5.4 Text and image


The brief was to illustrate a series of words and their opposites by following a simple design process.

The purpose of the exercise was to explore how typography can be used to enhance message and meaning.

Keywords from the brief:

  • Take each pair of words and write them I your own handwriting
  • Write each pair of opposites in a way that is descriptive
  • Select a font that suites the word
  • Trace the typeface in pencil using the colour that best communicates it’s meaning
  • Use a moodboard to explore other media qualities
  • Consider texture, line quality and colour
  • Draw your typed words freehand using a pencil and then render them using materials, media and colour appropriate to their meaning

The pairs of opposite words to be illustrated were:

  • Big/Small
  • Fat/Thin
  • Fast/Slow
  • Fun/Boring
  • Calm/Mad

This was the first exercise I started after receiving tutor feedback from PART 4. One of the main suggestions in the feedback was that I should use the exercises in PART 5 to produce non-digital work and I was determined to use this approach in this exercise.


I sketched out each pair of word opposites in an A3 sketchbook.

Font selection

I then selected typefaces that suited each word. This involved resizing of characters and words to best fit the meaning or message that I wanted to communicate.

Mood boards

I used the selected typeface as the basis for creating mood boards for each word.

Final artwork

The final artwork was created using a range of different techniques and media. Any design development and a description of each illustration is outlined below.


In parallel to doing this exercise I also did an introduction to silk screen printing weekend where I experimented with different media and techniques. This inspired me to try using a mono print to create the effect I wanted to achieve for the word BIG.

The word SMALL was painted through a hand cut stencil using liquid watercolour.

Monoprint test with the word ‘small’ painted through a stencil 

The backgrounds were created from old pieces of artwork and sketches that I either photocopied and enlarged or cut up to create a collage.

Big/Small final artwork. Monoprint and stenciled liquid watercolour on a collaged background. A3 size.


For the word FAT, I liked my original drawing better than the typeface so used that. My initial thought was to use acrylic paint but I ended up using a combination of a photocopy of a sketch coloured using liquid watercolour. The word THIN was handwritten using black ink.

Fat/Thin final artwork. Hand drawn text painted in liquid watercolour, white acrylic pen and black ink on a collaged background. A3 size.


The word FAST was skewed forward in Photoshop and then traced onto cartridge paper using coloured ink and black ink using a dip pen. This was smudged to give a motion blur effect.

Fast final artwork. Coloured ink and black ink smudged to give motion blur effect. A3 size.

I wanted to use a similar motion type effect for the word SLOW, but in this case use dripping ink to give a feel of sluggishness. I used collage to provide texture and colour to individual letters.

Slow final artwork. Collaged lettering on liquid watercolour background, A3 size


The word FUN was created using letters that were collaged on top of a manic and brightly coloured liquid watercolour background.

Fun final artwork. Collaged lettering on liquid watercolour background. A3 size.

I wanted to contrast this against a monotone mono print of the word BORING. I did several versions. My favourite was printed on a re-photocopied and resized image that was processes to the point that it became a grey photocopy texture.

Boring final artwork. Monoprint using individual letter stencils printed on a photocopy texture background. A3 size.


The word CALM was created by photocopying the word onto a heavy-duty tracing paper and then using this on top of a blue printed version of the same text which provided a slight shadow. Although this was not hand drawn, I did think that it best conveyed the cool and quiet meaning of the word.

Calm finished artwork. The background layer is overlaid by a layer printed in tracing paper. A3 size.


In contrast, the word MAD was made using collaged letters on top of a crazy ink splattered background.

This was to have been the final version but I don’r think the final pen marks on the lettering works


Mad final artwork. Collaged letters over liquid watercolour. A3 size.

What I learned from the exercise

What went well

  • The final artwork stage demonstrates the use of many different media which was one of my objectives.
  • Think the use of monoprinting was very effective. I will explore this more in the future.

What I could have done differently/better

  • I don’t think the rendering of the word pair Fat/Thin worked very well.
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