The Last One?!

…For the year…

I just wanted to start off saying that it has been an amazing year! I have had so many opportunities to hone my craft, and I have been enjoying sharing the last few with you here. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read about them! Just like the titles say, this is probably going to be the last one that I share with you this year, so I hope you enjoy it!

The Project this time

The Sharpie Project last time was a timely project- it put me into the mindset of working on designs that were fitting for a bigger company, and could be seen as a potential advertisement for them. This new project kept those same gears crunching, and became very helpful throughout the entire design process.

The project was to find and analyze a company’s advertising campaign, break it down, and utilizing the breakdown components, design a new ad that would fit within that campaign. I would then create a presentation video that would be as if I were in front of the companies board of directors to get approval for the additional ad.

So where do I begin?

I began this project by first performing research into various ad campaigns. I did it in the most efficient ways possible that I could think of- a Google Image search and Pinterest. Ultimately, I put every ad that I found as interesting and well designed into a board on Pinterest (click to follow to that board), and began the process of elimination as to which direction I should go.

As shown to the left, I decided that this was going to be the ad that I was going to draw inspiration from. The ad is for the branch company of Nestlé, known as Nescafé. The ad is meant to be a promotion for their product, instant espresso.

So where does that lead me?

I needed to then do a basic break down of the ad, to find key elements that would help me design an ad that would fit the style utilized by Nescafé. I noted that the ad used a very well known Renaissance painting, “The Mona Lisa” by Leonardo DiVinci (with a few minor, yet vital, manipulations), the product’s placement in the design, the text, as well as the color pallet. From these four elements, I then was able to begin working on my own design.

The First Draft

The first element was of the “Mona Lisa”. How was I going to find an equally recognizable painting, or just a famous portrait in general, to use for my work? I went to history text books. From my time studying art at BYU-ID, I kept a collection of all of my art history books, and began to flip through them to find something that would fit the high standard set by the “Mona Lisa”. After going through centuries, I found a perfect candidate: “American Gothic” by Grant Wood. It is a contemporary piece that is almost just as equally recognizable as “Mona Lisa”. When I found it, I literally thought, “This is it!”

Once I had found “American Gothic”, I needed to begin needed alterations to the piece, in order for it to match the Nescafé Instant Espresso ad campaign. I began by enlarging each of the couple’s eyes. This proved to be a little tricky at first, but after making multiple different selections, I was finally able to accomplish that. I then began to look at the painting’s general color pallet. I noticed that there was an abundance of various shades and hues of blue, so I took that as my inspiration for the border. Not wanting to create contrast with the painting, I felt that it would be safer to go with more of a robin’s egg blue. I then went and found their Instant Espresso (it currently has a newer label than in the original ad), and placed it in the same position as the original “Mona Lisa” ad, then after going through a good number of the typefaces available in my computer, found an almost identical family and put the same text on the ad.

   

The Slide Draft

After making an initial draft, I needed to also make a draft for the presentation video I was going to be making at the conclusion of the project. Thus, I needed to design a series of slides to showcase my “New Gothic Ad”. I sketched out a few possible layouts, then I opened up Adobe InDesign to start creating a couple of master slides to work from.

I utilized a color scheme taken from Nescafé’s logo. Their logo also inspired the shape of the of the slide title block shapes, being mirrors of the accent on their name, and the same red. On these slides, I provided a more detailed breakdown of each ad to show the vital elements, as well as that consistency and continuity was a priority for the entire design process.

Product Testing

Once I had compiled everything, I brought my work to a group of peers to get feedback on the project thus far. The general feedback from peers was that the design is very well done, and that it could easily be seen as a part of the Nescafé ad campaign. Their suggestions for improvement were to make a few touch ups of the fine details. The eyes, after going through the enlarging, had become a little blurry, and it appeared as if the woman had heavy eyeliner on. Also, as a result of the enlarging, their stern faces became more pronounced, requiring manipulation to make it fit more with “Mona Lisa”. The robin’s egg blue was a good choice, but was still a little too powerful, and the suggestion was made to make it less saturated. The plan moving forward from here was to do those minor adjustments to the ad, as well as cut the word count on each of my slides down (might be a little too lengthy for an oral presentation).

 

The Final Product

Above is the final composition. I applied the needed fine tuning that was brought up during the product testing feedback, and instantly saw an improvement. I also became aware of the typography during the fine tuning, and noticed that my tagline of text had some irregular spacing between glyphs and went in applied the changes that it needed as well. Adjusting the couple’s mouths to reflect a more cheery disposition proved a little more difficult, but I feel that I was able to capture a subtle smile for each. Once the finished here, I needed to go into my slides to make the minor adjustments there to reflect the new image (seen below), and once that was done, I made the presentation video.

