Visual Book Process Documentation

Idea 1

For project 5 , I had two ideas. The first idea is a whimsical visual book about Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. As a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, I am very familiar with the vivid characters in the story. And many literary analysis noted, besides childish fantasies, the tale plays with deeper theories such as logic and dark side of humanity. Therefore, instead of classic story plot, my visual book will focus on the seven deadly sins appeared in the fairy tale, making the story a twisted fairy tale instead. I planned to use my illustrations by hand with digital manipulation. Below is my original illustration of Seven Deadly Sins in Alice in Wonderland:

The overall impression of my book should be classic, with decoration such as roses, flag and poker cards and simple color choice: black, white, gold and red, as the above photo shows.

Specifically, I planed to have two pages for each character/theme of sin. For each sin, the first page will be an illustration and the second page will mainly be text with a symbol (maybe either the heart flag or a clock). Below are two of my sketches:

I also researched on existed visual books about Alice in wonderland and found following inspirations:

I found the upper right one has the most consistent style as my illustrations so I sketched out a font and back cover as below and the intended color palette on the left:

And I made the following covers:

However, as I proceed, I encountered 2 problems with this idea:

  1. The arrangement of one character on one page and text explaining the match between the character and sin on the next page seems to be a little boring. The book might seems to be too repetitive overall.
  2. One of the most important color in my intended color palette is gold, which is hard to achieve a desired effect on paper and quite expensive. I could change the foil gold to another color, yet I think the resulting visual book would not be as attractive as the one with foil gold prints.

Idea 2

Therefore, at this point I tried out my other idea: A self-portrait through my personal stuffs.

I believe that the things I own and/or use everyday serve many different purposes. Some are purely functional, some are purely symbolic. I think our personal belongings actually can speak strongly to others about who we are — or who we want to be seen to be — whereas others speak back to us, reminding us of our past or future. Therefore, I want to evaluate my stuffs and represent myself by showing my stuffs in the visual book.

I may group my stuffs into categories by the situations that I use them, such as my stuffs for studying: pens, pencil, laptop ; my stuffs for me as a designer: my sketch book, brushes, color pencils etc, thus showing different aspects of me. Below are some inspirations:

I also explored some of the similar, existing projects. And I took notes of the cover/interiors that attracted me:

I found utilizing white space to be a very effective tool to draw attention and make overall design looks “comfortable ” for readers. Therefore I paid extra attention to white spaces while sketching out my explorations of the grid system for my visual book:

After having a rough idea about my layout, I started to shot photos of my personal stuffs in the following 4 categories:

  1. lip products
  2. accessories
  3. black shirts
  4. flats and boots

I chose the above 4 categories because I thought they are a huge part of my personal belongings and they can well represent a typical look of me — I wear lipsticks almost everyday, 90% time black shirts and a choker, and wearing flats or boots. Below are some my shots:

I then selected among the photos and edit them in photoshop to make the lighting and saturation consistent so that they have the same feel to fit my voice of the text. Particularly, since my lip products, accessories and shoes all have a real background in the photo, I photoshoped a background(below left) for my clothing photos. And I adjusted the color/light. as shown below.

Now that I have my photos. I then experimented with the layouts that I sketched before to see which one should I actually use. I tried to align the photos either on the bottom or top so they look neat together. I also experimented with various hand-writing style fonts to give a sense of casual and personal.

I chose to use the last layout as a basis for my overall grid system because I believed that the symmetry created by this layout can make readers more comfortable to read and the using of white spaces highlights the content. More importantly, such layout gave me more room for content/texts, as I have many things that I wanted to say about my belongings such as fun facts that could make my visual book more interesting.

After the first desk critique, I changed the font of the left half as it was hard to read in such thick, hand-writing font. I changed from “KG Life is Messy” to “Jenna Sue”, a lighter hand writing style front. This way, there will be a contrast between titles and contents, giving rise to hierarchy. Also, I thought all Caps looks neat so I used all caps for the experiment above, but I decided to change t0 lower cases for the sake of readability. Furthermore, I numbered each lipstick to increase clarity for my descriptions. The new version looks like below:

Following the above style, I made the other three categories of my things. Together they look like below:

I then moved on to the design of front and back cover. I also decided to make a title page for each category to make my visual book more structural overall. Since I am documenting a typical look of me, I thought of putting everything together as below shows:

I put everything from top to button of me and thus came up with the Title of my visual book as the right shows. I also shot more photos of me wearing the black outfit, the choker, a close shot of my lips wearing lipsticks and a closer shot of my black boots for the cover.

Afterwards, I came up with the idea of building the whole outfit above gradually in each title page, as the below shows:

After the 2nd desk critique, I revised my plan above by adding a illustration of the shape of my overall outfit for each title page, since in the first two title pages, it is hard to tell what is going on. The right shows the change.

At the end, I wrote a reflection to conclude my visual book. I also made a ending page by duplicating the illustration of my outfit because I want to emphasize how my belongings are part of my everyday routine, and thus in a way defining who I am.


Through this visual book project, I am able to gain a deeper understanding of visual and verbal interaction. I think my photos would definitely be less interesting without my texts, which explain the things that people could not see by merely looking at the pictures. I also learned more about how to place text and photos to achieve better effect of communication by experimenting with different grid systems and layouts. Excited to do more of these in the future.