Exercise: A menu card


For this exercise, you are asked to provide an illustration for use on the menu of a
sophisticated, quality fish restaurant – one in a chain sited in major European cities.

To begin this exercise, I first produced some quick fire ten second sketch ideas. I have found these to be the best way to get multiple ideas out of my head and onto paper. From here I can start to choose a layout and move along to client visuals.

Initial 10sec Brainstorm Sketch Ideas

As explained above, these are very quick sketches and are simply a way to visualise the layout, subjects and text.

I then started to produce some client visuals. I cherry-picked from my previous brainstorming and came up with three options. Looking at the brief, I was not made aware of any brand name, so in this case, I have produced three illustrations with different names. With the first two illustrations I was thinking more along the lines of franchised restaurants that are part of a chain and while holistically have the same decor, are allowed to have different names/branding.

My first client visual was “the shrimp”. This was a very basic idea using a clean artistic illustration of a basic shrimp/prawn. Unlike the other images, I decided to keep the title lowercase to provide a more endearing, personal feel to it.

My next drawing was “The Anchor”. This idea was trying to incorporate another element of the sea/fishing, to show the relationship between the two. An anchor being a metaphor for stopping and the fish being the product for consumption (a place to stop and eat).

The next visual was an illustration for “COVE”. I decided to select this drawing as my final design. The first two illustrations felt more individual in design, like an upmarket pub/restaurant. I thought that the single title would work well as a chain name and that the branding stood out more. The main idea behind this design was to have a mashup of different seafood dishes presented as a single creature. I feel this design is a little more edgy/modern and would fit in with the contemporary description given in the brief.

Using the first visual as a reference, I created multiple variations in order to find the most appealing layout. When showing the design to friends and family the main choice seemed to be “version 1 black”. When I have created similar artwork in the past, I find it important to provide visualisations of the artwork on both light and dark backgrounds. This allows the client to see if the contrast works well and that the image does not get lost or become distorted when switching between light and dark backdrops. This also goes for any text as this too will need to be inverted.

Below was the image only, created at the 40mm X 40mm as requested in the brief. I did save the image to these dimensions but unfortunately was unable to provide a printout. The best I could do was to scale the image down using the WordPress sizing options. This is slightly larger than the 40mm but only just, and it seems there is not a loss of detail when resized this way.

Image at 40mm X 40mm

Next I downloaded some stock images of restaurants and restaurant signs. I used photoshops vanishing point tool in order to show what the image would look like when used for a sign. I created two versions, one for a smaller restaurant that might be found inside a shopping centre and another for a much larger flagship location.

Looking further into the design, I opted to change the scale of the logo next to the text. I felt that the name was too small and got lost when scaled down. I feel that the revised version give a better balance between the name and the image.

Below is a render of what the image may look like if used as a decal for a company van. Like with the restaurant sign, I created a horizontal variant of the image so that the client has the option of closing the best fit for different media/formats.

I also created a mock up for menu covers. Again providing contrast variations.

Below is the final design. I think that the image compliments the name and vice versa. Working from the brief, I was looking to create an image that would fit into today’s contemporary restaurant scene. I may have avoided making the product look appetising, but I was moving more towards an iconic and recognisable image. I think by creating a subjective vision, I have allowed myself more freedom to try unusual details an colours.


I really enjoyed this exercise, I feel that my design background was able to help me create a brand idea that looks very modern and professional. I was happy with my image development on this exercise, the entire process felt like it had a good flow towards the finished image.