 

The Video

It took a couple of attempts, but here it is!

To sum up

I just want to thank all of you again for the wonderful opportunity that I have had to share my work with all of you the last few months. I am going to be continually designing and creating, so don’t worry, I will still be uploading when I do! I have grown so much not only from each project to the next, but also when I have been able to share and put down in words how it went. I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season, and if you want to make sure you hear from me in the new year, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog! You will be notified when I post something new! And leaving a comment on your thoughts is always appreciated as well!

Another BIG Project?

Then there is a tool for you!

The last few weeks have been pretty amazing! I was given the opportunity to work on an ad for a permanent marker, and so I created one for the very well known brand known as Sharpie! It was quite a learning and growing experience, so let me tell you all about it!

The Project

The project had me first visit a random product and consumer generator. When I would click the generate button, it would give a different project each time. Depending upon how the gamble went, I was to then work on a fitting ad that matched the criteria that would be outlined. My results were the following:

Product

  • Product Name: Permanent Markers
  • Product Brand: Sharpie

Target Audience Demographics

  • Gender: Female
  • Age: 35-44
  • Relationship: Married
  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree
  • Income: $90,000
  • Media Consumption: Blogs and Social Media

So from here, I knew that I needed to make two different versions of the same ad, one to meet the the size for a blog (300px by 250px, at 72dcpi) and the other for social media (400px by 209px, at 72dcpi).

Sketch Set One

When it came time to sketch, I needed to remember who my audience was. I pictured middle class, working women, and younger mothers. With that in mind, I first thought that I would make a very simple, yet elegant design that would just feature the product against a white background with a tag line that would grab and invite the consumer to purchase the product. I made a mixture of traditional sketches as well as some digital sketches.

When I had finished, I really liked the hand scripted look of the call to action line. It just seemed to really scream that this was the direction I needed to go, like it had been written by a Sharpie. I made a note that when I started to make my first round of digital mock-ups, I would try to keep that as best as I could.

A Photo Shoot

I like to take my own images if I can for each of my projects. This one was no different. I went and set up a miniature photo studio to capture as many different shots as I could. If you want to do your own, just remember that the initial set up for the subjects is nine tenths of the battle! Take your time and set everything up perfectly, adjust lighting, backdrops, etc, before even taking the first photo. It will go a long way when you start the touch-up work or manipulation later.

Here, I have all of the photographs that I shot for the entirety of this project (some were for the second round of drafts and sketching, so some slight spoiler warnings). The set to the right is much different than the rest. With these I wanted to play with potential final design compositions in advance before I had started to do any manipulation work.

 

 

Digital Mock-up Round One

After going through all of this prep work, and the two different ideas of who the actual targeted consumer were to be, made it hard for me to actually decide upon a clear route I should go. Being unable to decide just yet, I decided that I was going to make an initial digital mock-up for each and have product testing done to help determine the right direction I should go.

These four were the result of my work. After I had taken it out for product testing, but in the interim of getting the results back, I looked over the designs, and realized that they would each be a stronger design if the backdrop of the two tag lines were to switch places with each other. I wrote down this observation for when I went to do finalizing work later.

Product Testing Results and Sketch Set Two

When I got the results back from testing, I was a little shocked. The test audience really like how clean and clear the ideas were, but they felt that it was a little too safe. In other words, they thought it was very well designed, but that it was boring. What I needed to do was make my design more whimsical if I was to truly convince the targeted consumers that this was something that they needed to act on.

Like I stated in my last project post about the ceramic icon, this is a normal occurrence in the design process. With that in mind, I needed to go back to the drawing board. I had two really intriguing ideas that kept coming back to me. The first was taking inspiration from Escher’s Drawing Hands. Instead of the hands drawing themselves with the pencils/pens, what if they were using a Sharpie? This of course would mean I would have to make my own version of the hands, in order to better match the Sharpie’s iconic look on paper better. It really needed to sell that this was something a Sharpie could in fact do, and was a practical use of the product.

The other design had some similar thoughts behind it. What if I had a piece of paper, with the tag line written by a drawn Sharpie, to be in fact drawn by a Sharpie? When I went to start making the final round of the digital mock-ups, I took a few ideas from both of these sketches into the design.

I also played a little bit with the color of the composition at this point. Up to this point, I was trying to keep my design within the monochromatic color sequence inspired by the classic black Sharpie, with black, white, and a light gray being the only colors.

 

My Different Elements

For this project, I decided to take advantage of a new tool in my arsenal: the Samsung Note 8 and the Adobe Draw app. The Note 8 comes with a stylus and a screen that is pressure sensitive, and the Adobe Draw app supports those two features. This was amazing! Normally when I have done digital sketching, I have used a Wacom tablet, connected to my computer. This does the job, but it has never had the same feeling of traditional pen and paper sketching, mostly how I never am watching my hand move nor do I interact with my digital canvas as if it were paper, having it locked into a static position on the computer screen. Not so with the Note 8! It was much more like the pen and paper that I so loved!

