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My Role

Art Direction & Illustration 

Agency

WE Communications

Client

Microsoft

 

Illustrating the Future of Manufacturing

Illustrating the Future of Manufacturing

I joined forces with WE Communications and Microsoft to bring life to a book focused on the influence of AI on the manufacturing industry.

The book is part of the Future Computed series and is based on interviews with customers and Microsoft's own experience as a manufacturer. It offers a roadmap to progression in the AI journey of manufacturers as well as recommendations to governments on creating and enabling a policy environment for the industry.

Getting to know the industry

As a lover of the "How it's Made" series, I was curious to find out how machine learning is disrupting manufacturing. Once I got the manuscript of the book, I dived deep into the case studies and researched the terms and companies I wasn’t familiar with.


It was more than astonishing to see all the hardware that exists in order to run the complex algorithms and help factories become more efficient while creating safer environments for their workers.

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The research helped me understand the reality behind AI. I realized that while the fact that machines are replacing people exists, it's nothing like the humanoid robots we see in sci-fi movies.

The challenge of illustrating AI

The discussion around the future of machine learning is polarizing and the book cover needed to address both the challenges and the benefits of implementing AI into the manufacturing industry.

Representing such a complicated topic with a single cover was a tough task. I decided to explore a few different directions and analyze the pros and cons of each with the team at WE.

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Literal

Shows the benefits and practical use of machine learning in manufacturing, while implying the government regulations and policymaking.

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Interaction

Represents a roadmap with a manufacturing scenario and shows that humans control the machines and not vice versa.

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Abstract

Relies on illustrated typography and abstract elements to give a feeling of innovation, speed, and progress.

Bringing the concept to life

You can see that the book is quite technical, it involves a lot of texts about steel, wires, computer chips, etc. To make the cover less sterile and bring depth to the artwork, I created a custom set of textures and brushes. With the right tools at hand, it was easy to get in the zone and bring the approved concept sketch to life.

I created a few color variations of the final concept - 2 following the brand guideline, with the blue as a primary accent - and 2 slightly off the grid where I added orange to bring more warmth to the artwork.

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The team at Microsoft decided to go with the blue as a main and only accent for the cover to keep it more professional and aligned with the brand guidelines. However, they decided to leave the orange accent for the inner pages to soften the design of the case studies.

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We truly appreciate the partnership and feel so proud of the finished product. 

We truly appreciate the partnership and feel so proud of the finished product. 

— Lindsey Klein-Borges, Director, Client Partnership at WE Communications

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Take a closer look

While I was wrapping up the cover illustration, Logan - the in-house designer at WE - took care of the formatting and page design. We wanted to create visual interest and motivate the readers to explore the content. To do that, we sprinkled some spot illustrations across the chapters in addition to the photography and charts.

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You can see that for the inner illustrations I added the orange to the palette. This was pushing the borders of the brand guidelines but the team at Microsoft agreed that breaking the rules (just a tiny bit) was worth it to bring some liveliness to the pages.

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Creating without ever meeting the client

Most of the time I work directly with the clients. Teaming up with an agency was both challenging and positive for me. I had to make sure to create detailed presentations with structured notes. This made it easier for Lindsey and Logan from WE to update the team at Microsoft on the progress. On the other hand, they made sure that I got clear and valuable feedback on each stage of the project.

Check out the book on Amazon

Not Another Bland FAQ 

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