Visual Language Week 13

Posted On December 11, 2009

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Hey hey hey!!

This is the final post of the semester…we have no more lectures or labs!

The last couple of months have been interesting, the assignments have been fun.

Our final assignment saw us sketch a portrait of ourselves. After we had the sketch drawn, we had to insert text to create the picture. Typography is what we would call it! ha! This was as interesting assignment to complete. I really had to think hard about what I was going to do. I initially thought that I could just insert a load of different words and it would look fine. I tried out a few tutorials using photoshop but I did not like the result.

Here is the sketch of my fantastically b-e-a-utiful face!

Hunky Chunky Almonds!
Hunky Chunky Almonds!

I am not the greatest fan of drawing people, especially myself. But I have to say, I enjoyed this.

I then went on to attempt to create my first picture. In this picture, I wanted to have letters making up the colours and content of the face. This was very time consuming but enjoyable. I scanned my original sketch and printed it out so that I could use this as the base for my image. I used markers to draw the letter on the face, using different shades to give it the shadow effect.

First Picture
First Picture

For the second image, I created it using Adobe Illustrator. I placed the sketch into illustrator and used ‘live trace‘. This gave me a sketchy line that I could work off. I typed out each letter and distorted and resized it until I was happy with the result. I repeated this for each part of the image.

Typography Face
Typography Face

Well, that’s the end of Visual Language. So, ‘Till the next time!


Visual Language Week 12

Hey hey hey!

We are almost at the end of the road for this module. 😦

In today’s lecture, we started by trying to get the projector to work but it wasn’t happening!

We got a handout on Typography. A question about this will come up on our tests.

The Origin of Letters

Excavations at various sites around the world have uncovered pictures of animals, suns and moons painted on to stone walls in caves and on rocks. The first written language to be based on an alphabet and sounds showed up in Phoenicia in the Middle East, around 1500 BC. The Greeks then developed the alphabet more, such as introducing vowels and the convention of writing and reading from left to right.


Roman Capitals

As the Greeks developed the alphabet, the Romans developed the Greek alphabet further, creating the Roman Capitals. The letters were first painted onto stone by using a broad brush, which was held at a slight angle. The letters were then carved with a hammer and a chisel. This is how the letters got their serifs.

Roman Capitals
Roman Capitals

Uncial Script

This saw the appearance of the first lower case letters. Designers decided to use rough papyrus in favour of parchment(animal skin). As well as replacing this, the calamus or reed pen was replaced the much finer quill.


Half-Uncial Script

Certain letters gained increasingly pronounced descenders and ascenders, sticking up and down, creating an alphabet along a more refined four-line system.

Examples of these are The Book of Kells and The Book of Durrow.

Book Of Durrow
Book Of Durrow

Book of Kells
Book of Kells

Carolingian minuscule

Charlemagne’s coronation as emporer in Rome in 800, Carolingian miniscule was partially developed under his patronage, naturally became the dominant script in western Europe. These letters had both upper and lower cases, but were rarely used together.

Carolingian minuscule
Carolingian minuscule

Humanist Script

Created in the 15th Century in Renaissance Venice. Shapes that were both taller, slender and more open than anything that had been seen before. The two cases were used together in the same script for the very first time.

Humanist Script
Humanist Script

Gothic Script

This arose where the path of Carolingian Minuscule crossed with those of various national scripts. One of the results was the evolution of a script known as Textura. Johannes Gutenberg is usually credited with the invention of printing in Mainz. The 42-line Bible was Gutenberg’s greatest masterpiece. He took the textura script that was in use by contemporary scribes and he then converted this into the first printing type. In today’s world, this type has made a reoccurrence in tattooing with celebrities favouring this text.

Gothic Style
Gothic Style

Venetian Antiqua

Developed by Nicholas Jenson and Aldus Manutius. They were book printers in Venice in the latter part of the 15th Century. They created the elegant and soft lines of Venetian antiqua which signalled the dawn of a new age in printing type. This also saw the introduction to italics.


this is a complete alphabet (letters, numbers and characters) in a single design. For example Times. There are two groups of typefaces. Sans-serif and Serif. Serifs would mainly be used for headings and sans-serif for body text. The most popular sans-serif is Arial.


