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 several variations of a potential shape, in pencil, as defined below. All lines are made using drawing tools. You'll bring these to class 2a.

In class 2a: the instructor will help you choose the best of your variations. You'll redraw that in fine-point black marker using the same drawing tools. Then, you'll draw the same shape in two smaller sizes.

When completed successfully, the shapes 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 10/3.

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 another sheet draw one square 4.5x4.5 inches and one square 3x3 inches.

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 line junctures.

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

Part Two: Marker drawings of three shapes and scanning will be done during class 2a on Tuesday 10/3.

With the instructor's input, select one shape to work with. Draw over the pencil lines, defining the shape more boldly using the fine point of your marker. (Again, use straight edges, curves etc.) Cut out the square - going just a little bit outside the lines. Then, erase all pencil lines.

In the 4.5x4.5-inch pencil square on the other sheet of Bristol: re-create your shape in this smaller square as closely as possible, first using pencil and then using the fine point of the marker. Cut it out (just bigger than the square) and erase the pencil lines.

Then do the same in a 3x3-inch square.

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

Arrange the three squares on the platen of a scanner, face down (work only on a scanner that has the white backing pad in place). Scan them all together 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 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 scans 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.

Use the Magic Wand tool to select one 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.

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

Do the same for the other two shapes. Name these three new layers <small> <medium> <large>. Move the shape in each layer to the center of the frame.

If any undesired marks were copied and pasted, clean them up in the appropriate layer, using the eraser tool. You may also clean up some line irregularities, if you wish.

Set the rotations of your three sizes for the rest of the exercises (except 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 (except in the freeform).

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
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 10/12.

Part Four: Prints - done at Westphal Print Center =

Open <sec-lastname-freeform-flat.psd> and do SAVE AS a Photoshop PDF file <sec-lastname-freeform-flat.pdf>. Open <sec-lastname-freeform-invert.psd> and do SAVE AS a Photoshop PDF file <sec-lastname-freeform-invert.pdf>.

See the introductory page on the Westphal Print Center.

Files to be printed are submitted online. Access Print Services. Print on the 11x17 glossy paper.

Print the two PDF files.

Prints are also due at class 3b - Thursday 10/12.

- 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 approximately 8.5x11 inches @ 300 ppi.
- <freeform-invert> has light lines on a black background; lightness of lines was optimized with LEVELS.
- Two prints are due on glossy 11x17 paper.

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