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Sketching Tips and Tricks!

Everyone has to get their ideas out of their head, and onto paper. Sketching is a core part of designing. It is the exploration of ideas and the construction of new forms. It is also a form of communication, which is often overlooked. Most oftentimes sketching is used very personally, to scribbly translate our ideas onto paper.

Most people sketch in a kind of visual shorthand, where only the original artist can decipher the intention of the sketch, or future design. This is of course fine, but can be time-consuming when working in a team where the sketch may need to be explained. One way to combat this is to learn to sketch like an architect. Sketch in order for your sketches to be easily understood. 

An easy way to start is to do preliminary sketches. These are the sketches that are loose and messy, where you explore every idea you come up with and try to expend your creativity. Then, once you have your main ideas, sketch them again in higher detail, with notes explaining the forms and functions of each part of your design. If your design is animated, this is where you might draw out the keyframes or motions the animated design would possess. The main idea to create sketches for other people to see and understand without further explanation. 

Check out this article if you would like more in-depth tips and tricks on how to improve your sketches. 

9/11 Memorial

I recently went to visit the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero for the first time since 2006. A lot has changed since then, including the building of the memorial park. I was surprised to learn that the memorial was birthed in a worldwide design competition. The competition had over five thousand entries from over sixty-three countries; Michael Arad and Peter Walker’s design, “Reflecting Absence” was ultimately chosen. The memorial is made up of two recessed pools in the original footprints of the Twin Towers. The pools are deep, dark voids that reflect the loss and void 9/11 caused. The pools are surrounded by a thick metal boarder with all the names of those lost cut through it. The memorial is unusual in the fact that it is not a big, tall structure, but rather a true void. The designers’ intention was to let the emptiness and void speak for itself, which it does. The  memorial is a successful dedication to the nation-altering event of 9/11 and worth a visit.

Put your product on the line

Advertisements are all around us and on average a person will encounter around 4,000 ads a day. This number is shocking because how many can you recall at the end of the day, for many they might recall five or six and these could be the last ones the saw before going to bed. With a world full of ad’s fighting for your attention what can a company do to stand out from the rest? For 3M the answer was simple, create a way that people would be encouraged to test their product in the hopes of a reward.
Back in 2005 3M filled a glass display with cash and on the outer glass surface, they applied their product called Scotchshield, a see-through film that makes glass nearly bulletproof. Once the display was set up chaos ensued, people kicked the glass, threw objects at it and even used a sledgehammer and nothing could break it. It was only after the frame was broken that the experiment ended. This all happened in the span of one day and the advertisement worked beautifully. I think that we have a lot to learn from this as designers, sometimes you just have to put your money where your product is.

Bring Back the Fun!

Minimalism; straight, perfect lines and geometry; flat, bold colors with no sketchiness to be found. These are the attributes we assign to high-end design. Design that evokes prestige, class, and a coolness like marble. Design that transports you into The Devil Wears Prada universe where you’ll either soar or get stamped under a thin, stiletto heel. Competition is fierce. Stakes are high and only the biggest diva will remain on top. 

Boy is that stressful. Perhaps a bit too cutthroat and pompous for your taste? Where’s the fun in this world? Where’s the silliness and homeyness in big corporation standards? Wouldn’t you prefer a welcoming smile; the smell of home-cooked pies? Why not bring this homeyness back into our designs? 

Organic, carefree designs can help set you apart from the crowd, and make your product or business more inviting, and sincere. As designers its important to remember that you’re designing for your client and for the public; not for other designers to critique. This of course means that no design exists within a vacuum. If a smooth, sharp design is the perfect fit for the company you’re working for, then that’s perfect, but if your client’s company wants to stand out amongst the corporate crowd, then maybe a more carefree design is what’s best. 

Check out this article for examples of designs that combine pristine qualities with a homey silliness for inspiration when creating your own designs! 

New Infinity

Lately there has been big advancements in the design of smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Many manufacturers have focused on making their products as ergonomic as possible. This includes making them light, thin, and pleasing to the eye. Sometimes this done while sacrificing other features in their design such as USB type a ports for type c ports instead. Lately some strange features have been added to smart phone designs such as sliding screens and more than two cameras. Samsung is about to release a phone with the strangest design approach to a bezel-less display. This phone is called the Galaxy A8. This phone features Samsung’s new infinity display. This display brings a truly bezel-less display with a couple of sacrifices in its design. The phone loses the ability to be water resistant because it must rely on the sliding mechanism to use the cameras. The special about Samsung’s design is that the cameras swivel front and back for both selfies and regular photos. This is an interesting design approach because the cameras could not be located on the actual screen because It has no space. Other companies like Vivo and Huawei have released phones with motorized pop up cameras. I’m excited to see what new designs will come out of companies like Apple, Samsung, etc.

Other Worlds

Ori Toor is an illustrator and animator who makes chaotic, colorful, and beautiful artwork. He has illustrated magazine editorials for The New York Times, Wired, and Bloomberg. He’s also worked with clients such as Adobe, Cartoon Network, and Nike. Among working for various clients and magazines, he spends a lot of time creating work for himself.

The majority of his work is strange and magical, and Ori is not afraid to use color. He believes that his work represents worlds that you, and Ori himself, can get lost in. His work reminds me of wimmelbilder-style drawings, which are incredibly complex drawings with hidden details. A popular wimmelbilder you may recognize is Where’s Waldo?