So when it came time to create the different images that I was going to be manipulating for this new design, I created two of the different elements there, namely the hands drawing each other, and a drawn, open Sharpie for each hand to hold as they drew themselves. The other two images that I used were taken from a second photo shoot (images further above).

The Final Products

After scrapping my original design in part, and all of the reworking, I finally finished an ad for Sharpie Permanent Markers that meets the more whimsical demand from the product testing. This was a challenge from the moment I got the type of ads I was to make; I normally work at a much larger image sizes for most of my projects, and to suddenly make much smaller designs, made this whole experience one of the best projects that I have ever done. I tried so many new tools, creative thinking processes, and am so happy that I was able to make a product that I am very proud of. It is not often that I get this kind of growing experience, and I am glad I was able to have it!

As you can see, with the different dimensions of the two different types of ads, there had to be some slight altering between the two in order to better fit the space available. Hope you like them as well, so please leave me a comment of your thoughts and subscribe to my blog to see even more projects from me in the future!

 

Big Project! Sorry in Advance! (but not really….)

Sorry about last week

This current project has been amazing! I really love the time I had to do it. The one downside has been that I wasn’t able to post anything last week! But this week will all but make up for it. That much I promise. It might be a little longer than normal as well. I got so absorbed into this fun project, that I wanted to give it all of my attention, so that it could be the best that it could be for the client. I think that the final product was well worth the effort and time put into it, and hope you enjoy seeing how it was created!

 

 

The Icons

Just like last time, I want to show you more of my design process, but this time, instead of designing a magazine article spread, I needed to make some icons. The project had some pretty clear cut parameters that I needed to follow. The project was to create 4-6 icons, using Adobe Illustrator, that all tied together. After doing some head scratching, I decided that I was going to do a set of icons for an artist’s online gallery. Each icon was going to be a different art medium, that if clicked on by the viewer, they would be directed to a section of the online gallery that featured that particular type of art. As you can probably see, on my parameters list, once I got that idea, different art media just kept coming to me. So much so, that I needed to go through my list and really think about what I could do by the deadline, and would meet the requirements.

Sketching

Once I got through the initial planning, the next phase was to do my hand-drawn sketches. Since I was going to need a total of six maximum icons, I decided that I was going to do six different sketches for each icon. This phase was rather difficult. With icons, they need to be easily recognizable as the intended object, but also not be overly complicated or confusing. Most cases, using the quintessential object is typically the right direction to go. So, initially, that’s where my sketching started. When I first here about ceramics, an ancient Greek vase is the first thing to pop into my head. So, I drew it out. But as far exploration goes, it only scratches the surface. I wanted to go further with my designs to see how far I could actually stray from the quintessential design, before it became to obscure and an ineffective icon. Some of my sketches entered more of a realm of illustration, like sketch number 3 for watercolor. I had drawn a scene of the painter’s work space as a possible icon. Clearly, too complex, but by having done that sketch, I was able to go with my thoughts even further and come up with other ideas. There are never any bad ideas during sketching. Just let everything that comes to your mind make it onto the page. Once you do, that is when the magic happens and you discover the perfect idea or concept for a project.

The Digital Draft

I scanned my draft into my computer and brought them into Illustrator as a template layer. Once I had done that, I reviewed each category and selected what I thought would make an excellent initial digital draft of my set of icons. For ceramics, I went with a stein; graphic design, an Adobe program user interface; watercolor, a wet brush over a piece of paper; photography, a Polaroid; a comic book for comics; and a pen and pencil for my more miscellaneous category (sketching, doodle, etc.). I needed a few elements, however, to translate into each icon that would help tie them together as a whole. Deciding to mimic my sketches a little, I made a thick, bolded outside edge to each graphic. I then put each graphic image inside a rounded corner square, similar to how it might appear on that artist’s webpage. I didn’t really have a set color scheme that I wanted to keep for each one, but for the background colors, I wanted to keep them either one of the following: blue, green, or purple. The hues intentionally vary because I wanted to express how an artist is not limited to just one media, but is open to express themselves in any media, just as there are so many varying media used in the artist’s gallery.

The Product Testing

Once the digital draft was compiled, I went and showed my designs to peers to get some feedback. I wanted to know if what I had been doing was one- keeping to the prescribed parameters of the project, and two- quickly conveyed the art media it was meant to portray. All six meet the first point, but my ceramics icon, unfortunately, failed on the second. It was my personal favorite icon that I had made, but it was too obscure for those who aren’t to familiar with how a stein is made. I had strayed to far from the quintessential object for the topic. And that is perfectly okay! This is still a draft, so reworking a design is part of the whole process, and it is expected. So in proper fashion, I went back to my sketches and reviewed them to find a more suitable design to meet the challenge of passing the second point of getting feedback.