When we read, the eye follows the letters from left to right repeatedly. A designer needs to use typography to ensure that the text can be read easily. The key element being that we read not letters, but word formations. The eyes scan the letters and send signals to the brain, which puts them together to form words. The eye progresses in what is known as saccadic movement over the lines of the text. This means that the eye will stop regularly, fixing on one word, and at the same time reading a few words around it. This can prove to be a slow procedure for an unpracticed reader. Reading will happen at a high speed habitual readers. When we read quickly, the brain gets stimulated, which increases the concentration, motivation and understanding. I we were to come across a word in the text that we did not recognize, the brains skips this word creating comprehension based on the context of the page. I f we were to read more slowly, the process is understimulated, which can create gaps in the flow of information.

The easier that the designer makes it for the reader to move their eyes over the page, the greater the level of readinility will be. The following are crucial to the readability of text:

  • Typeface
  • Lower case and upper case
  • Type size
  • Line Spacing
  • Line Length
  • Word spacing
  • Character spacing

Line Spacing

Distance between the lines also affect readability. If the distance is too small, lines will merge into each other. If the distance is too large, the eye will have difficulty keeping the text together. The measurement 8.5/11 expresses a type size 8.5pt and a body size of 11pt. This means that there are 2.5pt of empty space between the lines.

Line Length

Also referred to as column width or measure. The line length affects readability. A line should not be longer than around 60 characters including spaces. For the web, it would be shorter.

Column Set-up

The designer may choose various column set-ups. This has a major impact on readability.

Flush Left Text

The text is set up with an even left-hand edge and a ragged right-hand edge. The right-hand edge allows for consistent word spacing and minimizes the number of hyphenations, which makes reading easier.

Flush Right Text

The left-hand edge of the column is ragged and the right-hand edge is even. This makes for poor reading. The eye would have difficulty finding its way back to the correct line alonf the uneven side.

Centered Text

This is distributed evenly either side of a middle axis making the whole text symmetrical.

Justified Text

This has each line the same length, making both the left and right-hand sides even.

Scrolling Problems

Web designers usually try to make pages short. The often use long lines to fill the screen, which results in terrible readability. There are several solutions:

  1. Edit the text to within an inch of its life making it shorter.
  2. Create two or more columns, or split a longer text over several pages.
  3. Fill up the long columns that demand so much scrolling with attractive and exciting pictures.

Word Spacing

Spacing on each line has to be big enough for the individual words to be clear. It must never be greater than the line spacing. I f spacing is too small, the words will flow into each other making it difficult to read.

Character Spacing

Reduces the distance between the letters is called tracking, while kerning involves the designer reducing the distance between certain letter combinations, while increasing this distance for other combinatons.

In the lab we had to stand up in front of the class and talk about our Semiotic images. Here, we needed to say why we chose the celebrity and which topcs we were going to be portraying them in. We also needed to explain why we chose to represent the celebrity in that light. It was interesting to hear why people chose some of the topics and why they chose to have handbags or devil horns.

‘Till the next time!

Semiotics Assignment

Hey Hey Hey!

So this is the final day for me to submit my Semiotics Assignment. After all the hard work that I put into the images, I hope that it will be worth it!!

The Brief was to compose three celebrity portraits (using the same celebrity image for all three) supporting a myth or ideology associated with three of the following different statements:

  • I am masculine
  • I am feminine
  • I am wealthy
  • I am intelligent
  • I am evil
  • I am popular

I had to consider how these statements would be portrayed in popular culture – songs, film, tv, books etc. How would an advertiser convince a consumer of a product association with one of these statements? What location would your composition be set and what visual signs and symbols would you use?

I had a choice of using Photoshop, Collage, or Illustrations to complete the assignment.

We also have to present our final compositions to our group during lab sessions.

So, here are my images!

The celebrity that I chose was Freddie Mercury from the rock band, Queen. The main reason for me choosing him, is that I am a huge fan of Queen and Freddie Mercury. My three choices for composing are I Am Evil, I Am Popular and I Am Wealthy.

