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semester three

2012 Stuthi Vasudevan

Š national institute of design publlished october 2012

a documentation of

semester three S t u t h i Undergraduate Graphic Design vasudevan National Institute of Design

contents illustration scince and liberal arts typography colour other

Drawing &

illustration five weeks

tarun deep girdher immanuel suresh siddhartha tripati

One week in the start of the semester followed by four more halfway through, this was, hands down, my most favourite course. The first week was full of warm up excercises, pencils, newsprint paper and inhibitions. But, like nothing but drawing and a ‘no erasers’ rule can do, I felt myself losing the fear of making mistakes, and diving headfirst into what would turn out to be the most absorbing course in the whole semester. The next four weeks of illustration came much after, and were nothing like the first week. It was crazy assignments on crazy scales, a myriad of materials and mediums I’ve never worked with before and explorations, explorations and more explorations. You’ll see.

head study & object study We started with an assignement called ‘head study’, which meant drawing, with your entire hand on the entire page, a partner who was standing in front of you doing the same. This helped loosen up my hand, my arm, and interestingly enough my mind because of course we weren’t allowed to use erasers. I felt my confidence begin to build with every newsprint page I turned. The next assignment was ‘object study’, where we had to use the same principle as we had before, only in drawing an object with complex curves instead of a face. The object in question was an iron. We observed it and its different parts before starting to draw, but for me I understood the details and the curves only once I’d actually begun to draw.

negative space After that came something I found very interesting to do, which was studying negative spaces. I’d never tried something like this before, and found myself very constrained by my preconditioned observation of the form and not the negative spaces as we were told to do.

We were given a chair to draw, using the blocks of its negative spaces only, and not the form itself. I learned a lot about preconcieved notions - how many I had and how they could possibly hinder me. But I worked really hard on this one, it fascinated me that much.

still life The last assignment for the week was still life, where a few objects - bottles of different shapes and sizes, slippers, and a lamp, were arranged on a table. We had to draw them, and then render them in as many different mediums as we chose making sure the proportions and scale was right.

self portrait Our fifth assignment gave us a little insight into exactly what kind of work we’d be doing then on. We were each given a master painter and two of his paintings. We had to study them and then make a self portrait in the style of this master painter. I got Henri Matisse. There was so much to learn from this assignment, and learn I did - about Matisse, about Fauvism, about other artists of the early 1900s, and also about myself. This assignement did a lot for my sense of confidence in my skill, which was lacking a little bit, and my approach to my assignments which had earlier been slightly limited. It was this assignment and the ones that came after that truly made me grow.

media exploration Three still lifes were set up in the studio, and we were asked to pick one, pick a comfortable angle and draw it, and keeping the composition exactly the same, explore it in different media. I first started with the medium I was most comfortable with, which is water colours, so I could get a clear idea of the colours, light and shade, and texture of each of the objects. Then I tried out a host of other things, encouraged by Siddhartha Tripathi, who had come in to show us some demonstrations on how to use different mediums and materials, and how to get certain effects. By the end, I’d used pencils, paints, crayons, ink, photo inks, pen, sketch pens, clay, a toothbrush, and stencils and shadows. And vegetables. This assigment was experimental, and made me realise the fun in exploring and discovering something by accident - and then building on it to create something you never knew you could.

poem illustration This next assignment did wonders for my confidence in my capabilities. We were each given a poem and asked to illustrate it. Sounds simple, sure. But then the interesting part came in. We could use absolutely any medium we wanted, and it had to be made on a large scale, where the width or height was at least 15 inches minimum. So of course we took this as encouragement to make really, really large posters. The poem I chose was ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ by Robert Frost. It is written in very simple language, and describes, as the name suggests, a traveller stopping by beautiful snow filled woods, wishing he could stay though he has promises to keep and a very, very long journey ahead of him. I decided to interpret this poem a little differently, giving the traveller a recognizable identity. I wanted to find a character whose story ran parallel to the scene described in the poem, and then mix the two. So I chose Red Riding Hood. I analyzed the poem over and over, and found that I could, quite easily, draw a lot of parallels between the two stories - the dark woods, the sense of mystery and intrigue and also danger, the promises to keep - she had to visit her sick grandmother. Also, since the poem itself is written in such simple language, it sounds like it could be said by a child. After making a lot of explorations with composition and size, I finally landed on the one I felt was right - in terms of colour and scale and detail. My final poster (see next page) is approximately 15” x 30”.

editorial illustration For this assignment, we were given a newspaper clipping and told to make an illustration for it. The size given was 10cm x 5cm, which, after working on a size as large as one and half imperial sheets, was almost impossibly tiny. But after a few attempts, I adjusted to the size. I had to concentrate on the simplicity and communicative value of my illustration. I felt like I could have done more for this assignment, in concept as well as execution. I played it safe in my execution because of the time constraint, but perhaps if I had explored more there, I could have learned more.

Assam on the Boil Autorities must do more to stem violence

With the death toll in Assam crossing 90, ethnic violence in the state is mutating into a dangerous beast. What started as a conflict between Bodo tribals and Bengalispeaking Muslims in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts has now spread to other districts of the state. And as exemplified by this month’s exodus of northeast people from other parts of the country, the violence in Assam has repercussions that go well beyond the state. In such a scenario, it’s indeed worrisome that groups with vested interests are looking to fish in troubled waters. This was evident during the recent tit-for-tat statewide bandhs called by the Bajrang Dal and Muslim groups. Meanwhile, the anti-talks faction of the Ulfa has threatened retaliatory violence if targeting of Assamese youth in other parts of the country doesn’t stop. Though the state government claims that a sizeable number of those taking shelter in relief camps are gradually returning home, the situation continues to remain tense. The Bodoland People's Front has demanded

that inmates of relief camps be rehabilitated only after verifying their credentials. On the other hand, Muslim groups insist that the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) be dissolved altogether. However, whether it is illegal migration of Bangladeshis or the hegemony of the Bodos in the BTC, the situation has reached a point where diagnosis and remedy of the root cause of the problem ought to be postponed to a later date. What is required is an immediate clampdown on the spreading violence. For this the local administration and security agencies need to get tough with the perpetrators. Meantime, the political leadership of the state must form a united front against the purveyors of communal agendas who threaten to turn Assam into a raging inferno.

children’s book We were each given a story, and were asked to illustrate it in any manner we chose. The story I was given is called ‘Family.’ It is a story with a moral, talking about family values and the way we treat the ones we love. It contains a message that is universal, with no real cultural context. I realized that it was very important for the illustrations to convey the emotions that were there in story, so that it would be impactful. The size of the book is 7”X 8”, and it is still a work in progress.

“Go and look on the kitchen floor, Go and look on the kitchen floor, You’ll find some flowers there by the door.” You’ll find some flowers there by the door.”

“Those are the flowers he brought for you, He picked them himself, pink yellow and blue.

While I lay awake in bed, While I lay awake in bed God’s still small voice mesaid, and said, God’s still small voice camecame to metoand

“While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use, But the family you love, you seem to abuse.�

science & liberal arts two debashish chakrabarty weeks jean desouza After one week of illustration, we were introduced to two theory courses, Introduction to Semiotics with Dr. Debahish Chakrabarty in the first week and Communication Studies with Dr. Jean Desouza in the second. We studied signs and symbols, and why, as designers it was important for us to understand them perfectly, we read up on Freud, Lacan, Saussure, Marx, Plato, and others, and we studied gender. We also watched some really brilliant movies. For educational purposes, of course.

assignments We did a bunch of assignments that helped us gain clarity with our concepts - some group assignmennts and some individual ones. We studied Plato’s cave analogy, where he describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners. We were asked in groups to pick an example that shows this. We picked Helen Keller.

In our study of signs and symbols, we took pictures from around campus as examples to show the relationship between the two, using Bacon’s criteria for Natural, Given and Probable relationships respectively.

And, we studied print as well as video advertisements that portayed Gender, Race and Religion badly. Below are advertisements for a Sandwich and Vodka respectively.