That is when I came went back to my first sketch and realized that this was actually really well designed, and that it was still in fact a variation of the quintessential, and worth a digital translation. Since the color of the graphic changed, the darker green was no longer a suitable background color- creating to much contrast of the red clay vase. I went into the color settings and softened the intensity of the hue and saturation, creating more of a complementary sea foam green to be the background color. Other minor touch ups were added to my other icons as well, mostly to do with spacing. I adjusted their placement within each square so that there was the right balance of negative space around each individual graphic. I also reworked the shape of the pencil tip and watercolor brush so that they looked more like the objects and not so much a mashing of shapes on top of each other.

The Product

The end result was that I had created six successful icons that met what the parameters had outlined. One of the parameters that I had failed to talk about earlier was that I needed to provide a large image of each icon, as well as a smaller, scaled down version. In today’s world where everyone accesses information through varying methods (such as a smart phone, computer, tablet, etc.), the size of the icons need to be able to adapt and change with the different types of screens. By providing these two sizes for the client, and designer, are able to assess whether not an icon’s design is functional. It needs to be able to be seen and recognizable at all possible sizes. So here they are! my six icons!

My Design Process (part 2)

Last week, I started to describe my personal design process for a project that I am working on. Today I wanted to continue listing out that process for you, as well as give you a final update on the project.

A Brief Recap

I went over how the first thing that I do is list out the given parameters of a given project. These parameters guide the creative process to be aligned with what the client is looking for. Usually, as part of the parameters, I, or the client, identify who the targeted audience is, and what exactly the message is that we want them to quickly get to when they look at the piece. Once the pre-drawing work is ironed out, thus begins the hand sketching. Typically, I go through many thumbnail sketches before deciding on a few to try digitally. Once I create those initial digital mock-ups, then we move on to the next step.

 

Peer Reviews/Product testing

What I typically do is then bring my concept and my initial digital draft(s) to fellow designers and ask for their critique of the work-in-progress project. Based upon their feed back, I will then begin to make some alterations to the initial design. This step is meant to help and refine ideas to where they meet the parameters of the client the best, as well as more clearly convey the intended message.

For this project, I got some good feedback (as you can see from the red drawn over draft). Major fixes that I needed to make were alignment and spacing issues. Reflecting upon this, I decided to double check my parameters, and discovered that the minimum expectation was AT LEAST three pages (two of which had to be a spread). When I saw that, I realized that I was not needing to confine myself to just three pages. My article was a longer one, and so I took the initiative and added an additional spread. What you will see is that by doing so, many of the alignment and spacing issues practically disappeared.

Finalizing

Once the feedback has been collected, and recorded, I went back and began the changes. Like I said before, I created an additional spread. I then opened up my paragraph styles window in InDesign, and increased the body text’s font size and the leading. Immediately, the article began to be much more comfortable to read. I then went and adjusted the title of the piece. I make the third line of text smaller, and decreased the space between the words. I then brought them to be aligned with the left edge of the “E” in Fear, and the right edge of the “A” in Fear as well. This helped to bring the initial message of not fearing to go out and serve, to pop a little bit more out from the article.

On the draw over, a peer noticed that there was an irregular spacing issue on the word “Christ” in the text within the yellow box. When I went and checked it out, I found that there was actually a space glyph splitting the word in two. Something to always remember to do is to go and spell and grammar check all of your text in a project. It can be a very embarrassing if you don’t.

(The photo of President Henry B. Eyring was taken from his official portrait found on LDS.org)

 

On the first spread, I began to feel that my pull-quotes lacked any sort of appeal. They were just kind of bland. So I went in and changed the font family to Bickham Script Pro. This made it so much more appealing to look at. I needed to adjust the size of the font a little to make up for this change. I also brought the second part of the quote higher up, solidifying the relationship between the two as a single, continuous quote. As a result of the move, I needed to go in to my text wrap settings and change the bounding box boarder around each so as to better visually have my body text flow nicely around the pull quote. I also moved the yellow box and image from this spread to the next.

On the new spread, I went through the text and found a second pull quote that fit the intended message and made the settings of the text wrap to match that of the previous spread. And that, in a nutshell, is what the purpose of this spread was. It was meant to apply repeated styles and elements from the first three pages, that bound the entire project together. The image and yellow box were reformatted and cropped to fit the new space- much like the opening page. The headings and pull-quotes match earlier examples in the article. I also moved the references from the bottom of the article’s final column of body text and placed it inside the yellow box, and changed the paragraph settings to match more of the bio on the speaker on the first page.

