Hands On: Cut Paper Illusion 2


Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application


Lesson Info

Hands On: Cut Paper Illusion 2

So it had our students just working now here for a few minutes, what what they're thinking how they approaching this arianna looks like you've actually got quite a a long way in you've got a big design going there, talk us through your inspiration is richard comes in looks well, I have a sketch of it I don't know if you can see it very well, so you're definitely picking up on the school I'm picking up on the skull idea, but also the like laurel reef that a lot of people will give tow lake people who've done like heroic act so it's sort of like the dead hero who's crying blood because he or she is upset about the war sometimes one of one of the things that that ran tried to do is to say, how do you take a cliche like a skull and make it fresh? You know, uh, cliches, they're not something necessarily avoid. We tend to be compelled sometimes to avoid cliches, but think about how why cliches are cliches is because people like them people engage with them and they respond to them and it's v...

ery memorable and there's this expression and advertising one plus one equals three you may have heard that at some point on dh that's kind of what this is about, how do you take something that's really well known put it together with something else that's really well known in a fresh way and make something else it's entirely new so that's kind of your I think gold today is how do you take something that is a bit of a cliche? A skull and bring some freshness to it. Make it fresh, christine, what are you working on? Working on it's? Not quite finished yet, but I was playing with the paper cut out for this idea of, um, like these two blue planes were representing the world and how well, how mars just like this thing that gets in between and even of these two, whether they're between countries between people, between ideas and how it's just totally cuts into it and I'm trying to play with the color I wanted um, maybe play with some subtraction or yeah, look, quite now there's, something else is happening here and it's hard to see it on the video monitor, but we can definitely see it in person. There's an effect along the edge of that shape on this side where the very edge of the color the very edge of the red has this illusionary vibration to it. So can you see that here? If you stand over here, maybe stand right above it, you see how there's a little bit of a white halo in this that's collusion it's not really there obviously because how could it be there you didn't put it there was two colors that's something that happens when you have two colors usually to contrast in colors contrast in terms of temperature blue and red often creates this way call it vibration it has to do with an edge illusion where eyes really don't know what to do the two colors have a very similar kind of ah light value and they're competing with each other and our eyes don't know how to assimilate that information so it ends up vibrating and that's a very effective uh kind of of technique to use in this case where you're trying to create something that has this kind of energy vibration color vibration ends up being something really important oh nice effect that file scratch I gravitated towards like something really bright and it goes again it also looks like you're picking up a little bit on the dipstick idea yeah yeah yeah so that's about a transmission or a transition from one part to another yeah sort of how these two want to get together but there's this thing that's cutting in between sam what do you got going here? Still some work to be done here but I was also playing off of the element of the skull because I wanted teo have a human element to it um I also wanted to focus on death and you know, the real negative aspect of it and not put a positive element in there because, um I do think war's absolutely horrifying so trying to figure out how to convey that and I have some ideas I'm not done with yet, but then the idea of repetition without getting into doing at first I was saying that doing a lot of skulls but just going back to keeping it simple. Um the reason I wanted repetition is just, uh I came back from travelling recently and you go to all these places in the world and you're really kind of reminded of how long war has always been unfortunately part of all cultures throughout history, and sometimes it feels like it's never gonna end that's kind of wanted this repetition into infinity, so I probably look like thinking of bombs I wasn't I was thinking skulls, which I marry not kai's out of, but that is an interesting kind of interesting to see if you could make something that was simultaneously expressive of the skull in a bomb or a school and a hand grenade or something like that at the same time, I'm also kind of fascinated just by looking at how many of use went straight to the cut paper he kind of did a few sketches maybe, but you really kind of dove right into it very quickly I'm interested because serena you've picked actually quite bright colors where's everybody has gone for the more dark dark hues which I suppose is maurin keeping what we think of with war in the darkness of it what was your inspiration which is sort of bright and hopeful but it's looking more like a fish I'm for gotten with devil looks like visually what it what it ended up look like a shield which is another sort of you know, maur imagery kind of take on birds, doves and shields and the contrast between the two so I was going kind of going that direction I will say that you know if when I find myself in that situation, I immediately do a google image search and I come up with images that I used a za resource you know very quickly you can come up with a an image of a dove and start to use that is inspiration, especially for something like cut paper where you're just dealing