We also analysed the scenes from the movies we saw (V for Vendetta and The Artist) to show what meaning they portay through the set and lighting -the environment in general.

These are the movies we saw; Chocolat, Sita Sings the Blues, V for Vendetta, My Fair Lady, The Artist, For Coloured Girls and Possession.

And finally, we wrote essays. One on a poem we could choose out of those given to us - I chose War Photographer by Carol Ann Duffy, and one on any quote we had read or heard during the course. I picked, “That is love. It is one’s ego that one loves in love, one’s own ego made real on the imaginary level.” - Jaques Lacan.

typography one three tarun deep weeks girdher

This was the most fun I had in the semester - after illustration. It was a three week course, which we started by identifying what makes different typefaces different. Then as the course progressed, we went from playing with words and sentences to making an entire booklet, based on the research we had done on a particular typeface. I learnt that typography is like a science - there’s a word for everything. An inconcievable number of typefaces with the most sublte differences, a typeface for literally every occasion, and lots of terminology - readability, legibility, leading, kerning, tracking, display type, body type, styles, weights, variations - it could go on forever. All this is just a tiny part of what I learned, and what I have left to learn. I also learned that I absolutely love typography.

typography portrait Our very first typography assignment. We had to write our names, once, on a sheet of paper in a way that represented one quality or one aspect of our personality. So, after getting a whole bunch of words that describe me from the people around me, I chose one - musical - and got to work. My very frst attepmt was pretty generic for me - it was the way I write everything, I just didnt realise it then. And, it was neither musical nor very clever. So, I tried out some more things, and quite some time later, after the course, I got some inspiration. This one turned out much better. I used indian ink on cartridge paper.

terminology Parallel to our work on the typography portrait, we, in groups of four, did research on all the terminology associated with type. Of course, beginners as we were, we touched only the basics. But, even the basics were, for me, something I hadn’t heard or thought of before. For example, I learned that it is easier to recognize characters in lower case than those in uppercase, because of the variations - ascenders and descenders - that lower case letters have. The upper case letters from a distance just appear to be one solid block, so they’re slightly harder to read. I also learned about how things like the colour of the background make a difference, and how serif fonts are neither easier nor harder to read than sans serif fonts - though this is a matter of some debate.

meaning making I found this assignment a little challenging at first. We were given two lines of text to arrange, with the freedom to change the size, the kerning and the orientation of each word. And each word could be in either bold or regular, in order to create a heirarchy that gave the two lines of text a different and interesting meaning. And I didn’t know where to begin. But, after a few failed attempts I started to get the hang of it. Initially I had been trying to emphasize too many things, and the layout appeared somewhat disorganized and difficult to read (see below). But class discussions and feedback I began to understand how perception works, so then I could better manipulate the text to bring out different meanings. I hadn’t realised just how many different - and contrasting - meanings two lines of text could be manipulated to create. The laws of Gestalt that we had learned in foundation also played a major role here. When another typeface was added into the mix, I found that I was comfortable enough with the assignment not to panic, and use all the resources and freedoms we were given as best I could.

Teaching is the rare profession where

the customer isn’t always rig ht

and needs to be told so appropriately. __ John Maeda

study of a typeface Having learnt a bit about layouts and arranging type in the most appealing way possible, and the terminology, and styles, we had to find an outlet for all this information - and what better way to do that than to make a booklet on a typeface. The typeface I was given to study was Franklin Gothic. The first part was the research. Who made this typeface? When? Where? Why? Where is it used? This information was presented to the class. Next, we had to arrange all the information we collected in a 16 to 24 page booklet, 8� x 8�. The layout I finalised was pretty simple and I used my chosen colour scheme keeping in mind that Franklin Gothic is more than a century old. Of course the learning didn’t end on the computer screen, it continued all the way to the printer, and then to the cutting studio, and finally to the table where the booklet was presented.

colour one three anil weeks sinha The first thing I learnt was how closely related colour and form are, and though it is something that is constantly being said, I got a practical understanding of it from this course which made this concept absolutely clear in my mind. I learned how colour can lend meaning to a form. The same form, unaltered, can be put into various contexts that have absolutely no connection to each other simply by the correct use of colour. The form itself does not have much meaning until meaning is attached to it, and the best way to communicate that meaning is by the use of colour.

the survey Since we were learning about the connection between form and colour, we needed a starting point. Ice cream. We took surveys on what forms could be associated with ice cream, narrowing ten down to three. Then we took another survey, to find out what colours people would like their ice creams to be.

