top of page
Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

A Menu Card

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

This exercise requires you to create an illustration that can be used on a menu card. Measuring at 40mm x 40mm I certainly had my doubts to begin with. Working in small scale does come with its challenges. Firstly, is it readable? If you zoom out on the computer, does it make sense?

Whilst researching for examples of menu cards and logos, I did come across a few different styles that would be used. Abstract, Graphic or Realistic. I did the first test to see how successful they were at any scale, and had found most of them worked well. The bold graphic style of course worked the strongest, and the use of colour often helped this. Speaking of colour, it was very clear what was the common colours that would be used across the spectrum for fish related logos. Red and Blue. Beside this being a common colour combination, and one that makes sense for the nature of the contents, I'm still taken back to the previous unit of hierarchy. Something has really connected after this exercise in Unit 3, and now colour combinations are screaming at me!

To get in the mindset for creating an illustration for a restaurant, I felt it was important to research existing seafood places to understand the interiors, colours and general design. The brief is quite specific on whom this logo is for, which gave an idea of its price range and style.

I had in mind a place that would be an Instagram heaven. It would be a modern establishment with an organic and fresh vibe to match the food. Where does one begin?



I began with sketching a realistic drawing of a Salmon reference from the internet. This felt like an interesting pose to work from compared tot he standard flat fish. I felt it had potential to distort or create a background with. This exercise was also a bit of a warm up / practise round to perhaps inspire other ideas.

And it did! I added a bit of a water swoosh which accidentally created an "S" - something I decided to go back to later on in the development.

Below are few loose ideas I had in mind. I tried to give variety in the concepts, from realistic to the basic. Once I introduced the hook to a few ideas, I some how got stuck on a name "Hooked & Cooked", it didn't stick around for very long but it made chuckle at the idea of it being the name of a restaurant.

When I began to develop the sketches further in Illustrator, it became fun to think of names for each option. So much so that it felt important to have the name to help develop the drawing.

Below thumbnails are further developments of the above concept board. Still just conceptualising the ideas, but now looking at them differently once made into vectors. I'm not against the ideas on this page however they felt a bit similar to those I was finding on the internet. I played with the colours some more by adding the "Multiply" option in the transparency, an effect I saw during my research which I really like, however the didn't feel classy enough for this kind of establishment.

I decided to narrow the design down to the below image. Here is when I started to have more fun with naming the restaurant to suit the design.

The Flagship, felt genius to me! The fish and hook made me think of a flag, but this alone didn't seem very "seafood-y". So combining it with ship felt like a double win.

Definition of flagship
1: the ship that carries the commander of a fleet or subdivision of a fleet and flies the commander's flag 2: the finest, largest, or most important one of a group of things (such as products, stores, etc.) —often used before another nounthe company's flagship storeThe traveling media crew comprises seven beat writers and a reporter from WFAN, the team's flagship station and the granddaddy of all-sports radio.— Hank Hersch [1]

After enjoying the name and picture, I wasn't finished there. I had more visions I wanted to carry out before deciding the final piece.

The above design was fun to create but down work for the brief. The measurements are wrong and it also wouldn't work being any smaller than this.

I went back to the original sketch. This time adding detail on Photoshop. Once I was happy with this, I moved the image over to Illustrator. I then traced the lines so they became vector, and played with colour. As previously mentioned, research showed that the common colours for fish logos was red and blue. I decided to step away from those bright colours but turning to a more softer palette.

I loved the result so much I began to mock them up on a menu car and van. I also took the "S" and made it link to the name of the place - The Shack.

During this, I found inspiration for another idea. Last year I replicated a painting I found whilst staying in a B&B - it seemed pretty unique and one I probably couldn't buy, sadly I don't know the artist, unless it was the owner of the B&B. Looking at it with fresh eyes from the exercise, it brought the name "The Fisherman's Boat" to mind. I took inspiration from the fish and the little boats and below is the result.

The painting:

The logo:

I really like this logo. I tried it in different colours, but in the end settled with the bronze like colour against black.


I was again surprised by this exercise. I learnt to put my own taste aside and dive in on the peculiar request. I'm not a fish eater myself, and thought this would gross me out, but it didn't and I enjoyed the process. This exercise and the tattoo exercise both allowed me to "mock-up" the designs so that they would look real. I found this a really satisfying close to the exercise and one I really enjoyed.



bottom of page