Tuesday, 24 November 2015

This A6 spiral-bound Zulu-English calendar was a wonderful project to work on, created by Pam Sherriffs, who also wrote the mini-learning Zulu booklet, "Forgive Me, I'm an Impatient Mlungu", which has sold thousands of copies. Her whimsical sketches accompany 52 phrases, one to learn for each week of the year. It's a distinctly KwaZulu-Natal publication and a quality publication, not only for her line drawings but also for the very useful phrases that non-Zulu speakers in this province might like to pick up. 

KZNFLA Know Your Money tabloid publication

This publication is aimed at civil servants in South Africa in order to encourage good money management. I think we all need that! To make the tabloid more accessible, 12 pages are in Zulu, basically using the same copy as the English version. I worked with Christi Naude, head of the association, illustrator Simon Kennedy and translator Mbuyiselo Matiela who were all a pleasure to work with, especially when it came to delivering at deadline time.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

A 24-page A4 format for the World Wildlife Fund, reaching its audience in northern KZN, a community that lives near the game reserve that hosts the WWF's Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, helping to preserve the black rhino. Mostly the news concerns the community and not so much the programme itself.
This annual report concerns the Community Reforestation Programme of the eThekwini Municipality, overseen by Nips Consulting. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Forest Times is about good news concerning the community reforestation programme run by the eThekwini Municipality, covering areas around Durban. It is a wonderful project that promotes greening in KwaZulu-Natal.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Financial literacy tabloid newspaper for KZN Treasury Department

This project was a 24-pager for the 
KZN local government.
I worked on it with a talented 
illustrator, Simon Kennedy.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Blog of the exorcised former journalist

Welcome to Paper Doll

Here are a few samples of the editing and designing work that I have done. Some of them were really fun to put together - innovative and witty - while others were to help save the rhinos or to format fantastic self-published works. Then there are always advertising jobs. On this blog appear some product styling work. If you are interested in knowing more about how to lay out a publication, I have included some course notes that I put together (all of this knowledge was obtained at different newspapers and with the input of various colleagues).


The Corner's Post is a witty broadsheet newspaper for wrapping up this particular restaurant's fish and chips. It proved a fantastic marketing tool for The Corner Post.

Wild Times is an amazing tabloid paper produced with the WWF and the Black Rhino Range Expansion project in KwaZulu-Natal for a target audience of primary school children who live up near game reserves. Wild Times is fun and aside from all its exciting competitions and giveaways, has much educational value. it also carries a lot of conservation news about saving endangered animals - and the people who carry out this invaluable task.

Book covers

Anaximander's Reproach is an historical novel written in a contemporary style. The author illustrated the cover.

Chant of the Doves is a book of Zen-inspired poems by writer Stephen Coan. I was lucky enough to be asked to lay it out and I was given creative latitude. 


DUCT is an organisation that oversees riverine health. This brochure is glossy and folded in three.


This was a highly pleasurable banner to design. I had carte blanche and so chose an old romantic theme (champagne and Casablanca, anyone)? It advertised a restaurant's appearance at a festival.


What a great idea! Raw vegan pizza. I was egged on during this work by free samples of this delicious and healthy food.

Product styling

Mostly this is flippant fun. I like to put things together in such a way that they look good enough to eat! The backdrop is a preloved sari and the books are lovingly hand-made by a Perth artist.


If you're in business as a designer, you have to do these - but I have had nice clients on the whole. Clients who are ethical, appreciate what you do and see to it that you get paid for your work. This wasn't always the case.

Course notes

I've been an editor and layout artist in South Africa, Australia and England and during the course of being a wage slave, I picked up some very useful design tips. Here are a few. If there is a call for any more, I will look for the course that I put together for media professionals in Durban. I always loved doing layout but sometimes not the charged newsroom atmosphere. I plonked the notes below because I can't upload Word files (I also had to remove the photos - if you email me, I can send you the document.) 