I Am Evil

My approach for this image to portray Freddie in an evil way, was that I did not want to go for the cliché evil image, with the gates of hell and the pitchforks and fire everywhere. The image that I wanted to create was going to involve just one element of evilness. This element was fire. The picture of Freddie that I have is very much an action stance so I thought that if I just had the flames coming off of him it could create the evil image I was looking for. Freddie is leaning back in the image, so I wanted to create a black background with some of the background image coming through, I usd a number of ‘Overlay’ and ‘Colour Dodge’ effects in Photoshop to create this. By doing this, it also gave the character a similar effect, which helps the image. I then selected an image of flames from Google Images. I gave this image a number of effects to line up to the points on Freddie that I wanted.

Here he is:



I Am Popular

Popularity…..this was a difficult idea to come up with. Since we had to pick a celebrity, there was already an element of popularity.

The idea that I came up with was to show how celebrities are shown in the media. Originally, I wanted to have my celebrity in front of a number of magazines and papers that had the person on the cover. Then, I wanted to have the magazines and papers masked into the body of the background and finally, I thought about making the celebrity image out of all the images I found, like the 2pac posters from few years ago.

After trying a few of these ideas out, I was not completely satisfied with the results. I thought of all of my ideas and came up with making my own magazine cover!

I lightened up my celebrity image and added text to the image. I also put in a barcode to give it the magazine effect. I downloaded some different fonts to make the magazine more effective.

Here he is:



I Am Wealthy

For this image, I wanted to have my celebrity being hosed with money and diamonds. When I started to create this picture I knew straight away that it was not a great idea.

I wanted to stay away from the obvious. I didn’t want to swamp the person with money and cars……cliché. I went for an urban effect.

I cut out my celebrity and put him on a wall background. I then made Dollar sign stencils and diamond stencils. When I had these created, I inserted them into my image, positioning them as I wanted. I used the smudge tool to make parts of thes images appear to be dripping. After I had applied this effect to each image, I then created a text box. When I downloaded the font that I wanted to use, I gave it the spray paint effect.

My final image is of my celbrity spray painted onto a wall with Dollar signs and diamonds surrounding him, with the title ‘Show Me The Money’.

Here he is:



I am delighted with the end result of my images, especially the wealthy image.

This was the original image that I used:

‘Till the next time!

Visual Language Week 11

Hey Hey Hey!

Another week finished…seriously, the time is flyin’!

In this week’s lecture we recapped on the previous weeks lecture which was on Design Principles. We reviewed the Rule of Thirds, which is when the image is split into a grid of nine, 3 x 3.



In today’s lecture, we were discussing the Gestalt Principles. These principles included:

  1. Figure and Ground
  2. Similarity
  3. Continuation
  4. Closure
  5. Proximity

After discussing each of these principles, we were split into groups of four and given one of the principles and needed to come up with a good way to portray  it.

The onto the lab!! (See Semiotics assignment entry)

Visual Language Week 10

Hey Hey Hey!

So we’re finished week 10. Christmas is just around the corner, as is semester two! Time fly’s!

We started the lecture by going through the assessment process of the module, which assignments had what weighting. We also talked about our current assignment, which is on Semiotics. We moved on to review the notes from the previous weeks Semiotics lecture.

This weeks lecture was on Design Principles.

Design does not equal creativity. Creativity could be inherited and depends on the thought process that is nurtured. The principles of design can be thought of as ‘what we do to the elements of design’.

1. Balance

Balance refers to the degree of equilibrium in a composition. This is determined by the choice and arrangements of elements in relation to each other and the frame.

Symmetrical balance is a mirror image balance. Symmetrical Balance

Asymmetrical balance has elements that don’t mirror each other across a center line.Asymmentrical Balance

Lack of balance can convey action and motion. Off-balance designs can get people thinking.

2. Contrast

Contrast can simply mean difference.

Composition, size, shape and colour are four main ways to achieve contrast in a composition. This creates interest and pulls the attention towards the focal point.

Composition creates tension by placing opposing elements in a relation to one another.

Size is useful as it can make for a way into a visual arrangement.

Shape can add tension to a composition.

Colour can be used to balance areas of neutral colours.





3. Movement

The purpose of movement is to create unity in the artwork.

Repetition occurs when elements which have something in common are repeated regularly or irregularly creating a visual rhythm.

Line is used to create a feeling or sense of movement.

