Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Animations posted to YouTube!

I'm celebrating the end of 2013 by posting two animations I made for animation class to YouTube. 
If you want to be amused by the presumption of someone who has had (and enjoyed) one class with Adobe Fireworks, then waste no time and go to:

Fire and Ice poem Animation (new window)

Three Quotations about Superstition Animation: (new window) 


You can also search for my channel, AABDarcy, because searching for the animations by name will turn up a lot of videos on related subjects.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Awareness Ribbons for Failure and Success

I have two questions for my readers.

Background: I read an article about types of failure in school and thought about classmates who had not turned projects in on time.
I was inspired to create some art for one of the ideas, that children can react in different ways to failure. They and their adults need to understand that failure is part of the path to success.

How could I illustrate that idea? I created an "awareness ribbon" for failure and success. Actually, I created two and I need to know which is better, or if they need more work and what kind of work.

Ribbon #1 has the "Failures" part of the ribbon on top because that is the beginning of the sentence.

Ribbon #2, below, has the "part of success" half on top because that is how you drape a ribbon: the first half on bottom, then the second part crosses it on top. I expect people to read "part of success" first because it is larger and on top. Then they will do a double-take, go back and read the beginning of the sentence and finish with "part of success" again. Or maybe they won't read anything!

Maybe that is psychologically right, too: Failure is there, but focus on success.

Also notice that the "failures" end of the ribbon is gray and cut blunt, but the "success" part is blue like a blue ribbon and the ends are trimmed in an inverted "V." I tried many other versions.

Question #1: Which ribbon works better as an illustration of the idea that some failures are just part of the path to success?
However, beginning graphic designers may be interested to know that the design below, Ribbon #3, was an earlier version. I tried to use a gimmick: emphasis on one of the letters that "failures" and "success" have in common, namely, the letter "u." It just did not seem to work out and I changed versions.

I've come up with gimmick ideas before and I'm beginning to recognize that they may look clever in thumbnails but turn out to be a huge waste of time. I can sketch gimmicks, but I need to move past gimmicks and do something simpler. Or at least gimmicks have been a waste of time for me.

Question #2: How do you feel about gimmicks in your design practice (and what do you call them)? Are they useful? A waste of time? Depends on something?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Submission for SAC President Holiday Card 2013

San Antonio College (SAC) has an annual holiday card competition and I submitted two designs this year.
After I started on the first design, I visited the contact office in person and was able to see some cards from the past with the winning designs. (Not everything is on the Internet!)
At least four previous winners have included the same building logo that I used in my first design, shown below, so I developed a second design later.

cover, Chance Bldg wrapped as present

inside, Create Your Present by Creating Your Tomorrow

SAC has a logo based on Chance Academic Center that sports an abstract form of a red building with horizontal black bars for windows. "San Antonio College" looks like it is in Birch Std, a narrow font. The tag line is "Create Your Tomorrow."  I wrapped that building shape in a ribbon and bow, made it into a vaguely three dimensional box and added sky and clouds. I had fun with the text.
The plan sounds simple, but it took hours in sketches and in Illustrator and lots of revisions.
Both images have a white border that barely show up om my monitor as light gray.
Now I wish I had added a drop shadow to the end of the ribbon in both images.

The second design, below, is based on typography. ("... the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible"--Wikipedia)
The curvy gold design on the right is the Alamo College logo, based on the Alamo outline, on its side on the cover and then tilted inside the card.


The description gave requirements that were not as specific as I would have liked. The specs sheet called this both a holiday card and an invitation to an annual gathering. I visited in person and learned that: no particular text is required and there is no restriction on number of colors or colors bleeding to the edge. We do not need specific information for the gathering.
We are not required to design the inside or back, but I wanted some element of the cover to be repeated on the inside to unify the card

We were instructed to make the card 5x7" and to avoid use of die cuts, foils or embossing.

Fonts I used include Birch Std for "President's," Edwardian Script for "Annual," and Century Gothic for "You are invited."

This project shows how much progress I have made in two full semesters, six classes, in use of programs, design principles, and typography. In a year, I may cringe when I look at these images. But I have to stop tinkering with this personal project and continue working on my projects for classes.

After the winner is notified on Oct. 23, I hope that I can include the winning design or a link to it in my blog.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Poster Contest for Much Ado about Nothing by Whedon

And below is the third submission. After someone who is not artistic liked the first one (light on top) better than the second (dark on top), I went back to the first one and chose a less serious font. This is Candara, san serif. 
Now I think I like the Arial Narrow of the second submission better than the Candara. 
Enough! Let it go and move on to the next project!

My first poster was finally put into the gallery of submissions! By now, I think there are about 300 posters. 

This is the second submission, with the dark top:

Here is my submission for the poster contest for the new Joss Whedon movie. At this moment, it has not shown up after I followed the directions to upload the file to Twitter and tweet it with the proper hash tag. 

I made most of the small changes listed below, tweaked the layered shadow look on "nothing," added a shadow to the fallen petal, and added dark red lines to the petal and rose to simulate shadow.
I still wonder about the font... enough! It's done! I can submit as many versions as I want, but I do have other things to do. 

<< * >>  << * >>  << * >>  << * >>  << * >>  << * >>  << * >> 

Here's the most recent version of my poster for the new Joss Whedon movie. I haven't submitted it yet because I thought I had a good poster last night, then made major changes. I still want to make minor changes.

So how did I get started with this project? 
A friend drew my attention to a movie poster contest open to fans of the director Joss Whedon. He filmed "Much Ado about Nothing" at his home in 12 days, in black and white, set in modern times but with the Bard's language,as an independent movie.
Well, I *am* a Whedon fan.
I looked at the "gallery" of entries, at: 


There were already several dozen different entries. I have never seen so many different posters for one movie and wondered what I had to contribute. 

