CMS.405 Design Journal

Assignment 1: Self-Portrait (in progress)
Self portraits are difficult because I have trouble finding an aspect of
myself to portray. Eventually, I settled on two things that are essential
to who I am: my urge to create (often entire worlds) and the interplay
between my grounded, balanced nature and the constant activity in my
head. With that in mind, I sketched whatever felt fun to sketch, hoping
that the "stream of consciousness" would accurately represent some part
of me. I wound up with a ring of machinery "building" a planet, which
seemed adequate. I decided to make most of the piece the earthy browns
that seem to fit my personality so well, and the general structure geometric
and balanced. However, the details are asymmetrical and complex, and
there are bright colors that draw the eye to the center of the composition.
I'm not sure if the contrast provides an interesting juxtaposition or is just
confusing; this is the feedback I am looking for before finishing the piece.

(click image to enlarge)

Assignment 1: Self-Portrait (finished)
I got some very useful feedback from the class - mainly, that the planet
in the center was too small. Also, although nobody said this, the comments
led me to believe that the moon was throwing off the focal point of this
piece, so I incorporated the moon's colors into the planet and enlarged it.
I tried playing around with the brightnesses of the non-brown colors to
make it look more balanced, but wound up deciding that the smaller,
brighter orange was adequately balanced by the larger, darker, blue.

(click image to enlarge)

Assignment 2: Subversive Advertisement
Again, the hardest part was the initial decision on which product to choose.
I got a lot of suggestions from my friends, and settled on Tylenol because
many of their advertisements had the same distinctive style. This helps the
subversive advertisement to really look like a Tylenol ad at first glance.
Getting the picture was really easy, I just told my girlfriend to pose at my
desk as though she were up late doing work, and we managed to capture
the feeling - probably because we had both recently experienced it.
I had a more difficult time choosing the text, and eventually settled on
something with which I wasn't satisfied and asked the class for suggestions
when I presented it.

(click image to enlarge)

Assignment 2: Subversive Advertisement (finished)
The class not helped me figure out some better text (communicating
more in the image than the banner) and also suggested photoshopping in
some textbooks to really drive the point home , as well as removing the
glints of reflected light at the top of the image because they were
distracting. I did all these things, and I actually expanded the yellow text
but made it fade into an unreadable mess of small print, which hopefully
communicates that the text itself is not as important as its length. The
finished page and an analysis of the techniques used can be found

Assignment 3: Concrete Poem
It took most of spring break to settle on a theme, but as I weighed ideas
against each other I realized that I couldn't shake the metaphor of rolling
banks of fog on a body of water as ghosts of waves. I wanted to convey
a slow, repetitive, calming rhythm, so I decided to break my poem into
rhyming couplets of even meter. To encourage the reader to read the
poem slowly, each line was curved and offset from the next; this also
made the entire poem look like a cloud. The font and background images
were chosen to reflect the poem's sense of otherworldly serenity; the font
brings to mind magical scripts of high fantasy and the all-encompassing
fog and water in the image show how the mist creates a private space for
reflection. I tried a more regular pattern at first for greater
legibility, but it didn't look natural enough, so I offset the arcs as much
as I could without confusing the reader as to which line came after which.

After reviewing the image with the class, I decided it still didn't look
natural enough and decided to superimpose additional fog over the text.
Also, the ponderous slowness that was the primary feeling I was trying to
evoke was helped greatly by increasing the kerning of the horizontal text.
To that same end, I animated the individual letters to fade in and out
in a way that forced the reader to read the poem slowly. The arcs also
repeatedly expand and swirl just like a real fog bank. I set up the script
with variables to control these movement parameters, and went through six
iterations based on different reference videos that I found. The final result
was interpreted as mystical, ominous, and serene by those who saw it
(without reading the poem), which fits the mood of the poem itself.

Assignment 4: Star Wars Map
This project got off to a bit of a rocky start for me, as I started off in one
group but the numbers worked out such that I was in a different one. But
once the groups were formed and the topic was decided upon, I felt more
confident. The main problem then became that we were all busy with
other final projects. My instinct (a remainder from high school) is to take
over any media-based project, which I wound up doing to an extent as I
was the one who integrated all the other group members' files into one
interface. But the actual design work was a group effort: we all met and
proposed a few ideas each, building gradually to a final concept which
combined several of our proposals. I had a lot of fun with this project,
despite the overlap with other work, and I learned a lot about HTML and
CSS animations. I enjoyed getting carried away modeling the panel around
the screen; it was a good way to relax while still being productive.