Visual Language Tutorial 3


Transcript from the ‘Visual Language and Grammar: Composition with Lines’ movie
Welcome to the third episode of Visual Language and Grammar. In part three we are going to be making compositions with lines exploring distribution of space, implied scale and structure and grouping through the principle of similarity.

Format
The exercises will be performed on a 150mm square which has been subdivided into 5mm units both horizontally and vertically

9 Vertical Lines
In this exercise we will be using 9 vertical lines. Three will be 5mm wide, three will be 10mm wide and three will be 15mm wide. All must measure 150mm high and align at the top and bottom of the square. Now rearrange them into a random order. You don’t need to overly plan this aspect. Random really is the aim. The design looks like a bar code and it’s not so easy to distinguish the different thickness lines from one another. For example how easy is it to see all the medium thickness lines? How could we visually reunite the thin lines together, how could we group all the medium lines together and see all the thick lines as belonging together? And how could we do this without moving the lines back together? One way is to cut each set of three lines to the same height but distinguish each set by making them different heights from one another.

Gestalt Theory and the Principle of Similarity
This idea is known as the principle of similarity and is a part of Gestalt theory. The eye detects patterns and makes connections. It sees similar objects as belonging together. This is an important principle for designers as it is their job to make these connections and group visual and information components together. By doing so it helps the viewer to understand what they are looking at.

Analysis of the Blocks
I’d like to analyse the proportions of the three different size blocks. Although they are different heights and thicknesses they are related by the number of 5mm square units they are constructed from. The thin line is one 5mm unit wide by 24 units high. The medium size block is constructed from two 5mm units wide by 12 units high. Two by 12 is 24 units, the same as the first line. The thick block is comprised of three 5mm units wide by 8 high. Three times eight is 24 units the same as the previous two. I like this sense of unity and logic underpinning the design. It doesn’t always work and sometimes visually intuitive judgments have to be made. But logic is a reasonable starting point

Horizontal, Vertical and Angle Lines
The next set of compositions will be considering horizontal, vertical and angle designs. Lines can appear to look thicker when lying down horizontally. This design has 6 lines. Two 5mm thick, two 10mm thick and two 15mm thick. They vary in width. A sense of balance is gained by the two thick lines bleeding on from the left and the two thin lines bleeding on from the right. The two medium lines are interlocked with the thin lines. Also consider the visual impact of the resulting white space. The term bleed means that a component starts from the edge. Components that bleed on can provide visual tension or dynamic to the design.

Contrast
This vertical design exploits contrast. Contrast in the thickness of the components and contrast in height. Contrast is a great tool for designers. It’s a way of getting noticed. We notice big contrasts more than subtle ones. Think about this when using all design components including type. This design has a ‘walking 1, 2, 3 approach’. Because of the contrast in scale the components seem to be walking back and forth in space. There is one thick component, two medium and three thin.

Combined Lines
This design combines horizontal and vertical lines of different thickness. You can see how abstract designs such as Scottish tartan are derived. The beginnings of marks that have identity.

Constructivism, De Stijl and the Bauhaus
Designs that exploit the angle tend to look dynamic. The angle in this design is 45 degrees. This type of design was prevalent in the Russian Constructivism, Dutch De Stijl and German Bauhaus movements.

Abstract to Concrete
Abstract components can be used to express concrete concepts such as rhythm. Or bouncing up and down. It’s time for me to jet off…bye!

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