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Exercise 5.2: Planning your workflow

Updated: May 27, 2022

The next exercise was to plan my workflow, to think ahead for each stage of production so that I could decide the scope of my project, and decide how to best manage my time around everything that needed to be completed. Over this unit and the one previous I've developed a rhythmic design process and workflow that works well for me when producing a project, but one that also isn't so rigid that it doesn't allow for flexibility.


Assignment 5 production plan

Stage 1. Research and Conceptualising

Exploring Concepts

The initial ideas process usually involves me responding to a brief, which in the case of this project is self led. To help me set a goal to aim for, at the very start of this will be coming up with my own concept and a brief to respond to. Then, through exploring thoughts and keywords through notes and designs, I can start to form an idea of what I would like to create and how to visualise it and bring it to life. If this is an adaptation of existing literature I would study it, or explore the idea in my own writings for use as the author.

Visual Research

I strongly value using mood boards to help me to guide my project visually and to act as a reminder of the atmosphere and feel that I want to emulate in my work. Sometimes multiple mood boards are needed for more specific concepts, such as one for textures, one for factors or one for looking at related material by other artists. I keep these close at hand to keep referring back to throughout a project.

Stage 2. Design and development

Thumbnailing and making a flat plan

Once I have gathered enough reference material, I set about making thumbnails and flat plans for the pages and cover work that I need. I try to make as many alternate versions of an idea for a page layout as I feel is needed and usually this is the way that my final designs end up being created with elements from a few different thumbnails mixed together. If there are any pages that need specific artwork creating, I include ideas for these in more detail and make sure that I source any special materials or tools I will need for the next stage.

Sourcing / creating text and images

I then start to source or create any text or images needed for each spread, working from my thumbnails as a guide. By using existing sources or creating my own designs from scratch this can be an explorative process of experimentation using traditional media or digital techniques to find the best solution for the project. I usually end up moving back and forth using a mix of the two, so I can to make the most of the strengths of each.

Page layouts

When I have supplied myself with all of the assets that I need, I assemble them into page layouts that follow my earlier flat plan. Sometimes this goes as intended, but sometimes through the development process I may see that something needs changing to make more sense and better the flow of the book. This is an ongoing process that continues up until the final designs are finalised as I review, tweak and change elements regularly. For finalising work, I'll be using InDesign and the adobe suite to prepare my images for print at 300dpi CMYK.

Stage 3. Production


Before committing to a final print, it's important to review the draft of the book and to make notes on any changes that need to be made. This is most easily done with a draft print that doesn't use much ink and will allow me to annotate directly onto the page. It's always helpful to get a second set of eyes on a book, as friends and family can identify errors and suggest improvements to give valuable outside perspectives.


When all the review stages are done, it will then be time to print using my home printer. The first page will act as a test print at the maximum quality on my desired paper type, then reviewed to make sure it has the desired amount of quality and clarity. Any settings that need to be adjusted can then be made, then the full book can be printed, trimmed and assembled into a block.


To finish the book, I'll be binding it with the technique that best suits the project. The time this takes depends on the type of binding used and what format the book needs to be in. A hardback cover from scratch would take more time than a simple stapled booklet for example.

Stage 4. Finishing and presenting

Photography / Producing a mock up

Once finished, I'll be photographing and processing all the final images that I have taken of the making of the book ready to be presented in my blog. This will also be supported by photographs of the final piece, or as a digital mock up.

Writing the blog

This stage is exclusive to only my coursework and not one that is a requirement in professional book design, but is still an important step to factor in for this assignment. I keep notes on how a project is going as I progress, which helps me to structure the final write up, as I fill in the gaps and describe what is happening in each of the progress images from each stage of the process.


I like to allow for flexibility in bouncing back and forth between everything that needs to be done in that stage, particularly in the initial ideas section. This lets me review ideas and not get too burned out on a particular step of the process, but as the project progresses, the order still becomes sequential, as each step depends more on the previous one being completed to progress towards completion.

One thing that can be hard predict when doing a self led project such as this one though is how much time a stage will take. I've recently been using the Pomodoro technique which is great for focus, but I haven't yet got the hang of using it to judge the time a task will take, as this seems to be very subjective and varies from project to project, especially on occasions when life events disrupt my workflow, as I've also experienced recently.

On average though, my rough estimate is that I expect this project to take 2 weeks of work overall. One week to work on concepts, initial designs and to begin assembling pages, then another to put the book into production and to finish writing about the process.

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