Final progress

It’s the end. Fin. Or is it just the beginning? What is a journey anyways? Philosophical questions aside, here’s some process work for the final project.

The Task: Cut a square through a magazine (2.5×2.5) and use the images in a 5-square accordion book.

The Problem: Sounds simple enough, but having literally no artistic background I needed some serious help in terms of identifying compositional flow.

The Strategy: Call over TA. Multiple times.

The Results:

This was my first comp. Clearly, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Colour version, of what I later made greyscale. Huge improvement, right?

As much as I like the close-up shot of the eyes, the pool steps had a much stronger architectural presence. In fact, that one picture ended up inspiring the flow for my entire book.

After some rearrangement suggestions by the TA, this is pretty much my final product – save for some transitional edits and enhancements.

I started playing around with repeating body parts, and just varying the opacity – kind of hinting at “ghost” bodies, which was a theme that went with the text I chose (Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall). This pretty much took me right to the end – dramatic pause – which looks like this:

Pretty awesome right? I repeated the diamonds from the pool quite a bit, and the watery theme came into play with the warped text. According to Ellen Lupton, repetition helps flow and motion – but seeing as I’m not a graphic designer (yet), I’m just going to say she’s right. Anyways, that’s the second project; I think I did alright for an Illustrator newbie. Maybe now I can officially upgrade my skill level to “beginner”?

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Mushrooms and Teddy Bears

Not the most related things in the universe, but trust me it eventually makes sense. Our in-class exercise this week had us making a multi-use pattern, by creating shapes and manipulating them in Illustrator.

Step 1: pick 4 colours – 2 vibrant, one less vibrant, and one dark.
My colours ended up being orange, light teal, grellow (green + yellow) and grey.

Step 2 – infinity: basically just make more shapes (Pathfinder tool came in handy – I seriously love that thing…) and put everything together symmetrically but vary the colours.
Note: It’s a lot easier to do this if you drag your chosen colours to the swatch panel for easy reference.

Shape combinations:
Mushroom = circle + 2 smaller circles, 1 on each side, aligned with the bottom
Teddy Bear = big circle + 2 smaller circles, 1 on each side, aligned at the top
Moon = circle (colour) + circle (white), use “minus front” on Pathfinder to make a cutout
Present = rectangle + top half of a star, use Pathfinder to cut out
**I also used the top-half of the star on the sides, as a shape by itself
Circle = self-explanatory
Ring = circle + smaller circle inside (white and cut-out)
Bottle = circle + 4 smaller circles placed close to center – 2 on each side (white and cut-out)
Wheel = circle + 4 smaller circles placed on the corners + circle in center (white and cut-out)

And the much-anticipated result:

All Rights Reserved

Click through the link to see more accurate colours...


You’ll notice the pattern is repeated vertically – this was part of the assignment. I mean, I could have designed an entire A4-sized pattern…but I didn’t have to.

Bonus shape!
I really wanted to use this somewhere, but it didn’t end up fitting in with my final design. Behold, the evil teddy bear (and a field of mushrooms I also didn’t use):

Evil teddy = regular teddy + moon (ends facing up) (see above for combinations)

I’m kind of inspired by this assignment, and as long as my love affair with the Pathfinder tool continues, the pattern-making options are endless.

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Shapes and things

It’s amazing what you can do with some squares and circles. Also my new favourite Illustrator feature = pathfinder tool. You can make anything with it! It reminds me somewhat of a how-to-draw book I stole extensively borrowed from my elementary school library (I did return it after a year or so). Almost any drawing can be reduced to basic shapes, and then recreated. I find it’s much easier to understand art if you can understand how the individual elements work together to make up the whole.

The Task: Import an image (one of three) into Illustrator and recreate it using only the shape tool – in conjuction with the pathfinder window and optional warping.

The Problem: It’s not as easy as it looks: once you’ve made several shapes into one, you can no longer edit them individually. And different-coloured shapes are made the same colour if combined using the pathfinder tool.

The Strategy: Divide and conquer. Or more like group-and-conquer.
From the options of key, scissors and lightbulb, I selected lightbulb and got to work. The bulb itself is a circle and a hexagon combined, with a little warping at the bottom to smooth the edges. The base of the bulb is several rounded rectangles with another hexagon at the bottom (well, 2 if you count the clipping mask).

The Result(s):


Do black/white/grey count as colours?

Lookin' cheery!

I’m rather attached to my lightbulb; it’s very traditional and incandescent – defying the modern CFL’s in every way. How many lightbulbs does it take to make me a fan of the Pathfinder tool? Just one.

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Excersize III

This week’s exercise was fairly simple, working with found elements. Although it does limit what you can do, it certainly makes for interesting results.

The Task: Using a random Wikipedia article as a band name, an exerpt from a random quote, and a random image from Wikimedia commons, we had to combine the 3 elements to make an album cover.

