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History of Graphic Design Timeline – Austin Northcutt

Graphic Art: based on drawing as opposed to painting, is parallel to fine art.  it is more linear, and includes printmaking techniques.  Design is the orderly arrangement of shapes and the composition into a unified whole.

Graphic Design: (Commercial Art) is a discipline of this century – with chemical pigments, computers, cameras, movie cameras, photocopying, montage – the using of mechanical aids.  It is the use of art commercially, with a clear way of communication – ‘What you see is what you get!’ – with no doubt as to the message.  It is closely linked with advertising.

William Morris was the founder of Graphic Art, bringing function together with aesthetics.  Between the Wars, the Bauhaas School was formed, to bring art and industry together, to show the importance of functional design.  The students learned the skills of both art and industry, e.g. to give aesthetics to chairs.  In 1936, before WWII, it disbanded in Germany to go to the safety of Switzerland and the U.S.A.

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Art and Craft of Printing – William Morris

Graphic Art is information conveyed without a doubt.  It is involved with 2D imagery, and includes film, posters, billboards, magazines, photos – in fact any still image on a 2D surface.  It is a 2D media.  Graphic Art is the visual media of advertising, highly dependent on the illustration or image and lettering or typography, e.g. a cartoon is Graphic Art, as graphic illustration is usually narrative.  Sometimes they need words as well as images to help put across the message.

16th Century book designers were the first real Graphic artists.  With the onset of literacy for the populace books were needed, and scribes produced these, not merely pages of words, but aesthetically pleasing pages.  The development of the printing press was a further jump – placing words on the pages with borders, taking care of the shapes of the letters.

The two major areas of Graphic Art are illustration and typography.

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White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland – illustrated by John Tenniel

Illustration: is not so much the technique, but the intentions – often linear, painted descriptively, and/or narratively.  It is when picture images are used for conveying specific information – Norman Rockwell illustrated the covers of the Saturday Post.  Methods used include painting, drawing, computer graphics, photos, or film, and can be kinetic – all to create art in the commercial sense.

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Saturday Evening Post covers -Norman Rockwell 

It used to be used to illustrate the written word, e.g. Egyptian entombing pictures, Greek pictures of healing herbs.  Romans illustrated aquaducts and architecture with perfect perspective, yet their frescos and mosaics didn’t use it.  In the Middle Ages, prayer books (psalters) were illustrated with informative images.  Leonardo drew pictures (of helicopters) where no words were available.  Early illustration used woodblock prints (Durer), then on to etching and printmaking.  In the 17th Century the Japanese produced multi-coloured woodcuts, which were adapted by the French Impressionists in the 19th Century.

The 20th Century Graphic artists made use of cameras, films, videos, lithography, compasses, rulers, photocopiers, and computers to help with the clarity of the detail.  They also had the availability of chemically produced pigments such as Cobalt Blue and Cadmium Red.  Each page has a visual impact of its own, but is allied to the page beside it.

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Chinese Characters with Pictures

Lettering:  In the Dark Ages hand printing or copying was done by monks.  In the 20th Century, between the Wars, there was more awareness of typography, of the quality of the words and letters themselves – e.g. curvilinear letters and style for love letters, typed letters for complaints, scribbled letters for shopping lists.  The quality of the written letters imparts feelings.  The Japanese and Chinese created their characters of calligraphy to have a quality of visual as well as for meaning.  Oriental calligraphic idiograms are called Characters: Egyptians calligraphic idiograms are called Glyphs.  The visual aspect of letters imparts a content – varying widths, spacing, curvilinear or rectilinear are all taken into account.  The letters are seen as shapes to be used as an artistic element in the design.  The art element of letters is manipulated when words are created visually.

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NewModern Typeface Design – Sawdust

Jud House  17/10/2016

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Deer in the Forest 1. 1913 – Franz Marc


FRANZ MARC – DEER IN THE FOREST 1. – 1913 – oil on canvas.

Franz Marc abstracted his subject of deer in the forest, playing with colour, shapes and symbols to create an image which represented the ‘harmonious co-existence of all living creatures.’  Despite the abstract nature of the composition the subject is still recognisable by the viewer, both with or without the title.