(The image of the study materials and The Book of Mormon were taken by me for this project)

The Wrap up

Although I feel there is always more to tweek and twiddle with on a project, this project has reached its conclusion for the deadline. I might go back one day and revisit it to make more changes as I progressively get better as a designer. But what is important to take away from today’s and last week’s blog posts are the simple design process that was taken. They were to: 1) List parameters, 2) Identify audience and message, 3) Sketch, 4) Initial Digital mock-up(s), 5) Peer review/Product testing, 6) Implement changes and Finalize.

Hey everybody!

This week is going to be a little bit different. Instead of looking at other artist’s and designer’s works, I have been working on a small project of my own. The project is to make a three page spread for an article, so its been keeping me busy. But I wanted you all to see the progress so far, as well as the steps that I take when I work! Here they go!

Listing the project’s Parameters

Graphic designers always work with a client. That client sets the parameters for the product, and it is the expectation for the designer to follow them. Here were mine:

  • Use InDesign
  • 3 Pages; 1 Spread;
  • 8.375” x 10.875” page size
  • 2+ Column Layout
  • 600+ Word Article (Found on LDS.org or BYUIScroll.org)
  • Break the article up with 3+ headings/subheadings
  • 1+ Pull Quote(s)
  • 2+ Relevant Images
  • 1+ Word Wrap (image or shape)
  • Consistent headings and body copy
  • Contrasting typography

Know the Audience

Once I found an article I really liked, I needed to know who the audience was for the piece. Once the audience is identified, it becomes easier to think of ways to communicate that article visually. The article that I found was by President Henry B. Eyring, titled “Fear not to do good,” (found here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/fear-not-to-do-good?lang=eng). I won’t dive too much into the article, but the audience that I will be addressing with my project are those that wish to perform service, but have some obstacle that they need to overcome first. The message that I want them to get is that we have no need to fear, for when we go and serve, we create miracles.

Sketches

Sketching is important. Looking at my thumbnail sketches to the left, it may look a little different than normal doodles of characters, or of landscapes.

These sketches were meant to help me visualize possible layouts that I want my spread to follow, and were done with me planning on utilizing Adobe InDesign for the product. The light blue lines are guide lines, the red boxes are the margin lines, etc. Those familiar with InDesign will know that the boxes with the “x’s” on them are frame boxes, and they are meant to hold a linked file in that spot of the page (such as a photograph).

I also normally do much more initial sketching than this for a project, so I can explore many different possibilities that an idea can take. Sometimes, we think we hit the right idea, but when we explore just a little bit further, we can end up with an even better one.

During this phase, I also start to think about the different choices in typography and color that I can use. In this case, I decided to use Centaur and Franklin Gothic (and their different weight and style families) as my fonts, and took inspiration from the Mormon Helping Hands logo for the color scheme (yellow, blue, and green).

Digital Sketches (Sometimes known as a First Draft)

Once I have done my hand-drawn sketches, I move into the computer, taking one to three of my sketches and making digital mock-ups. Sometimes the digital translation of a hand-drawn concept just doesn’t really go to well. On the thumbnail, everything could look fantastic, from placement, to color, to the limited text scene. When I went and copied the article’s text into the program, I realized that the article was a little bit longer than I had thought. So I needed to make some adjustments to the placement of the different elements in order to make it start to work.

But is still just a draft! It doesn’t need to be perfect just yet! In fact, this project has only started, and still has a long way to go before it will be closer to what I hope will be an amazing piece!

Next week I will continue breaking down my design process even further, so keep an eye out for it!!

A Thousand Words…

…and it starts by observing.

The last two weeks I have been looking at designs that have been made by graphic designers. An important part of what we do is create graphics, or images, and it is vital to understand a little bit about photography and how to successfully implement it into our work. This week, I am going to analyze three photographs for their use of the Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, and Depth of Field, as well as demonstrate with my own work the same concepts.

Pastry Cook, Cologne by August Sander

The first photography that I will take apart is one of my personal favorites; August  Sander’s Pastry Cook, Cologne. It was taken in 1928, using the gelatin silver print process. August Sander was born in 1876 in Germany. Originally employed in a mining company, he was introduced to photography while out on the job site. His uncle helped to set him up with the necessary  photography equipment (such as the chemicals needed for the gelatin silver print process) and he began to make a name for himself as the most influential  German Social Documentary Portrait Photographer of the 20th Century. Sander is most known for his work that was gathered as part of a series called People of the Twentieth Century. A Photographic Portrait of Germany, which happens to be where the Pastry Cook, Cologne is a part of. He wanted to show the average person in their everyday life. He took over 30,000 photographs in his life, but most of them were destroyed by either fire or by NAZI’s, who saw his work as controversial and contradictory to their propaganda image of what a German should be. Luckily, prints of his work were still circulating, so not all of his images were lost, ultimately being gathered and compiled together.