MARCH 30–31 2010

Freelance media consultant
(Design company: Paper Doll)


We’ll take a look at basic design elements and get familiarised with aspects of inDesign and Photoshop. (Balance of copy and text, elements on the page, colour and font use, type definition, how to break up text, use of photos — we’ll get photos print-ready by adjusting their dpi, size, brightness, contrast and sharpness — and deep-etch one of them.) We will lay out a simple A4 page using inDesign and set up text styles (headlines, blurbs, pullquotes, captions) and colours. We will learn how to save a document as a PDF for both the printer and for e-mailing.


Content will always come first — but this is propelled to the reader through the design. A design must never ‘shout’ that it is more important than the words. Rather let design be the assistant that helps the message to be understood and appreciated. Your design should therefore be on the subtle and reliable side (unless it is an exciting, colourful production aimed at children). Styles must remain consistent and only changed every few years or so. When everyone becomes bored with the style, then it is time to invent another one, not before then.

STYLE: consider your font and the size of your font for the masthead, the plugs or teasers, the headlines, blurbs, captions, drop caps, and the colours (use no more than three, preferably two), the weight of the border around pictures (use 0.5 pts), and the number of columns per page (five for a tabloid). Incorporate reverse blocks and screens (usually a 20% screen value of the colour you have chosen).

Ascertain who will read your publication. Children or adults? Will it be light and fun? Will it be serious and ‘weighty’? Create your style accordingly.

(We will lay out this page.) Look below at the:
• Main headline.
• The blurb, or explanation under the headline.
• The pullquote.
• The use of fonts: Gill sans and Garamond.

3 Columns for an A4
4 columns for an A3
5 columns for a tabloid
7 columns for a broadsheet
Column width: Do not set columns wider than seven centimetres — the eye doesn’t scan much wider than that.

See standard page sizes overleaf

A0 — 841 x 1,189 mm
A1 — 594 x 841 mm
A2 — 420 x 594
A3 — 297 x 420 mm
A4 — 210 X 297 mm
A5 — 148 x 210 mm
A6 — 105 x 148 mm

Pictures and text must harmonise. So must the two colours that you choose (see notes on colour). Too big a picture means there wasn’t enough text, so your page will look amateurish. Too small a picture and too much text means that your page may not be inviting enough to the reader. Making a page look attractive and drawing in the reader is your job. This is done with a good sense of balance, with your considerations being the size of the headlines, the blurbs, the captions and the pullquotes.

Important tips:
• Never separate the headline and the text with a picture.
• The beginning of the story must always be higher than the body of the text, or the same height.
• Never lay out three stories in a row. Build a vertical and horizontal flow into your page.
• Refer to the colour wheel when in doubt about colour.

White space
4mm or 1p (12 pts) space can be used for gutters (the space between columns). If you want a cleaner, more relaxed look, go for a slightly wider gutter space like 8mm or 24pts.
Margins: The white space around your page. Usually a centimetre or a centimetre-and-a-half looks fine. Later we will look at bleeds. You use your guides to mark 3mm away from the edge of the page and draw your picture out, basically off the page, by 3mm. The printer will print the picture right to the edge of the page.
Mixing and matching typefaces.
Fonts should convey the mood and the importance of the message. So, which typefaces go well with each other?
The stylish, contemporary look is sans serif; for a readership that is fairly serious, the main body text should be serif. Pullquotes and the font for boxes and sidebars could be sans serif. Sans serif projects an informal look, so has a wide range of applications from children’s publications to stylish art catalogues.
Choose two fonts (and their variations such as bold, italics and bold italics). Choose a sans serif (the clean typeface with no bits and pieces on their ascenders or descenders) and a serif font (the one with the bits and pieces).

Some serif and sans serif fonts that go together are:
Serif: Bodoni, Didot, Walbaum. Rockwell, Lubalin and Fournier.
Sans Serif: Avant Garde, Futura, Century Gothic, 20th Century Gothic and Tempo.
Serif: Centaur, Truesdell, Italian Old Style, Bembo, Sabon, Minion, Garamond, Goudy Old Style, Palatino, Caslon, Janson, Ehrhardt, Baskerville, Bell, Bulmer, Century Old Style, Century Schoolbook, Stone Serif, Times, Perpetua, Cheltenham, Clarendon and Lucida.
Sans Serif: Ocean Sans, Gill Sans, Optima, Syntax, Frutiger, Lucida Sans, Stone Sans, Shannon and Albertus.

