The First Draft of the Design
First of all, what I received from my client was a PDF of a page spread from a government report on water and dams in developing countries. The print book format was 8.5” x 11” (or actually slightly larger, since the agency is global, and they work with an A3 page). My client, the designer, had a four-color palette to work with, but beyond the photos, she had chosen 4-color builds of a blue and a beige for accent colors.
I noticed right away that the initial draft page spread looked washed out. There was nothing dramatic to look at. The image was of a man standing on a support in a reservoir adjusting a pump. The colors were all earth tones, but the photo appeared to have been taken in the hot afternoon, and there was an overall greyness, or haze, in the photo.
This photo, which was on the left-hand page of the spread, was horizontal. Above it there was a solid area of blue bleeding on the left and top and extending to the gutter on the right. Below the photo there was a repeat of the blue solid with the opening chapter headline reversed out of the color. At the top left of the photo there was a circular cut-out into which a large “8” had been placed (presumably this mock-up was the introductory page spread for Chapter 8). The “8” extended up into the blue solid, and my client had reversed the “8” out of the blue color.
On the right-hand page there were two columns of justified type with an overly light initial cap to start the first paragraph. Below the two columns there was a box of type surrounded by a rule line. This was actually something I liked about the sample page spread. My client had chosen a condensed sans serif typeface for the headline. She had also reversed the words “Box 8.2” out of a little blue solid bar she had suspended from the top of the rule line surrounding the box (as a “tag,” to identify all boxes). What I really liked was that the headline was flush right instead of flush left. It was unexpected and daring, but it was quite readable in the sans serif face. I also liked the tight leading of the two-line heading. Finally, my client had made a few words in the text blue and bold for emphasis (and to distinguish between the two countries referenced in the text).