He used line cleverly – the contour lines around the heads and bodies of the deer, and the head and wings of the bird – flowing curvilinear lines for the branches of the trees, which also act as directional lines leading the eyes of the viewer around the composition, down to the deer, across to the bird, back to the central tree, which is the Tree of Life.  The edges formed by the trees against the background form another type of line.

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He used organic shapes to define the subject, creating them with line, colour and texture on the trees on the far left and right.  The deer on the lower left have an underlying triangular shape, while the larger triangular shapes are formed from the central lower deer, to the right mid-level deer, then down to the lower right corner; and from the lower left deer, to the leaf, then to the mid-level right deer.  The background is comprised of geometric shapes, created mainly by colour, and the lines where they abut.

While he used colour descriptively – the fawn of the deer, the grey/white of the trees, the red of the sunset, the deep blue of the sky, top right, to depict the onset of night, the warm grey and blue of the bird – he also used the colours for the forest in the background expressively, working with analogous greens, blues and yellows subtly, yet occasionally touching this area with the contrasting red.  He had, of course, used red boldly as a focal point in the colour-play of the composition.

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I feel that this composition is partly closed, by the use of the design stops in the trees on the left and right – yet partly open, as these trees go beyond the lower and upper edges of the canvas, and the ground along the base of the composition is not a visual barrier.  I believe the composition has several focal points – the colour red, already mentioned; the group of deer lower left; the dark green leaf on the central tree; and to a lesser extent the white area behind the same tree; and the deer on the right.

The composition is balanced asymetrically, and almost approximately, with the axis line just to the left of the central tree.  It is balanced both colourwise, and in areas of interest – the busy area of the deer balancing the busy area of the curly branches.  The intensity of the red, dark blue and yellow areas is balanced by the areas of less intensity of the deer and ground.  The values of the dark and the soft/light in these same areas is also balanced.

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A feeling of movement is created by the diagonal line of the bird, while the trees appear static.  The deer are both.  The right deer appears to be turning back towards the other group – its body and head are on the diagonal.  The upper two deer in the main group also seem to have movement by their angularity, but the lower deer appear calm by their curved shapes and near horizontal lines.

The composition is loaded with symbolism – the Tree of Life in the centre, with love-knots in its branches to encompass the other forest trees, providing shelter for the birds and the beasts.  The descending night, the red-yellow glow, symbolically adds further protection for the deer, which he sees as symbolising virginity and innocence.  The single green leaf on the Tree of Life symbolises new growth and hope, anticipation of life to come.  The bird appears to be an owl, symbolising wisdom flying in to settle in the Tree of Life.  I can also see what I believe is the symbol for Man – the circle at the top of the green cylinder, lower right, seems to have an arrow leading out and up towards the deer on the right.  This, to me, represents Man as being a part of nature with the capabilities of co-existing in harmony with his environment.  This message is still valid today.

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He has created a feeling of shallow space by overlapping the various components – bird over left tree, left and right trees over deer, deer over central tree, and that tree in front of diagonal lines in the red area which are suggestive of foliage.  Also, by the use of the dominant red area he has created a sense of that warmth coming forward, compressing the space in front of it.  The viewer is shown an image which appears to end just beyond the Tree of Life.

This is a delightful painting.  As the title suggests, Marc created further forest paintings, abstracting the images more intensely and vividly as you will see if you Google his Franz Marc/Paintings.

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Deer in the Forest II ;            Roe Deer in the Forest;    

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Deer in the Flower Garden     

PS: I added the smaller pics between the text to make it easier for you to find the artistic elements I describe without contstantly scrolling back.
If you choose to quote from this blog please cite the URL in your Bibliography. Thanks.

C) Jud House  2/09/2016

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Definitions for ART and DESIGN + Examples

ELEMENTS:  are point, line, shape,value and texture.
On their own they have no meanings, but jointly create visual messages, called Principles.


PRINCIPLES:  are contrast, repetition, subordination and harmony.
These are created by combining the Elements of Art.

POINT:  is the smallest visible entity, a set place in space, an indication of location, and can create strong visual energy.
One point indicates location; two points imply measurement and
direction; multiple points imply location, measurement, and direction; while different point sizes create all of the above plus vibration.




