Week 2: Electric Boogaloo

Hello, everyone! Another week has finally passed–it feels like it’s gone by extremely quickly and lasted 1000 years, at the same time!

Since my mid-week post, I completed three design assignments: the alternate book cover assignment, the alternative history assignment, and the superhero design assignment. I also completed the daily create prompts for Saturday and Sunday. In addition, I left comments on three separate posts on the blogs Meraki, CPSC106 | Greg Phillips, and Storytime.

While my alternate book cover assignment is my favorite, for this week, I think my alternative history assignment post is more worth focusing on, for this week:

The Story:

The Beatles’ music style would have continued to change and evolve, if they had stayed together, just as it always had. They would continue to experiment with new sounds (and perhaps new drugs), probably never settling on one particular style for too long. They would still be extremely popular, and their 2019 European / US tour would be almost completely sold-out.

How I Did It:

I actually took some of the techniques I used while designing my book cover to come up with this fake tour poster; the image I had first wanted to use for the cover stopped abruptly, so I added a gradient effect to make the transition between the end of the photo itself and the bottom of the page to look more smooth, which was what I did with the tour poster, as I mentioned in its respective post. I also took some tips regarding complimentary fonts from the book cover and the design tips from Canva (I did’t actually use that site while designing this poster, but I did take pairing a serif title font with a sans serif body font like the site advised to heart).


I did think a lot about the aspects of color and text, in terms of designing, during the latter half of this week, while during the first half I was more focused on the aspects of design, as a whole. From the colors I chose for my superhero’s costume, to the color of the text I chose for my book cover, to the fonts I chose for both that and the poster. I’ll definitely try to pay more attention to the choices professional designers make, regarding book covers, advertisements, and the like, to see how they implement the principles of design. That sort of thing is what I like about learning about things like design: they make me pay more attention to things I might not have, before (or at least not as much).

I think that’s about it for this week. Until next time, here’s to an even better 3rd week!

The Beatles 2019 Europe / US Tour

Hello, everyone! In my mid-weekly post, I answered the question regarding what might happen if The Beatles had never broken up. I wasn’t quite sure how to translate that into an image–at first I thought about editing photos of John Lennon and George Harrison and edit them to look as old as Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr–but eventually I decided to design a poster to promote a tour across Europe and America, taking place in 2019, since I figure that, if they hadn’t broken up when they did, at the very least Paul and Ringo would still be making music and touring together (I also thought that there would be a distinct possibility that at least John Lennon would be alive, too, but I really don’t know).

I downloaded a free photo of The Beatles and edited it in both MediBang and Autodesk Sketchbook. I used Medibang to make the canvas larger and to add the gray color, and because the original image cut off abruptly when the canvas was made bigger, I added a gradient effect, too. Afterwards, I added the text in Autodesk Sketchbook (the font choices in MediBang leave a little to be desired, in my opinion); as I learned over this past week, I tried to mix and match fonts, this time a serif font for the title and a sans serif font for the body text. As far as I’m aware, you can only change the size of the text in Sketchbook by touching the computer’s touchscreen with two of your fingers, so making the two columns match in terms of size was really difficult, and I don’t think I got it exactly right.

I chose this particular prompt–what if The Beatles never broke up?–for a couple of reasons: 1) I thought that this particular prompt seemed a bit more positive than “What if we lost WWII?” or “What if the Cuban Missile Crisis escalated?” And 2) I’m a little more familiar with The Beatles than I am with the likes of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, so I feel like this was more “appropriate,” for lack of a better word, than the others.

It is nice to think about positive alternative histories. I feel like we could use some extra positivity in this world.

Holding Out for a Hero

Hello, everyone! For the additional design assignment, I decided to design my own superhero. I made my hero one who can control water, and named her Eventide.