The Problem: The picture was more difficult to work with, taken of a cemetery on a side angle.

The Strategy: Work with what you’ve got.

The Result:

The band name that Wikipedia chose for me was “Challacombe” which is the name of a small village in England, literally meaning “cold valley”. And I’m off to a wonderful start.
My random quote was from Mark Twain: “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” We had to use the last 4 or 5 words, but I just went with “Remove all doubt”.
It actually sounds kind of epic…until I put in the cemetery image “Carmes Riberolles”, I think its in France? Then it leaned more towards the morbid.
Maybe it’s a death metal band.

Typeface source: – I did a search for “runic”.

The mosaic background is just some more bricks from another part of the picture, filtered to look like stained glass in Illustrator. The text was supposed to look like it was carved into the building, I think it just needs some perspective warping. And possibly some transparency effects.

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Present and Accounted For

Or should it be “for”? I never understood why conjunctions and prepositions etc. aren’t capitalized in titles. Speaking of typographic decisions (seriously, I didn’t even plan that connection), the latest in-class exercise had us practice some typesetting. This is very unfamiliar territory – I mean, the kind of unfamiliar you’d get if stranded on a desert island and lost in the jungle. Invited-to-tea-with-the-Dalai Lama unfamiliar.

The Task: Take some sample copy, and format it according to certain typographic requirements.
Part A – measure: 4 inches, justified text, black/dark typographic colour.
Part B – measure: 4 inches, flush left alignment with a right ragged edge, grey typographic colour.
Part C – your choice, break as many typographic rules as possible.
Oh, and use typefaces from the same family for parts A and B.

The Problem: What is a measure? Apparently, nobody knows. Not even Adobe Help.

The Strategy: Fake it ’til I make it.

The Results:

Part A

Part B

I used Century Gothic for part A, and Century for part B. So not the same type family.

Attempt #2:

Part A

Part B

This time I used Segoe Script for part A, and Segoe Print for part B. Still not entirely sure they qualify, but at least both are sans-serif this time. On to the best part: breaking rules.

Part C

I think it’s still too legible. But at least I got to have a bit of fun.

Broken Rules:
1. Colour – green is terrible for legibility, and studies have proven black text on a white page is the most effective combination.
2. Leading – in this case, negative leading. Without the right amount of space between baselines, the reader either takes in too many lines at once, or has difficulty locating the next line.
3. Sentence Case – because this is in ALL CAPS, it is harder for the eye to travel across the page, thus inhibiting the reader.
4. Typeface – I used “Pythia”, a very Greek-looking typeface which falls under decorative classification and is inappropriate for body copy (i.e. unreadable).
5. Justification – fully justified here, often leads to “rivers” in the text (white space) and leaves gaps between words making it hard to read.
5b. Hyphenating – a technique found in full justification to avoid such “rivers”, but mak-
es it difficult to follow the text, causing the reader to pause between lines.
6. Kerning – again, negative. If letters are too close together or even overlapping, the text is not defined and does not succeed in communicating a legible message.

I think that’s everything. If you ever see someone produce copy text like this, throw it out. Or better yet, rip it into pieces, and then put those pieces through a shredder.

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In Colour

Let me first explain, that I have no claims to any formal knowledge of colour; I can’t tell you why things look good together, I just know they do. Of course I know my primaries (red, blue, and yellow) and my secondaries (orange, green, purple), and even a few elusive descriptors such as “periwinkle”, “vermillion” and “chartreuse”. And so my approach to the most recent tutorial exercise was rather experimental, but I think it turned out fairly decent.

The Task: Re-colour a poster using a chosen palette

The Problem: Aside from learning technical terms for what I was doing, there wasn’t any issues this time, just point and click (and point and click and point etc.)

The Strategy: Combine some interior inspiration with a little study sesh a la Ellen Lupton

The Result:

 I think I’m actually getting the hang of Illustrator. Which is actually kind of useful because – graphic designers avert your eyes – I actually used to mock up things in Word. Shameful.

Here’s the original poster:

And my inspiration (I was actually playing around with custom-colouring a rug the day before tutorial):

Isn't it pretty?!

For a little technical explanation, the greens, blues, and yellow are all analogous – meaning that they are sequential, or close together on the colour wheel. However, the salmon/pink colour is complementary (opposite side of colour wheel), or a “near opposite” because it’s actually across from a tertiary colour (the yellow-green).

While I didn’t get the colours to transfer exactly (adobe colour-picker is quite picky), the final output followed the original in use of both complementary and analogous colours.

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Trebuchet (Progress 3)

I’m not a fan of group work. Why? Well, I usually end up doing most of it myself, and I dislike relying on other people for part of my mark. And the tension of having to wait for parts of the assignment to come in makes me more nervous the closer it gets to deadline.

