Thursday, August 27, 2009

Logo Graphic Process

When faced with the task of creating a logo or graphic there is a temptation to pull out your pens and just draw something cool. If you are lucky it just might be truly cool, but most likely it will just be cliche and superficial. First ideas are dangerous, they prevent you from getting to those better ideas that require a little more work and process. Let me suggest a better process:
  1. Subject Text List - make a list of words that describe the themes that you are trying to say. Graphic Design should always start with a clear idea of what you want to communicate.

  2. Signifier Text List - continuing with text, list words that refer to or remind you of the subject that you listed. Include a friend, they may have ideas related to their experience that will give you more options

  3. Image Thumbnails - by getting started with words we can easily switch to illustrating them. Let yourself have fun with these images and doodle some variations on the obvious. Also remember to draw filled in shapes rather than line-described images; it will be easier for the next step.

  4. Scan for Opportunities - with a sheet full of drawings you can quickly do a visual scan and look for drawings that have qualities that would help them relate to other drawings. These graphical opportunities may be:
    • similar shape
    • complimentary edges
    • details that could co-exist
    • negative shapes that look like another drawing

  5. Redraw as Combinations - using your layout or tracing paper can help you to make new drawings that are combinations of more than one of the thumbnails

This does not have to be a linear process. Go back and forth between text and image to help you find ideas that you missed the first time.

Looking for Graphical Opportunities

A complex graphical communication may have many parts. To avoid a cluttered or busy look it helps to impose some order and consolidation. Here are three methods that may help:
  1. Side by Side Comparison- two objects are placed side by side or stacked vertically to get us to look at them as a similar pair. We relate the two because of their similarity and imagine logical connections or metaphors.

  2. Form a Single Object - draw the two as one object while maintaining the details from each that make it identifiable. This may involve sacrificing a portion of the object that is not necessary for recognition and allowing it to take on the form of the other.

  3. Positive and Negative Space - The holes or edge details in one object can take on the characteristics of the second object.

Two Methods for Developing Graphic Images

A strong graphical image is one that is clear, clean, quick, simple, abstract, and simplified.
Two strategies may help you make a better graphic image.
  1. Try to reconstruct the form using only geometric primitives:

    circles, rectangles, triangles, etc. . .

  2. Emphasize the stylistic elements that describe the form best while eliminating others:

    if your image is curvy, eliminate everything except the curves.

Gestalt - Required Post

People like to feel smart. If your design or art has a visual trick in it, that requires their interaction, people engage with the work and try to make sense out of it. Our brains are good at making order out of chaos and recognizing visual forms from collections of lines and shapes. Your work will make people feel good if they get it, but if they don't you leave them cold. Understanding principles of Gestalt Psychology may help you create visually stimulating work.
is where we are able to recognize forms from seemingly random collections of visual marks.

is where we perceive whole shapes where they are inferred as negative shapes by their interaction with positive shapes.

is where the collection of forms allows us to see more than one recognizable form, though usually not at the same time.

is where an object, even when transformed or translated significantly, is still recognizable.

is the Gestalt principle that says that we prefer to imagine groups and logical orders to visual things. It has several basic laws:

  • Law of Closure - we perceive closed and complete forms when given sufficient parts

  • Law of Similarity - things that are similar are perceived as a group or related

  • Law of Proximity - we form groups out of things that are closer or equally further than other things

  • Law of Symmetry - symmetrical forms are perceived as belonging together

  • Law of Continuity - once a pattern is recognized we perceive its repetition

  • Law of Common Fate - things that move or act the same are perceived as a group

Many Gestalt principles rely on a good use of positive and negative shapes. Altering edges of an object to serve a dual purpose for another form can help you to make use of Gestalt priniciples. Always take a step back from your work and try to see what sort of connections and visual order people will try to make of your work.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How to Draw an Eye

Draw an eye. Go ahead, I'll give you a few minutes.
What did you draw?

Most art students will draw a fairly detailed eye with iris, pupil, highlight, eyelid, eyelashes. This is what they have been taught to do. They are taught that the more "realistic" and more complex they can make their drawing the better it is. So this is where I have to un-teach them. Sometimes the best drawing of an eye is just a single dot. It is quick and easy to draw, and in the right context, it is easy and quick to identify. The single point eye is a powerful universal symbol for an eye where a realistic looking eye gets tied down to representing a specific age, race, sex, or character. When communication is the goal the quicker, more universal, less complex eye is better. There is no need to impress anyone with your rendering virtuosity, just show me an eye and make it quick.