Although the movie has not yet been released, of course there is information on the Internet. After some research, I formed some ideas of what I wanted the poster to express:
> a romantic comedy
> edgy, dark, not a Doris Day-type approach
> set in modern times
> movie is black and white, so the poster could be that with an accent color
> several posters use pictures about alcohol (wine glass, bottle) as the only objective element, but the movie is not *about* alcohol, so I want to avoid that idea.
> I want viewers to take a second look and realize there is more to the poster, maybe more to the movie, than you see at first glance.

The deadline is Thursday, June 18th, 2013, one minute before midnight, and it should include the publication information that  I pasted at the bottom of my poster. We have to tweet it to submit it, a means of submission that I have not used before. 

Possible changes:
> move "Ado" a bit left so it doesn't line up with "About"
> center "Amy Acker" over the name below, and "Clare Gregg" above the name below
> squeeze the actor names closer together?
> This is too serious. Is there a better font to express "romantic comedy" without using Comic Sans, which 90% of designers think is over-used?  Use lighter-hearted font only on "Nothing"?
> Can this be simplified without losing the ideas? Take out the "pale type" ("obsession, hatred," etc.) in the background behind "Much Ado About"?

Can you think of other changes to make? 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Poem Fire And Ice Animation Assignment April 2013

Below is the current version of the poetry assignment.


When I started this animation course, I knew nothing about animation software like Adobe Aftereffects (Ae) or modern animation and had a little trouble getting up to speed. Illustrations are often imported from Photoshop, in which I need more practice. Several factors have helped me make progress.

After an assignment to illustrate and animate sounds ("Onomatopoeia"), I began to get interested in telling a story and felt a little more comfortable with the software. With more emphasis on "kinetic typography" instead of creating and animating figures, I got some traction and made a 15-second clip about motion typography on my own.  It helped that I got the Ae software at home (leased), cut out some of my social life and sleep, and put my little animations on a tablet to study and show others for critiques. I have now checked out some animated TV shows to watch on the treadmill so I can get used to more of this area of study.

Once students like me could stumble through Ae, the animation instructor demonstrated and lectured on the twelve or so principles of animation with examples from the Internet. Then he showed how to use a lot of presets and buttons in Ae, but not everything, of course. Finally, he asked us to create a 4-5 part animation of three of the principles of animation and gave us a file with three sections or "compositions" to get us started. I tried to prove what I could now sort of do with the software, which did not include good design.

The point of that assignment was to prepare us to create a more complex 25-30 second animation of 5-7 compositions based on a poem of our choice, using elements and principles of design and animation. It has to include three kinds of sound: voice, music and effects. So far the only effect I use is a cymbal crescendo at the end of the first composition. After discussion with the client (the instructor), we decided on the poem "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost.

I originally thought the poem was about the main words in the title, then decided it was really about the end of the world. I changed my focus (font, color, size, transformations) from words in the poem like "fire" and "ice" to "world will end," "perish" and "destruction." It's due Tuesday.

I've probably spent 15-20 hours on this outside of class, and late Saturday night it reached a point where I can now spend time on a typography assignment that has to be printed Monday for critique on Wednesday. Thank goodness the most recent History of Communication Design poster has been turned in and critiqued. I've been very busy this semester with class work.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Grid and Dynamic Design in Typography

Once again, we learned the process of producing graphic design and also how to critique it.
For an exercise in grid versus dynamic design in Spring 2013 Typography, we were given definitions of "order" and also of "chaos" and had to use all the text in visually engaging designs that were to be mounted on the same mat board to be critiqued together.
The instructor explained the rules of grid and dynamic design and furthermore excluded use of objective elements like stars and cats.
No one photo could do all these posters justice, so I edited from multiple photos.
Poster #12, in photo part 3, scored several times in the student voting. As Berne pointed out, it was very good as a thumbnail (small sketch), and the thumbnails serve as "a map to the party." You want the best map to the party that you can create in order to design the best party, if I may mix metaphors.
My poster, #2, which should look magenta in photo part 1, did score in readability and the top part was cited for playfulness. That's not taught as an element or principle of design but is a characteristic I like to see.
For poster #4, the instructor asked what one thing would improve it. I was happy to supply the answer, more contrast. Contrast would have shown text around a void in the shape of an anchor in the top picture and waves formed by text in the bottom picture. After you can see it, then it counts as clever.
Berne also showed us how to add 1/32nd of an inch of white space around the edge of a dark poster so it would print with a thin white line to separate it from the black mat board.
Our tables for critiques and scoring or voting are in the last photo. Criteria included:
> Readability (from 10 feet away)
> Conceptual Clarity (Does it look like it is about the subject?)
> Visual Impact (When you see it from 20 feet away, do you want to walk out of your way to see more of it?)
> Principles of Design and
> Elements of Design.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Constructivist Solar Energy Poster

I've been working on a poster in Constructivist style for History of Communication Graphics. If that style doesn't ring a bell, don't worry, it's not as well known as Art Nouveau. It seems to be mostly about simplicity, dark colors, and heavy text.
Our possible subjects included controversial topics and energy and the environment.
Years ago, in 1985, I took the train every day from west of Tokyo to inner Tokyo to attend language school. I marveled at the many residential rooftops decorated with solar panels in a tiny country better known for snow than for natural energy reserves. By contrast, in 2013, I am surprised and dismayed to see little evidence of residential or commercial solar power in sunny San Antonio.
So I used a non-profit organization called Solar San Antonio as my "client" and made versions of this poster. This version is bordered with black to imitate attaching it to a black mat board.
In case anyone wonders, most solar energy panels look dark blue because of the silicone used in them, although other materials may be used in some panels.

A later version , more Constructivist with all capital letters: