Monthly Archives: February 2016

Daily Creates: Week 6

This week I captioned a painting, turned a dog into a GIF, and chose my favored mode of Western transportation. Here are the tweets:

Design Blitz

This week we were asked to do a design blitz based off of the logos or signs around us. While I was thinking about this assignment, I realized that most of the items around us have a design or logo somewhere on them. So, here is a survey of the items in my room, more or less.

DCstar

This first logo comes from a shoe brand by the name of DC. Here we can see a good example of minimalist design. The “D” and the “C” cross over one another to make a square shape despite the size and original shape of the letters. Both are open, loosely imitating one another, and the “C” holds a small star. The combination of the two letters look like a chain link as well, making a small, simple, and visually pleasing logo for a brand.

LLBean

The second logo I chose was this L. L. Bean one off of my backpack. The design of this logo is simple and clear in its typography, giving the name of the company in a nice, easy to read font. The letters themselves are embroidered, giving the logo texture and a sense of three dimensional space, which is an appealing effect for a brand.

Sunsweet

This third symbol is from Sunsweet, which sells dried fruits. The colors in this logo are the most striking, drawing the eyes to its bright yellow and orange, which is offset by the blue logo. Yellow is a naturally attractive color, and the bold print of the brand name on top of it makes consumers feel drawn to its contrast and appealing, easily viewed name.

Coffee

Finally, depicted here is a Starbucks (and Keurig) logo. The Starbucks logo is heavy with symbolism and incredibly distinctive. Starbucks can draw its customers in by simply putting this logo out in the street. The two-tailed mermaid is reminiscent of the sirens of old seafaring stories, which is appropriate given that the name of the company comes from Captain Ahab’s first mate, Starbuck, in Moby Dick. The symbol of the siren with the star over her head is hard to miss in modern culture.

These symbols all hold important characteristics of effective design, no matter how simple or symbolic it is.

An Iconic Movie

One Story Four Icons

This assignment requires us to take a movie and reduce it to four icons that symbolize the major parts of the story. Here are my four icons, but you’ll need to guess what film it is! If you’re stuck, here are some more clues:

  • The movie was released in 1980
  • It is based in Chicago
  • It focuses around a musical genre

Good luck!

The film I chose is one of my all-time favorites, and it has enough symbols within it to easily break down into simple images. I found these icons on the Noun Project website, and in accordance with using them for free, I left the credits underneath their respective pictures. Once I finished collecting them, I organized them in Paint.Net.

I liked doing this project a great deal, thanks to its simplicity in design. Symbols make up our world and help us communicate, and creating a system to express an entire movie was a challenge worthy of doing. Hopefully the symbols I chose are clear enough to get the idea across!

3:10 to Trading Cards

310 to Yuma Card

I made this trading card in accordance with this assignment, which calls for making trading cards based on a movie. I chose 3:10 to Yuma in order to fit it in with the Western theme and because the cinematography works well as compositions for cards. Emmy, on the left, is ignoring the advances of Wade, a rough outlaw who thinks he can win her heart.

This card is organized in a similar layout to the Star Wars ones which were used as an example in the assignment. I compiled the images, words, and textures in Paint.Net.

Unfortunately, despite having a template for this design project, I had to try it out twice. The first time, I was unsatisfied with the composition and decided to loosely base the design on the example cards to have more structure. Even now I am not overwhelmingly pleased with the result of this one, but I worked hard on it so I will happily post it here.

Wanted: Jesse James

Wanted

Jesse James has always had a special place in my heart as far as outlaws go. Granted, he was a crazy guy and certainly not a saint, but I have done quite a bit of research on him in the past and so I feel a sort of acquaintance with his questionable character. He would do just about anything for the benefit of himself and his gang. So, naturally, I decided to make a wanted poster of him based on this assignment.

I tried to apply the reading we had this week to this poster, ensuring that it was a standard size according to the limits suggested by the book and that the lettering on the page was pleasing and spatially appealing. I used a color base and a texture under the content to give the image more depth and variety. The photo itself is not the highest quality, but there’s only so much to do with photographs as old as this one. Everything was organized and finished in Paint.Net.

This was a cool project to do. It was kind of simple, but a good start for practicing design. I think the poster came out looking decent for all intents and purposes. If I did it again, I would probably make it more rustic-looking and make the file smaller in general.

Designing the West

While researching designs, I compiled a few examples of what seemed to be common themes in western art. The colors, compositions, and subjects of western-themed designs run along similar veins. They stick to warm colors and try to capture as much of its subject as possible, not necessarily focusing on any minute details within an image. And, most importantly, the main subjects are the landscapes of the West.

Design Adams

Ansel Adams had taken this photo with a beautiful composition that leads the viewer’s eye from the top of the cliff down the river and into the vanishing point to the right. The photo itself doesn’t follow the warm color ideal simply because it is black and white, but the composition consists of trees, cliffsides, distant mountains, water, and skies. Everything within the photo is important and necessary to see in order to understand its full design.

Design Big Country
This movie title starts similarly with a vast landscape, although this one is significantly less busy. The dominant color is a warm brown with darker shades within it and highlights against the dusty ground. The main focus is the road that runs through the center, just above the title, with horses running across it. While there is not a whole lot of visuals to take in, the picture still captures a large composition.

Design Ride Lonesome

This title screen shows a mix between the first and second designs: predominantly brown color with mountains, a valley, and a sky. The words here are at the center of the screen and demonstrate a warm yellow to blend in with the image upon which it sits. Again, there is a lot to look at within this image.