Rhythm refers to the way your eyes move around the picture.

4. Emphasis

Emphasis is the stressing of a particular area of focus rather than the presentation. Simplicity is omitting all non-essential or unimportant elements of details that do not contribute to the overall composition.

We then had to get into a group of four and analize a movie poster. We had to talk about the Balance, Contrast, Movement and Emphasis of the image. We got the extremely famous Sandra Bullock movie ‘Premonition’.

  • Balance = The face is centrally located in the image (Symmetrical).
  • Contrast = Dark and Light colours are used, also the text is in red to draw the attention to the ‘star’.
  • Movement = The branches making the shape of the face.
  • Emphasis = would be on the actors name, because of the colour, and the eyes and lips.


Next we had our lab!

In the lab, we were told how to backdate our blog entries!

Niamh gave us a handout with Louis Walsh in it for us to have a go at editing in Photoshop.

I knew how to do this so I continued on with my Semiotics assignment. I had all of my images completed, so all that I needed to do was to to write a short paragraph on each image explaining my approach and creative decisions and the process involved. When I had this completed, I created the folder for submission. Here is one of the starting ideas that I came up with:



‘Till the next time!

Visual Language Week 9

Hey hey hey!

This is our first week back from the Hallowe’en break. Last week the graduation was taking place in the college, so classes were cancelled

So, Friday the 13th…..whatever!

To start our first lecture after the break, we reviewed the last lectures notes. These notes were on Bitmap Images; GIF’s, JPEG’s and PNG’s. We also looked over Vector Images and what the advantages and disadvantages of each are.


Semiotics is the study of the relationships among patterns of perception and meaning.

We were looking at a painting by René Magritte. Magritte says that ‘The pipe is not a pipe, but that of an image of a pipe.



A sign is anything that makes meaning. It is made up of the signifier and the signified. The signifier is the material and the signified is the concept.

Signifier & Signified


Most advertisement involves:


Metonymy is one entity that is used to signify another.

Cultural Paradigm

A cultural paradigm is used with linguistics and science to describe distinct concepts.

Advertisements rely on Syntagmatic relations. Syntagmatic relations are the relations of sequence. We had a look at some creative advertisements on the internet.The advertisement below is my favourite of the one’s that we seen.

Obesity Is Suicide


One common meaning of the term is a false consciousness. We brainstormed for the title ‘I Am Masculine’. This is what we came up with:

  • D.I.Y
  • Muscles
  • Facial Hair
  • Clothing
  • Weights
  • Muscle Cars
  • Explosions
  • Action
  • Cigars, and
  • Gyms

That was the end of the Lecture and it was on to the Lab.

So before the break, we were working on the ‘Selection Tools’ part of Photoshop. We started to make a Vegetable Head person thing before the break so whoever had a decent enough knowledge of Photoshop could carry on, while Niamh recapped on the Selection Tools.  I only had a few bits to finish on my dude. Here he is!


When I was finished this Niamh gave a few of us a handout with another task to do in Photoshop. I read through it to see what it was about. After about twenty minutes of complicated instructions that you would need a microscope to read, I gave up. I’m not a quitter, but I just couldn’t follow the instructions. I will try it at home in my spare time.

Niamh gave us our next assignment. We had to pick one celebrity and show that person in three different Semiotic ways.

  • I am masculine
  • I am feminine
  • I am wealthy
  • I am intelligent
  • I am evil
  • I am popular

We can complete this assignment using Photoshop or use collage. We also have to write a bit about why we chose…..everything really.(YAY!!)Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

Hopefully next week will be better than the one past!

‘Till the next time! Animated_Waving_Mudkip_by_muddy_mudkip

Visual Language Week 6

Hey hey hey!!

Twas the week before mid-term, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse!

This week we paid a visit to the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. This visit was coupled with our Digital Photography module. Half the day was spent taking photographs in accordance to our briefs and the other half was to follow the guidelines of our Visual Language brief.

I had to find pieces of art, which included sculptures, and needed to discuss them.

First, I spotted this odd sculpture at the front of the museum. The shapes of the sculpture are quite playful. Mainly circular with an occasional point. There were no patterns or texture but along the top of the ‘head’ there was a part that had been carved out which gives off the sense of depth. The sculpture was black in colour, which was a good choice as had it been in white or grey, it would have taken away from the attitude of the piece.