Looking closer….

Like I mentioned, Sander was a fantastic portrait photographer. The Pastry Cook, Cologne showcases that. I made three outlines to mark the three things we will be looking at on this photograph. The light blue dotted lines break up the image into nine sections (as a result of the Rule of Thirds), the red transparent over shape (the area of focus), and a dark blue line that runs down the middle of the photograph. The Pastry Cook is in the middle third of the image, with the surrounding kitchen filling the remaining two thirds of the image. Being in the middle, the Cook is clearly the focal point of the piece, but Sander wanted us to really hone in on him by making him and his tools sharp and crisp, with the work space around him becoming subordinate by being blurred. That blue line down the middle is significant for portrait photography. When shooting a portrait, the dominant eye is normally placed on an axis, giving it more power and making it seem that the eyes follow the viewer. The Cook’s right (viewer’s left) does just that, lying on that middle axis.

Focus is important

I mentioned that Sander’s Pastry Cook, Cologne made really good use of the the Depth of field to make it clear that the Cook was the focus of the photograph. I wanted to just demonstrate just how important it is. Depth of Field refers to the distance between the furthest objects within view of a camera’s lens, and those that are close to it. I went this last week to Idaho Falls and photographed one of the city’s landmark buildings, the Church of Jesus’s Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. Mormons) Idaho Falls Temple.

See the beautiful purple flowers, crisp and brilliant on the sunny, Fall day that I took the image? That was the first thing you saw right? After seeing the flowers (highlighted in red as the object in highest focus), your eyes then wandered over the remaining 2/9 of the image where the building was slightly poking through, against the deep blue sky.

 

Watch what happens when I shift the focus just slightly onto that building in the back instead of the flowers.

Your eyes go instead to the gold statue at the top of the building, along the top of the building’s walls, then falls the rest of the way down through the flowers. That was a huge difference! You saw what I wanted you to look at, because what is sharp and clear is what our eyes want to look at. Our eyes are lazy and do not want to work on deciphering the blurred out flowers until it had too. If I really wanted you to clearly focus on that statue, I would take this image into Photoshop and apply a blur filter onto the flowers to make the contrast between the sharp building and the blurry flowers even greater, instead of the more subtle blur as the Depth of Field was changed from a close up shot to a distant one.

Rain Shower in the Studio by Baron Reteniz von Stillfried

Our next photograph is Rain Shower in the Studio, taken by Stillfried in 1875. This image was produced by using the Albumen process. Stillfried was born the year that the practical invention of the photography occurred, in 1839 in Austria. He was one of the earliest photographers to take images in the Asia (and even trained many Japanese to become photographers themselves).

Photography was still in its infancy (not yet even 40 years had passed when this photo was taken), and flash and color photography were not widely available. Most photographers had to set up their own studio where they could control the lighting better (early studios being on rooftops, relying on sunlight to produce their images), as well as the weather in an indoor studio. Stillfried, his partner Hermann Anderson, and their assistants would stage events in their studio (such as a rain shower) and then take the image. Some images would then be handed to their Japanese assistants to paint over the glass plate to give soft pastel colors into the image (obviously this is not one of those pieces).

Breaking it down…

Stillfried’s Rain Shower in the Studio is a little simpler in its break down. The camera captured this Japanese woman as she braves the artificial rain storm, with her in head and torso being in the most focused, and then radiating out from there, we see the image become less clear. We see that the image also loosely follows basic Rule of Thirds, with the woman being in the middle third. To contrast with Sander’s Pastry Cook, Cologne, we see that Stillfried decided to place the woman’s non-dominant eye on the major vertical third axis line. He also has the woman’s face on a point of interest (an intersection of the horizontal and vertical axis lines).

The Rule of Thirds

Three has a power of conveying stability and is aesthetically pleasing in almost all of its uses. The Rule of Thirds is a way in which artists, designers, and photographers capitalize upon that. It splits an image into nine equal grids, and where the lines of the grid intersect are points of high interest. Most will put their focal point of their composition on one of those of those points. It also breaks up the space into either three equal vertical or horizontal segments (depending upon the piece in question). In my photograph to the left, I created a symmetrical image of the building, but cropped it so that I utilized the rule of thirds to make a better use of the space in the image. The central spire lies in the middle vertical third, with the thirds on either side filled with the main building. I also marked the Leading Lines in light green, but I will get to those in just a little bit.

