Archive for September, 2012

With space and lines defined now it is time to venture further into design basics with shape and value.


Shape can be thought of as a combination of what two design elements?

Once lines and space are identified and understood shape becomes the next element of learning. To create a shape you need lines and you need space. A shape can be outlined and be identifiable with just lines, but the space defines the image and sets it apart. Space is the beginning for adding volume.

Can shape alone give enough visual information to allow for the identification of an object?

Objects can be identified by the some of the simplest of outlines. So long as the outline of the image is recognizable an object can be perceived as being what it is suppose to be by the representation of the outline. Space and volume only add the details taken in when taking more time in visualizing the object.


What is value as it applies to design?

Value is what gives depth to shape. Giving volume to an object starts the process of creating a 3 Dimensional image, but it takes value to bring the object to life. In design you have to consider the light and dark areas of the piece. Learning to work with value is important and an easy way to start is with monochromatic images (the use of one color in an image). After mastering monochromatic, adding color will be easier and soon a design piece can have any number of colors.

Why is value important? Value is what makes and image stand out. Images with little to no value will get overlooked and analyzed quickly. On the other hand, the images that use value to create depth and feeling to itself will be the images that request more attention from the eyes of the viewer.

What is the preferred direction of light in an image?

As said, value is the the use of light and dark. To get a cohesive light and dark effect a designer has to take into account a light source. The most common directional light sources is from above because that is where we naturally get our light from and is our normal perspective of value on objects in real life. Though that is the most common direction for a light source, the most comfortable source of light to view is said to be from the upper-left of an image in the textbook. There is no reason really known for why the left and not the right, but any movement of the light to another direction starts to get emotional responses from the viewer. This is because you are changing what they view comfortable, what they are used to. Change causes an effect in people and light source direction is not exempt from this.

The direction of the light source needs to be taken into account during the design process and what the goal of the design is needs to be considered. Once a direction is decided on one very important thing to remember is to stay consistent with that one direction throughout the image.

Lines, Lines, Lines, Lines.

Posted: September 24, 2012 in Fund. Visual Literacy

Space has been well defined by now for the basic understanding of what is needed for design. Now it is time for lines.

What is a contour drawing?

Contour drawings are similar to outlines, but better. A contour drawing focuses on the lines of an object. The more lines taken into focus with a line the more detail to the image. It is not one continuous outline of the image, but several lines forming the image. Contour drawings are silhouettes and outlines with depth by adding detail through lines inside the outline.

How does variation of line thickness affect a drawing?

To better add depth to a lines only drawing variation in line thickness helps. Volume can be added by changing the thickness of a line. Adding thickness to all the lines does not add depth and volume though. To achieve this adding thickness to one line next to lines thinner. Having to much thickness can disturb the image and ruin its composition.

What are the three types of lines in regard to composition?

There are three types of lines when looking at the composition of a design piece: actual lines, implied lines, and imaginary lines. Actual lines are straight forward and is a drawn piece of the image. Implied lines are lines created by not actually drawing a line. An implied line example would be as the book uses, a line of train cars on a track. Or another example could be a tree line or a fence. There does not have to be continuous connection with the line, spaces can occur. Imaginary lines are the most subtle and could merely be someone pointing or gazing in a direction as used in the book.

What is hatching?

Hatching is the use of several lines to create value to a line image. The closer the lines are the darker and the more space between the lines the lighter the value gets. Hatching can also add texture to an image. My personal favorite use of hatching is not only the straight lines going in the same direction, but cross-hatching where you go one direction and then go about 180 degrees in a second direction.

How can pixelation affect a curved line displayed on a monitor?

The pixels on a monitor are squares stacked horizontally and vertically. Because of this lines that go horizontal or vertical are going with the flow of the pixels and will not be pixelized when blown up. When lines begin to curve is where pixelization occurs. This is because it is now leaving the path of the pixels on the monitor.

Back To Wanting Space.

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Fund. Visual Literacy

Since we got emotional squares out of the way, let’s get back to space. Here’s a recap of what kinds of space are out there:

Format space is the physical aspects of an image, Postive space refers to the main object of focus, Negative space is everything else in the picture, and Illusionary space shows depth.

With the recap done and all of us back on track, I want to focus on Negative space. Have you ever tried to just draw the Negative space around the object of main focus? When I ask this I mean you didn’t draw the Positive space. You drew the shapes making up the Negative space, making them your focus so all you have is the outline of your Positive object. Well, I gave it a shot. Here it is:

You can see the outline of my Positive, but my Negative has the shape and focus here. I think it turned out well; now you give it a try.

