World Wide Western News Logo

I designed this logo for our radio program group using gimp. I had a rough plan at the outset, a circle with w’s twisted to different angles, but I did not like the outcome. So, I just experimented keeping things I liked any moving on until it looked complete. I used one of the western fonts I had downloaded for other projects to make the w’s. I created a slogan of sorts and stuck it on the design. I was satisfied with it all, but since .jpg cannot handle transparencies, I had to add a background circle to the whole thing to make it complete. Here is the result,

Quality Cards

For this assignment, I decided to make use of the fact that since I need a commercial for the radio show, I might as well get some stars for the week making one. I have mixed feelings about the final product. Probably some of that is due to the lack of copyright free music that I can use. Maybe I need to acquire some musical talent and make my own…  Also, I tried to make it sound like the spoke person and the commercial announcer were different people, but I don’t know that I modified my own voice to really sell that. It was difficult to do without making my voice sound unnatural. To create the project, I found a song on freesound.org, looped it in audacity, they set about recording a few takes of the script I had written. I used a tutorial on youtube about how to improve the quality of my recording, the success of which I am still up in the air about. Then I cut, edited, refined, and re positioned tracks until it was all in order, and I uploaded it to soundcloud.

Merrell’s original adventure.

So, for this assignment, I am supposed to tell ann important life story in under two minutes. I decided to put a little twist on it, however, and do it from the perspective of my character, Merrell Shale. This story is his account of the story I included in his background that accounts for how he got to the life he is leading now. Completing the assignment was rather easy now that I am becoming proficient with audacity. I recorded the track, leaving useful spaces between sections to make edits easier. Any time I made a mistake, I just paused, they read that section of script over so I could edit out the bad section.  I used some effects, normalizer, noise reduction, compressor and equalizer, to improve the overall quality of the recording.

Week 7: Radio report and assorted assignments.

So, this week was a bit slower than weeks previous. We made in some headway in at least laying a bit of a road map for creating our radio show, more details about which are here.
I also put my design skills to use, limited though they are, and designed a logo for our radio show group.
My daily creates for the week were pretty interesting. The video to record myself making a Foley sound effect pushed me to try some rudimentary video editing techniques using windows movie maker and audacity to handle and fine tune the audio. My western triple troll meme got a couple likes and a share. Not that that is significant, but it is nice to see when people enjoy my work.
For assignments this week, I earned my first 3.5 stars completing an audio assignment that, while it did not either apply to my character or create anything useful for the radio program, was just a lot of fun to do.
For my next assignment worth 4 stars, I decided to get a bit of a head start on my radio show work and create a commercial for my made up brand of playing cards.
For my final 3 stars to put me at 10.5 for the week and 7 involving my character, I decided to do a life story bit from his perspective based on a portion of the background I have him earlier.

Nascent western news program.

This week we made a little headway toward getting our radio program put together. The first part was getting the groups together, which was a little easier than I had expected that it would be. We quickly went about throwing out topics and show ideas and such until we came up with something that sounded like it would make an interesting show, and Julianna came up with a group name.
With that official business out of the way, we discussed some strategies and ideas on what we want to include and how we want to divvy the work. That discussion is still ongoing, but it at least has enough direction that I can start giving some thought to how I want to proceed. I think that we have enough ideas floating about that now it is down to each of us just taking want we want and making our own contributions to the work. In the end, I think that so long as everyone in our group makes their contributions, that the whole idea will lend to a well thought out and fun to listen to ds106 radio program.

Doobie Polyphony

So, for this assignment, I decided to relive a bit of my own past in a way. Back when I worked as a line cook at Applebee’s, the other cooks and I would sing the end of Doobie Brothers’ Black Water in a polyphony pretty frequently. So, when I saw this audio assignment, I knew that was what I had to do. But, with just me, it takes a little more to round it all out. So, I recorded myself singing 3-4 tracks of each of the two sections. Then I layered the section to start 1.5 second off each other for the first part and 3 seconds off for the second part. I noticed that the noise was a little intense at times and that it was detracting from the effect, I had the tracks alternate left and right channel so that people listening in stereo will hear a sort of fade back and forth.  Here is the final product.

Week 6: Design Matters

This week has been all about design. Because of a class I took earlier, some of it has been just a reinforcement and refresher, which is actually pretty useful given a natural tendency to forget things I do not use. I think to this point, the rule of thirds, rules about typography, and dominance were about the only aspects of design I could recall. Reading the post for the weeks was therefore interesting and helpful, especially the run through on the concepts of design. Hopefully because it is all rehashed information, and because this class focuses on a different usage of those concepts than just designing magazine spreads and flyers in Adobe InDesign, I will retain more of it this time around.
The first things I did was go though the readings and material for the weeks and write a couple of blogs about it all. I appreciated Vignelli’s abstract tone but rather straight forward message about the importance of design and what separates good from bad. He dispelled some important misconceptions, e.g. that more is better, that good design is costly and bad design is not, and that there are less important elements of design that require less attention. That blog post is here. The next thing I did was, using the information I garnered from the readings, examined western design in all its various forms and blogged about it here. I put all the principles and elements discussed here to use in my design blitz

For assignments this week, of the mandatory options, I chose the digital reflection. I tried to use some design elements to represent something meaningful in the photo, but I don’t know that on its own, the design properly conveys what I am saying. Design is sometimes like trying to write in a new foreign language, a few misused words and the meaning changes entirely.

