Project 3 – Abstract Graphic Mark
35% of Semester Grade
Beginning Project 3 :: Abstract Graphic Mark
Full Project-3 Overview:
To help you understand where this Phase-1 of Project-3 will lead you, let’s look at the full Project-3 overview.
Please watch the full 4-part playlist below for a complete overview of all Project-3 Phases/sub-assignments. If you do not have time to watch all videos right now, you MUST at least watch the first one to understand the Phase-1 assignment.
Why an “Abstract” Mark
Some companies, non-profits, or other brands do not have tangible projects and services from which to draw literal visual translations, so it is the graphic designer’s job to help envision a good communication mark to convey the meaning of the brand, its culture, its values, and what it delivers to consumers or patrons. As a result, this assignment focuses on distilling an abstract idea into a meaningful visual mark. Additionally, students will investigate how the grouping of objects and color assignment significantly contribute to implied meaning. Technical concepts covered will be grid, vector geometry, color schemes, PMS and web color identification, and pattern-making.
Broad topics from which you can choose for investigation:
- Security or Protection
- Travel or Exploration
- Nature or Outdoors
- Sporting or Adventure
- Technology or Communication
- Performing Arts or Entertainment
- Finance or Commerce
- Children or Family
Assignment Phases for this Project:
Click on the assignment you need to work on or review below. Each assignment phase can collapse to make each phase easier to digest.
Phase-1 of Project 3 :: 15 points/%
For Phase-1 of the assignment you will be doing mind-mapping, abstract concept association, and research image resources. This phase is worth 15 points/15% of your Project-3 grade and is a critically important phase.
After selecting a category above, brainstorm and “formstorm” things that you associate with the selected topic. To do so, use a mind-mapping technique as discussed in your required reading from the .
- A) Get a blank piece of paper and pen or pencil. This is where you will start drawing/writing out your mind map. Write your initial word in the center and circle it.
- B) Next, draw at least six short lines out radially around that word (you can do more if you want) and write words that you associate with the first on in the middle. Circle those words.
- C) Then draw 2 short lines off of each of the words from step B. Then write at least two words coming off of each that are associative with the step B words. Circle the new words.
- D) Lastly, stem twice off of the newly created 12 branches from step C and repeat the process. Circle the new words.
- E) This will send you three branches deep where the initial word produces at least 42 new words/phrases to choose from and will help you branch off into less literal and likely stronger associations and possible visual representations of the concept.
- Select Word and Define
After mind-mapping, select ONE word or phrase within your mind-mapping branches. For instance, if you started with the concept of “Protection” you might have ended up with an associated word like “umbrella” in one of the branches. Next, write down all definitions of that word as found in a dictionary. Highlight parts of the definition you feel resonate most with the meaning you are trying to convey. This is the “denotation” or literal definition of the chosen word.
- Write Connotations for Your Selection
After highlighting the key parts of the denotation, think about how you can visually represent those concepts, and try to think of connotations (implied or associated meanings) for the word you chose. For instance, if we stick with the example of “umbrella,” you might end up with connotations like, “cover,” “shield,” “shelter,” “safeguard.” You can also look at thesaurus words to help you along in this process.Write down at least SIX connotative words to help guide you in your next design phases.
- Selection of visual symbols
Next you need to find image resources that will help you visualize your word. You can do internet searches for imagery, but you can also take your own photographs or find physical objects that you think might be a good basis for representing the concepts. Collect at least 6-8 images from which to draw ideas.
- Document and Upload
To document this process for full credit, fill out all portions of the “”template as prompted within the document, save as a PDF, and upload it to this “Project-3: Phase-1 for Concept Mapping” discussion board. It is worth 15% of your Project-3 grade. That template Illustrator file will require that you first scan the mind-map page or take a good photograph (not at a skewed angle and decent good lighting).
Student Examples of Phase 1 Documented Process Steps:
Turn It In
Turn in the assignment in our class’ Canvas discussion board for “P3: Phase-1” by uploading the pdf you generate from the documentation Illustrator template above.
Project 3 : Phase-2 “Drawing and iterative mark design”
(40% of Project-3)
In this phase you will take the research you did in Phase-1 and go from 1) translating a literal object to an abstract symbol, 2) hand sketches to digital comps, 3) selecting a single symbol for refinement, and 4) creating a final single-mark solution to convey your chosen concept.
1) Translating the images to sketches
Do some simple sketches that help you simplify the objects in the images. Dramatically reduce the graphic to its core formal components so that the image is based in simple point/line/plane geometric shapes similar to what you learned in Project-1. Identify the ways you can abstract the form enough to simplify it into an immediately “readable” graphic mark/icon while still retaining the meaning of the object you are trying to convey.
