VSST 108 - Design for Media

Shapes - Drawn by Hand, Scanned, and Composed in Photoshop

This problem is a hybrid using hand drawing to create shapes that have more tactility and liveliness than computer drawing, but then using the computer to do numerous compositional variations relatively quickly.

Before class 2a: You'll do at least four variations of a potential shape, in pencil, as defined below. All lines are made using drawing tools (not freehand). You'll bring these to class 2a.

In class 2a: the instructor will help you choose the best of your variations. You'll redraw it in black marker using the same drawing tools.

When completed successfully, the shape will be scanned for importation into Photoshop and a series of transformations will be done for both screen and print presentation.

Part One: Preparatory drawings - complete at home and bring to class on Tuesday 4/10.

In your Bristol pad: on one sheet, draw four 6x6 inch squares in light pencil. Center the four squares on the sheet, leaving 3/4-inch of space between them, vertically and horizontally.

On the sheet with four squares: Choose and mark a point on each of the four sides of one square. Connect the points, creating a closed shape. Use a straight edge or french curve or compass to draw the lines - don't draw freehand! The lines connecting the two sides of the frame can have zero, one, two or three "flex" points. See examples below. Try to create a "substantial" shape that fills more than half the area of the square. Avoid shapes that have very tight (sharp) points at the juncture - because these will block up when you trace with the marker.

Do the same for the three other squares. Your four shapes should be significantly different from each other.



Part Two: Marker drawings and scanning will be done during class 2a on Tuesday 4/10.

With the instructor's input, select one shape to work with. Draw over the pencil lines of the shape using the fine point of your marker - guided by your tools; not freehand. Don't marker over the square! This will definine the shape more boldly.

Cut out the square - going just a little bit outside the lines. Then, erase all pencil lines.

Check with the instructor and then proceed to scan your shape.

Scanning and Saving to AW Express

Place your square on the platen of a scanner, face down (work only on a scanner that has the white backing pad in place). Scan it at 300 ppi, grayscale 8-bit. Be sure that your scan captures the subtle edges of your lines (otherwise change the exposure setting). Save the result as a TIFF file. Upload the TIFF file to your working folder in AW Express or copy to your flash drive.

Part Three: Computer Compositons - done at home or during open work time

At your workstation: OPEN the TIFF file (from the server or flash drive) in Photoshop. SAVE AS to the desktop as a Photoshop file named <sec-lastname-shapes.psd>. Keep the original TIFF file of your scan in reserve, in case you need to go back to it.

In the Photoshop file, confirm that the mode is Grayscale 8-bit and the image size is appx. 8.5x11 @ 300 ppi. (It might be smaller if you made your scan area smaller.)

Use Image/Canvas Size: Make the canvas size 9x12 inches using white to fill.

DUPLICATE the background layer and name the new layer <working>. Make <working > the active layer - it should also be visible.

Copy and Paste just the line of the Shape

Use the Magic Wand tool to select just the shape. Start by setting magic wand's tolerance to 96, contiguous and anti-aliased. Click in the middle of the black line. The entire line should be selected.If the selection doesn't look right, vary the tolerance and try again. You want to select only the black line itself, not the white space inside the shape. If elements other than the line get selected, you can delete them from the selection using option-lasso.

Once the selection is good, COPY and PASTE. This will put just the shape on its own layer with a transparent (checkerboard pattern) ground. Name this layer "large."

Make two smaler versions of the Shape - with unchanged line weight

Make a duplicate of the layer <large>. Rename it "medium." Use Edit/Transform/Scale to reduce it to 75% (on both dimensions).

Use the sampling tool (eyedropper) to sample the gray of the line; this will make it the foreground "color."

Command-click in the layer icon of the <medium> layer. This will re-select the line. Use Edit/Stroke set to "centered" and "3 pixels" and to "foreground color." This will thicken the line.

Again, make a duplicate of the layer <large>. Rename it "small." Use Edit/Transform/Scale to reduce it to 50% (on both dimensions).

Command-click in the layer icon of the <small> layer. This will re-select the line. Use Edit/Stroke set to "centered" and "6 pixels" and to "foreground color." This will thicken the line.

You now have a large, medium and small version of your shape, each on its own layer.

Set the three rotations of your three sizes. Don't change rotations for the rest of the exercises (except for the freeform)

Activate the <small> layer and rotate the shape (EDIT/TRANSFORM/ROTATE) by a significant amount; the exact amount of rotation is up to you. Do the same for the <medium> layer. The three versions should be clearly rotated differently from each other. SAVE. These rotations should not be modified throughout the following exercises (except in the freeform).

Make a white opaque layer with a black stroke

Activate the <working> layer. SELECT ALL and FILL with white. This will give you a clean white background for your compositions. Rename the layer <white>. Move it above the small-medium-large layers so that it hides them.

With the <white> layer active, SELECT ALL and then use EDIT/STROKE. Create a five-pixel wide black line inside the frame.

The layer structure of your Photoshop file should now be

white (opaque, with a black stroke around the edges)
large (large shape on transparent ground)
medium (medium shape on transparent ground)
small (small shape on transparent ground))
background (original scan unmodified except for enlarged canvas)


For the following exercises, you will be duplicating your small, medium and large layers, and working with the duplicate layers. Leave the original three small, medium, large layers unmodified (and below the <white> layer) so they can serve as your source for the shapes for the following exercises.

