This is how my lines have progressed. And appropriately enough, my lines here are all about progression. They are evolving and adapting to their environment.
They start out thin and become thick.
Then they go diagonal, from small dots to larger squares.
Then they become curvy and radiate out from a center point.
Then they become tilted and closer to their viewer.
Then they meet with a tree grate in Westport and live happily ever after.
When I first did the simple version of progression, I thought it was a bit obvious and literal. The lines steadily get thicker and closer together, and that’s about it. I grew to appreciate the directness of it, and it ended up working with this project the entire time. I also think it’s nice that the curved lines paired well with Westport, as it is one of the more progressive parts of town. Overall, I’m very happy with this evolution of lines.
Filed under: KCAI, VisCom1
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I think the most organized way for me to critique myself is to directly answer these questions:
What is the visual strength of the image/line study selection and pairing? How could it be improved?
After all the iterations and editing, I think my line study/photo pairs are much stronger than the first time around. I’ve modified the curves in my Westport pieces so that the line segments more successfully continue the lines in the round grate.
Crazy lines before…
Much better now.
How is the photograph legible, well composed, engaging?
How should it be improved? I think the most legible photograph that I have in these images is the Westport one. It’s clearly some sort of structure found in an urban environment. The other photos are a generic crack in the ground and a rubber… thingy from the floor of a parking garage (it’s not exactly legible as such an object, and definitely not the greatest subject matter for depicting the Plaza).
Is line quality study well crafted? Where should it be improved?
I think my line studies are well-crafted. There aren’t any really weird craft issues this time around. My scans of my photocopied-then-scanned lines could be cleaned up around the edges and made a bit more solid, but there is a rawness and honesty about how they are now. (Don’t worry; I’ll try my next round of posters with and without cleaning them up.) Also, I have some little bits of lines in the corners of one of the Westport ones above. That’s something that I should’ve spotted before I printed my work.
Is the type choice and placement integrated and appropriate?
Okay. Here’s my problem. Since I am taking a typography class, I’m very aware of how badly I suck at it. I wasn’t at all sure about what I should do with my type, so I just kind of left it for last and then didn’t have time to finish. (Not a good idea, I know…) And the type that I do have could use some work. “Plaza” isn’t enough for my linear posters. So I will experiment with labeling it “The Country Club Plaza” and using different typefaces to better convey a sense of Plaza-ness. I will also rotate it so that it is horizontal and more natural to read.
How does the overall composition dynamically employ principles of scale, framing, orientation, alignment, continuation? How could it be improved?
The framing and continuation in this one is interesting, but it doesn’t really work where it is on the page. It is very high up, and the bottom edge of the white line is awkwardly reaching the center of the page. I could improve the relationship between the line study and the photograph by rotating them to put them on a more dramatic angle and shift the scale between them to make the photo much smaller so that the viewer can grasp the image more easily.
How well do the graphic elements communicate the neighborhood?
I kind of already mentioned this, but the one that works the best is Westport. The graphic elements represent the overall feel of Westport by showing movement and referencing an industrial material. It shows that Westport is an urban environment.
I think the Crossroads posters (with the crack in the ground) convey the feeling of the neighborhood because it’s a more rugged, raw, expressive part of Kansas City. The crack in the ground shows a deterioration of the environment, which alludes to the massive number of people who walk around in that area on First Fridays every month.
The Plaza posters are my least communicative. The grungy parking garage doesn’t represent what most people think of when they think of the fancy Country Club Plaza of Kansas City. They think of glamour and shopping and Spanish-inspired architecture. The linear properties of the parking garage floor are abstractly interesting, but conceptually weak. I think if I had an image that made a stronger connection with what people think of when they think of the Plaza, I’d have stronger work.
I’m digging this black boxy shape that happens between these two!
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Why is it important? Well, my dear, placing objects (type, image, color, whatever) near each other can have dramatic effects. The position of said objects can give the composition a stronger meaning than each individual object on its own. (The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.)
