2D Design: Balancing Variety

About the Project

This project’s goal is to expand upon my knowledge of the principles of design including unity & variety, emphasis, value, and balance. It will expand on my knowledge by stretching the variables in a composition while still maintaining order, balance and harmony. The process we are tasked to follow is to compose thumbnails digitally and then choose one of the thumbnails we created to create using ink wash and paper. I was restricted to using no more than six shapes of any kind, using only black, white, and values of gray.

My Process

Panels are numbered left to right from top to bottom 1-12 for reflection purposes below.

So to begin, I started creating thumbnails on Adobe Illustrator. My process was really simple, I just created anything that I could image. I used very simple designs and very complicated designs. I experimented with gradients, as well as overlapping different values of gray with different transparency levels. I knew that transferring my final image to an ink and paper medium would be much harder than it would be to create my project digitally so I felt the need to create something simple, but still visually interesting. I printed out five samples to choose between for my ink wash: thumbnails 2, 4, 6, 11, and 12. The thumbnail I finalized and chose to use for my ink wash replication was thumbnail 4.

Ink Wash

As you can see, there are some obvious differences between the two mediums. My digital copy has much cooler tones of black, white, and gray, and is much cleaner than my ink wash. The ink wash was a very difficult medium for me, especially when creating clean lines, because using a brush and ink is very difficult to master with only a few hours prior of experience. I started my ink wash by first attempting to start with my darkest value (the rectangle to the left) and then restarting my composition on a new sheet to attempt a different technique. My second draft, I started with my darkest value once again but attempted to use a ruler and a much finer brush. After I completed this shape, I started with my background value, which, in order to create, I started by outlining all of my shapes with a value much too light purposely, so that I could manipulate this shade and make it darker if needed. After that, I began slowly building up the value of my background layer by layer to make sure it looked as even as possible while also being sure the value didn’t get too dark. After I finished the background, I started with the three rectangles which all are different shades in the middle of my composition. Each bar I filled in separately, and then afterwards I filled in the part which does not overlap with the white rectangle with the background value since in my digital composition, these bars were somewhat transparent. Lastly, I finished off my composition by retouching any problematic spots I saw in my composition.


The essential objective of this assignment  was not only to understand the principles of design but also to understand the way in which not all mediums create the same results. For example, my digital composition had much cooler tones than my ink wash, which had much warmer tones. What I learned from this project is that in order to replicate one composition from one medium to another, you must be very precise and understand that it is very difficult to perfect your results. I also learned from this project that a fine-art medium such as ink wash on paper is just as valuable to a graphic designer as it is to a fine artist. The same can be said about digital medium, that a fine artist can be just as valuable as handmade mediums such as ink wash. I knew this project would be difficult for me because I am not very experienced with ink wash or really any water-based paint, and I knew that it would be much harder for me to create my ink wash composition than it would be for me to create my digital composition. It was not very frustrating to me to work with this medium, however, because I approached it knowing it would be difficult, and took my time making the best product that I could. The inspiration behind my composition really came from a prism, the way in which the color black absorbs all color and the color white reflects all color, I chose to use this concept to convey a sort of balanced scale of variety in color. What I learned about myself in this project is that just because a project did not frustrate me, does not mean I achieved the best results that I could have. I believe that if I attempted my ink wash composition another time I would have obtained a better result than what I settled on, but because I didn’t have time outside of class to work on the ink wash portion of this project, I didn’t attempt a third draft. Overall, I am content with how my composition turned out, but I am still not completely satisfied with it at the same time.