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Exercise 5: Presentation Boards

This exercise will teach you how to assemble and prepare individual pieces of artwork for print producing a handout like the image below:

Format for Presentations: Print
Graphic Design and Page Layout
Visual Organization of Information

Format For Presentations: Print

For most presentations, you will require and screen presentation and a print format of the presentation mounted on foamboard or another sturdy material for display. The easiest way to prepare your print piece is to lay it out in Illustrator and print it on a plotter, then mount the entire sheet to foamboard. At UIC, the plotter in the Art and Architecture building is available to planning students.

In the following exercise, you will layout a presentation piece for print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper, then format the same illustrator graphics for the screen (Power Point) presentation.

If you are printing to the Plotter: On all plotters, the paper roll is 36 inches wide, but your document width should be 34 inches or less. A typical document size for the plotter would be 32 w x 40 l, trimming 4 inches off the 36" plotter paper will fit the foamboard size or trim 4 inches off the foamboard to match 40 w x 32 l for landscape orientation.

This is a sheet of foam with paper laminated front and back. The most common thickness is 3/16th inch, but it also comes in other thickness. The foam itself is inert, but the paper covering is sulphite-based. . There's a lot to recommend with foamboard- it's light, rigid, easy to cut, comes in lots of sizes (20 x 30, 30 x 40, 40 x 60, and 4 x 8 foot), and is relatively cheap.


1. The first step is to determine the physical size of the paper you want to print on. For this exercise, we are going to print Letter size handouts for the presentation.

Create a New Document (File/New) choose Letter size, Portrait Orientation. Pretend you are assembling all the components to a corridor plan. You have created each map and text separately in Illustrator. Now, you are ready to assemble all the pieces to complete the handout. Your planning document consists of the following, each of which is located in the Adobe Illustrator images file provided:

an elevation drawing, elevation.ai
existing land use map, existing_landuse.ai
future land use map, future_landuse.ai
change in land use map, change_landuse.ai
legend, map_legend.ai
text, text.ai
landscape island, landscape_island.ai

2. The only way to assemble multiple Illustrator files (.ai is the native Illustrator format) is to open each one while still viewing the new document. Select the Grouped artwork in one document and drag it into the new document. Open elevation.ai in Illustrator and select all (Select/all),choose Object/Group to ensure this artwork is grouped to get, then left click on the artwork and drag it into the new document created in step 1. Click anywhere but on the artwork within the new document to deselect it. In the layers palette, select Layer 1 by double clicking with the left mouse button and naming the layer.

Lock the layer, then begin a new layer. Open another document from the list above and repeat the steps until all 7 documents above are in one document on 7 different layers.

In the below image, the artwork has been selected and is physically selected and dug over to the document we have just created.

3. Now that you have a document with all 7 pieces turn all the layers on, unlock them, and begin laying them out on the page. You have 7 or possibly 8-9 different objects to scale and place. Use the excessive scratch area around the document to store artwork while you work on a layout. To hide an object temporarily, choose Object/Hide then to View it again choose, Object/Show All.

For Good Examples of Maps in publications: See Visualizing Information: Tips for Organizing & Presenting Information


Unfortunately, there is not an easy way to print "scale to fit" if you want to print a large format artwork to an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. You will have to do the following:

1. Save the version to be plotted.

2. Save a separate version for the letter size paper. For instance: layout_lettersize.ai

3. Go to File/Document Setup and choose Letter. The document sizing will change from the previous size to 8 1/2 x 11. Click OK

4. Now, you have a rectangle in the center of your screen, which is the page boundaries. Unlock all your layers, Choose Select/All. Select All/ Object Group then choose Object/Transform/ Scale.

This is common for large graphic formats such as our document originally sized to be printed at 32" x 40". Be patient.

Under Options, Scale Strokes needs to be selected. This enables all lines and text to be scaled proportionally. Initially, when going from the large format to the Letter size, I chose "scale by 25%". Before the Scale pop up window appears, the document will go through a series of preparations.

5. After scaling the document by 25%, you will need to alter all the text in the document because it too was scaled to 25% of what it used to be. Make sure it is bumped up to at least 8 pt. Select All, Object/ Ungroup. Select all the text and change the text size in the Character Palette. If this palette is not open, choose Window/Type/Character.

6. After you have scaled the graphics down and the text up, you are ready to print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper.

Graphic Design and Page Layout

In the graphic at the top of page, can you find the invisible lines that dictate the layout?

There are a multitude of books and courses you can take to become a better graphic designer. The most important elements in graphic design that apply to page layout are the following, you should use them as a checklist when you layout pages:

Hierarchy- setting priorities: What's the most important thing, visually in this layout?

Emphasis and Focus -the visual expression of hierarchies: Once you know what is the most important element, use visual emphasis to focus attention through size, position, value or color.

Contrast- big/little, crowded/open, orange/blue: You are limited in accent colors when you create land use maps since you need to adhere to the standard colors. Contrast is the tool of emphasis, which helps you to set the hierarchy.

Balance- creating a gravitational axis: Balance doesn't have to be symmetry. By opposing dense detail with open space, or heavy elements with lighter ones, balance can be asymmetric and athletic.

Flow- leading the eye across the surface: This should happen in a desired sequence.

Scale- the illusion of size: The size of elements relative to one another is important, but the size of things in relation to the format and the size of the format itself are also worth considering.

Movement- the illusion of physical interaction among elements: Usually figurative, with elements aligned or posed like bodies in motion-movement can also be created with such optical effects as linear repetition, visual vortexes and the like.

Unity-that which holds the piece together: Color can unify a design, as can a grid, visuals that represent related subjects or a consistent style of imagery. In an age of over-stimulation and cacophony, unity is often underrated.

Visual Organization of Information

The above checklist pivots on hierarchy and the designer's ability to organize and set priorities. Sometimes visually organizing graphs, maps, and text can be a great chore.

Physiologically, our bodies respond to the things we see. Our eyes are structured in such a way that we naturally establish a visual hierarchy of imagery. The following are a few key components of our physiology in reference to graphic design:

A summary of the Guidelines is as follows:

The eye moves rapidly over a canvas within a field of view similar to a searchlight projecting from the retina

We can create images that quickly enable information (complex and simple) to “jump out” according to basic principles of vision research

It is easier to quickly understand the difference between samples if they are visually close. Comparisons between adjacent data is much easier than comparisons made on separate maps or apart.

Human memory is very limited, building in visual and auditory reminders at appropriate intervals can be helpful if one is monitoring information over an extended period of time

The eye generally scans the useful Field of View which is out in front of the person. On a computer screen, it is the top half of the screen and a can vary a little to the left or right. The more information on a page, the smaller the useful field of view becomes.

We can easily perceive the “odd man out.” Symbols should be as distinct as possible.

If we want to show things “at a glance” we need to understand the following principles: Orientation, size, basic shape, convexity, concavity, color, and an added box around an object are all easily recognizable and quickly processed

The junction of two lines is not quickly processed; nor is the parallelism of pairs of lines.

The immediacy of quickly recognizable cues declines as the variety of alternative patterns increases

Adding marks to highlight something is generally better than taking them away.

If we have similar shapes with slight color differentiation, we can search these according to clusters. Grouping within a lower and upper region, for instance, enables us to scan a much smaller sampling. Convexity and color together can differentiate icons on a map. Motion can also be scanned pre-attentively.


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