 

New Main Line at Duncannon by William Rau

Our last photograph is of William Rau’s New Main Line at Duncannon, taken in 1906. This is a gelatin silver print. Rau was an American photographer that primarily made stereo cards and panoramic photographs, and was the official photographer of the 1904 World’s Fair and the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition. Rau is a perfect example of documentation photography. His main goal was to capture and document industrial development in America (such as the Pennsylvania Railroad and the World Fair). As a documentation photographer, Rau’s top priority wasn’t the art of the photograph, but rather that it was more important to document what was happening at that moment. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t pay attention to the aesthetics though- as we will are about to see.

Diving in…

Once we start to observe this moment of the train barreling down the tracks towards us, we see how New Main Line at Duncannon is an amazing photo (and how brave Rau had to be to stand on those tracks with the train coming at him). Looking at the light blue lines, we see that split the earth and sky into horizontal third segments. Then moving onto the light green lines, we see that the entire image is wanting us to focus on the train in the distance. The tracks, horizon, even the billow of smoke from the engine funnel our vision onto that lonesome locomotive.

Leading Lines

When I talked about the Rule of Thirds, I mentioned that the places where the grid intersect create areas where focal points tend to lie. Sometimes, however, artists, designers, and photographers will use an alternate method to bring your eye to that focal point. It comes in handy if they decide to put that focal point outside of those points of interest. It is called Leading Lines. Their purpose is, as their name implies, are lines that may, or may not be, connected that guide the eye to an area of importance. Take my photo for example. There are no solid lines that lead to a focal point (where as Rau’s New Main Line at Duncannon have continuous lines in the form of the train tracks that lead directly to the train).

But there are Leading Lines none the less. Marked in the light green dotted lines, we see that the shape of the building, the ground stonework, the railings, etc, all guide the eye to the top of the building’s spire, right to the gold statue.

 

 

To sum up a thousand words

Photography is an important tool in a designer’s arsenal. It is imperative to to know basic photographic and design principles, such as the Rule of Thirds, Depth of Field, and Leading Lines, to create effective and successful compositions.

 

 

*If you are interested in learning more about the different photographic processes (such as learning what a silver gelatin print is), I recommend checking out George Eastman Museum’s YouTube channel. They have an amazing playlist that goes over all of that! Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeorgeEastmanHouse

Last week was a closer look…

….and this week is a break down.

Because of my profound love of Switzerland, I thought it would be fun to look into an advertisement from one of their major wholesale and retail companies, Migros (pronounced ME-grows). This billboard ad is for a product available at the deli/take away counter, or at one of their sit down locations. The ad, written in German, asks if the product was made either as an easy meal while living in a dorm/apartment, or whether it was made by one’s own mother. The text in the arrow invites the patrons to try it for themselves and then decide. At the bottom, the little sentence says “For a satisfied Stomach.”

What I plan on breaking down is a little bit of the typography employed in the ad.

A little into Migros

Migros is Switzerland’s largest supermarket chain, founded in Zürich in 1925 by Gottlieb Duttweiler. Think of them as like the Swiss equivalent to either of America’s retail tycoons of Walmart or Target. They generally provide basic grocery, stationary, and clothing needs at almost every location. Migros is ever conscious of their patron’s health (healthy patrons naturally meaning returning patrons), and since its founding has refused to sell either alcoholic beverages or tobacco products in any of their locations. Their locations have three general sizes, ranked as M, MM, and MMM, and the more “M’s” is a larger location with higher volume and range of inventory and services available.

Commence the breaking

What is nice about looking at an ad in a foreign language, especially if you weren’t able to speak or read it, initial typography analysis goes rather fast. To the left, I took the ad and circled every time the “e” glyph was utilized. Each time the glyph went through a font change, I changed the color of the circle. What we see is that in this ad, there were at least four different changes. Looking at “WG oder Hotel Mama? Erst Essen dann entscheiden” (the red circled “e’s”), although the “e” glyph seems to change in appearance, what we are observing here is just simply a weight change from Roman to a more bold or black/heavy weight.

Identifying the red circles

There are three major families that a typeface fits into: serif (Oldstyles, Modern, and Slab Serif), sans serif, and script/decorative. As each family has its own characteristics, it is important to look for the indicators. When I do this, I like to look at both a lowercase glyph and an uppercase. To the left, I pulled and enlarged two glyphs so that we can look closer at the these characteristics. The first thing that I look for is what is circled in light blue. Is there a serif on the glyphs? If so, which these do, where do we place them from there? We narrowed it down to either Oldstyle, Modern, or Slab Serif.The next step is to look at the stess mark direction on the glyph (shown on the glyphs with a blue dotted line). Oldstyle is the only one of the three to have a diagonal stress, so it can’t be that. In addition to that, the serif on Oldstyle are also slanted. We are left with either Modern or Slab serif. What sets these two apart is the extreme contrasts in the varying thick and thin of the glyph’s strokes. For the glyphs we are looking at, I circled different parts with a green circle. What we see is that our glyphs have very little change from stroke to stroke, making this typeface a Slab Serif.