The sculpture is by Joan Miró, it is called ‘Personnage‘ and was constructed in 1974 using bronze. The dimensions of the sculpture are 200 x 160 x 180 cm.

I thought that this piece was the most interesting in the museum. It caught my attention straight away and the shapes of the sculpture were fun. It reminded me of a Japanese Robo-Dog! Evidence that the Golden Rectangles were usedPersonnage.

Personnage 1974

Personnage 1974

Personnage Sketch

Personnage Sketch

I then ventured inside the building. I struggled up the stairs to see if there was anything of interest up there. After a good few minutes of searching, I came across a sculpture.

The texture of the sculpture was that of a stone feel. The sculpture reminded me of a person curled up, but with no head or limbs! I also thought that the sculpture had a soft flesh look because of the position.  The use of the Golden Rectangles was evident in this piece. The sculpture is by Barry Flanagan and is called ‘Carving No.6A‘. It was constructed in 1982 and is made of Travertino Romano Chiaro marble. The dimensions of the piece are 83 x 123 x 93 cm.

Carving No.6A

Carving No.6A

General Experience

Hum….my general experience. I’m going to be as blunt as a spoon and say that I did not enjoy the museum. It wasn’t to my liking at least. That kind of ‘art’ would not hold my attention. The one piece I liked was the ‘Robo-Dog’ located at the front of the museum.  When I seen this, I thought that the other work was going to be just as good. How wrong I was. I ran out of time when I was looking around, because I couldn’t for the life of me get the lockers to work properly. They had some pin code, lock and turn system that just would not work for me. What was wrong with a simple key!ha! The overall experience was good, however I don’t think I would find myself going there again. Something that had a bit more interraction would have got me smiling, I’m not the greatest fan of walking around quietly, like I’m in a graveyard, and looking at ‘art’ that really looks like they got their nieces and nephews to put play-doh in their mouths, chew it up, then spit it out and stand on it to create a “masterpiece”. Sorry to be so harsh!

‘Till the next time.

Visual Language Week 5

Hello again!

I would just like to point out that the wait for the new Rammstein album is now over! Have it jacked into my ear drums at an alarming noise level!

Anyway, on to the events of today’s lecture/lab.

We started with a quick review of last weeks topics. These included the colour wheel, value, saturation/intensity, hue, colour schemes and colour and its meaning.

In this weeks lecture we were looking at Digital Images. We looked at three kinds of images:

1. Bitmaps

  • Bitmaps are graphic (raster) images. They consist of a large grid that is made up of little squares (pixels). Each of the little squares are filled with colour.
  • Resolution is the number of dots being displayed on a television or a computer monitor. These are expressed as DPI (Dots Per Inch)
  • Pixel is short for picture element. This is a single point in a graphic image.

Bitmaps can be made smaller, but cannot be made larger without the graphic being degraded.


  • Bitmaps can represent complex, photographic images and are quite universal.


  • Bitmaps are not scalable. They also tend to have a larger file size.

Common Bitmap extensions are .jpg, .gif, .png, .tff and .bmp.

2. Bitmap Image Formats

Prominent bitmap formats are TIFF, BMP, PICT, GIF AND JPEG.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

  • Maximum of 256 colours, which is poor for photographic images.
  • Can be animated.
  • Support transparent backgrounds.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

  • Capable of displaying millions of colours.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

  • Invented specifically for the web.
  • 2 versions: PNG-8 (which would be similar to GIF’s) and PNG-24 (has a higher bit colour, making it similar to a JPEG)

3. Vectors

Instead of using pixels, vector graphics use use points, lines and curves. The line that defines the shape is referred to as the path.


  • Can be scaled up without loosing any of the quality.(Infinite Resolution)
  • They also have small file sizes.
  • The picture remains editable once it is still a vector.


  • Not suited to photographic images.

We struggled our way up the never ending stairs of E Block to get to our newly allocated lab!

