Midterm Project

Plastics Propaganda Postcard
DUE WEEK 9 | 11.04.09

Problem: Create a 1-sided 4×6″ postcard for PlasticAlbatross.org that illustrates with text and image the urgency and severity of irresponsible plastic consumption using a humorous tag-line, graphic, and a 1-sentence description of the issue.

Limits: Work with the template and base palette provided, keeping with the brand of the Plastic Albatross organization. The communicative approach and graphic-style should mimic a propaganda poster from the early 20th Century.

Goal: The goal of this propaganda card is to convince consumers that plastic bags and plastic packaging is bad for human health and bad for the environment. The postcard will be distributed in local businesses.

Skills: Demonstrate skilled use of vector tools, menus and palettes (text, shape, pen, color). Learn to create a professionally organized client project using layers, naming conventions, fonts, color palette, and provided assets. Learn to prepare a file for off-set printing and web.

Files: midterm.zip

Research /  Inspiration

  1. Create a folder called: Midterm Project. Place all files related to this project in this folder in an organized way.
  2. Research your topic. Know it inside and out. Document your research in a spreadsheet or text document.
  3. Look for examples of propaganda from the 20th Century. Document and print these samples in your sketchbook and your midterm project folder.
  4. Research the concept of the Grid System to create better text and image layouts.

Experimentation / Iteration

  1. FOCUS: Based on your Plastic research, choose a specific area of focus: Health, Consumption, or Environment
  2. TEXT: Think about a tag-line and a short explanation of the problem and the solution. Make a long list of ideas and possibilities.
    Here are a few off the top of my head:
      That plastic bag you’re holding will out-live you and will pollute the world for generations to come. Bring Your Own Bag.
      Plastic contains toxic chemicals that leach into your food, your water, and your body. Re-use glass, cotton, paper, or metal.
      Plastic food packaging, bottles, and bags contain hormone disrupting chemicals that cause obesity. Yum.
    • BYOB
      Our planet is choking on plastic, but you can make a difference. Bring Your Own Bag.
      Do the right thing. Bring Your Own Bag.
      If you knew, perhaps you wouldn’t have bought it. Shop Smart. Live Better.
  3. IMAGE: What images come to mind? How can you represent this problem in a convincing way? What would make a strong impact and cause the viewer to take notice and ultimately take action.
    Some illustration ideas:
    • An albatross with it a plastic bottle in it’s belly.
    • Mounds of plastic bottles engulfing a city
    • Plastic bags floating in the sea
  4. LAYOUT: Use the layout of a propaganda poster as a guide for your layout and refer to the Rule of Thirds as a start.
  5. COLOR: Define your Color Scheme based on your research (find imagery from websites, other illustrations, etc.) and integrating the original swatches palette provided. Your final illustration should have a well-considered and consistent color scheme with named swatches. Mix and add new color swatches to your palette. Use the Color Guide (Window > Color Guide) to experiment with different color relationships.
  6. PROCESS: Make at least 12 thumbnails in pencil in your sketchbook, using your research as a guide. Use the 4×6″ proportions for your sketches.
    1. You may also construct a photo-collage from images you find to represent your concept. For example:
      • If you are having trouble drawing a sea of plastic bottles floating in the ocean, find images of a plastic bottle and an ocean and combine them in Photoshop to mockup your concept.
    2. Choose one sketch as your final and scan it at 150 dpi, grayscale, jpg. Save it to your project folder. If  you are using a photo-collage, save this file as a jpg and put in your project folder.

Development of Skill and Craft

  • Set up your document using the file, color palette and fonts provided (midterm.zip) and create a template layer for your sketch or photo-collage.
  • Use the tools and techniques we’ve covered so far to create your layout in Illustrator: basic shapes, Bezier Pen tool, Path Menu, Transform Tools, applying color and the Swatches palette, text tool and text transformation tools.
  • To get started, block out the background shapes (ground, sky, etc.). Toggle to Preview, Select each object and apply a fill color from your color swatches. Continue to build up your illustration subjects by defining the changes in value using shapes for highlights, midtones and darks. This process is similar to building a cut-paper collage.
  • Do NOT use Live Trace or Live Color for this project.

Expression of Form, Emotions, Concepts, and Voice

  • Your illustration, while limited to by the constraints of the project, should express your unique voice or graphic style using basic design principles.
  • Show a connection between the original research and the final illustration

Thoughtful Assessment (Critique)

  • Bring all assignment parts to class.
  • Be prepared to present, discuss and analyze your finished work in terms of concept, craft, and what you learned.
  • State the following: your name, what you are presenting (title and design problem), which parts are successful and why, which parts are unsuccessful and why.

Work Hour Tally

  • In the info section of your file, define the hours committed for each portion of the assignment, including dates and times.


  • Your  illustration folder is due in the DropBox on the date due.
  • Place all your files, including your scanned sketch or photocollage, any additional fonts, etc. in a folder named: firstinitiallastname_midterm
  • Name your AI file: firstinitiallastname_midterm.ai