To design her, I used HeroMachine 3. I honestly found the website to be rather difficult to figure out at first, and I found coloring (namely, copying the color scheme of one item and pasting it onto another) to be a bit of a challenge, too. I figured it out eventually, and then I got down to figuring out what design best suited what I had in mind.

I’ve had the idea of Eventide for a while, now, and I did design her once upon a time, but the original design wasn’t quite as streamlined, for lack of a better term, as this final one; from what I remember, Eventide originally had a long skirt, which wouldn’t be very convenient, now that I think about it. In the end, I settled for a suit that actually looks a bit like a swimsuit, in my opinion, but I must admit that that wasn’t entirely intentional; I only chose that suit because I liked it the best and that I found to be the best-suited for a superhero, in general, and am only just seeing its resemblance to swimwear.

The blue and blue-green color scheme reflects Eventide’s water theme. I wanted to have some kind of aura or water affect coming out of her hands, but I wasn’t able to find one that matched her overall theme.

I think it’s pretty interesting how some of my favorite choices for Eventide’s design actually turned out to be more appropriate for her overall theme than I had originally realized. I’m not exactly sure what that says about me, as a designer, but I still find it pretty neat that it turned out that way, in hindsight.

By the Book

Hello, everyone! Last week, I mentioned that one of my favorite book series is the Theatre Illuminata trilogy; while all three of those brooks are pretty flawed, in hindsight, they will always have a special place in my heart. So, for the alternate book cover assignment, I chose to create a new cover for the first book, Eyes Like Stars:

At first, I wanted the design of the cover to be a close-up of a woman’s eyes, as a reference to the title of the book, but after thinking about it for a little bit, I felt that that might not be relevant to the overall plot of the book, which is actually a teenage girl living in a magical theater where characters from pretty much every play under the sun live and roam around. So, I decided to make the cover reflect theater in some way. I went on Unsplash and Pixabay to look for various photos to use in my design (first searching for eyes, than for photos related to the theater) and eventually found the image of the chandelier in my final product.

I tried using Pixlr to edit my photos, but I wasn’t that fond of it, so I just used the two drawing software I already had on my computer–MediBang and Autodesk Sketchbook. I used MediBang to crop and resize the photo to how I liked it, and I used Autodesk Sketchbook to add in the text and do some touching up on the photo, itself. The lights toward the bottom of the image I thought made the words a bit harder to see, so I took an airbrush and lightly colored over them to match the background color. I knew I wanted to use more formal fonts for the title of the book and the subtitles; I looked at some of Canva’s options for complimentary fonts, but none of them were scripts and the serif fonts were almost always paired with sans-serif fonts. While I may go back there and look at their options again, in the future, they just didn’t really offer what I had in mind for this particular assignment.

I really like the colors in this photo, the dark blues/turquoises and the dull, pale yellows. They give off a cool, sort of eerie vibe, which I think can work for a fantasy type of story, like Eyes Like Stars (and, by extension, the rest of the Theatre Illuminata trilogy) is. The darker hues also create an air of mystery, which I think is also appropriate, since a major subplot involves the main protagonist trying to figure out the truth about her parentage.

In the end, I feel like I did a pretty good job of conveying the general vibe of the book in terms of aesthetic and theme.

The Weekly Half-Way Point

Hello, everyone! At the start of this week, I watched the two Ted Talk videos by designers Paula Scher and David Carson, and then I completed a series of tutorials on the Canva website, which I discussed in more detail in this post here. I found all three resources to be rather interesting, in terms of how differently they each approached designing; while the tutorials on Canva were very rule-based and expected the user to follow their examples as closely as possible, Ms. Scher and Mr. Carson didn’t discuss rules nearly as much.

Afterwards, I completed the two Daily Creates for Tuesday and Wednesday and posted them on Twitter:

For this video, I downloaded a free screen capture software from the Microsoft store, and then recorded part of a clip from the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame from YouTube. I at first wanted to use a track from the video game Undertale for the background music, but I decided to use a stock track from the video editing software already installed on my computer, instead. In the end, the hard rock and roll music track makes the scene feel more like a teenager rebelling against his authority figure, which I suppose isn’t entirely inaccurate.

