An Ovation for the Ballet
I recently designed a brochure (what we call the 'programme' when talking to the printer) for Adonais Ballet Company's production of Carmen. To do this, I used the Company's own A7000+ computer and Ovation Pro to prepare the text layout. This Brochure had 24 pages, including inside and outside covers, with 12 pages of full colour and 12 of black and white. This article is a light account of the process of putting the brochure together, describing the choices that I made along the way and a giving bit of insight into what guided them.
The Brochure format
Before touching the computer, I talked to the printer about the cost of printing different sized brochures with different numbers of pages and paper weights. One of the most important issues was having the overall size manageable for customers in the theatre. An A4 size would have been too big, A5 was too small and would have required many more pages to fit everything in. The Company finally chose a page size that was the same width as A4, but square: 210mm by 210mm. This format had artistic appeal as well, which is always handy. The printer was also able to produce it without a great waste of paper from trimming edges, and could therefore still do it for a good price.
Layout or Content first?
This is a chicken or egg question sometimes, but in this case the content was pretty much decided. After much sketching and reallocating of page space the following was decided upon:
Typefaces and Point Size
Before implementing this layout, I had to decide upon some other basics: typeface and the base point size. It's difficult to know how much space you're going to need for some text until you actually try to do the layout, so I took the raw text and dropped it into some pages just to see how much it filled up.
Readability is especially important since these brochures would get read in theatre houselights, which are notoriously dim. After examining the array of typefaces I had at my disposal I decided upon Oxford, since its letters have relatively fat strokes giving a bolder look.
The size for the text was set at 10pt but with a 75% horizontal scaling to help get everything in. I kept the default 20% leading. Compared to the previous season's programme this was a slight improvement on readability. I set up the baseline grid to 12pt (10pt typeface size plus the 20% leading).
I chose Europe for headings, but found that at 10pt it took up more vertical space on the line than Oxford. In order to use it next to a 10pt Oxford font I had to reduce its point size to 9.2pt.
Laying it out
Most of the text was already written and formed parts of other Ovation Pro documents. To start with I collected the content for each section into a separate document and stripped each of all its Styles and Effects.
First of all, I set out the two synopsis pages. I had a certain concept in mind allowed reading of the scenes and titles without having to read the whole text.
Having done that I started work on the 4 pages of Company and Ballet background. These were taken directly from the Press Release, which was already designed using oval frames around quotes and facts dotted through the text. I kept the same design idea, making all the ovals circular, and I also decided to make the text frame sides curved to follow interesting lines in the photographs next to them.
When I sat back and looked at the two sections I had laid out I realised that they were too different in approach to both go in the same brochure.
Fitting more in
Sometimes the text just won't fit the layout, and it has a tendency to get longer as late items are squeezed in.
I've mentioned that I used a 75% horizontal scaling for the text. This is a very effective way of saving space, but it also alters the character of the typeface. Being aware of this I had decided to apply 75% to all the text in the brochure - in this way it would look consistent throughout.
Negative kerning is another space saver. This is where the gaps between each letter are reduced. I used Full Enhanced Justification for the Brochure's text and this function uses negative kerning to help fit words on a line. It also enlarges the gaps, with positive kerning, to help a few words fill a line. Because the shape of the letters are not changed this effect is less noticeable and therefore more useful for shoe-horning in the last word of a paragraph onto the end of a page.
Reducing the gap between lines, the leading, enables more lines to fit on the page. Excessive use of this can reduce readability. It also has a visual effect - the page looks darker because there is less white space between the lines, which can be offputting. This option is less useful if you're already using the baseline grid. If you want to change the leading of the whole document then you can change the separation of the baseline grid to match, otherwise you'll have to turn the lock to grid option off for the altered text.
I made extensive use of Ovation's frame shaping utilities to make the vertical sides of the frames into curves. These curves could be changed ever so slightly to enable the text to flow to a different length.
Another effect that was useful was the way picture frames repel text. Where a picture straddles two columns a small nudge can improve the flow around it creating space. This is especially true where there happens to be a number of long words next to the frame on one side.
Brian O'Carroll - Adonais Ballet Company (http://www.pebblesculpt.co.uk/adonais/)