LINE:  can be described as a path left by a moving point, i.e. a path of action.
It indicates a position and a direction.  Energy travels its length and is intensified at each end.  Most important is directional force.
Horizontal:   supporting lines – stable.
Vertical:  gravitational pull – implied.
Diagonal:  dynamic, implying action.
Lines can be straight, curved, thick, thin, direct, indirect, unbroken, broken, and implied.

There is no absolute QUALITY of any visual unit.  Every element is influenced by its environment and any inter-relations which are operating – e.g.straight line illusions.


A Cheer                                                  2. A Screech
3 A Death                                                             4 Deviousness

5 Gentleness                                                      6 Breathlessness

7 Out of Line                                        8 Line of Least Resistance

9 Breadline

LINE IN SPACE:  Changing one parameter at a time.




SHAPE:  awareness of the space within and the space outside of outlines.
Also of positive/negative relationships, figure/field reversal, and shape/space support.  Shapes can be either static or dynamic.

VALUE:  the relative lightness or darkness of surfaces.
Also called tone, tonal scales,tints and shades, tonal values.  It is the means by which we show volume on a 2D surface.  No values are absolute.

KEY:  is a balance between High, Intermediate and Low Values, i.e. lights and darks, within the whole work.
High is light, Intermediate is medium, and Low is dark.  Can be used to create moods within a work, e.g. happy, sombre.

TEXTURE:  is the tactile quality of a surface, or the representation of the quality.
Texture can be actual or implied.

PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN:  involve the character or quality of relationships within the work and between the work and its surroundings.
We will deal with proportion; repetition and rhythm; unity with variety; contrast; and emphasis and subordination.

PROPORTION:  a ‘rapport’ between two dimensions – can have meaning without any sense of measurement.
Size relationship of parts to each other and parts to the whole.
Golden Mean/ Golden Proportion/ Golden Section: naturally occurring proportion – is the rate of all growth in the world. 1:1.618 or close to 5/8ths.
Fibonacci Series:  2; 3; 5; 8; 13; 21; 34; 55; 89; etc.  Take any rwo numbers and draw a rectangle e.g. 5 x 8 cms or 8 x 13 cms.  It also has its basis in nature.
5:8 = 10 x 16 or 2.5 x 4

UNITY WITH VARIETY:  is the appearance of oneness – with some diversity, which can be value, shape, texture, colour, or scale change.

CONTRAST:  is the interaction of contradictory elements, e.g. contrast of shape with unity of colour, or vica versa.

EMPHASIS & SUBORDINATION:  Emphasis establishes a centre of interest, while subordination supports a centre of interest.

Jud House  1/09/2016

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Q:   How does Cubist space differ from Renaissance space?

A:    To the uninformed viewer Renaissance space appears to be ‘very real’; to the artistically aware it has depth created by either linear or atmospheric perspective, or both; while to the art historian it reflects the emergence of a new scientific and humanist approach to art in its various forms.

In Pre-Renaissance times art was based on theology, with depictions of significant religious scenes concentrating on the narrative rather than the visual reality.  ‘Renaissance humanists did not discard theological concerns, but reaffirmed the human dimension, respected scientific exploration, and cultivated the classical literature of Greece and Rome.’ (Artforms, Prebble, p. 319) The Greeks had used the idealized physical form in their art, while the Romans had concentrated on physical accuracy in man and animal.  This return to naturalistic depiction began at the end of the 13th century with Giotto, in Italy, but gradually spread throughout Europe.

By studying light, anatomy and geometry the artists were able to imply deep space on the flat surface, by the creation of linear perspective.  Van Eyck introduced linseed oil as a medium, and as a result of the flexibility and consistency it gave, was able to paint ‘in minute detail, achieving an illusion of depth, directional light, mass, rich implied textures, and the physical likenesses of particular people’ (ibid, p. 321) as in his painting GIOVANNI ARNOLFINI AND HIS BRIDE. (ibid, p. 320 #425)

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Giovanni Arnolfini and his Bride – Van Eyck;            Birth of Venus – Botticelli

Patinir created atmospheric perspective – the illusion of receding distance in landscape painting – by using ‘warm brownish colors and strong value contrast in the foreground [shifting] through greens to light blue-green cool colors in the distance.’ (ibid, p. 322)  Durer added careful observation, and Lippi added worldly dimension to religious art, while Botticelli used lyric grace to depict his unclothed figures of Greek mythology as in his painting BIRTH OF VENUS. (ibid, p. 324 #429)  Lippi was among the first of the Florentine artists to use local models, like the children in his painting MADONNA AND CHILD, showing a religious image but with human emotions – the humanist approach.  he also manipulated scale to show receding distance, and linear perspective in the architrave of the window.