I’m not very good at finishing books, so I’m only on the second chapter of this one, What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw. But, from what little I’ve read of it, so far, it is a pretty interesting read. I enjoyed how the first chapter begins in media res, and reveals information about the character’s plight and how he got to where he is piece by piece, instead of dumping the entire backstory on the reader through paragraphs of exposition. The other book, Don’t Call Us Dead, was an assigned read for my creative writing poetry class, last semester. Like I said, I enjoyed it overall, but with many of the poems’ subject matter being racism in our modern society, there were a few that were rather intense.

Finally, I completed and uploaded my designblitz onto Instagram, which I discussed in an earlier blog post. I went ahead and assumed that it was a timed activity like last week’s photoblitz was, which is why I spent twenty minutes gathering photos around my house and taking way more pictures than the six I uploaded. During the process of doing my designblitz, I took a lot of pictures of book and magazine covers in particular, and there was one particular book cover that I left out that I kind of regret doing, in hindsight, since it would’ve been a great example of the design principle of space, due to it being a mostly blank cover with a small monogram engraved in the middle towards the top.

Question of the Week: Alternate History

What if the Beatles never broke up?

If the Beatles had never broken up, I imagine that they would continue their musical evolution from the mid-sixties well into the seventies and eighties, and perhaps even into the present. It’s possible that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr would still have their solo careers, but I get the feeling the group as a whole may take priority over either of them. I’m not really sure if John Lennon or George Harrison would still be alive, since the former was murdered and the latter died of cancer, but perhaps there would be a distinct possibility that Lennon would still be alive and active, if the Beatles hadn’t broken up.

Anyway, I think that’s it for now. I hope you all had a great Fourth of July, and you have a good rest of your week!

Design and Dash

Hello, everyone! Earlier this week, in addition to watching the Ted Talks by Paula Scher and David Carson, and going over the tutorials on Canva.com, I reviewed the eight principles of design on the Adobe Spark website; afterwards, I completed this week’s designblitz, wherein I took twenty minutes and took pictures of various book, magazine, and video game box covers, as well as a shopping bag and a curtain, to capture at least five of the eight design principles. Down below are a handful of what I think are the ones that best encapsulate a certain design principle:

All of these designs I find capture at least five of the eight principles of design, but I associated each photo with the one principle I thought was most prominent in that photo.

The first design, the cover of the book “I am Pusheen the Cat,” is an example of hierarchy since the title of the book is at the very top, the illustration is in the middle, and the name of the name of the author, Claire Belton, is at the very bottom. The curtain is an example of repetition because of the repeating pattern that runs across the top and the bottom (which I didn’t take a picture of). The cover of “Super Smash Bros.: Brawl” is an example of proximity because the title and the characters are close to each other, in the design. The cover of the DVD for Corpse Bride is an example of balance due to the symmetry of the image, with the two characters and the border. The cover of the book Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an example of color with the illustration colored green to represent the “Green Knight” in the title. And lastly, the Madewell shopping bag is an example of space because of its minimalist design, with the exception of the Madewell logo, written across the bag.

I ended up taking a lot more photos than just those six, but I figured that uploading them all would be way too much, and would require several separate Instagram posts to fit them all! I tried to narrow down some of the photos that were somewhat similar in terms of which combination of design principles they followed, and then, seeing some of the other designblitz uploaded by some of my classmates, I decided to further narrow down the photos I took.

As for editing, I only touched up the lighting and the contrast on the photo of the Corpse Bride DVD cover. The rest are untouched, except for being automatically cropped when uploaded onto Instagram.