Just one more identification… of the blue circles

Just like with the Slab serif, the first place to look on any typeface for its family is if it has a serif. Circled in the light blue, are areas of the two glyphs where we would expect to see any serif. What we see with the typeface here is that it does not have any serifs, making it a Sans Serif. Sans Serif have other identifying characteristics as well that I will quickly point out. What you see circled in the green is that there is not weight change between each stroke of the glyphs. Because of this, Sans Serif typefaces do not have a stress direction (thus the absence of the dotted blue line like in the Slab Serif break down).

Why should we care about this?

What we need to understand is that the two are used to communicate two different ideas on the ad. The Slab Serif was used to promote the product available at Migros. Although we didn’t look into the light blue or the green circled type together, they are also just like the blue circled type, Sans Serif. When we look at where it was used, it was used in places where they were to be identified with the company. The light blue and green circled text had to do with the different logos for Migros, and the blue circles were for a company statement that helps connect the product back to Migros. Knowing Migros’ philosophy and dedication towards providing healthy products, they are saying that they guarantee the  product will provide the consumer with both health and a full stomach.

The Slab Serif is written huge, in fact, until you get up close to the billboard, you don’t really see any of the tiny Sans Serif fonts sprinkled throughout the page. The Slab Serif family was designed to do just that. Be put on a billboard or a poster and be easily read from far away. Migros doesn’t want anyone to miss what they have available to any of their consumers.

A closer look…

…into the design.

Let’s take a closer look into Target’s weekly ad. The above image was taken from their ad during the week of Sept. 17-23, 2017. This ad is for skinny fit jeans sold at the store, whether it be online or at a physical store location.

Just some background

Target is a retail department store that was founded in 1962, by concepts designed John F. Geisse and the Dayton Company, in Minnesota. Since it’s initial founding, Target has since spread nationwide, providing goods and services to patrons, ranging from clothing (like advertised in ad I will be analyzing), to furniture, electronics, grocery, and more.

 

A closer look into the alignment

I took the liberty to provide red guidelines over the ad, to make it easier to see how everything lines up nicely in this ad. Lets start by working from the top down, then left to right.

At the top, the heads of the two adult women are aligned and the bottom of the upper-right hand corner text aligns with the top of the child on the left’s head. At the center of the page we see a strong supporting alignment, where we see that the top of the main text lines up with the fingertips of the women with the red shirt, the shoes of the women in blue and the child on the right. The next alignment down shows that within the text block the top of the small text is in the same line as the bottom of the “y”. Next, the bottom of the text is aligned with the bottom of the women in the red shirt’s jeans, just above her shoes. And last, the feet of the child on the left and women in the red shirt line up.

Now going from left to right, we see that the larger text is all left aligned. The next two lines shows something really cool. The text in the upper-right is right aligned, but the bounding box that holds the text is aligned with larger text’s “h” and the right most letters.

How about into it’s color pallete?

Here, we see that the primary color in this ad follow a monchromatic color scheme, utilizing blue as the base hue (outlined in the red rectangles). Seeing that this is an ad for jeans, this is pretty cool. The main text headlines are solid blue, with all of the denim in the advertised product providing the different shades and tints.

Circled, we see that the accent color chosen for the ad is one of the triads for blue, red. This is also a Target ad, so seeing the color is meant to remind the viewer that the shown products are available at their locations.

The different element’s proximity to each other?

We see three different, distinct groupings. The text make up two of those groups, and the assumed mother/son relationship.

With the text, we see two headlines (written in blue) with body text underneath. The different placements of the two groups indicate that they are providing different information.

The physical interaction between women in the red shirt and the child on the left, as already said, seem to have some sort of familial relationship (such as a mother/son). It also helps see that the other two figures shown are not interacting with each other, nor are they close to each other, so no bond can be assumed between them.

What’s repeated?

We see that there is a repetition of the models for the ad. We have two adult women and two boys. We also see that each is wearing blue colored jeans. Variation with the different jeans on the different models helps to show that the jeans are available for different types of people.

Within the text, we see that the headlines are written all in lowercase, as well as put in blue. The main body text is also in lowercase, but put into black. This also shows that there is a relationship between the information provided by the text.

And finally, a closer look into the contrast

I have made two different outlines for this closer look; circles for the white space and rectangles for the darker elements. By having placed a white background behind the models, our eyes quickly focus on the other objects on the page. We quickly see and recognize the models, and are able to distinctly see the outlines of the jeans they are advertising.

 

What does any of this mean?

By having taken a closer look into the different elements on this ad, we can see how this is an effective ad. We see that the Target ad follows closely five design principles (alignment, color, proximity, repetition, and contrast) to help its targeted audience, their patrons, to quickly understand what the ad is for (skinny jeans).