined to keep us on our toes that day but ultimately it all turned out alright.

PRACTICUM: Week 6

Practicum: Week 5

Issue #66 is finished and off to the printer! It has been really interesting and rewarding to see an issue of a magazine through from very early stages to a complete and proofed file ready for production. Apparently, the printed copies should be arriving next week and I can’t wait to see what the physical copies will look like!

In the meantime, TeLeni and I discussed me beginning to work on different things like updating the social media icons and creating web banners and art for the website in addition to beginning artwork and laying out spreads for Issue #67.

I’m really thankful that there wasn’t a deadline looming ominously for this week’s projects given that I got incredibly sick this week. Thankfully, since I’ve been working five days a week, TeLeni was able to give me a day off to try and recover and I was able to do some work from home. Because of this, I mostly stuck to laying out and illustrating for Issue #67. Like last time there was an article that needed to be redesigned from the digital format to a print spread. This time it was for a girl who plays competitive softball and went on a big tournament with her team. Having played softball for about ten years myself and being a really big baseball fan, I really enjoyed working on this spread. I managed to incorporate a baseball diamond into the background of the spread which I was quite pleased with. After laying out the initial spread, TeLeni decided to add a second child who plays baseball to expand the section into two spreads. We’re still waiting on some information for that, but I’m looking forward to expanding the spread.

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Softball Spread

The other main focus this week was working on the story spreads. This included a really great mystery story that a teen wrote in to the magazine which was quite long so we decided to have it cover two spreads with a couple of games to accompany it. Teresa had done a really great illustration for it, including a background, which worked out great because TeLeni had decided the story spreads should have unique backgrounds for this issue.

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Mystery Story Spread

The other story spread is the Rugby Pufferfish story that I had illustrated for the cover last week. I created a background for both the cover and the spread. Because this story was much shorter, TeLeni decided it should be accompanied by a craft where I would outline for kids how to draw their own pufferfish and then they could hang them on a clothing hanger to create a kind of mobile. The idea is really cute and it’s fun to imagine kids drawing inspiration from my character to create their own and have fun with it.

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Rugby Pufferfish Spread

What has been really great about starting a new issue is being able to reflect on how far I’ve come in the practicum. I feel so much more confident designing the spreads now that I have a better understanding of the different elements of the magazine and have been through the process from start to finish.

Practicum: Week 5

Practicum: Week 4

Proofing, as it turns out, takes much longer than it sounds like it would. Much of my time this week was spent proofing different spreads of the magazine to make sure everything was just right for when TeLeni sends it to the printers this weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the rest of my time this week was spent on illustration.

When asked to start designing the cover for issue 67 – the next issue after the one we started the practicum with – I found that unfortunately, the illustration TeLeni had planned on using was not big enough to be suitable for the way she wanted to use it on the cover. While I was disappointed because the illustration was really very nice, I was also excited because this meant I now had to illustrate a new image for the cover.

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TeLeni found me a different story submitted by a child, a cute little story about a pufferfish who plays rugby. It was a nice change after a lot of spread design and spot illustrations to work on designing a character. Character design is one of my strengths but not something that I expected to be given the chance to work on in this practicum.

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I completed a number of rough sketches of pufferfish characters. The nice thing about working on a pufferfish is that it has quite a distinct silhouette that is fun to play and adds to the personality of the character. After reviewing my sketches, TeLeni decided I should move forward with the one that looked a little more mature. While she said there were some of the other ones she personally liked more, she was hesitant about them because they looked more youthful and she thought that the one we moved forward with was less likely to drive away older kids who might interpret the cutesier fish as being too childish for them.

Moving forward with the character, I moved from working with pen and paper to using Procreate on the iPad. First, I refined the silhouette to make sure it read as clearly as possible. Next, I added the face, careful to keep the expression as close to the sketch that TeLeni and I had agreed on as I could. Then came the shading which I decided to keep quite minimal and simple, just enough to give the fish a sense of form and define his spikes without making them come across as scary or dangerous. Finally, I gave him some polka dots to bring back some of the playfulness of the character. They were inspired by a lot of the reference photos of pufferfish that I looked up while I was completing my initial sketches of the character.