with a silhouette shape of some kind take a look at this and what do you have going here? So I'm tryingto I didn't want to go directly to the idea of war and so I wanted to talk around a little bit by emphasizing how kind of all in it together little planet one photograph that's inspired me that I don't know if you're familiar with the pale blue dot the picture of that it took from space of earth it's, very gray. And so I was thinking of doing an image of of the galaxy of the milky way in the background, and then our tiny little planet, and then expressing lots of different people on the planet to show that well, if that's what we have been or is probably not a very good idea. Okay, are you happy with the black background? I do. I do think it works. I do need thio pepper it up a little bit with some with some lights of the stars, but, yeah, I wanted I thought that black background, the space now what's going to happen as you as you continue at these little bright elements, is there going to be their going to take over the composition? So you have to be a little bit careful, but I think you need to be exploratory and experiment with that. One of things you could do to make the earth stand a little bit. Mohr is tio make those colors a little bit more vibrant. No, perhaps choose a blue and a green that have a little bit more lightness to them and then it's going to stand out more because I think you want that to be the focal point, yeah, okay, yeah, I, uh I didn't know how right to get it because I didn't even want the contrast to be so strong that it became drawing but yeah I could probably try I would say start their start with some brightness and then start to add in these other elements and see what happens right now it's it's really really dark and I like the darkness of the purples over here because they're really assimilated into the ground of the black uh but like this is very important and to some degree this more important than that right? Yeah so that's probably not yeah everywhere you go ok now the other thing you could consider doing is and you know we think of black as being that's the vastness of space and it's got a little bit of a predictable thing but you can also experiment with a very, very dark blue which might be kind of interesting to and maybe even bringing in some other colors into the ground to try to add some interest to that space is so it's not so much as a black background and more we've already dealt with a black background in a couple of other compositions it's an opportunity to go beyond black I'm gonna put you on the spot here so I'm coming wow give this like uh a shattered cracked type of loot representing the war on drugs the black there the negative space the grounds basis so powerful that's the explosive part of that when I look at that I'm really focusing on that black space that you're creating with all those white and blue shapes the triangles that's incredible, beautiful um, you spend it so we'd see invariably on the screen soon as you have its head at the top so that the tail is actually looking also like a crown on the shield it's kind of the whole army um and I was gonna actually you incorporate the word one, uh, number one or w what isn't a unifying in a way? We're all one sort of and what about the white ground? Are you happy without a, uh I don't know? Uh, I kind of like this affect down here how the yellow that surrounds that green shape gives it a little bit of a glow it's kind of interesting concept too if you have a color against white and you want to set it off without that severity of the real hard green against the way you add a color that's in between the green and the white in this case yellow and softens the edge and it gives it a little bit of a glow like that effect I like your lettering this's also very nice down here are you planning to change the background? I don't know like the red yeah I mean, I like to read to think this is really beautiful red and black and this is a heart yeah, you know uh can't member that was so long ago doing a heart you know, when you pulled piece paper and happened and it has the's er for gentiles kind of coming it is this one or that yeah so you're reusing parts of your composition interesting using what I've got and if you feel like this size is too small bill big go bigger and you can use the red perhaps is a background I love the idea of just cutting letters out though and not being so concerned with the position of the letters and keeping them very kind of rectilinear in some ways uh this w is really beautiful look at that one so nice very simple forms down here the relationship between that oh and that it's always nice to get like play with all this paper with your hands and like, you know, get messy because with illustrator it's like okay it's very it has its pros and cons but I'm always a more hands on paper person my friend you're currently finishing your m f a o you're not yeah me about a little bit of what you're studying um we're doing a lot of typography um a lot of layouts mostly um print we work a lot with prince so um getting to play with this it's also mostly on the computer. So I haven't done a lot of this in a while. It's very. You use this whole space yet, samantha, you awfully chose quite a big piece of background there to use, you know, let's. Just say it was, um, unintentionally was laying this out to see if I liked it on the dark background and keeping things a little more monochromatic. And then, um as I looked at it, I like it. The idea of so much negative space that I might keep this full size paper, one of things I told my students all the time is not let the paper manufacturer's dictate your size and I refused to let any of my students work eight and a half by eleven. For that reason it's such a default, you open up in design or illustrator. And the first thing you see is an eight and a half by eleven rectangles on dh it's just so predictable. And