Serif: Caslon, Janson, Ehrhardt, Cheltenham, Clarendon, Lucida, Rockwell, Lubalin and Fournier.
Sans Serif: Arial, Helvetica, Grotesque, Franklin Gothic and Univers.

Tip: Look at Esperfonto on the web for mixing typefaces.

Ascender: A part of certain lower-case letters that extends above the x-height of a font.
Descender: The part of certain lower-case letters that extends below the baseline of the letter.
Baseline: The line along which the bases of all capital letters (and most lover-case letters) are positioned.
Em: Originally derived from the width of the upper-case M.
Points: Pts — there are 12 points in an em.
En: A unit of measurement equal to half an em.

Body type: Most newspapers use 9pt on automatic leading (leading is the space between the lines). This may look too small, so it is okay to use 10pt on automatic leading. Assess your audience. Is the audience older and well educated or young and still learning about concepts you want to convey? Then use a slightly bigger typeface, from 10pt to 12pt on automatic leading.
 Point size: The main headline size depends on the size of your paper. A broadsheet newspaper can blow up headlines to over 100 pts; for a tabloid, a big headline is 72pts or 64pts, the smaller headlines anywhere from 14pt (for boxes) to 36pt or 42pt for an anchor story headline (the story at the bottom that ‘anchors’ the page). Blurbs should be set from 14 to 18pt and pullquotes about the same.
Headlines: Keep these in black most of the time. It’s okay to have a colour headline now and again for a bit of fun but avoid distracting the reader.
Blurbs: These run under a main headline to give a snappy summary of the story. You can set these in italics, bold, 14pt, for instance. You can take the size up to 18pt on blurbs.

Pullquotes: These are used to break up a body of text that can otherwise look too grey. You can use a little line drawing or illustration here if you like, too. A smaller picture with a caption or a quote by the person pictured (single quote marks always in pullquotes), set over the width of a column, centred, can also do this.

Reverse blocks (text inset): This means white text on a black or on a dark-coloured background. It is effective in capturing attention. You could, for instance, set a second headline in a reverse block above a main headline. This reverse block has a text inset.

Sidebars in screens (with text inset): Inset the copy. Give one of the colours you have chosen a screen value — for example, 20%. Give it a small headline on top. Sidebars can break up slabs of copy and can be used for interesting asides, facts, statistics or did-you-knows?

Justified or ragged text: Justified means the text is spread over each line to the column setting. Ragged text is set left and is easier to read (it will have a ragged right look).

Hyphenation: Watch for bad breaks when you proof-read. You can force the text to break where you want it to break.
Kerning: Use with discretion. Kerning is often completely banned as it distorts the true typeface but expansion of a typeface, say, in a heading can project an artistic look.

How to handle main story, secondary stories and anchors.
Tip: Never lay out three stories side by side.
PHOTO USE:  Remember ‘hen and chickens’. Do not use the same-sized pictures on a page. One picture, the best one, must be used large. Build your publication around the strength of your pictures (they do speak much louder than words). Be flexible and creative. For example, if you are given a great picture and told it is for the back page, see if you can use it on the front and let a caption accompany it, saying something like: see story on back page.

Before you start your job, phone the printer and tell him or her what file you are going to supply. In this case, ask the printer if his or her machine sees eye-to-eye with PDFs exported from inDesign. It is better to be safe than sorry, especially if you have a deadline. Tell the printer what your deadline is and ask when the job should be submitted by, then allow yourself a working time.
Pagenation: Ask the printer if they pagenate — or if you have to do it yourself. (When you lay out your pages, you do so in sequence, but when the printer gets it, the page numbers are moved around to suit the pagenation.
Pre-flight: This will check whether your photos are all CMYK.


Exercise: Get the two photos in the ‘Exercises, Your photos …’ file print ready and deep-etch the chimpanzee photo using Photoshop.

