How Much Water Is That?

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Print (5×5′ booklet) / Adobe Illustrator & InDesign / 2015 / Individual Project

Link to pdf of final spreads.


Our aim for this assignment was to create a bound booklet (with both text and imagery) that matches and enhances content of our choice. This project was meant to incorporate our knowledge and skills in typography, grids, and color. The main audience was for our class, but I designed How Much Water Is That? to appeal to the tastes of a relatively modern generation (college aged and early professionals). I aim to create a minimal, infographic-like book to present a collection of statistics on water usage.


All the facts and figures used for the booklet are from the Water Footprint Network, an international, non-profit learning community that serves as a platform for connecting communities interested in sustainability, equitability and efficiency of water use. Many statistics on the site are aggregated from a variety of academic sources, all of which are available to the public to view.

Many of the icons throughout the book were sourced from IconFinder, with a few modifications. Illustrations such as the t-shirt and water droplet were made from a few simple shapes in Illustrator. Illustrations such as the apple, banana, beef, and egg were traced from images. The recycle icon was from Wikipedia.


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Early on, I decided to aim for a very minimalistic feel. This meant sans-serif fonts, a small color palette, simple illustrations, and plenty of white space. I decided water droplets would be the best way to visualize water usage. The cups didn’t seem to scale well. Additionally, I eventually added in the water jug for a few products since individual water droplets would be too much.

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This is what one of the first product pages looked like. It does look very similar to the final version, which is shown below. I aimed to make all the product pages very consistent, and the final version has a few changes such as the font weight. Additionally, I added a scale at the bottom of the page to emphasize that each water droplet did in fact represent a water footprint of one liter.

Final 'apple' page.

Final ‘apple’ page.

My earlier iterations also lacked a bit of focus. I was trying to convey too much content in too little space. I included comparisons between the water footprints of different nations, and about water pollution and future scarcity. Below are a few pages that were ultimately dropped from the final piece.

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I was trying to do too much in these pages, so I eventually narrowed my focus down to just the water footprint of a variety of products. I only included one spread at the end that talked about the bigger picture of water scarcity, and I toned down the morbidity of the graphs. Instead, I added the water-consciousness spread that provided a few simple tips on how to lower someones personal water footprint.

Final water consciousness spread.

Final water consciousness spread.

Another small, yet important, addition was page numbering. I used small water droplets set at the bottom left corner of each spread that displayed even page numbers. This was helpful for navigation, as well as emphasizing the theme of the book.

On my earlier iterations, I was receiving a lot of comments about how the design was starting to come together, yet the flow of the content was a bit choppy. I decided to add in ‘title’ pages whenever I made a significant transition. Below is an example.

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Transition page.

These transition pages provided a title, and sometimes subtitles. They also provide a brief line of text that summarizes the content and message I am trying to convey. This was a place where text hierarchy is important. The title is the largest and boldest, followed by the subtitle, followed by the summary. Additionally, I was careful with color choice. The 53% in the above pie chart is shaded the same color as the main title, implying that the 53% corresponds with the main title. White is also the biggest contrast from the blue background, which therefore makes it the most visually impacting.

In general, I used pie charts quite frequently. They’re a good medium of effectively conveying ‘proportion’ statistics. Most of the time, only a few words are necessary.

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Here, I have icons that correspond to the proportion of direct water usage. The sentence at the right classifies the entire pie chart as ‘direct water use.’ By placing the icons inside each portion of the pie, it was possible to clearly convey meaning without using a key. Additionally, the color palette was chosen as it fits in visually with the rest of the book.

The change from my initial title page iteration to my final one was interesting as well. An earlier iteration is shown below.

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Earlier cover.


The page is minimal looking, but almost too boring. The water droplet seemed disproportionate, and the blue bounding box was a bit constricting. Also, the text was still a lighter weight (I changed titles in the entire book to a heavier weight in one of my iterations).

Final title.

Final cover.

The final iteration of the cover uses heavier text, and a different visual design. The waves at the bottom, while remaining clean and minimal, are more visually interesting. So is the gradient of color in the four water droplets—each droplet aligned with the title text.

Final Thoughts

This was the largest design project we’ve worked on so far. It was a big challenge even thinking about the content itself—I even changed topics a few times. The hardest part about this project was keeping design and grid consistent among pages. I think I had varied success with respect to this. I felt my transition pages were the strongest in this field. The pages that display water footprint had identical title formatting, but it was difficult to keep the water droplet size consistent without wasting significant amounts of space. I felt that varying the size kept each page more visually balanced, while sacrificing a bit of overall cohesiveness.

I had a tough time choosing the statistics to include—making those choices is an entire study on its own. But of the statistics I did choose, I had a fun time experimenting with how to represent them. I discovered that Illustrator had its own graph tool, so that was helpful in creating graphically accurate representation of data (I find that a surprising amount of infographics have pie charts that are completely inaccurate in terms of scale).

Finally, printing was a whole new monster for this type of project. I think I went through a total of 5 prints to get the spreads just right. It was a significant learning experience, because preparing a booklet for print is very different from preparing a single page. I learned that developing a close relationship with a printer is invaluable in the design field. Cutting, folding, and binding the book was a surprisingly fun endeavor. I chose to do a simple saddle stitch, which involved using an awl to make three holes in each page of my book and using twine to bind them together.

Seeing the book in its final, bound form was very rewarding.

Back cover.

Back cover.


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