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Friday, July 25, 2003

CDF Week 4 Wrap-Up

Despite my complaining, I did learn a lot this week. It was just painful learning. We finished up our exhibit drawings today, adding in detail and figures. I'll post some pictures later this weekend when I have more than a minute to put them up.

Next week: Field trip to Fallingwater! 3D and 2D objects!

posted at 12:16 PM in classes, visualization | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Thursday, July 24, 2003


We spent all of class working on perspective, creating on a large sheets of paper 10'x12'x10' rooms in groups of three. If I sound nonplussed, it's because I am. Obviously perspective is important in drawing, but the stated purpose of this week was to enhance our ability to communicate ideas effectively on paper. This type of work isn't achieving that goal for me. I (and I think many of my classmates as well) would probably have preferred to work on basic sketching techniques, effective ways of showing drawings and text. We did a little of that yesterday, making thumbnails, but the thumbnails were so detailed, I had to make thumbnails for my thumbnails.

The saving grace of this week has been learning After Effects. Wow, what a sweet program this is! You're able to do some really cool stuff with very little effort. (My own very little effort (8mb Quicktime movie). I'd love to buy it, but at $299 (even with my student discount), it's just not in the budget right now. But its a cool alternative to Flash for animation (locally, anyway...the file sizes are pretty huge.) The whole "camera effect" of being able to move not the objects on the screen, but the "camera" viewing them, is pure genius.

posted at 08:12 PM in design 101, software, visualization | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Grids and Letterforms

Half of today's class was spent drawing (by hand of course) a (I'm guessing) 72pt New Baskerville letter (either E or S) and turning into double its size. Not easy to make it look right. The trick is to break the letter up into a grid and draw it piece by piece. The second half of class was spent deconstructing a magazine page and turning it into a thumbnail in order to see the underlying grid.

I've been skipping out on software bootcamp this week, because it was a program I know (Photoshop), but today they're teaching After Effects, so I'm heading back in to get a taste of that.

posted at 12:37 PM in visualization | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, July 22, 2003

A Transparent Window

...into my nightmare.

Today, we were told that non-Asian peoples think of paper as a transparent window to the world behind it. Then talked more about perspective (Things "farther away" are usually higher on the screen and smaller). Then we spent three hours drawing cubes and ellipses. Seriously.

It's no exaggeration that I was the worst drawer in class, groaning as even the lamest of my HCI classmates drew circles, I mean ellipses, around me.

This was the day I'd been dreading (and tried to ameliorate by taking a drawing class last Spring) ever since I decided to go to design school, when my drawing flaws were exposed in all their pink nakedness. Very humiliating.

But, as Rachael reminded me when I got home, if you knew everything and were good at everything, you wouldn't need school.

posted at 07:35 PM in design 101, visualization | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Monday, July 21, 2003

Drawing...I mean, Visualization

This is going to be a tough week for me, I can tell. Why? Because this week is all about drawing. And I can't draw. Yes, I know anyone can draw. But I can't draw well is what I'm saying. And, yes, I realize the irony of getting a master's degree in design and not knowing how to draw a straight line. I'm working on it.

The stated purpose of the class, taught by Mark Mentzer, is to enable us to convey ideas quickly, in both small (napkin) and large (whiteboard) contexts. A quick Google of Mark's name revealed that he taught Terry Swack, who, along with Clement Mok, is one of the big advocates of experience design. Terry had this to say about Mark's teaching in an AIGA interview:

"Mark Mentzer, a drawing teacher at Carnegie Mellon, once said to me, ģIėm going to teach a class called ėDrawing on the Back of a Napkin,ėī which I thought was brilliant because everybody today has ideas that theyėre trying to communicate that are generally complex. Everybody goes to the white board in a meeting or is drawing on a scrap of paper trying to communicate his idea. Itės important for people to feel that itės okay to just be able to draw something quickly to communicate and not be judged on the quality of the drawing. We need to foster the ability to connect the mind to the hand so that one can communicate effectively."

This week is basically that class. So, yes, of course there is great value in this. Hopefully my lousy drawing won't get in the way of my communicating my ideas. And I spent a lot of time today drawing: lines, squares, and cubes. I'd show you a scanned in example, but I don't want to embarass myself.

Drawing is either of a subject, an of an idea, or of something in-between. When you draw, you should think about what context the drawing will be seen in: close up or far away. In general, a drawing should have a presence at arm's length and at a couple of paces away.

The way you draw a line influences how viewers perceive the line. Lines can convey feeling and line weight is crucial. Darker lines have more emphasis and are seen to be "closer." Lighter lines seem "farther away."

Which segways nicely into depth. There are several ways of creating the optical illusion of depth via visual cues, through projection and perspective. Projection drawing is a mental construct. It allows for accurate measurement of, say, a cube, because the sides are all in proportion still. Perspective drawing cannot be used for measurement. It is a visual construct, designed to look right to the eye. Smaller objects seem farther away. The back of a cube will be skewed. A city in the distance looks tiny, etc. Perspective makes a drawing believable. Often, both types of drawing will exist side-by-side to give the most accurate depiction of an object.

I have to go practice drawing cubes now...

posted at 03:24 PM in big ideas, design 101, faculty, visualization | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


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All straight lines circle sometimes. - The Weakerthans