Try to be as creative and as visually aware in arranging your compositions as possible - given the limitations for each layer.

Layer 1: Simple closed composition: DUPLICATE each of the shape layers once. Move the three duplicate layers above the white layer. Compose the three shapes interestingly within the frame, without any overlap or edge crop. When you're satisfied, combine the three duplicate layers into one layer. (Activate all three and MERGE layers.) Name this layer <layer 1> and make it invisible. SAVE.

Photoshop tip: If the selected tool is the move tool, you can make the correct layer active by putting your cursor over part of the shape you want to move and doing a Command-click.

Layer 2: Simple open composition: Again, DUPLICATE each of the shape layers once. Move these three duplicate layers to the top. Compose the shapes interestingly, with no overlap, but have each shape be cropped to some extent by the frame. Combine the three duplicate layers into one layer. (Activate all three and MERGE layers.) Name this layer <layer 2> and make it invisible. SAVE.

Layer 3: Complex closed composition: DUPLICATE the large shape layer once, the medium shape layer twice and the small shape layer three times. Move these six duplicate layers to the top. Compose the shapes interestingly: have multiple overlaps but no edge crops. MERGE the six layers and name the combined layer <layer 3>. SAVE.

Layer 4: Complex open composition: DUPLICATE the large shape layer once, the medium shape layer twice and the small shape layer three times. Move these six duplicate layers to the top. Compose the shapes effectively: have multiple overlaps and at least three edge crops. MERGE the six layers and name the combined layer <layer 4>. SAVE.

Layer 5: Size variation by scaling: Duplicate only your large shape layer three times. Move these three duplicate layers to the top. Select one of these duplicate layers use Edit/Transform/Scale to make this shape 75% of the original size. Make another duplicate shape 50% of original size, so you have versions of your original large shape 100%, 75% and 50% of the original size. They should all be in the same orientation (i.e. not rotated to each other). Put these three shapes in the same positions as the shapes in <layer 1> - large same as large, 75% large over medium and 50% large over small - but these shapes won't be rotated the same as the ones in <layer 1>. Combine the these layers into one layer named <layer 5>. Make it invisible. SAVE.

Layer 6: Value variation by opacity: Duplicate only your small shape layer three times. Move these three duplicate layers to the top. Select one layer and make the opacity 65%. Select another and make the opacity 35%. You should now have three versions of your original small shape at the the same size, but three different opacities. Again, put them in the same positions (but not rotations) as in your <layer 1> composition with these three opacity variations. Combine into layer <layer 6>. SAVE.

Turn all visibilities off except for the background layer. SAVE.

The final version of file <sec-lastname-shapes.psd> should have the following layer structure:

layer 6
layer 5
layer 4
layer 3
layer 2
layer 1
white
large
medium
small
background (original scan)


Freeform Composition and Value Inversion

Make a duplicate file of <sec-lastname-shapes.psd> complete with all of its layers. (Select it on the desktop, and then do File/Duplicate).

Name the duplicate file <sec-lastname-freeform.psd>. Delete all of the layers above the white layer, so you are back to just five layers: background, small, medium, large and white.

Duplicate the shape layers multiple times and move the duplicate layers above the white layer. Do a free-form composition using as many copies of your three shapes as you like. You can overlap, partially crop, and even rotate shapes (but don't resize or change opacity). Put extra time into this composition - you will eventually be printing it.

With the image looking the way you want it, Flatten Image. SAVE AS <sec-lastname-freeform-flat.psd>. CLOSE.

Reopen <sec-lastname-freeform-flat.psd>. SAVE AS <sec-lastname-freeform-invert.psd>. Use Image/Adjusments/Invert. This will invert the values - giving you light lines on a dark ground. Use Image/Adjustments/Levels: bring in the black input slider (top left slider) enough to get a solid black ground, then bring in the white input slider (top right slider) enough to get nice bright lines. SAVE.

The three files <shapes>, <freeform-flat> and <freeform-invert> will all be submitted to the VSST drop folder - with the section and name information included. Put the three files into the drop folder individually.

Digital Files are due in AW Express before or at beginning of class 3b - Thursday 4/19.

Part Four: Prints - done at Campus Copy or FedEx

Open <sec-lastname-freeform-flat.psd> and use the Print command to save a Photoshop PDF file <sec-lastname-freeform-flat.pdf>. Open <sec-lastname-freeform-invert.psd>and use the Print command to save a Photoshop PDF file <sec-lastname-freeform-invert.pdf>.

Take to a printing service. Print the two PDF files on heavy weight tabloid size paper. Be sure that they print at their image size (9x12) and don't get expanded to fill the tabloid paper..

Prints are also due at class 3b - Thursday 4/19.

Checklist
- Three digital files are due in AW Express; all should be correctly named and not in a folder.
- All are in in .psd format; only the file <shapes> has multiple layers.
- Layers in <shapes> are of correct number, in correct order, with correct layer names as specified.
- Variations in each layer follow the rules specified for that layer.
- All digital images are 9x12 inches @ 300 ppi.
- <freeform-invert> has light lines on a black background; lightness of lines was optimized with LEVELS.
- Two prints are due on heavy weight 11x17 paper.

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