Carnegie Mellon University / Introduction to the Electronic Media Studio (60110-A)

Unit 30

by Golan @ 2:56 pm 7 September 2009

This unit is concerned with vector-based imaging, which (alongside bitmap imaging) forms the second core paradigm for digital imaging. Vector-based images are widely used in commercial and industrial graphics, and mass-produced objects of all kinds. A consideration of vector-based imaging provides an opportunity to study, experiment with, and abuse the graphic conventions of the commercial graphics that surround us.

Unit Learning Outcomes: To demonstrate development of skills in the use of techniques related to vector-based image creation, editing and publishing; to communicate effectively using the graphic conventions and visual languages of symbolic design systems. Students will achieve basic proficiency with a common program for vector editing, Adobe Illustrator.

Some Inspiration.

Please watch the above video, Remind Me from Röyksopp on Vimeo.

Another interesting, similar video can be found here.

Assignments 3x. All are DUE Monday, SEPTEMBER 21.

Assignment 30. Readings.
This reading assignment has two parts, treating Vector Graphics, and Chinese Painting Villages:

Assignment 31. A Logo Mashup or Rebus.
This (#31) is the minor assignment; #32 (Diagram, below) is the major assignment.

The Brands of the World web site, hosted in Russia, offers vector-format downloads of most of the world’s logotypes. They organize the logos alphabetically, geographically and thematically. Download one or more logos from this site. Using strategies of modification and/or collage, hack and hybridize your selections to create a mashup that interests you. You may wish to think of this assignment as a chance to make a personal logo for yourself, or as a way of commenting on a particular brand. Here are some helpful steps and suggestions for your logo:

  • Find a logo to start working with. Click on: or, then pick a letter or category. To navigate through the (long) pages of lists, use the arrow buttons at the bottom of the panel.
  • Alternatively, you can also use the search field on the left side of the panel. To get more results, try using * as a wildcard in your search (e.g. cola*).
  • You can download files in the “EPS” format (Encapsulated PostScript). This is a vector format which Illustrator can open. You may need to Ungroup the elements of the logo in order to edit them individually.
  • Start playing! (For example: add a third ear to Mickey Mouse, etc.)

Assignment 32. An instructional diagram.
Prepare your thoughts by choosing a context, setting or location where someone might encounter your diagram. Feel free to interpret the idea of “location” broadly; for example, you might want to design instructions for how to use a certain object, and your instructional diagram would be “located” on the packaging or exterior of that artifact. (Have a couple sketches ready for class on Wednesday September 16, because we will discuss these in a preliminary crit.) Your graphic should indicate or explain ONE of the following ideas:

  • That a certain activity is required in that context — something you ought to do; or
  • That a certain activity is prohibited in that context — something you shouldn’t do; or
  • How to perform an action which one ought to do; or
  • How to perform an action which one might have to do, under certain conditions; or
  • How to avoid an unpleasant situation in that context.

However: There are some special limitations on your project:

  • Your graphic is limited to black, white, and one solid color of your choosing. OK… well, you can use one color in two different shades (like red and pink).
  • Your sign/graphic must use no words or written instructions. Any typography is strictly limited to single numbers and/or solitary letters, such as you might use to indicate the order of operations (1,2,3) or to label physical components of a device or system (A,B,C).
  • If you choose to show a multi-step process in more than one panel (like a comic strip), you may use no more than 3 panels. Can you use even fewer?

Your deliverables will consist of the following 4 things:

  • A photograph or drawing of the environment/location/object where your sign/graphic/diagram would be placed (you don’t actually have to place it there).
  • A .PDF (vector) file of your graphic. Upload it to your site using the “upload file” button in your WordPress editor (the little rectangle at the top left of the editor).
  • A jpeg (raster) image of your graphic. Use this as a thumbnail image which links to your .PDF vector file. (Incidentally, this will require that you export your vector artwork as both a jpg and a .PDF. Think about it.)
  • A printout of your .PDF file on an 8.5×11″ sheet of paper, which we will pin up at the beginning of class on a bulletin board, for critique.

In-Class Exercises.

Today in class we will cover the following topics and basic exercises in a vector-art editing program. We will be using Adobe Illustrator — but many similar programs exist, such as CorelDraw, Quark Express, etc.

* Differences between vector and raster images (scalability, memory use, malleability).
* Overview of Vector file formats (EPS, AI, PDF, SVG).
* Do: Create a circle, rectangle, polygon.
* Do: Drawing; create a filled, closed poly-spline in the shape of your initial.
* Do: Adjusting a poly-spline curve after it has been created.
* Do: Positioning elements on the Document Grid; snapping.
* Do: Download a logo and see how it is constructed from separate vector elements.
* Do: Use the Pathfinder tool and make/release compound shapes.
* Do: Use text (type tool, area type tool, path type tool, fonts and formatting).
* Do: Converting text and other objects to outlines.
* Do: Trace a photograph of a person.
* Other topics: dashed lines, arrows, etc.

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