The next assignment for my first 3 stars was  the 4 icon story which really illustrated how just a small amount of meaningful imagery and design can convey a far more complex, albeit coded, message. Plus, it was a lot of fun.

For my next four stars and to make sure I had at least one 4 star or higher assignment, I made a popular character venn diagram. The design elements are rather simplistic and I wish I could have thought up a better way to represent it all, but I do think that the design reinforces the overall content of the image.

My final assignment for 3.5 stars, to put me at a total of 10.5 not including the mandatory assignment, was making a design that conveys a catchphrase. It was fun and an exciting opportunity to learn a few new tricks in gimp.

For my daily creates this week, It was mostly just some photo edits with a little creativity. The new skill I worked on this week was how to create engraved wood for my old trail sign. I found a tutorial on youtube that helped out. I made mine a little darker for readability, and tried to incorporate some of this weeks design elements. I used proportions and the rule of thirds for the sign placement. I sought out a nice western font, one that included an @ and ? symbol, so that I could have consistent typography that tied into our western theme, and I gave the whole photo a western trail feel. For the heading west, I made my albeit lame joke visual by adding an absurd amount of sunscreen to my photo for all the fishing I’d be doing.

For participation, this week, here are a few of the comments of which I kept track. Here, and here, and here, and here. I also commented on a few other pieces of work from those people and some other places earlier in the week that I did not keep track of.

Vignelli’s advice

In the publication, Vignelli took a rather abstract tone, which given the subject matter, seemed entirely applicable. I took a digital design course once as a part of my journalism major at Wichita State University where we covered, although using a different frame work and different terminology, many of the thing that Vignelli discussed. Before that class, I thought of design as, at most, choosing a color and layout that caught people’s eye, or didn’t. Discussing the use of space, typography, the way that certain elements of design appeal in different ways, and so on was, at the time, foreign. Now, I am certainly still a novice at design by any means of the term, but I have now, at least, developed a sense to look at some piece of design and make judgements about why a designer might have chosen to do what they have done.
The element of design that I never considered before was just how deliberate, purposeful, and even communicative it is. Design conveys meaning and delivers a message just like verbiage, and those messages need to enhance or compliment one another.
As for the deliberate aspect, Vignelli argues in his booklet that no element of a design ought to be decided or created arbitrarily; every element has a purpose and if they do not, then they may be undermining the purpose of the work. As he put it, there is no hierarchy of design. Placement, colors, typography, shapes, and so forth all work together to accomplish a common aim, to convey a message.
As is the case for any message medium, there are senders and receivers, and the differences between them make it difficult to understand the impact of the message. In the way that a writer need be conscious of how particular words evoke certain feelings and thoughts in people reading them, a designer needs to be aware of how each of their design choices either reinforces or contradicts their message, and to keep it consistent. Design is art and art is communication. It necessary contains a subject, a medium, and an audience and a good designer is constantly aware of the impact of their design choices on all three.

Don’t leave your catchphrases out in the elements.

For this assignment, I started by picking a character with a catchphrase from a show that I enjoy. It took a minute to come up with one, but once I thought about this line, I knew it was perfect. I made a few changes in my initial design decision, but the basic theme remained the same.
After I had the idea, it was simply a matter of creating it in Gimp. I try, every week, to use software to do something I have never done. I am glad this course is inspiring me to expend my GIMP repertoire. So, this week, I used this tutorial from youtube to learn how to create ice text. I downloaded a copy of the front front the show, and I got to work. There were several steps in the process, and I won’t go through them all because the tutorial explains it all much better than I can. After I completed that, it was a matter of adding the necessary context to the text to make the catchphrase, which I did by adding a thought bubble. I like this one enough, I think I will share it on facebook. Here is the result.

On a side note, I just realized that Flickr is turning my .png’s into .jpgs and reducing the quality. I guess they don’t like the image data size. I will go back to exporting jpg’s, but of larger sizes to preserve at least some of the lost quality, even though .jpg is a lossy format.

One additional realization here…. I made a mistake and had to edit it out, and because I had not paid careful attention the kerning of the text, there is actually a place where the letters had overlapped that is, to me at least, a bit of an eyesore. Every element of text matters.

Primary Characters.

So, for this assignment there were two basic elements that went into completing it. The first, and by far the most difficult was thinking up the content. I had the idea to put Tyrion in the center right from the beginning, but I had some trouble thinking of ways to describe him that let me come up with other characters. In particular, short and rich gave me trouble until I thought of Scrooge and the whole thing came together. I tried at first to keep it to just Game of Thrones characters, but I couldn’t think of any way to get the content. I may do this assignment again in the future if I think of something for it.
The next aspect of the assignment, however, was to design it and put it together. I chose the primary color mix because I felt like the mixtures are familiar and understandable. It took a few methods to get the colors to mix the way I wanted, and in the end, I had to lay other colors over the top in a few spots. I just created the three circles on their own layers and dropped the opacity to 50 percent. I then duplicated each colored ring and put them over but in a different order to blend the colors better. I layered the text of the same font but two different sizes over the top of it all, and tried to position is uniformly. This is the result.