Format: jpg, gif, psd, greyscale. Jpgs are the most widely recognised format, so save your pictures in that format. Greyscale is the format for black-and-white pictures.
Colour: CMYK for colour photos for the printer. If you are going to the photo shop around the corner, use RGB. Go to the file menu and open up your photo. Choose image, mode, CMYK. If the publication is in black-and-white, change your picture to greyscale. Save your file.
DPI: Dots per inch (300dpi recommended for quality printing. Newspapers can go down to 120dpi. Each digital photo is comprised of hundreds of little blocks, so a photo with a 300dpi quality will have 300 dots per inch. When a photo pixillates, it means you have increased the size of the picture too much — there are too few blocks in the picture, resulting in a great loss of definition.
Sizing: Open the lion photo in Photoshop, go to Image (file menu) and then Image size. Here it will tell you width, height and resolution. The ‘resample image’ tick-box will enable you to change the resolution and the size. For this exercise we’ll leave the dpi at 300 (the resolution that the printer likes). Click off resample image to change the size of your photo (we want it to be 20cm). Save your file.
Cropping: Never cut off part of the head or the feet. Use your eye to ascertain where a photo has a dead area and crop it out. Utilise your printed space in a good manner, don’t waste space with something that is saying anything. Choose the crop tool and crop your pictureSave your file.
Brightness and contrast: Look at the paper quality. If it is for a magazine, the photo will not have to be brightened as much as for newspapers. For newspapers, pictures will have to be brightened and sharpened on Photoshop due to the quality of the paper, which absorbs a lot of ink, making the picture look dark and undefined if brightening and sharpening is not done. Go to Image on the file menu, then adjustments, then brightness and contrast, then brighten it to be brighter than you think the picture should be. Don’t worry about contrast at this stage. Save your file.
Sharpen picture: Filter-Sharpen-Unsharp mask.
Deep etching: This is very effective and always makes a page look alive. Take care not to cut out a background that tells a story, so only deep-etch good pictures that can lose their background. Choose the photo of the chimpanzee. (First change to CMYK, go to Image-Size and resize to 300dpi, brighten and sharpen.) To crop around the image, open up your paths palette, make a new path, choose the pen tool on the tool bar and click around your picture. When you get to the end of the deep etching and join the lines up, a circle will appear to let you know that you’ve finished the etch. Now, notice that the shape you’ve cut out is a ‘work path’ on the paths palette. On the palette, go to ‘Make selection’ on the paths palette,then go up to the file menu,the Select—Inverse, Then save the work path on the palette and then click on clipping path.
Using text on pictures: This can be a very striking design element. If a picture has a dead area, it can be used to insert a headline, so that the picture and the headline become a composite element.
Tip: Obtain an Adobe Photoshop tutorial manual from a shop and work through the tutorials. Photoshop is a very powerful tool for pictures and graphics, so the sky is the limit — you could design your own mastheads and standard items to flag aspects to your page.

Line drawings and full-colour graphics always enhance the quality of a publication. If you can draw, think about line drawings to accompany pullquotes. If you have access to a graphic artist, ask him or her to create something for you.

You are given all the images and text for a job. The person who supplied them may not know how to design, lay out and edit a publication. Firstly, you assess if you have enough material – or if you actually have far too much. You’ll have to liaise you’re your client if you need more text and/or images, or if you will have to throw out some material if they want to fit in too much.
Tip: Never squash in too much on your page or have too little.
Firstly, look at the photos you will use: How big can your photos be used? What is their quality? Secondly, assess the text. Is it poorly written and will need a rewrite? You’ve put it in style on your page and seen if you may need more. Co-operation between yourself and the person who provided the material is the key to producing a quality product. If you have any bright visual ideas, discuss them.

You must attribute the photographer or the artist. If you have had to download a photo from the web for illustrative purposes (rather pay for copyrighted imagery), obviously don’t attribute it but try to downplay this, as it is not advisable from a professional point of view to lean too heavily on unattributed sources. This is a grey area but of course the Web is the most useful source of both imagery and information and often one cannot do without it, especially if there are awkward spaces to fill.

