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Exercise 4.4: A Menu Card

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

As the second in this series of three briefs, I was asked to produce a menu card for a European chain of bright, modern and contemporary fish restaurants. My design needed to fit on a 40x40mm square that would appear on a menu card but if successful, must also be able to be usable on other products from the company and on the side of their Vans.

After first reading the brief, I quickly decided that I construct the final artwork digitally. This would give it a clean look and for the practical purposes of scaling the design up and down for the different way that it could be presented, the option to submit it as a vector file would ensure that it can maintain the same detail at any scale.

The European aspect made me think of the coastlines of Spain, France, Italy and Greece where the ports and towns along the Mediterranean sea are world renowned for their long history of cooking appetising fish based meals both in the homes of locals and as high end dining for tourists.

The backdrop for these types coastal towns have a wonderful colour pallets and romantic imagery and I took notes on what I could use through spider diagrams and quick drawings of each object that came into my head.

I researched what popular European seafood dishes from these areas I could potentially use as a central meal Fso to focus on and found that although many look appetizing in photographs, there can be a lot of visual noise that wouldn’t read as well at a small scale, for example Bacalhau à bras is a dish where Cod is shredded together and is not visually unique enough to be recognisable as a fish based meal, whereas a simply presented meal like baked Cod grilled Salmon is a lot more distinctive in their shapes on a plate.

Using this delicious looking array of Mediterranean colours, shapes and textures as my inspirations, I sketched out 8 designs, each with a different visual approach.

At first I grasped for ideas that would look simple and modern, but as I iterated through more designs, I found a better groove for simplicity and came up with some concepts that I could more easily envision as logos. Although I did include some coastal scenery and fishing paraphernalia in some of the options, I found that these did not necessarily denote a restaurant setting and would have been more fitting as travel destination logos, so I avoided these to remain on track.

Instead, the design I chose to continue developing was idea 7. This would be a meal based logo that has diagonal symmetry that is reflective images of the food and ingredients used in grilled Salmon and rice dishes. The shapes are the simplified graphics of a meal, but deconstructed and rearranged to roughly fit the square of the frame. I particularly liked the idea that when the menus are laid flat on a table, each person sitting across from each other could still interpret the image from the same perspectives.

I drew up a colour mock up to act as my guide when Building my shapes in Adobe Illustrator and refined a few of the elements by adding a plate similarly to my first concept. Although the food and ingredients are subjective interpretations, I still wanted to ground them by making it clear that they were almost leaping off the plate. I added the image to illustrator for my initial digital version of the design.

Although I was able to create the assets digitally as I wanted to, there was still some adjusting to be done as I wanted to rescale some of the elements. I wanted the main focus to be what’s on the meat to immediately communicate that it was a fish based meal, but I was finding the lemons to be too large and distracting at the sides, so I shrunk them down slightly and then increased the size of the salmon pieces. After bunching the meat pieces together as a tighter group, I now had a better hierarchy across my image. The salmon was now the focal point and the surrounding fruit, vegetables and dressings supported this by ultimately pointing in toward the centre. The lemons, herbs and leaves have now become natural arrows that point towards a section of the fish main.

I also make some iterations on the background as the initial gradient seemed out of place against the flat rendering I had done for everything else.

Testing out background colour options

A flat colour background soon proved to be the better choice as I tried a few variations to see what would compliment the rest of the ingredients the most. A pure white background looks very elegant yet washed out the lighter tones of the plate and lemons, but in the opposite direction the dark blue feels to be slightly oppressive against the rest of the image. I had the most success with olive green and cyan as these were in matching with the Mediterranean theme and balance well by allowing the rest of the ingredients to remain clear.

My final Logo Design Choice

In the end, I consider the version with the cyan background to be my final design for this project as it just beats out the others by having a stronger colour connection to the Mediterranean sea. I hope that this design would be well received by the restaurant to identify itself and be recognizable to customers when viewed at any size.

I felt myself stumbling a bit in places on the previous two exercises, but I enjoyed this brief and felt that I was returning to form as it was specific enough that I could find a solid direction to take my work in. Hopefully I can keep up the momentum in the next brief!



Shapiro, R. 14 (2019) Fish Recipes That Are on the Mediterranean Diet

Taste Atlas. (2020) Top10 Most Popular European Food Dishes (Accessed 5/4/2020)

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