Given below are 10 forms. Select 3 forms that you associate with ICE-CREAM in order of preference.

















exploring form We used the three final forms as othrographic drawings and made 3D thermocol models, exploring different ways of representing the same 2D form in 3D. Then, of these explorations too, we finalised three, and modified them any way we could think of.




exploring form Finally, we picked one of the modified forms, and used the colours from the second survey on it, trying to give that form different meanings and interpretations. Afterwards, we broke out of the ice cream mould, and used whichever colours we could on the form, to give it different meanings, taking inspiration from anything that the form reminded us of.

exploring colour First, with no particular objective or purpose, I just explored different colour schemes to see how they would look. As mentioned before, I stuck to the ‘ice-cream’ colour palette here.

inspirations I analysed my form to see what it reminded me of, so I could take inspiration from that and add colour to it. I also asked people around, to get different opinions. So the first thing everyone came up with, was the game we played as kids called the Tower of Hanoi.

Another thing I was reminded of was, cake. The beautiful multi tiered cakes with lots of icing. I used the colours from the ice cream here too, it seemed apt.

The inspiration here was the scultputres of Easter Island. Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. It is famous for its 887 monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people. The jagged edges of my form resemble some of the images I saw of the sculptures, and I chose colour schemes that made it look like rock and stone - and though I’ve used brown here too, it looks nothing like cake.

I tried making a composition based on an image I saw of the statues, be recreating the colours but in a slightly abstract way. Perhaps I should also have tried using the image just as inspiration instead of actually recreating it.


three hitendra weeks vala

I had absolutely no technical knowledge of photography, and figured this would be a great time to change that. I was quite right, we started with old school basics, a manual SLR. I learned all the important words and the differnce they make to the final outcome. And once we started using the Digital SLR, everything I’d learnt with the manual really came in handy. This was a really fun course, we travelled, visited historical sites, handled a lot of equipment and got to feel really important by working in the studio with models and lights.

shooting a subject - dreams Once we’d had our introduction to the inner workings of a camera, we were paired up and given a manual SLR. The point was to go outdoors, as far from campus as possible, and shoot pictures based on a theme or subject that we chose. By common vote, we decided on ‘dreams’. Not the best subject to choose when a bunch of beginners have been given a camera they’ve never used before, but we did what we could with it, exploring the city, trying to figure the mechanics of the camera along the way. Dreams being so ambiguous a topic, there was a lot I could capture, and yet very little. The point was for it to be convincing and evident, something that I couldn’t qute achieve all the time. But because of the complexity of the topic, I had to really really look to find the right picture.

studio shoot Here, we were given a digital SLR, lights, and studio with the objective of coming up with a concept, arranging a subject and shooting it in two frames. Our concept could be absolutely anything, there was no constraint except for the two frames. So, i used that as a constraint and thought of contrasting things, or things that come in pairs. I decided to go with the concept ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, which talks about a split personality, the tame and the monstrous. It took me quite a few shots and quite a few changes in settings and white balance as well as external lighting to get the effect I wanted.

outdoor shoot, Champaner For this assignment, we went on a day trip to a historical city called Champaner with the trusty manual SLR. We had to take pictures, as many as we chose, and then come back and make a poster out of them. We spent the entire day in champaner, saw lots of old mosques and monuments, and realised that it has aptly been named a world heritage site by UNESCO. Taking pictures was the easy part, the actual challenge came when we had to choose the right picture, treat and edit it the right way, and then make an eye-catching poster out of it.

