Design Assignment 366: Design a film-based cover using the aesthetic framed by Spacesick.
I have admired Spacesick’s ingenious “I Can Read Movies” book covers and the amazing interpretations by DS106ers like Chad and Scottlo. Well, I like a challenge so I set my sights high with this assignment.
I know to admire good design but have never studied how to create it, so I decided to try a bit of an experiment and design my book cover green with no formal study; then go on the Design Safari to study design elements, and then return to my original design to see if I would change anything.
I certainly had a good time on my Design Safari or “Search and Rescue” as I came to refer to it, and I know what the elements are and can conveniently refer back to them with my design trading cards but I can see that it’s going to take a lot more practice to understand how to apply them successfully. I was curious when reading Roger Ebert’s brilliant “How to Read a Movie” about his hypothesis that directors don’t intentionally consider visual strategies when composing their shots.
I have never heard of a director or cinematographer who ever consciously applied them. I suspect that filmmakers compose shots from images that well up emotionally, instinctively or strategically, just as a good pianist never thinks about the notes. It may be that intrinsic weighting is sort of hard-wired.
I’d like to think that the “hard-wired” intrinsic weighting can be achieved after much thoughtful study and practice until a degree of automaticity is reached. That’s the hopeful, eternal optimist perspective.
Spielberg and Kubrick’s AI is a movie that continues to play in my head, always conjured up when I’m amazed by some new technology and how the “axemaker’s gift” may be changing what it fundamentally means to be human. I liked the idea of trying to design a novel cover that would play on the human/artificial human tension.
Process and Reflections
I measured a Spacesick’s original to get my dimensions right but stopped short of copying her template. She’s opted for “All rights reserved” and it seemed questionable to copy anything but her idea. I could be overly cautious but that’s the side I’d rather err on. I think if she had wanted to encourage copying that she would have chosen a Creative Commons license.
Using GIMP, I chose a digital background, simply typed in a giant A and I, and added a small image of the blue fairy and the android-boy that I colorized to blend in. So you see my simple, original cover on the left.
After my Design Safari, I tried hard to come up with some clever way to improve the design. No go though I do understand now some of the elements I used unintentionally. Those include the alignment of the A and I so it almost seems house-like to represent the home that the android-boy wanted so badly (metaphor, symbol) as well as the digital background to reflect the AI component. No breakthrough aha’s. I’m a bit better at GIMP now so I was able to resize the fairy-boy image to fit in the A and attempted to distress the digital background a little with the smudge tool.
I’m going to continue to try and apply the design elements and I’m especially interested in gestalt theory and how that might affect the design process. If you have resources you’d recommend, I’m all eyes.