Part 3 – Exercise 3: Seeing the Light

Using only an image of a light bulb, the word ‘light bulb’ and a block of colour of your choice, create different designs that explore visual dynamics.

I began this exercise thinking about the colour I would use for my ‘block of colour’. I really felt that I wanted my chosen colour to somehow represent ‘light’ but I didn’t want to choose yellow as that felt a bit obvious.  Instead, I decided that my chosen colour would be white and therefore the background of my designs would need to be black.

This raised some interesting questions..

Is white a colour?

If I remember correctly from my school physics lessons, in the world of light it is. Combining all colours of the spectrum makes white light. Conversely, black is the absence of all colour, so choosing my colour block to be white and background black, felt like it did make some logical sense to me.

However, from a printing sense, we typically start with a sheet of white, ‘blank’ paper on which coloured inks are placed, so in this sense, white is the absence of colour.

Despite some misgivings that white would not be considered a ‘colour’ for this exercise, I decided to try it anyway, with my black background and white block of colour to see how it worked out.

Interestingly, because I am so used to white paper representing ‘nothing’,  I found it quite difficult to draw the thumbnails on paper when my colour block was white – I found myself almost having to think in reverse. For this reason, I drew my colour block on the thumbnails in yellow, so I could more easily see what was ‘colour’!

I approached this exercise by drawing as many different design layouts as I could think of, without thinking too hard about the visual dynamics of the individual designs. I then picked about 20 which I thought represented the different layout styles. I recreated these selected designs using Adobe Illustrator.

My thumbnail designs are below.

My edited set of designs:

            

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

Thoughts on the Visual Dynamics of these Designs

Designs where all the elements of the design have a role to play in the overall message worked well for me, such as the design below, where both the white block and the word ‘Light’ are representing the spread of light from a bulb. The word bulb is clearly relating to the small object that is creating the light. The spread of light from a bulb is much bigger than the bulb itself, so it made sense for the word ‘light’ to be bigger than ‘bulb’ in this instance.

Designs where  the elements don’t all appear to be serving a purpose, do not work so well. In the design below, I am questioning why there is a block of white floating in space, without any obvious connecting with the other elements?

Designs where the white colour block is merely serving as a background label for the text, as in the designs below, generally work but are less interesting. I feel there is a missed opportunity for the white colour, which could be contributing more to the overall design.

  

Designs where the layering does not follow a logical order, do not work so well for me.

In this example above, I am questioning why the bulb is hidden behind the white colour block, which is quite distracting. That said, I quite like the design below, which also follows a somewhat illogical layer order, but I am more accepting of this as I think of the image of the bulb as the most important element, so I am happy to see it first. It feels more playful to me that the image is so dominant that it is blocking out the text.

The design below works well for me in terms of the layer order. I am reading the words naturally from left to right and diagonally across and down the page. Each word feels like it is associated with the correct visual element and the bulb, which is more important that the colour block, is layered above it.

Designs that are a little bit playful and make me work a little bit to understand them, work well for me, such as the two designs below:

    

The design below does not work at all for me. I can’t easily read the text and there is no logical reason why the text is half black ad half white.

The design below is the one that works best for me.

I like the balance between the position of the text and the image and the symmetry and simplicity of the black and white colours. The diagonal split is visually interesting and I get a sense of that sudden transition when you switch a light on and the room is instantly flooded in light. It also feels very natural for me to read the text first in the top left corner and then for my eye to travel to the bottom right to see the image.

Interestingly, despite thinking I had pretty much exhausted all possible designs, I have now noticed that almost all of my designs have the text positioned horizontally with both words running in the same direction. I could have had more designs with the two words split and running in different directions, more designs that could make use of diagonals or I could have had some text upside down. I can see that escaping your conditioning and designing something which is less obvious can be quite hard!

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