Exercise: First prepare the photos (dpi, size, brightness and contrast, sharpness for both of them and deep etch the chimp picture). Create an A4 page in inDesign with three columns and one-centimetre margins and lay it out with the material provided. (Go to your folders and drag the elements onto the page.) We will draw boxes for a headline, a blurb, your text (in three columns), a pullquote (in this instance, we insert it into to the text) and two pictures. Learn about runarounds and drop shadows. You will save the page as a PDF for the printer, plus for emailing.
Tip: Make a job folder on your desktop. Keep everything you use in folders within this job folder — your pictures, your inDesign file, your text and your PDFs. When you give the job to the printer, burn just the PDF onto a disc and supply the printer with a full-colour proof of the job. If it has bleeds, write this on the proof.
Note: Fonts used — Gill Sans bold 54pt, leading 58pt), blurb (Garamond italics 16pt, 18pt leading), body type (Garamond 10pt, 12pt leading), pullquote (Gill Sans bold 14pt, auto leading), caption (Gill sans regular 11pt).

Get familiar with inDesign
Palettes: If you go to the file menu and look under Window, the palettes mostly used are:
• Links (shows the photos on your page and lets you edit them in Photoshop, directly from inDesign).
• Pages (shows the number of pages in your job and you can click on one page or the other).
• Stroke (puts borders around pictures).
• Swatches (to mix colours and choose colours).
• Text wrap: creates a space around certain objects, eg a picture.
• Transparency (can have a screen value of a picture or text).
• Type and Tables-Character (font and font size ); Paragraph (text setting).

Exercise: Lay out wildlife page on an A4 document:
Open inDesign and make an A4 page (‘File-New-Document’; you want three columns with a 1p gutter and a one-centimetre margin.) Save the page into your inDesign folder within your job folder and call it ‘wildlife’.
1.     Drag your elements onto the page or go to ‘File-Place’, navigate your way to the ‘Text’ folder within your job folder and import the text. Go to Object-Text frame options and give it three columns with a 1p gutter. (Use your hand tool to navigate around the page.)
2.     Place your lion picture at the top, in between the margins, and put a 0.25 or hairline rule around it. Click on the picture and change the ‘stroke” value at the top of the bar, in the middle, or open up Window-Stroke.
3.     We will insert a headline and blurb in white and put it on the picture. Draw a text box and type in the headline, paragraphing the words, then type in the blurb, also paragraphing that. Set the text in style (Gill sans bold, 54/58 and Garamond italics, 16/18). Open your Swatches (colours) palette, define your text, press on the little ‘T’ on the palette and make it ‘Paper”.
4.     Draw a text box under the lion for the caption and type it in, making sure the style is Gill sans 11pt.
5.     Pull your text box from one margin to the other and to the margin at the bottom. Get your text palette open (this will enable you to set the type). Go to Window-Type and Tables-Character styles. Define all your text. Make it Garamond 10pt (on Character palette); give each paragraph a 9pt inset (Paragraph palette) and the first paragraph (with no text inset) a drop cap of three lines (Paragraph palette). Define all the text and set it ragged right (top part of Paragraph palette).
6.     Drag your chimp picture to the left (use direct selection tool, top left of tool bar), get your Text wrap palette open (Window-Text wrap) then choose the circle with the lines around it and insert a value of 2mm.
7.     Give the chimp a drop shadow. Go to Object, Drop Shadow. I inserted a value of 50% with an offset of 1mm.
8.     Insert your pullquote into the text and give it its style – Gill Sans bold, centred, 14pt (look at your Character/Paragraph palettes). Add the rules above and below. Go to Paragraph palette, click on the arrow and go to Paragraph rules, tick rule above, make it 2pt and offset the rule by 5mm, tick the rule below, make it 2pt and offset it by 3mm.
9.     You will notice that the line in the third column is not lining up (this is because of the size of the pullquote text, so click on the first line of the pullquote, go to your Paragraph palette and add 1mm to the top and 2mm to the bottom to make the text line up.
10.    Save your document.
11.       Export as a PDF for the printer, plus a PDF for emailing. File-Export-Save-Press Quality. Call it ‘wildlife-to print’. There are no bleeds on this but notice on the left that you can change things here. Save in the PDF folder that you created. For emailing, save as ‘Smallest file size’ but call it ‘wildlife-to email’.

We look at some styles. When you invent your own style for your publication, consider your font and the size of your font for the masthead, the plugs or teasers, the headlines, blurbs, captions, drop caps, and the colours (preferably two), the weight of the border around the pictures (use 0.5 pts), and the number of columns per page. Incorporate reverse blocks and screens (usually 20% of the colour you have chosen).

CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and key — black or registration). This is a printer standard, so make sure you have converted the mode of the picture to CMYK.
RGB (red, green, blue). This is an older standard, not used by commercial printers but used by the smaller photo shops. A commercial printer can print from RGB files but colour shifts will result, so it is not advisable.
Mixing colours: Try to get hold of a book on printed colour values. Every computer screen has its own colour calibration — so the colours you see on the screen will never quite be the same as the ones printed.

Exercise: Pagenation — write down in your notebook two columns with an equal number of page numbers. For example, if your newsletter is eight pages, write down:
At left                   At right
1                 8
2                 7
3                 6
4                 5
Top down, then bottom up, equal lines. This will tell you which pages the printer will arrange next to each other to print. It all makes sense after the binding is done. Sometimes the printer will ask you to send each page as a separate PDF — so make sure they are numbered and checked as being the right pages.

Exercise: Remake the two pages of the WWF booklet It is an A5 size 210mm x 148mm. It has 3mm bleeds at the bottom. Then export it with the bleeds for the printer.

Page one

Create two non-facing pages with 1cm margins. Ready your photos for printing. Open your Swatches palette from Window and click on arrow and make a new colour. Call it WWF yellow and give it C = 0, M = 27, Y = 100, K = 0 values. Make another colour and call it WWF green, give it C = 43, M = 0, Y = 79 and K = 0. Go back to your page and measure 3mm with your guides below the first page. Create a text box with rounded edges (Object-Corner effects) and fill it with the WWF green colour. Write ‘The Black Rhino Range Expansion Project’ in the box (Gill Sans 14pt, expanded by 320) and give it a text inset of 2mm (Object-Text frame options).

Place it at the bottom of the page, making sure the colour runs down to the bleed and the rounded corner only shows the top being rounded. Draw a line (3pt dotted) down the side of the page. Create a text box and type in ‘PAGE 1’ (Gill sans regular 9pt, expanded by 260), rotate the box (Object-Transform-Rotate). The top of the page must have another text box, THE FIRST FIVE YEARS (Gill sans regular 24pt, expanded by 320). Fill it with green and give it a text inset. Import your copy into the box (Gill sans light 14pt). The ticks are ITC Zapf Dingbats).

Make up page two. You can duplicate the element at the bottom of the page or you can insert it on your master (master elements appear on all pages).

Create a library: File menu-New-Library. Point and drag elements into library and name them. In this way you can build up a library of styles that you can drag from the library without having to make them up all the time.

Short and sweet. No long sentences unless necessary. Examine your copy and do a quick edit before you use it on your page. Check for double spaces, replace with single spaces. Check the spelling with a spellcheck.
Tip: Never have ‘widow’ — this is a single word that sits on the top of a column.
Always use a spellcheck before you print to proof (and never use American spelling).

Print from a laser printer; it will give you a true reflection of how it will print, whether in black-and-white or colour. If you do not have a colour printer, proof your pages in black-and-white. Always check to see that your copy has not ‘run over’ — ie that the story ends where it is supposed to.
If it is possible, ask someone who has not worked on the material to cast their eye over the proofs. It’s not wise to only have yourself to rely upon. If there is no choice, give your copy an edit and proofread it twice.
When you are happy with the proofs, and have done all your corrections, get them printed in colour and submit them to the printer, with the pdfs burned onto a disc. (Use a disc and not a memory stick.) In this way, you have a record. If the printer makes an error, there is a comeback as far as financial implications are concerned.
If you are e-mailing proofs to someone, you can save pdfs in a low-resolution version so that it does not take up too much bandwidth space.

Always make a final copy of your job for your records — burn the whole file you have used for the job, including pictures, your Quark file, the MS Word documents, and the PDFs. You will be surprised how an archive of your work will help you to work more efficiently in the future.

Never trash a job until you have copied it and labelled it for your records.