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Adoration of the Magi – Durer;   Madonna and Child  – Lippi       

Thus the Renaissance space was naturalistic, created by both geometrical principles and colour and value graduations, the creation of chiaroscuro in depicting the human form realistically, the face of which would display human emotions and portray an actual person.

Cubist space, on the other hand, was the opposite – giving no illusion of depth at all.  Rather the artists concentrated on promoting the flatness of the picture plane.  This concept was gradually developed by Picasso and Braque, the former influenced by the primitive abstract sculptures of Africa and the oceanic region.  He used ‘the fractured triangulation of forms and the merging of figure and ground . . . which led to the style known as cubism’. (ibid, p. 384)

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Gardanne – Cezanne;            Houses at L’Estaque – Braque;    

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            Maisons sur la Colline – Picasso

The return to the use of the flat picture plane was a gradual process during the Post-Impressionist era, with Cezanne, using multiple planes in his painting GARDANNE (ibid, p. 385 #501), being an important onfluence onthe development of Cubism.  But while Cezanne was a Colourist, Picasso and Braque worked monochromatically, concentrating on the formal structure of the paintings, without the distraction of the emotions evoked by colour.  Thus Braque’s painting HOUSES AT L’ESTAQUE (ibid, p.384 #500) and Picasso’s painting MAISONS SUR LA COLLINE (ibid, P. 385 #502) are analogous and monochromatic abstractions of similar subject matter, showing the build-up of geometric forms rhythmically in a very shallow space.

Gradually the subject matter became even less important, merely a jumping-off point for the geometric shapes with and underlying it. ‘Cubism is a re-creation of objects, based on perceptions of mental and visual geometry.’ (ibid, p. 385)  This era of development was called Analytical Cubism, where the artists analyzed their subjects from multiple angles, showing them as the eye perceives them. By 1910, when Picasso painted PORTRAIT OF DANIEL HENRY KAHNWEILER (ibid, p. 386 #503), in which the image spread across the surface as a series of interlocking planes, angles, lights and darks rather than being recognisable as Kahnweiler, Cubism had become a fully developed style.

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Guitar – Picasso;       Three Musicians – Picasso; 

With the taking of Cubism into sculpture, when Picasso created his sheet-metal GUITAR (ibid, p. 388 #506) it became constructed as well as carved and modelled.  By introducing colour, texture, pattern, and cut-outs to their Cubism, Picasso and Braque developed Synthetic Cubism.  The space was still shallow or flat, but the images were built-up with collage work or various papers, and materials; and they used over-lapping of forms and colours to imply shallow space.  Picasso’s painting THREE MUSICIANS (ibid, p. 390 #510) is in the flat Synthetic Cubist style, influenced by cut-out shapes of collage.  Braque’s painting THE ROUND TABLE demonstrated the mixture of Analytical and Synthetic Cubism – the former due to the merging of the subject with the background planes in the top section, and the latter by the ‘cut-out’ nature of the table and items it held – collage-like.  Duchamp, with his painting NUDE DESCENDING A STAIRCASE (ibid, p. 394 #515)  – one of my favourite Cubist paintings – added a sense of movement to Cubism, by showing all phases of an action at the same time – like still photographs superimposed.  The work was very linear, yet consisted of simple body planes, monochromatic colour and flat space.

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The Round Table – Braque       Nude Descending a Staircase – Duchamp

Thus Cubist space shows no illusion to depth whatsoever, with its sometimes shallow space being created by overlapping, and the advancing and receding of various colours, rather than as an attempt to create depth.  Renaissance space, however, was a deliberate attempt to create the illusion of depth, by using both geometric means ( linear perspective), colour (atmospheric perspective) and value (chiaroscuro) manipulations.

NB:  If you choose to quote from this blog, please use its URL in your Bibliography.

(C) Jud House  1/09/2016

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