Although Ori’s work does not have hundreds of hidden characters or items, his work is still massively complex and possibly overwhelming for some people. The concepts of his artwork may also hard to pin down with no context, but the cohesive colors and forms make his work feel balanced.

Beyond the Scene

It’s almost impossible to not know them by now, especially with social media being an active part of nearly everyone’s lives. With their rising popularity and continuous top hits, BTS are at the face of all sorts of media sites. Fans who knew about BTS since their debut in 2013 until their rise in the west in 2017 knows about their first logo, which comprised of a black and white bulletproof vest with their name in a bold, stencil font. The reason for this was because of their name. BTS stands for 방탄소년단 (Bangtan Sonyeondan) which roughly translates too bulletproof boy scouts.

As the years past with their sudden fame in both Asia and Western countries, BTS changed both their visual and brand identity to fit more of what they want to be represented as. The logo changed completely, eliminating the details and the bulletproof vest and replacing it with two trapezoids mirroring each other. Their name is written in a condensed sans-serif font underneath the shapes. They even changed what BTS stands for; Beyond the Scenes. They want to show they are going beyond their realities and pushing forward to their goals.

And it works.

It’s simple so it can work with their new marketing materials unlike their old one, which is rarely used on their products due to the complexity of the design. The simplicity also helps with their new marketing tactic as their latest album covers are minimal, continuous lines that draws out flowers/hearts. Their symbol is also a representation of doors opening to showcase their new improved meaning. All in all, it works.

Check out their newest album “Map of the Soul: Persona” and watch their latest music video “Boy with Luv ft. Halsey.”

Taking the ‘Party’ Out of Mario Party

The Mario Party series has been around since 1998, the era of the Nintendo 64 console, and has continued to be released on every Nintendo console following the 64. Mario Party is a family-friendly party game that features a board game-like experience playfully interjected by fun minigames. Its logo, from the very beginning, was a party. Chunky, blocky, rainbow-colored letters spelled out the game’s name in every variation from 1 to 10 (released in 2015 for the WiiU). The eleventh Mario Party title was set to be released for Nintendo’s new (and incredibly well selling) console, the Nintendo Switch. Instead of taking on the title of ‘Mario Party 11’, the new Mario Party game became ‘Super Mario Party’. With the new game’s release, we lost the chunky, rainbow letters spelling out the title. Super Mario Party’s logo typeface is very curved with Nintendo now choosing to stay away from the many hard angles it had in its previous Mario Party logos. The rainbow is now limited to ‘Super’; ‘Mario Party’ is now displayed in black and white.

‘Super Mario Party’ logo is a punch to the nostalgia of children who grew up playing Mario Party games. The logo is not awful because of this. It just shows Nintendo’s new age. The Nintendo Switch console was created to recover from the catastrophe of the WiiU. The WiiU sold horribly, especially compared to competing consoles like the PlayStation 4. Upon releasing the Switch, Nintendo has done its best to separate itself from the previous console. This could be one reason for the big change in logo. The other reason could also be as simple as Nintendo wanting to ‘switch’ up the Mario Party series. The games are very similar experiences, and have all had very similar logos from 1998-2015. Upon the new console’s release and passing the ten game milestone, Nintendo probably wanted to start fresh. Super Mario Party has introduced new game mechanics and new ways to play. Separating Super Mario Party from previous titles was wise; it breaks the monotony. Though, this conclusion is ironic considering Super Mario Party is very monotonous. Game developers focused on the new mechanics but neglected the scope of the maps, the balancing of certain game-changing elements, and limited the amount of minigames present. The logo is more successful than the game.

Pasta Please!

Lately I’ve been finding myself looking more closely to product packaging. There are so many elements that come into play when it boils down to a successful design. Nikita Konkin is an international and well-known designer and has recently won several awards for her pasta packaging design. Good Hair Day Pasta is a design that makes the mundane task of grocery shopping a little more fun and interesting. The design is not only attraction, but functional and simple. A stronger connection is made with the consumer who resonates with that type of hair and with women as well. Having a successful package design is not only creating a stronger identity for the company, but also will increase sales. I definitely find myself more inclined to purchase products with a successful and fun design.

Spotify’s Design

Spotify is one of the most widely-used music platforms today. Millions of people interact with it on a daily basis, whether on their phones, computers, or other devices. To reinforce the strength of their visual branding, Spotify has defined its own style through their graphics.

Spotify uses a black background universally on its platform, which creates contrast between most featured album covers, artist images, and content. The content is presented in an organized, clean fashion that piques interest while not being overwhelming. Spotify uses the same typeface throughout its entire application, which is speculated to be a modified version of Gotham. This consistency allows the site to work cohesively and unified, even with different categories, playlists, recommendations, and more being offered. One of the signature attributes of Spotify is the monotone/duotone imagery that they overlay on images; the bold, saturated colors within these graphics allow them to stand apart and catch the eye of their users. These bold, saturated colors can also be seen in playlist covers that do not integrate photography; for instance, “Your Time Capsule” and “Your Top Songs” all use similar bright color schemes. In fact, users can design their own covers to use for their custom Spotify playlists!

Overall, Spotify works with a minimal, yet highly effective approach in presenting a wide range of musical material to its audience. Though Spotify is intended for an auditory medium, it has integrated graphic design in an invigorating manner to enhance the visual experience of its users.