In today’s lab we got an introduction to Adobe Photoshop.We looked at a video (with audio!) which showed us things such as how to dock everything together and on the toolbar. We also looked at another video which showed us some of the shortcuts that we could use in Photoshop and some of the Selection Tools. We downloaded a file that contained some pictures that we were going to be using to practice on. We were using the lasso tool to go around the outside of a melon, and learned how to cut it out and paste it into a new layer. The object here was for us to learn how to cut out things, the fruit that we were cutting out had to be assembled into a Mr. Potato Head style face. This was good fun! Although I already knew how to use the selection tools etc, I still found that the videos were helpful. Unfortunately we ran out of time in the lab, so we couldn’t finish our fruit heads! Next week is a class trip to IMMA so it could be a while before you are amazed beyond imagination!

‘Till the next time!

Visual Language Week 4

Hey hey hey!!

Here we are in week 4!!The time is flying this semester! In this weeks lecture, we reviewed the notes from last week on line, pattern and texture.

We were talking about the final element of visual language, colour. Within this, there were six main parts:

1. The Colour Wheel

  • The primary colours are red, blue and yellow.
  • You cannot make a primary colour by mixing other colours.
  • You get the secondary colours by mixing two of the primary colours together.
  • For a Tertiary colour, you mix a primary colour and a secondary colour together.

2. Value

  • The value is how dark the colour is.
  • Value is relative.

3. Intensity/Saturation

  • This is how intense the colour is going to be.
  • Saturation is also relative.

4. Hue

  • Is the type of colour that you are choosing.
  • Hue is relative to what is next to it.

5. Colour schemes

  • Colour schemes are split into two categories, warm colours and cool colours.

There are 5 colour schemes:

  1. Monochromatic = 1 hue
  2. Complementary = Using colours across from each other on the colour wheel i.e red and green, blue and orange, purple and yellow.
  3. Split Complementary = Uses two colours adjacent of the complementary colour.
  4. Triadic = Uses colours that are evenly spaced around the colour wheel.
  5. Analogous = Colours that sit next to each other on the colour wheel.  (1 to dominate, 1 to support)

6. Colour & Meaning

In  Visual Language, colours can be used to :

  • Attract attention
  • Create atmosphere
  • Inform
  • Teach
  • Structure

We then got a handout about Wassily Kandinsky. He was a Russian painter who is considered ‘The Father of Modern Abstraction’.

Next, we named some colours and what we would associate with them, for example, Red. You may associate hell, fire, warm or evil. We then looked at some trippy pictures on the internet. We focused on a point in the centre of the screen in a black and white photo and a colour negative appeared when the mouse hovered over it, then after 30 seconds the mouse was taken from the picture and the photo was momentarily in colour!

Next was crunch time in the Lab!!

This was the lab that we had to have all of our 60 pictuers handed in. I spent most of the class cutting out my frogs and putting masking tape on the back to stitch them all together!I hung mine up on the wall and that was the assignment completed. Now I can have some sort of a social life!! Here are a few more pictures of my frogs:

Dolla Frog

Dolla Frog





Dutch Frog

Dutch Frog

‘Till the next time!

Visual Language Week 3

Roll up, roll up!!

The lecture started with a quick recap of last weeks lecture.

We then moved on to talk about the Elements of Visual Language. Below are the main points and some information on each:


  • Compulsion to connect parts is described as Gestalt.
  • Element has position but no extension.
  • Serves as a focus.
  • Ben-Day Dots process.


  • Made by a moving point.
  • Characterized by length and direction.
  • Also communicates emotion and state of mind


  • Shows consistency with colour or lines.
  • Modes = flow, branching, spiral.


  • Surface quality.
  • Can convey a variety of messages or emotions.

We received an in-class exercise. Here, we were instructed to draw a Male and a Female using dots to communicate the concepts. We also had to use line to communicate the emotions; angry, confused and in love. Below are the pictures that I drew.





We also received a exercise on Black Square Problem.

Black Square Problem

Black Square Problem

On to the lab!

Where all the fun begins. As I mentioned in last weeks blog, we have a bit of an assignment to get through, 60 pictures of a chosen object using mixed media. The aim was to have twenty images for today’s class. We were working on our frogs throughout the class today. I got 9 done myself so that brings me up to 29! 🙂 here are some examples of the work I have done.













Aren’t they only marvellous! Anyway!

‘Till the next time!

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