I’m looking forward to starting the background for the cover and beginning to lay it out because I think it will be really neat to see how this character works with the cover. Given that it’s the summer issue I think having a fish and water theme will work really well.

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Practicum: Week 4

Practicum: Week 3

I felt a bit like a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between different spreads this week as we approach sending this issue (issue #66) to the printer. Between starting new spreads (like the Ninja Bob splash page, the Answers page, and the Fandango page) and finishing or revising past spreads (like Xo’ Ju, Hayden, the story spreads, the different games, Darren’s interview, and the Cloud 9 Spread), there was so much to do that everything continued to be fun to work on and never started to feel tedious or boring.

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Cover for this issue.

This week was full of tweaking everything to it was just right and fixing any past inconsistencies that might have happened on these different spreads. It wasn’t flashy or big projects, just heaps and heaps of small things building up to tighten the magazine into its final state. I found out how important it was to maintain a decent speed whilst fixing errors or making adjustments because all these things pile up to become much more time consuming than I would have initially expected. With the exception of the “What’s Next” page that TeLeni and I had a miscommunication on one day and I ended up spending more time than necessary on, I have been pleasantly surprised with the speed I’m able to work at. I never considered myself fast when it comes to design projects, but I think the real-world aspect of the practicum really makes me value the time that I’m putting into this and is helping me find the balance between maintaining the quality of the work and being efficient with my time.

One of my favourite things I got to work on this week was some of the spot illustrations to be scattered around the pages. TeLeni has a great image bank from past issues built up so we don’t have to illustrate something new every time we need an image – which is great – but this week there were a few images that I needed to either revise from past illustrations or create from scratch. Given that I lean more heavily towards illustration than design, I really had a lot of fun with these. It was also great that they were just small spots so there wasn’t a lot of pressure and I could complete a number of them relatively quickly.

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Ninja Bob trading card
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Burger Boy trading card

I made the choice to continue working at my job at Kumon Learning Centers throughout this practicum, and every Saturday morning when I’ve gone into the center it has felt like the work I’m doing there with teaching the children to read dovetails really nicely with the work that I’m doing with Bazoof!. Working with the kids really makes me think about what would appeal to them about the magazine. One thing that came up on the Ninja Bob spread this week was the design of trading cards to be placed on the spread. TeLeni mentioned how she was hoping to produce these cards in the future, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of these quirky trading cards we had at Kumon. They were always the first things to run out on prize days as certain kids would try to collect them all. It has been really interesting noticing the similarities between the kids that I work with at Kumon and the kids that write to Bazoof! and I think these combined experiences are giving me a better understanding of how to design with children as the target audience.

Practicum: Week 3

Practicum: Week 2

During the second week of my practicum with Bazoof! magazine, I really learned a lot about making changes and revising. I learned for all the agonizing over whether something should be nudged a little to the left and stressing over major additions or rearrangements, the results almost always reflect the extra work that went into them and are stronger for the changes. And some changes mean that you get to eat home-baked pastries for the good of the project.

It was interesting to hear TeLeni reason out her logic as to finding the right balance of making spreads look similar and cohesive with past issues and making spreads feel unique and new. The best example came with the Cloud 9 Café spread this week.

When I started the Cloud 9 Café spread, TeLeni had explained that because this recipe was more involved than ones she had done in recent issues, she wanted to differentiate the spread from the smaller recipes of the past by making it a full spread. The initial concept combined two previous treatments of recipes and sectioned off the bottom portion of the page to be dedicated to a comic strip. This would also help to give the page a different structure than the other spreads of that issue.

In isolation, my first drafts of the spread worked. The information and images were laid out nicely and read cohesively; however, TeLeni later found that the spread didn’t feel like it was different enough from the previous treatment of recipes in other issues. In addition, the decision was made to eliminate the comic from the bottom of the page. While the spreads worked alone, when compared with the spreads it would accompany and the spreads in previous issues, it didn’t stand out enough to make it feel special.