For the final part of our alphabet photography project, my partner and I had to create a typographic poster on a chosen typeface. A short essay about the typeface must also be incorporated into the poster design (which totally ruins it, in my opinion). Long story short: I would write the essay, and my partner would design the poster. Fantastic. Beautiful. Inspired. Technologically-sound.

Not so long ago I had to scrape things together at the last minute due to “computer failure” (side note: you’re in multimedia, get a proper machine already), so I prepared some posters in advance when class got boring during some off-time. Prep note: I attempted to make the letters in the shape of an actual trebuchet (our chosen typeface), which just ended up looking sloppy.

The results:

Do not plagiarize

I think I was getting somewhere with the third one – but there’s a lot of required content, and I’m too much a fan of white space. For reference, here’s my inspiration photo:

Can you see the “A” (frame), “B” (baskets of weights), and “C” (scoop)? Who would’ve thought a medieval weapon was typographically troublesome? Here’s hoping for glitch-free computers this week!

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Progress report #2

After some last minute computer crashes/freakouts/freezing my partner and I managed to get the draft of our alphabet photography assignment finished. I mean, I love Photoshop but I gotta give (Microsoft) Word some credit for being easily manipulateable (not a word, I’m aware). Let’s start with some inspiration:

The gardens at Versailles, France. Probably my favourite place on earth, or at least the best-smelling. Seriously, the air is so clean my smog-destroyed lungs could barely handle it. An added bonus: several “G”s in this picture – in case you can’t find them, here’s a close-up.

There was a lot of potential for reductions in this photo, making it part of our top 2. The next photo was also from Versailles…are you sensing a theme? (I went on a France-Italy trip back in April.) While an awesome example of a “G”, this one didn’t have a high enough resolution to make it reduction-worthy.

Since you’ve already seen one of the top 2 contenders, here’s the other one, which actually ended up being our final pick:

Don’t see the “G”? We decided to rotate the picture, and once converted to black and white, this is the awesomeness that oozed potential for our reductions:

All rights reserved, not for commercial use.

I have to give my partner (Cameron Taylor) full credit for the B/W version, he made my selecting reductions so much easier. Check out this lining reduction:

For the rest of the reductions, I simply focused on what I found to be the most interesting elements: the big ball terminal, the dramatic overshoot, the spur, and the open counter. For those not versed in typology terminology, here’s a handy diagram:

Et voila, reductions completed. Now, onto tracing our chosen typeface: Trebuchet. Should be a headache-inducing experience breeze.

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For Curiosity’s Sake

To practice for my step-by-step breakdown of the alphabet photography assignment, I thought I’d share the process of how I arrived at my blog header.

The way I develop my designs is unique totally generic: I mean, I have an idea, I draw it out (either on paper or on-screen), and then I play around with it until I find what I think is the “best” combination. And then I coerce some friend/family member/total stranger to give me their opinion.

The header actually began before this course started, as I tested out my new copy of Photoshop Elements 9.  Although I only kept the colour from the first iteration, it definitely kicked things in gear.

Well…the colour isn’t exact, but the next iteration held some potential:

You’ll notice the handwriting-esque typeface is the same as in the final version. For those interested it’s called “English Essay”, though I don’t recommend it for that purpose, you might lose a few marks. From there I made the jump almost right to the end, except for the placement of the “in” which was determined by the header size that goes with this theme.

I thought the handwriting typeface looked a little bit like a scientist’s notes, hence the use for “experiments”. The pixellated “design” came from tutorial, when the TA was demonstrating the difference between vectors and bitmaps (when magnified, vectors don’t lose resolution because they are based on mathematical equations).
Here’s another iteration I considered before deciding on the final header:

Definitely not as good in terms of spatial placement – but it might have worked with another theme, perhaps. PS. For anyone interested in the other typefaces the “design” is in “LCD Phone”. Which kind of ruins my whole design-inspired juxtaposition between typeface and meaning. Anyways, there it is in black teal and white.

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Alphabet Photography – Progress

The first assignment required us to pair up, pick a letter from an envelope, and photograph examples of said letter in nature/life in general.

The task: Photograph 10 examples of your letter, pick the best one and create 5 reductions highlighting different typographical elements.

The problem: Of course I picked the letter “G”. There must be some sort of magical connection going on, I mean, that is my initial. However, as magical as this event was, the letter “G” is definitely up there on the hardest-letters-to-find-in-nature scale. Like maybe an 8.

The strategy: was a fantastic place to start. I simply typed in my letter 5 times to see what it came up with.

The result:

Not the greatest variety, but there was one element I noticed: scroll-y architecture. It inspired me to go looking through my pictures from Europe, where I figured there would lots of examples to get me started; more on that next post.

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