Designed by Design

Hello, everyone! This week, we’re focusing on design and all the different ways to go about it. So far, I’ve looked at three different resources, all of which discuss design and the act of designing in different ways; two were Ted Talk videos by Paula Scher and David Carson, respectively, and the third was the website Canva, where I took seven tutorials essential to understanding designing.

In their Ted Talks, Paula Scher and David Carson were revealed to have fairly different approaches to designing, with Ms. Scher going about it from a more emotional angle, and Mr. Carson going about it from a more calculative angle. Ms. Scher explains the difference between “serious” and “solemn” design, the former being more fun and involving more passion on her part, and the latter being a result of following certain trends, causing her to lose whatever passion for her project she may have felt, otherwise. Meanwhile, Mr. Carson designs based more on intuition than emotion, while also mentioning how two fundamentally identical designs may give off two different messages (e.g. two garage doors painted with a “no parking” sign by the same person, with one appearing significantly more menacing than the other).

The tutorials I completed on Canva–Tips for Titles, Color Your Design, Creative Background Tools, Brilliant Backgrounds, Marrying Texts and Images, Starting with Scale, and Design for Social Media–each gave examples of how to make appealing designs both for social media websites and in general, and featured activities to help better understand how to follow those examples and show why they work as well as they do.

The Canva tutorials are much more about following rules and examples than Ms. Scher’s and Mr. Carson’s methods of designing; especially with Mr. Carson, whose designs sometimes appear to be completely haphazard, but are actually created through conscious decisions based on his own intuition.

I feel that the two Ted Talk videos resonated with me more than the Canva tutorials, but I’m not sure which of the two exactly resonated with me more, since I can completely understand where both Ms. Scher and Mr. Carson come from, in terms of their individual design philosophies; any kind of project can’t be any fun if you don’t feel any passion for it, and the best designs are done thoughtfully and deliberately, even if they appear to have no thought put into them. I think it’s a good idea to try to marry the two concepts of thoughtfulness and emotion together, when working on a creative project.

Happy New Week! – End of Week Sum-Up

Hello, everyone! The first week is over just as soon as it started.

Since my first bi-weekly summary post, I completed three daily creates–the prompts for Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday–and posted them all on Twitter. I also went through one of the galleries on the Abandoned America website and wrote a summary on that. After that, I completed three Visual Assignment prompts–my favorite photo, the five frame story, and the warning poster–totaling in 9 stars, and posted each of them on both my Instagram page and on my blog. Finally, I completed my photoblitz and posted the photos and wrote about the experience on my blog, as well.

The one project I want to focus on for this sum-up is the second visual assignment I did, the five frame story:

I thought a lot about the composition of these photos in particular after reviewing the Tips on Better Photography page on Canvas, as well as the video discussing those tips. I enabled the grid on my phone to make sure each photo was balanced, and tried aligning each photo as best I could, and I think I did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself. I also tried to use different angles and depth of field for a couple of shots.

For me, this week was a lot about learning not just about the ins and outs of various websites that I wasn’t too familiar with, but also learning about how to take pictures more consciously, and that there’s more to photography than simply taking the picture. Before this week, I never really paid attention to how to properly frame a photo, nor did I think about why a well-framed photo might look as good as it did. I like finding out that there are some things that I didn’t even realize I didn’t know, if that makes any sense–discovering that kind of thing about yourself and what you actually know, or think you know, can be exciting, and I look forward to hopefully learn more about aspects of photography and visual storytelling that I never thought of in the weeks to come.

This week, I am most proud of this particular visual assignment prompt, in terms of the way each individual shot is framed, the way they look, and the humor of the story, as a whole; I feel like they wouldn’t look quite as good as they did if I hadn’t learned about those photography tips and tricks. I also personally like the daily create I did on Saturday, but mainly because of the overall aesthetic of the app–Live Portrait Maker–and because I simply enjoy using phone apps and websites to create many different characters and avatars; in many cases, they help me visualize the designs of my original characters.

At any rate, that’s about it from me for this week. Here’s to a good 2nd week!