Design Rio Grande

Once again, this landscape is in black and white, but continues to capture a vast area of land with some sky, plateaus, shrubs, and rocks. A color version of this image would presumably be brown in a dominant sense. The words are also carefully placed so as to not override the busier parts of the image, such as the tops of the plateaus or the shrubs. They only lay over areas to which the eye would not normally be attracted.

Design OKeeffe2

This painting, “Back of Marie’s No. 4”, by Georgia O’Keeffe shows another warm landscape, once again with layers of ground and sky and vegetation. The visual design of this painting has the eye view the image in distinct layers of color and depth. From the yellow-green vegetation to the pale snow and up the mountainside into the little clouds of the blue sky, the viewer sees the West as O’Keeffe saw it.

Each of these examples effectively reflect the principles which Vignelli outlined in design. With the color balance and the tracing of the eyes from the capturing point to the main focus, be it words or a vanishing point, the designers of these images knew well how they wanted their work to be seen. They applied depth and space to ensure that these pictures could be visually appealing for those who would see them.

Economy of Design

This reading by Vignelli had a lot of interesting information. It was useful in exploring the principles of design and space. I hadn’t considered much of what went into the design of visual elements such as logos and printed works. Even the font and spacial awareness of words were necessary in maintaining a well-designed page.

The part of the reading that struck me the most was using the phrase “economy in design” as a means of expressing useful, effectively organized design within the given parameters. Maintaining a good balance of simplicity and complexity in color, texture, type, and size is difficult, but certainly worth understanding in order to create a nice design for any situation.

I understood a few of these principles prior to the reading due to my experience in high school art classes and the newspaper. In those cases we had to ensure that our images had good balance and design before starting any drawing or painting, and each newspaper page had to be laid out before articles would even be written in order to place our most interesting articles up front with a picture and balance out the lower half with well-spaced articles. Doing both art and newspaper for a couple of years helped me learn how to ensure that space was used well and that each work had a solid central focus. The meaning was understood without any explanation.

Of course, those were high school-level activities, and the information in Vignelli’s book would have been immensely useful at the time. I had to learn a lot of what he explains by simple trial and error over those years.

Week 5: The Wind Calls

This week was filled with learning. I started off by reflecting on what I knew and what I had yet to learn. I also put out some ideas for the midterm. Then I participated in a tweet-along and gleaned some information on what a radio show used to sound like versus a newer one like “Moon Graffiti”.

I did my daily creates for the week, from mapping to stamping to making up sayings, and compiled them all into their own post.

I worked on learning about audio through the sound effects story, the radio bumper, and a westernized reading of “The Raven”. Since the sound effects story counted for three and a half stars out of the eight I had to do, I chose to have a conversation with myself for another four stars and read an overdramatic monologue for two and a half stars, finishing off the week with a grand total of ten stars. While most of my assignments had to do with speaking and editing, I made sure to incorporate how to make ambiance in a story and put sound effects behind actions.

And last but certainly not least, I commented, commented, and commented some more. I’m not sure I collected all of them (I forgot to grab links for some) but I tried to not be shy in communicating with others.

I had a lot of fun this week, and I learned a ton about audio. I was surprised by the end of it when I could throw together ambiance and time it well on the last project. The projects and assignments we had made a huge impact on my audio editing skills.

Thoughts on Moon Graffiti

The audio in the podcast episode “Moon Graffiti” was extremely eerie and well-placed throughout the story. I liked how the speaking sounded like it was coming from different positions and areas. Listening to it with headphones on was effectively immersive. The characters within the story spoke eloquently and solemnly to one another throughout the story. Behind their dialogue was a beautiful ambiance that helped create the mood. It was honestly very emotional, despite just being a hypothetical alternative to history based off of a speech.

While this podcast is a much more modern performance, it held a lot of similar themes to the radio shows I heard during my live tweet-along. The relatively brief length, the ambiance behind the characters’ dialogue, and the subtle descriptions of their actions to help the listener were all parts of the stories I’ve heard this week. This one had better quality and more immersive audio, due to the technological advances since the radio shows were produced, and I’m a huge space fan so I enjoyed the story a great deal. Despite this, however, I think all of the stories had their merits as solely audio-based stories.

Frontier Gentleman used narration heavily in its telling, as each episode was depicted through the eyes of a British reporter, a sort of detached main character peering into others’ lives. Gunsmoke used narration much more sparingly, only to introduce the general idea of the story and get through scene changes or events. “Moon Graffiti”, on the other hand, only used narration at the beginning to set the stage and allowed for the characters to play out the rest of the story. I liked the limited narration a great deal, and I hope to focus my own podcast around a similar set-up.

The Daily Grind

This monologue came out of an assignment that had you read something overdramatically. In order to do this, I looked through an archive of monologues and found this one from “The Chocolate Affair” by Stephanie Alison Walker. It sounded like something I could really get into, so I went ahead and gave it a try.

I recorded myself with Audacity about a hundred times before I thought I sounded over-the-top enough. (I’m no actor, so it took a lot of practice to just sound dramatic in general.) Afterward, to kick it up a notch, I thought I would support each narrated action with sound effects. You know, because that’s pretty overdramatic. So I downloaded a bunch of audio clips from Freesound and compiled them all in Audacity.

I think of all my audio projects this week, this one turned out best. I let loose a little to really get into character, so it was fun to just flail about. Adding sounds for extra flair made this sound into something different from the others, too, although organizing all that audio was a bit of a hassle. Still, I’m proud of how it turned out.