Glacier Journal Covers – Graphic Design Process

 In Graphic Design

As a graphic designer at Flathead Beacon Productions, one of my absolute favorite annual projects to work on is graphic design for our signature Glacier National Park posters and cover design for the Glacier Journal! Why would that be? Of course it’s because, like a good northwest Montanan, I love Glacier National Park.

Step 1 : Concept.

Every year, the biggest challenge for all of us graphic designers is deciding which beautiful, inspiring area of Glacier Park to illustrate. There are just so many options! How can one choose a favorite? This year, I thoughtfully cast my memory back to the past summer’s hikes and photos. One amazing hike I did this past year was the hike to Siyeh Pass, which takes you right pass Sexton Glacier. My group of friends, upon seeing the glacier, wanted to get closer, so we traversed across a field of scree and made almost to the bottom of the glacier. For our troubles, we were rewarded with an even more amazing view, AND a herd of mountain goats with little babies, right up next to the glacier.

Siyeh Pass in Glacier National Park Glacier Park GoatsReminiscing about this trip, I decided that these photos would make great source images for my 2017 Glacier Park illustration. I discovered my purpose; to share this experience of the hike, the glacier, and the goats.

Step 2. Composition.

To make a good composition for this graphic design illustration, I had to work with the placement of the goats. Composition consists of the way that the viewer’s eye flows through the image, and is directly related to the image’s visual hierarchy. Because I was combining 2 source images, I was able to create this composition myself, both through the initial compositions of the photos and through the way that I set them up together.

Here is a photo of the goats clipped out in adobe photoshop. Next I superimposed the goats over the scenery of Glacier National Park and the Sexton Glacier at Siyeh Pass. (The nice thing about graphic design is that I can place the goats wherever I want. 😉  It doesn’t matter if they weren’t there in real life. Just fun facts people, it’s an illusion!)

When thinking about the composition of the piece, as a graphic designer I have to think not only about key visual elements (in this case, the goats and the mountain peak). I also have to think about the text that will go into the poster.

Fibonacci and my goats.

If this poster had no text, then the perfect arrangement of elements would be with the goats flipped and on the left hand side of the page. This is shown in the image attached. I’ve overlaid the fibonacci spiral (also known as the golden spiral) over these two images. The fibonacci spiral shows the ideal movement of the eye through the piece and is based on fancy things like math.

See how the spiral on the left image starts at the top left corner, moves through the peak and then around and ends up focused on the goats? Whereas the image on the right has both visual elements on the left side, and without a third element of text to balance the composition, the image would be very visually heavy on the right hand side.

Graphic Design Composition with fibonnaci spiralSince there is text in this image, though, the composition on the right is better! The spiral starts at the bottom left, and flows through the goats, around the peak. Finally, the eye ends up focused on the most important text. See below:

Covers with fibonacci spiralOf course, the transition from photo to illustration took hours of work – More about that in upcoming blog posts!

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