When unplanned juxtapositions happen, they can create unexpected, surprise results. Sometimes these results are pleasing, and sometimes they are not. Harnessing the power of juxtaposition by purposefully placing objects together can become a very strong force by giving the viewer another layer of conceptual depth within the composition. Objects can reflect upon each other to form a sense of unity, or conflict with each other to create a sense of tension and unease. When objects are further apart, this kind of relationship doesn’t happen, and they are just objects on their own without any context or partnership.
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I’ve said it before; Saul Bass was a ninja. So, naturally, I chose some of his work to show off some line studies.
Bass did a bunch of movie posters back in the day. They all had blocks and linear elements to portray the overall feeling of each film a poster represented.
Here’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout:
Random line study: varying widths of elements and space between them conveys a tense feeling of uncertainty.
Progressive: The lines have a decreasing distance in between them and converge in the center, showing movement from a starting point to a destination. (Kind of reminds me of a flushing toilet. Hahaha…) The spiral represents dizziness, which is what the word vertigo means.
Regular: Everything is the same width and seems very balanced. There is equal width from the center of the poster to the outside edges. The content is safely nestled in the innermost portion of the work.
I’ve had intense classes and projects before, but it always seemed to magically work around my schedule at my job. I’d get everything finished while still making some money. Not this time. For the first time ever, I had to take the whole week off work to devote extra time to this project. It breaks my heart that I wasn’t there with my young artists. But in the end, it was well worth it. I’m very proud of myself for making this book happen.
Behold, the fruits of my labor!
Here’s what each page shows:
Process: proximity and correspondence. The pieces of my compound shapes are identified by how close together they are, as well as the color they share.
Calculate: proximity. I show three groups of objects that relate to each other but are still separate.
Store: continuation and correspondence. The pieces correspond to each other in rows of similar sizes and colors.
Evolve: continuation. I imply a path of movement and growth between shapes, while leading the viewer off the page to where an imaginary following shape might be.
Protect: proximity, asymmetry. The defending shapes surround the vulnerable larger shape on one side.
Network: continuation. Implied cords or lasers (or whatever the connecting force may be) between shapes show a connection and communication.
Monitor: scale. The surveillance shape is much larger and more dominating than the poor little shapes at the bottom.
Infect: repitition. I repeat shapes to show a sense of monotony and order, until I break it with the offending virus shape.
Alienate: proximity, correspondence, framing. The colored dots that are clustered together are imposing on the faded, gray figure at the bottom of the page.
In the chaos of this week, it was good for me to just sit down and read for a moment. So, what did I read about? Well, graphic design, of course. Specifically the role that layers and transparency play in design.
In Graphic Design: The New Basics, Ellen Lupton writes about how layers can transform a composition. Layers added and removed can show the versatility of the work. Objects can be obscured or enhanced by objects on top of them, thus changing the way the composition looks and feels.
Lupton also talks about transparency and how it works. Transparency happens when you can see multiple layers at once through each other. This can create a window to the focal point.
Transparency and layers are related, because you don’t notice transparency in an object until it interacts with another object on a different plane.
So, I got to thinking, how can I apply my newfound insight to my current project?
Well, I haven’t quite gotten to the point of overlaying the type with the imagery yet (as I’m still refining that side of the project), but I’ve been playing with layers in other ways. My compound shapes are made up of layers that have been carefully composed to look dimensional and spatial. I also use layers to hide flaws and accentuate moments that work really well.
As far as transparency goes, even though I haven’t put my typography in front of my imagery yet, I’m still working with transparency with my dots. Some of my materials are transparent. I have some plastic sheets that I’m using for dots. They are very glossy and I only use them in very specific places. But sometimes they interact with other dots. And when they overlap, the colored plastic shows the image underneath, but in the hue of the plastic. This gives a whole new feel to the imagery.