so the first thing you want to do as a designer and my opinion is to move away from that utilitarian universal rectangle get into something else, change the size she is the proportion even if you just adopt a slightly different proportion that sits within the path by eleven, it changes how we view the work so quickly, it's pretty cool now richard I saw some of the students were that you were showing us early where they re using some very, very big design is very large do you enjoy working in that particular medium as well? Do you tend to work more in a uh confined space I tend to work in a ten more of a confined space new york city everyone works in small spaces what have you created? Art is off of a very large oh yeah yeah yeah yeah definitely um I've worked on designs for trade shows where you're working on a space it's the size of this room sometimes um I've worked on large murals uh I worked with uh have you ever been in a new york city subway but they have these little banners and posters that kind of run above the seats on their very, very horizontal very long so maybe twelve inches tall by sixty or seventy inches wide so that kind of a four matches really kind of interesting to work with I've also worked with a lot of projections um but you know, in the professional world now we may start with a sketch that's made out of cut paper and I will definitely do that I'll definitely get out the color raid definitely get out my colored pencils and make sketches I'd like to start a project with a little bit of drawing if I can uh and it's especially fun tio to drawn a sketch book if you're not at your studio, if you happen to be in a museum, one of my favorite things to do is just go to a museum and start to draw what you see and kind of get inspired but what you're doing and not so much to necessarily just end up with a drawing, but as a way of engaging with the museum, if you guys ever want to try something, just find go to a museum with a sketchbook and start to draw people come up to you instantly and they want to see what you're doing and it's also a kind of a way of engaging a zay said, engaging with the museum experience in a very different level. Now you're part of the experience you identified yourself as someone who's interested in art? Uh, you're looking at the work in a profound way that is perhaps different from a casual observer. Maybe you're just recording colors or shapes its a very fun experience. If you've never done it, I highly recommend it, and you don't have to be there with some kind of serious intent, like doing a master study and that's great if you want to do that, go to the museum and draw uh in a masterful way if you can do it, but also just going there to make sketches, take notes uh make very simple color studies most museums don't want you to make take any wet mediums like paint but certainly markers colored pencils uh colored paper to some degree you can do a little experimentation with that super fun I love that kind of thing I love drawing at the beach one of my favorite things and you can't really do a tablet or an ipad uh it's just can reflect its is just too much and so having a sketchbook having some pencils with you is it's a great way to kind of enjoy things and pass the time I've made some some of my my most fun experiences are sketching pelo goes at the beach making drawings with colored pencils of typography so it's something that is coming out of my head I'm trying to draw letters based on my memories letters now I've been on the planet long enough to have some pretty good memories of letters if you haven't spent a lifetime studying type, it might be a little bit difficult my students need to sit in front of a computer in order to be able to visualize type for me I can drill roman capital, you know, kind of with my eyes closed almost almost because I know those letters so well so I love to draw I love too initiate a project through the process of drawing or doing cut paper okay so I tried to make the planet earth a little bit more bright toe contrast that with the rest of the composition and I also originally I was thinking I would put bright stars and things like that but I decided to just come straight that on the planet of the flag so didn't model it as much and then I toned down the colors that were in the galaxy so that those were a little bit less bright so there's only really one major contrast going on I love the way you stuck all these flags into the earth kind of is a symbol of ah is now a political thing as opposed to this natural thing and they're very geometric as opposed to the earth being very organic that's another passion of mine actually flags they're beautiful pieces of art I really did create symbols great symbols they they have such striking color and imagery that's beautiful mind represents the wanderers and it's called don't shoot so that's a needle in the middle yeah uh war on drugs yet uh glass so shattered you designed this horizontally yeah that's the way you're thinking about this yes and we're all really to buy if you kind of tilt your head so that the needle's pointing down that actually has a lot of energy that way no I'm always doing that with compositions is you look at them from different points of view and you get different ideas very energetic has a lot of energy and I love how you have the warm colors in the middle and the cool clothes on the outside we are one yes oh um ironically my academic background is ethnic conflict than preventive diplomacy and so that's kind of but where my take on war and conflict comes from so that's and you've employed a little bit of making one called look like two down on the word of one and also with the yellow the yellow against the white has a very different kind of appearance versus the yellow against the green pink against the red looks so different versus the pink against the white that's a great use of that idea of just seeing color in