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Early version of the Cloud 9 Cafe spread.

The first big change we needed to make was to the pictures. Once the first draft was laid out TeLeni and I realized that we didn’t have enough photos to match up with each step of the recipe. While I went back to the drawing board, researching menu designs that might be suitable references for Teleni’s new idea to treat the spread like a menu for the Cloud 9 Café, Teleni went back to the cutting board. She made the recipe again, taking new photos as she went and adjusting the steps of the recipe. Lucky for me this meant I got a tasty snack because of these changes.

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Muffin!

Adapting the recipe into a menu proved to be more difficult than I had initially expected. The new way we sectioned off the page meant even though I had more space to work with the images were more difficult to fit onto the spread. I didn’t have the option of having them hang off the edge anymore so as much as I wanted to keep the images as large as possible, I had to give in and shrink the photos to make everything fit cohesively.

The number of images, number of steps, and limited room made it very challenging to make this spread look as much like a menu as I wanted to. Even though I don’t think I’ve quite warmed up to this spread yet as a standalone spread, I can definitely see how when put alongside the other spreads of this issue and past issues the changes that have been made to the spread have made it a better fit overall.

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Revised recipe spread
Practicum: Week 2

Practicum: Week 1

Overwhelming. If I had to pick a word to describe to the past year of my life it would have to be “overwhelming”. So, diving into my first day of practicum I was expecting to feel overwhelmed and anxious. Which I was, but that subsided quickly enough.

It’s hard to be anxious around a person like TeLeni, which made the transition into the practicum easier to manage than I had worried it might be. Her enthusiasm for Bazoof! and excitement about all the material that gets sent in from children all around the world really helped keep me feeling creative and challenged even as I familiarized myself with the style sheets and page treatments on the first day.

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Working on one of the first two spreads I was assigned

I have to admit that I was feeling a little lost trying to remember all of the style sheets and page treatments for the first couple of days, but since I was working so closely with TeLeni it made it easy to ask lots of questions. Now, at the end of the week, I feel much more confident and familiar with the look and structure of the magazine.

My first assignment was to lay out two spreads for an interview with a child about motocross racing. This was really the perfect project to start with given that it was a redesign as the article had been laid out for the digital counterpart of Bazoof! called Abajub. TeLeni explained to me that when speaking with other industry professionals she had learned that digital magazines are actually losing readers right now so she had decided to scrap Abajub and push this article into Bazoof!. I found this all really interesting and was also grateful that this presented me with the opportunity to start off this assignment by deconstructing what had already been laid out for the digital magazine and redesign it for print. I really feel like this gave me a better understanding and confidence than if I had been thrown into the deep end with a new spread on the first day.

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Second spread for the interview with Hayden about motocross racing.

Including the first two motocross spreads, I had the opportunity to work on a total of five spreads throughout this first week. It’s funny how wrong my initial impressions keep proving with these spreads. For instance, I had thought that the OAY Chalkboard spread, which houses the drawings children have sent to the magazine, would be my favourite to work on because it was so imagery heavy, but found that this has actually been the most difficult spread I’ve worked on thus far. Sizing and layering the drawings just so in order to fit all of the drawings onto one spread was a lot more challenging than I had thought it would be. In contrast, the story spreads have been my favourite to work on thus far. While I can sometimes find working with large quantities of copy to be tedious, I really liked the challenge of finding the best way to use the space and make both a story with 370 and a story with over 600 words fit on their respective spreads without making either spread feel too sparse or cluttered. Working more with type really let me focus on being more precise with my composition and the finer details and I really enjoyed that.

Coming out of this first week, I think I’ve learned to give myself more credit than I have in the past. Time and time again I find myself doubting myself and coming away surprised. Oh! I guess that I actually work faster than I thought I did. Oh! I guess I was overthinking when I thought I was doing that wrong. Oh! That wasn’t as hard as I was worried it was going to be. I’ve learned this week to trust myself and my abilities.

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One of the two story spreads that I worked on this week.
Practicum: Week 1