Champaner roam roam the the ancient ancient corridors corridors of of

A UNESCO world heritage site

portrait We had to take a portrait of our partner, showing their personality, using any props and any lighting and shoot in any location. Since my partner, Sonakshi, lives outside of campus, I figured her house might be a good place to shoot. We used a lamp she had in her room for the lighting, putting it on a stack of books when we wanted it raised, borrowed a tripod from her friend and got to work. It wasnt easy, becuase this was the first time I’d actually interacted with Sonakshi on a more-than-acquaintaces basis. I didnt know much about her, and couldn’t decide where to start or what about her personality I wanted to bring out. So we arranged the lights, had her sit in front of the camera, and just clicked and clicked and clicked, as she spoke and posed. It was all quite spontaneous.

a master photographer As a research assignment, we were told to look up one master photographer from any part of the world, and present our research in one A3 spread that could be folded down the middle. After a brief search, I chose Arthur Leipzig, who was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1922. He captured New York (and, following that, quite a few other places as well) in a series of beautifully composed pictures - which also show an incredible eye for detail and a brilliant sense of timing.

and other things

between siddhartha tripathi courses the students of RCA

Other than coursework, we also had a few in between assignments, workshop and excercises - which actually made quite a difference. Thats why they’re here. Siddhartha Tripathi, as visiting faculty for our illustration course, demonstrated the use of brush and ink and pens, line work and other mediums. Also, there was a workshop conducted by the Students of RCA from London, where they taught unconventional approaches and methods of drawing and sketching, such as drawing with your left hand, or without seeing, or while running, or while holding your breath. It was a very experimental thing, and though I only attended a few days, I felt like I learned a LOT.

Siddhartha Tripathi came during our illustration course, while we were doing the assignment on media exploration. He gave us an excerice in which we had to render different circles to make them appear to be speheres made of different materials wood, concrete, glass, brick, and plastic. Another excercise was to take a large brush and black paint and with strong strokes draw something - anything, imagining the way light would fall on it.

Since I attended only a few days of the RCA workshop, I could only pick up and try out a few things, one of which was drawing with the wrong hand. I learned that since I’m unafraid about the result, I concentrate on the process and so I tend to draw better with my left hand. (All of these I’ve drawn with my left hand)

in conclusion

This semester was, without a doubt, a crazy rollercoaster ride. I was really excited to get Graphic Design as my discipline in the start, and that excitement hasn’t left me at the end of one semester. Almost every assignment we got was something new, and helped me discover something. I actually had fun working - and thats really important to me. I know that this is just the start, the basic of the basics, and there’s a quite a long way to go. But since I’ve had such a good start, I feel like I’m deifinitely going to enjoy the rest of the journey as well. And I know for sure that is the exactly the sort of thing I want to do for a long time.

acknowledgements Looking back over the semester, I realize I have a lot of people to be grateful to. Firstly, all my faculty for everything they taught me, Tarun Deep Girdher, Immanuel Suresh, Anil Sinha, Hitendra Vala, Debasish Chakrabarty, Jean Desouza, Shipa Das and Rupesh Vyas, without whom this semster could not have happened. I would also espcially like to thank Siddhartha Tripathi and the students of RCA London, for giving me a fresh perspective on my work. I would like to thank my batchmates, for being right there with me on this rollercoaster ride we called Semester Three, sharing my crazy experiences , and creating awesome memories. I woud like to thank Mahendra bhai, and all the staff in the IT centre, as well as in the Printing and Cutting labs, for all their knowledge and guidance. I’d like to thank my family, for being there and helping me find method in my madness. And lastly, I’d like to thank every great designer I’ve studied this semester, for their incredibly inspiring work. Thank you.

bibliography typography

Graphic Design as a Second Language, Bob Gill


Designing with Type, A Basic Course in Typography, James Craig

illustration photography

Swiss Graphic Design, Richard Hollis The Best in Covers and Posters, RC Publications Thinking with Type, Ellen Lupton 20th Century Type, Lewis Blackwell

Know Your Type, a project by Varsha Mehta Pantone Guide to Communicating with Colour, Leatrice Eiseman Colour - A Complete guide for Artists, Ralph Fabri

Stuthi Vasudevan Graphic Design Semester Three Undergraduate Programme National Institute of Design

Semester Three