Learning Activity – Analysing the Use of Design Fundamentals.

Learning Activities

Choose any one of the illustrations from the lesson “Design Drawing” and answer the following questions (when submitting your feedback – also provide the illustration you chose):

  1. What fundamentals are used successfully? Describe in detail what you think is the most successful aspect of the illustration (remember to focus on the fundamentals.)
  2. What style from the past is being used in a new way in this illustration? If no previous style is clearly apparent, does it use some form of pastiche? Why do you think this specific style or pastiche was used? Describe in detail whether you think it was used successfully or not.
  3. Read again what Mondrian said about the expression of beauty or self. Which do you think played the dominant role in the execution of this illustration? Explain your thoughts.
  4. If you had to create this illustration, before starting the actual execution, what would your initial thoughts be on:
  5. Colour (what would your approach to colour be?)
  6. Line (what would you like to portray with the use of line?)
  7. Composition (what would you wish to instil in the viewer by the use of composition alone?)





The image links in the assignment were broken so i decided to just choose an image i personally liked from Tahier Variawa`s page.

1 – The fundamentals used well in this image in particular is shape building. The shapes themselves are simple at thje core but together they create a recognizable illustration of whom i believe to be Nelson Mandela.

2 – When considering whether this image is inspired by any style or techniques from the past, the first that comes to mind is that it is somewhat reminiscent of what Warhol did with his celebrity illustrations. Using somewhat strong colours, simple shapes and techniques to bring forth a more complicated illustration.

3 – Mondrian says “although art is fundamentally everywhere and always the same, nevertheless two main human inclinations, diametrically opposed to each other, appear in its many and varied expressions. One aims at the direct creation of universal beauty, the other at the aesthetic expression of oneself, in other words, of that which one thinks and experiences.” (Theories of Modern Art:350)

To me, the self seems to be the apparent in this illustration. Catching the personality and essence of the person portrayed is more important in this instance rather than just creating beauty.  However the artist also successfully created interest in this image as well with the use of squares and shape building.

4 + 5 – If i were to think about and philosophize over creating this image, knowing i wanted to build the shapes the same way, i would probably begin with looking up a reference image and try to recreate the shadows and the deepest dark shapes and spots in the portrait.

Then i would be off to a good start with the main shape of the persons face using squares. Then i would fill in the rest of the shapes using colours, doing this also in squares.
Finally adding highlights the same way.

During the process however i would really need to back off and look at the image from a distance every now and then to ensure i am on the right track.

6 – Lines in this illustration is most visibly notable in the shadows and squares, if i were to illustrate this i would probably start with this as explained earlier, in this image however the artist (Tahier Variawa) may have added these after creating the main shapes of the portrait in colours.

7 – Composition is key, it is one of the most important concepts you need to learn as an illustrator and designer. However, composition is sometimes difficult to grasp for beginning artists.

I got a very good understanding of composition after becoming a photographer. And i found that that is one of the best ways to learn about composition and its concepts.

This image has a good composition and it leads the eye to where it should rest. The chest and the shoulders fram the head nicely in a way that does not draw away focus from the focal points of the illustration, meaning nelsons face.


Thank you for reading.

– J

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