different contexts color being affected by its neighbours I like how that arrow here points to the word are you what if you were never very driven by the message the words yeah it looks like a great political banner so what color ideas um I see contrast of light in dark just love dullness and why did you choose to make the are darker than the other letters I didn't have any more of that gray I just what was here or is that little thing that's a little red button okay, okay, okay. I'm gonna line it all up let's talk about the skull first but uh that's why down in the corner? Yeah I added I was thinking of just keeping it with the one the one tear and no nose and know why but then her heart inspired me to make the nose is a heart as a heart upside down black heart but it's hard to see on the screen I think I could definitely see it what's not coming across clearly on the screen is the green laurel leaves yes is much more contrast in the original piece but that's kind of an essential thing and there again the green against the black is a very different effect on green against the white you know and uh this attraction aspect er that idea of attractions coming into place so the white is taking it brightness away from the green making those little green shapes look darker black you kind of see it can a little actually you can read the green against the black much easier than you can against the white of course the yellow really stands out on I love the way you've rendered the teeth yeah I wanted it to sort of look like it was like shocked or appalled or or something great stop um so let's see uh going backto talking about before and sort of focusing on the horrors of war um see ava a group of skulls at the bottom which are old you know I tried to stay with a really dark depressing palette to represent death on dh then I actually really like that guy on the left with the white eyes that was just sort of looking at different ways too to do the eyes and that paper has the white background so I like it because I don't think another really why see that skull in the white helps draw your attention to it and it creates sort of ah there's like a very um there's a lot of emotion coming out of that face I like how you've rendered those skulls so you have one as barely distinguishable against the black except for the white eyes and then the next one with those red x is is that the same bread is the letters no it's not they're different different papers and then the next one which is sort of in between gray and then finally so four different ways of rendering the same idea and I also really like the letters you know who would think of cutting letters or tearing letters in that way? Yes, I wanted to tear them and put them on an angle like that just to create sort of an angst and uneasiness to the composition. So I really like the way the skulls are distributed at the bottom and I kind of feel like maybe if the typography was doing a similar thing at the top where there is some overlap might be more effective and more unified the last one yeah, I was I'm working off like my earlier idea of having these two things like the world or to ideas or two people that you know, this is all the same hewitt's blue they're not the same, but they're not that different either. And some playing with okay, this is more of a peaceful combination and then war comes in and, you know, it just gets in the way. And it's, just as he said, like the colors were very vibrant against each other and I was like, oh, yeah, so I picked another color that I felt was just this vibrant as the the original red and I put that in if I had made an interesting combination also really great demonstration how colors look different and different grounds even to different blues a light blue in a dark blue those reds and yellows react so differently the yellow against the darker blue is very, very contrast against the lighter blue. It has a very different look, same thing with the red. Okay, nice work, you guys. Something to consider. You know, this is a form of sketching, just like drawing, right? And if you were making a poster an antiwar poster, you might do five or ten or twenty of these things actually, one of things that my students find out is that after that, they've done thirty variations of something. They pretty much have exhausted all our ideas and that's when they really get to be the good stuff. And they might go back to the very first ideas. But by doing many, many, many variations, even quickly like this, they can generate so many ideas, maybe incorporating multiple ideas into a final peace. I would encourage you to do that. You know, the next time you're in a situation where you're designing, maybe take out some cut paper and just talk to riff on things.

Class Description

Our response to color comes from the place in our brain where trust, loyalty, behavior, and decision occur – every successful project relies on a designer making smart choices about color.

In Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application, Richard Mehl will give you a foundational understanding of color theory principles and demonstrate how to apply them. Richard has studied alongside design legends, Paul Rand, Bradbury Thompson and Herbert Matter and in this class he’ll share insights gleaned from 12 years of teaching and writing about color in design.

Richard takes an accessible approach to the serious study of color theory for designers. You’ll be exposed to a relevant series of ideas and skills by exploring a range of analog and digital projects. Richard will discuss:

  • Color terminology and meaning
  • How to view color in context
  • Contrast grids and color illusion
  • Tips for creating harmonious color palettes

In Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application you’ll develop a new awareness and sensitivity to color that will bolster your confidence in your personal and professional design work.