And it Turned into a Photoblitz

Hello, everyone! Yesterday, I went and completed my photoblitz. I went around my house and in my backyard taking pictures following the prompts, managing to complete 12 out of all 15.

The one prompt I had the most trouble with was the one where my camera had to be moving, to give the subject the illusion of movement. I used the camera on my phone to take all the pictures, and I tried to spin around while looking at a stone frog in my backyard, but I just couldn’t get the effect that I wanted. I also tried taking a picture of a spinning fan in my living room, but I then I felt that that didn’t count since my camera wasn’t moving. I wasn’t able to take a photo that represented joy, and I was going to take a photo from an unusual angle but I ran out of time before I could take it.

My mother was also kind enough to help me out by letting me take pictures of her foot and of her standing behind the glass pane of the door on our back deck. I also decided to use my cats for a couple of the photo prompts for this assignment–I took a close-up of my cat Willie’s fur as the abstract photo, and I took a picture of my other cat Jasmine as an example of a metaphor complexity (mostly because of how strange and complex she can be, being friendly and affectionate and then running off one second later). For the prompt about bringing an inanimate object to life, I decided to take a picture of the little foo dog that sits on our coffee table, and make it look like I’m playing with it to create the illusion that it was alive. I chose the glass dome under our bird feeders as the futuristic photo just because the sleekness and curvature of the dome reminded me of something somewhat futuristic. The fish-looking object in the picture for the two objects that don’t belong together prompt was a bag clip I attached to the chord of our Alexa.

While I did try to keep things like balance (namely the rule of threes) in mind, I focused more on simply taking as many pictures as I could within the allotted time. The hammock pole in the photo following the converging lines prompt does manage to land close to the center of the frame, as well as the foo dog in the inanimate object photo. The interesting shadow, the bright light, and the door-frame photos also feature strong contrast. The bright light photo had the camera pointed directly upwards, giving that photo a different angle from most of the others.

At first, I wanted to go into town to complete the photoblitz, but I am actually glad that I decided to do it in my house, instead; I found that there were more opportunities to take interesting photos here than I had originally thought, and I might not have ever found out if I had gone downtown. I think it also helped me get more intimately acquainted with my house, since my family and I have only lived here for a little more than a year and a half. I like my place, and I hope I get to explore its nooks and crannies more, in the future.

Star Your Engines – part 3

Hello, everyone! I decided to do one more prompt for the Visual Assignment, this time for creating a warning poster. I went with something with a fantasy theme, in line with the answer I gave a few days ago on what my favorite type of story was, which I said was fantasy. So, making a caution sign about a unicorn crossing seemed like the best means of incorporating my genre into the prompt I chose.

I used the app Autodesk Sketchbook to do all of the artwork, the background, and the text, and I used the app MediBang to rotate the image so that it was shaped like a typical ‘Animal Crossing’ caution sign. I drew and filled in the unicorn silhouette myself, using photos of real-live horses as reference. I usually upload a pencil-sketch and use that as the base for any art I do, on my computer, but this time I drew the unicorn free-handed. I wanted to draw the unicorn myself simply because I felt more comfortable using my own art as opposed to art I found on the internet, just out of a personal preference.

I like to imagine unicorns as being somewhat like deer; very skittish, but not terribly bright, based on their tendency to wander out into the street and stop when staring into a car’s headlights. Although, in the post, itself, I mention that unicorns can be aggressive, too. I know it’s a cliche to write fantasy creatures such as unicorns as violent and monstrous, but I do admit that I can see the comedic appeal of such a concept; of course, their horns are also very intimidating, to the point where I probably would be scared if I saw a unicorn in real life, at least at first. I also just like animal crossing signs, in general, and I’m not exactly sure why that is. It could be that I just love animals, in general, but that’s really the only reason I can think of.

It would be pretty cool to live in a world where this sign was a real thing, wouldn’t it?

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