Emotions run how the world revolves for us humans and we all must face the fact that we all experience emotions. No one, besides the dead, are exempt from these emotions. Finding emotion in something is easy. Even 3 black squares can spark an emotional response in someone. Below follows my attempts at expressing 6 different emotions in such a way. So, here it goes:


Here I have represented Joy with the thought of my dog. He is always so joyful and happy to see me. When I get home he starts as this small little thing in the distance running wild in circles and zig zags getting bigger as he comes to attack me.

I assembled my three black squares in a small to big kind of spiral as a way to show the “from far to near” zig zag pounce attack of my dog. Now, I know not everyone has my dog to make them think and feel joy. Knowing this, my squares are also positioned to imitate the “jumping for joy” affect people get when they, you know, feel joy.



To go a completely different route, here’s my square composition for Anger. This one is more obvious in what my intentions were. Clearly I am displaying a close up view of a face expressing anger. When someone gets angry, to me it seems like the facial expression is the same every time. The eyebrows angle in and the squint hard. My squares may not be very square like in this one, but I took artistic liberties and declared rectangles a form of square in order to accomplish this arrangement.










When I think of Frustration, I think of all the pushing and struggling to get something done, only to have disappointment in the end. Or to end up with another obstacle in your path. It plays out in my mind as a climber coming to the top of a mountain only to find there is another one on the other side.  After a bit some perhaps are making the face expressed in the last square composition.










Or for some there is the Excitement of finally surpassing the frustration which so determinedly tried to hinder their advancement. I know I am one of those people who get extremely excited when I overcome and become the boss of something which pressured me to the very edge of my anger cliff. Excitement is like a burst of exclamation so, fitting to this description I opted to arrange my squares in the form of an exclamation mark.









To express another emotion, such as Fear here, I considered the different levels of fear. Some fear is great like the fear of the dark or some fear is minute but still causes fear. A miniscule fear would be the fear of something breaking. In this picture, my three squares are placed so the two smaller ones look as though they were a whole of something or another at one time. Perhaps a broken antenna on a radio or a broken pencil in a cup.

Or this picture could also express the fear of falling. Falling, however, is a much stronger level of fear.









When the danger of Fear is out of the picture, Anger is muzzled securely, and Frustration is tied down, life is good. Life is peaceful. Everything seems to be perfect. Contentment settles in amongst the remaining joy and calming excitement. Relaxation plays a role in settling down the noiser emotions. In my last piece, I turned my three squares on top of each other to create a calming, flower-like affect. Something to grab you and draw your eyes in. Something to hypnotise you into a relaxed piece of mind. Something to put you in Contentment.

What is space in the terms of images? There is format, positive, negative and illusionary space. Each one needs to be considered when creating an image, so what are they?

Format space is the physical aspects of the image. This type of space is very important for a designer to recognize when considering how they want to project their work. Size is important to consider because one image size may look good on one display device, but either too big or too small on another one. It is all dependent on how many pixels the image is. Monitors may be the same size but have a different resolution. Resolution is the number of pixels for the width and the height of the screen per inch. There are cases where more than one format may be needed to achieve multiple views on different devices.

Once the format space of the image is decided upon, positive, negative and illusionary space are next to consider. Positive and negative space are similar in the fact they are opposites. The object of main focus is your positive space, while everything else in the background is your negative space. Negative space can be hard to understand because of everything that can be placed in the background. All you have to do is figure out what is the object of main interest and everything else is negative. These two spaces are important because it is how we perceive our world everyday. Once one space is defined the other is defined. They are dependent upon each other so be careful when designing your positive and negative spaces.

Illusionary space is next once you’ve decided on what is your positive and negative space. As one of the most important elements of imagery, illusionary space gives our images a sense of depth. Being able to add illusionary space to your visual design brings your work to life.

How can you achieve this third dimensional space? How do you know which object is closer? Is it the smaller, bigger, lighter, darker, lower, higher, in focus or out of focus object?

The key rules to remember to achieve illusionary space and answer all of these questions are size matters, the lower the closer, and the farther the darker.

The larger the object, the closer the object is. Though two objects are the same size the one closest will appear bigger because of how are brains interpret objects in the distance. When an object is closer it will usually appear lower on the vertical axis of the image than those farther away. Finally, objects in the distance are darker. Closer objects will be lighter because there is less atmosphere to disturb the reflection of light off the object. There are particals in the atmosphere which disrupt the reflection of light the farther the object is. 

Knowing all of this will help a designer create better visual designs.