Alysha’s second batch of critiques

by Alysha Love

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Expresso is a Portuguese newspaper I stumbled across when looking through designs online. I really like this front page for how bold, calm, simple and clean it is. It has touches of color — the deep blue accentuated by calm shades of yellow, green, light blue, purple, pea green and red. But those colors are barely noticeable at first glace at the page. They surprisingly don’t make the page busy. Instead, once you’re already in the page, they give you nice direction, easing you in the most important stories. The amount of white space really gives the page room to breath. The interesting part is the amount of information packed on the page despite the soothing layout. There are four teasers at the top, what looks like a series of seven briefs with art along the left side, and three story starts on the righthand side. Oh, and the centerpiece with massive art and room for advertising at the bottom. I really like the functionality, as long as the rest of the newspaper is well-organized enough to handle all those jumps. Based on this inside page accompanying the cover page I found, it looks like the paper continues to do a great job packaging an incredible amount of information into a clean, airy design while maintaining its readability and functionality. Kudos.


Jessica Hische's daily drop cap project. Jessica has made the entire library freely usable for non-commercial projects.

This is another Pinterest find, from a while back. It’s the Daily Drop Cap Project from 2009 by designer and illustrator Jessica Hische. She completed 12 alphabets of cool and original drop caps for bloggers to use. I’ve spent years doodling out words and letters, doing things like making “i” into disjointed ice cream cones, drawing “s”-shaped snakes and creating intricate script letters. I have no idea where you even begin learning how to translate those kinds of ideas onto the computer, but I would love to learn how. How great would it be if I could create a clever illustration for a front page or my own fancy drop cap for a classy story? 

The risk we’d run with learning how to do drop caps would be overusing them to the point that they’re cliche or cheesy or kitch. But this — and generally creating basic illustrations for designs — is a skill I’d love to pick up.

 I love this H because it combines the plain and whimsical; the heavy stroke of the capital beautifully contrasts the light stroke of the lowercase letter. It’s clean but engaging.

 I love how happy this “Q” is. Again, it’s simple, but it’s also fun without being over-the-top or annoyingly cutesy. 

 We’re publishing a panorama on Friday about how kids aren’t able to write cursive anymore. This would be a pretty good art drop head idea to accompany a story like that. 

 I like how round this “E” is — very bubbly. It’s also visually intriguing; the white strip on the inside can play tricks on your eyes. The bold color and simplicity (no pattern to the color) make it a striking character.

 I just love this. WHO wouldn’t?