It is good to be snobby about some things; because no one else knows enough to care. An Illustrator needs to be snobby about brushes. The best brush is a male Siberian Kolinsky Sable harvested in the winter. I guess a summer-time female is not as desirable. No, a sable is not a tiger as in Sable Tooth tiger, a sable is like a mink, a furry little varmint. A regular Red Sable would also be a good choice. Next down the list would be a Kazan Squirrel or a Black Squirrel. Can you make a brush from road-kill squirrel? As far as I know brush making involves careful alignment of the hairs so that the curve inward and make a nice point. Once you move out of natural hair brushes and into synthetics there is a huge drop in quality (and price). A good full-bellied round number 6 sable brush costs around $40. You only need one good brush. If you buy cheap brushes you have to buy a bunch of sizes to get a range of line work done. Here is a picture where you can see the kind of line that a good brush makes.

It goes smoothly from very thin to full and thick. It can do that because a good brush makes a sharp point when it is wet. Don't be deceived by all those sharp looking cheap brushes in the store. They look that way because they have the equivalent of a stiff hair gel/insecticide in them. Here you can see a dry sable brush next to the same brush when wet. A cheap brush will never form that sharp point again after you wash it the first time.

Semiotics - Required Post

To be smart when you are talking about Visual Communication it helps if you know some basic ideas in Semiotics. Semiotics is the study of how things mean something and the signs that make that possible. Some examples of types of signs are: symbols (that we learn as denoting the subject), icons (that resemble the subject), and indexes (that are related to the subject). A sign has parts that we can analyze and see if it is working the way we want it to. An obvious part of a sign is its visual nature. That is the part that we as Designers and Illustrators are good at making look excellent. Another part of how a sign means something is how people read it, what they think it means; this is the connotation of the sign, the final message. A third part is our intent, what we were trying to show in hopes of communicating something specific; this is the denotation. When we look at our designs from the perspective of how other people might understand them or what variety of things it could possibly mean we are better able to refine it to an effective and specific communication with all of the nuances of communication that we could hope for.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Picture Day

You can't say I didn't warn you.
I intend to take a group snapshot tomorrow to help me remember your names.
Also please remember to bring your paper and drawing tools.

Required - Blog Entry #2 (Courses)

This is for your own good.
Make a post that shows which classes you intend to take and which semesters you will take them. It will help if you have a copy of the Department of Art & Design Survival Guide available here. It also helps me to know who you are and where you are in your program. Also tell us your major and any other relevant info, like if you are a transfer student.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Section 2 blog urls

Please add your blog URL to the comments on this post for section 2.

Class Blog URLs

Please add your blog URL to the comments on this post.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 1

Introduction to Graphic Design and Illustration
ART 2610 - Fall 09 - Babcock

Day 1

Create a Blogger Blog to record course progress, lectures, comments, research, and works.
Enter this link in your browser (no spaces or breaks) for screenshots of this process:

First commit to an email with a good username. “YourNameDesign” if possible. Be consistent with the email, account name, and passwords across all of these processes. Have a strong password that doesn’t include the word “password” or your account name, has numbers and letters and at least 8 characters.
You might consider signing up for a new email from gmail to make this all work well. click on MAIL

Blog Set-up
Send me your URL to you’re done.

Delicious social bookmarking Copy the tagroll code into a blogger html gadget on your blog.

Picasa web album
Will use your same google account as the gmail and blogger. Images posted on your blog will automatically load into an album here. Load images directly here and use link to image codes.

More Blog stuff
Title blog with your Full Name and Graphic Design and Illustration in the Site Description.
Settings - Public, No word verification required, google account signature.
Gadget 1 - Delicious HTML code
Gadget 2 - Blog Roll - add to your blog roll.
Delete the followers gadget.
Fill out the profile gadget.

Blog entry 1 - Test Post
Title, text, and test image.

Blog entry 2 - Course Work
State your major. List courses you plan on taking and which semester you will take them.

Assignment and Lecture Posts
You will be making posts that work like class notes. If there is a lecture blog a summary. Post progress on projects. For many things you can mirror the content of my posts for class.

Quoting and Linking
In your blog entries, if getting content from others: summarize in your own words or use a citation for words quoted. Include URLs for call content that is not your own.

Create all files at 300 dpi for print, 180 dpi for Picasa and 72 dpi for Blog

Online Participation
Follow my blog for assignments and lectures.
Follow Blackboard page for announcements, recorded lectures, grades, course documents.

Blog Days
There are days throughout the semester when for a variety of reasons assembling for class is not going to happen. These days may be designated as “Blog Days”. This means that you are responsible for posting specific content to your blog as an indication of your labor in the course for that day. Attendance credit for that day will be given based on your post. Posts should be complete before the next scheduled meeting date.

Post comments using your GoogleID. You will be required to comment at various times. Do it spontaneously. Remember good etiquette.