Capture your sketches digitally so that you can later add the image(s) to the documentation you need to turn in for credit on this step.
2) Translating the sketches to digital line art
After making at least 10 simple sketches on paper, draw at least one sketched symbol in Illustrator using shape tools, pen tools, and the Pathfinder or Live Paint tools. You are required to create at least four digital iterations of this single mark in Illustrator. These Phase-2 digital drawing should ONLY be in black and white (no color or midtowns allowed), and they should not have easily recognizable letters in them at all (so absolutely no full words). You are allowed to convert letterforms into shapes so that you can modify and manipulate them, but you cannot leave letters unaltered so that they immediately read as letters.
3) Mark Considerations
Be sure that when you are making your mark that you limit it at first to only black and white. Remember that logos should always have a black/white option that can scale without losing clarity or meaning. In a later phase we will focus on adding color and tones. The mark should be timeless and not something that would easily fall out of style with passing trends or evolving technologies.
4) Confining the mark (emblematizing)
After creating your mark, consider how to create it within an emblem, or a mark that requires a boundary. Think about how it would look in applications like iPhone or Android app buttons or icons on a computer. Consider also how it would look as a polo short or baseball cap insignia. How will it look on letterhead? Does your emblem solution provide enough containment?
5) Documenting and Uploading
Download the “” Illustrator file and place the appropriate elements within the documentation file where requested. Save a copy as a PDF and upload it as an attachment to this discussion with any comments you wish to share about your thought process you had while making the mark.
Student Examples of Phase 2 Documented Process Steps:
Project 3: Phase-3 “Modularity and Pattern”
(20% of Project-3 Grade)
This phase explores pattern-making using the brand mark as a foundation for recognition, consistency, and visual graphic interest. Special focus will be on grid systems, modularity, gestalt principle, rhythm, and concept implementation.
1) Creating the pattern
Copy your unaltered OR emblematized mark into a new Illustrator file. Begin exploring what happens when you deconstruct parts of your graphic mark, and arrange the artwork to create an evenly repeating, modular pattern. You can use the deconstruction along with the regular mark to create the pattern, but the original mark (i.e. BRAND) should still be understood when looking at the pattern.
This pattern should be even enough that it can be turned into a swatch and used as a fill on an object. Focus on continuity of meaning, rhythm, and balance. Do not add ANY color or tone to this pattern for this study. Color and tonality will come in the next/last phase of the project.
2) Documenting and uploading
Download the “” Illustrator file. Copy your original selected mark, your emblem mark, and your pattern from other files, and place them where indicated in the provided Phase 3 documentation template. Be sure to delete the old placeholder grouped objects in the template or simply turn off the visibility of those groups in the Layers panel.
Save a copy as a PDF and upload to our Canvas discussion for grading.
Student Examples of Phase 3 Documented Process Steps:
Project 3: Phase-4 “Color Inspiration, Sampling, Assignment”
(25% of Project-3 Grade)
In this phase you will learn ways to sample color in inspirational images and assign them using the PMS (Pantone Matching System) for spot color.
1) Sampling Color from Photograph
This step will require thoughtfulness about the meaning of your BRAND. Be sure to select colors that will keep the message consistent with your connotative words. To learn more about common color associations, read this “Color Symbolism and Culture” article.
Select two images, one warm and one cool, that you feel represents the color your mark and patterns could use to effectively convey their meaning. Using the eyedropper, sample colors and make swatches from them. You will ultimately select only two colors to use in the mark and up to three colors to use in the pattern.
Remember that you can check out http://paletton.com to experiment with these sample colors to identify your color schemes, too.
1) Adding color to the Mark
Once you settle on your colors, convert them to PMS color. Then create a two-color spot (Pantone) option of the mark. You will need to identify the specific PMS numbers and save the swatches in your file for use and documentation. You should also identify up to three tints of each (adding white/brightness/desaturation) but not shades that can be used in the icon. We will discuss why it can be easier and more practical to use tints with PMS colors based on screen pattern than adding shades. Adding tints means you need to stick to the very top-most edge of the color picker when selecting color within a hue range. Be deliberate about your choice of color scheme.
2) Adding color to the patterns
In addition you will also colorize your pattern, making TWO colorized version of the pattern. You have the option of using the same color scheme you used in step 1 for one of the color sets, while for the second version using a strict 3-color spot selection (with no tints or shades). One version of the pattern should be cool while the other should be warm.
If you want to make both patterns using strict 3-color spot, you can do so.
3) Documenting and uploading
Download the “” Illustrator file and place the appropriate elements within the documentation file where requested. Save a copy as a PDF and upload it as an attachment to the correspondingCanvas discussion.