Assignment #2

Aural Topographies : Visualizing Sound

Problem: Create black and white compositions using networks of line to demonstrate an understanding of visual rhythm. These compositions will attempt to visualize sounds and music and uncover the relationships between what you hear and what you see.

Limits: variations of line.

Materials: Creative Process Book, pencils, marking pens, Bristol Board 9×6″, Bristol Board 14×17”, old newspaper/magazines, scissors, exacto knife, ruler/t-square, glue.

Concepts: Line, Rhythm, Repetition, Monotony, Variety, Pattern

Technical Skills: thumbnail sketching, mark-making, draughmanship with ruler/t-square, inking pens, exacto knife and collage.

References: Anita Lillie | Design MeltdownWassily Kandinsky & Music


  1. Research /  Inspiration (DUE Class 6)
    • Listen to your favorite piece of music.
    • Designate a new section of your Creative Process Book and write ‘Aural Topographies : Visualizing Sound’. Compose a minimum 2-paragraph description of the sounds and patterns you hear. Imagine what these sounds look like and how they relate to each other and describe them in these terms.
  2. Experimentation / Iteration (DUE Class 6)
    Line Networks : Monotony and Variety
    • In class we will start work on two drawings in pencil on 9×12″ bristol. The first drawing will demonstrate monotony by visualizing a song with very little variety and contrast. The second drawing will visualize a song that has variety and obvious changes in meter, pitch, and timbre. Both drawings will use a network of repeated lines to demonstrate the use of visual pattern, repetition and rhythm.
    • Monotony Line Network: To begin this drawing, simply create a contour line (a closed shape) on the page and outline the shape until you reach the edge of the paper. Continue creating the “vibrations” of this line until the entire page is filled with lines. Try to keep your lines consistent and evenly spaced. Use one type of pencil for the whole drawing- perhaps a medium weight.
    • Variety Line Network: Start drawing as soon as you hear the music start. Let your pencil move freely until you hear the rhythm of the song change. Either change the direction of your line or start a new line or contour shape. Notice how easy it is to create variety and how quickly your drawing become clustered, chaotic and confused. Let this happen. Experiment with variety of line weights in your Variety composition.
    • If you finish these drawings in class, create another set using inking pens. Make sure with these final drawings you take the entire page into consideration thinking about the figure/ground, unity, and economy.
      • 2 Monotony Line Networks (1 pencil, 1 ink)
      • 2 Variety Line Networks (1 pencil, 1 ink)
  3. Expression of Form, Emotions, or Concepts (DUE Class 7)
    Staccato / Legato Patterns
    • Take out 2 sheets 9×11″ Bristol and a soft pencil #3B.
    • Listen to the first bit of this song: Another One Bites the Dust and draw a line representing its rhythm across your first sheet of paper.
    • Listen to the first bit of this song: Summertime and draw a line representing its rhythm across your second sheet paper.
    • Using the line network technique from last class, create an interesting pattern to cover the entire pieces of paper. Vary the weight (think and thin) of the lines and spacing (tight and wide) between the lines.

    Rhythmic Relations

    • Materials Needed: 2 sheets 14×17″ Bristol, ruler/t-square, pencils, inking pens.
    • Measure a 1 inch margin all the way around your paper.
    • Take your very best figure-ground composition from Assignment #1. Using a #2H pencil sketch the contours of the composition elements/shapes, but don’t fill them in.
    • Using your inking pens create a variety of line patterns in the black areas of the original composition. Types of line patterns could be made from horizontal, vertical, diagonal, organic, or a combination. The goal is to develop variety of repeated “sounds” or rhythmic patterns in the composition, but still keep the successful figure-ground relationship and unity overall.
    • Create a second version of this composition, this time filling in all shapes (figure and ground) with appropriate line patterns. This means that an area that was white in your original composition would have a very light or widely spaced line pattern, where as an area that was originally black, would have a very dense or dark line pattern.
    • In this exercise each pattern should be repeated at least once and should relate to its neighbors, subtly building an overall mood– like a piece of music.

    Mores Code Pattern Grids (Part 1)

    • Take out (1) sheet 9×11″ Bristol and a hard pencil #3H.
    • Measure and cut (9) 3″x3″ squares.
    • Divide each square into (9) more squares, 1″x1″ and set aside.
    • Take a magazine with a lot of text (New Yorker is good) and cut a 1″x1″ square all the way through. You will need at least 81 text squares. You should probably cut extra, just in case.
    • Use your black inking pens to black out the text of 1/2 the squares, so that it looks similar to morse code patterns. Vary the line length and type (short, long, etc.) Think of the line patterns you create as a series of sounds. Refer to the Morse Code Translator and listen to a few examples.
    • Arrange a combination of 9 plain text squares and morse code squares in nine-square grids on the (9) 3″x3″ bristol squares. Create different compositions using each of these grid types: [[ Use this FILE for reference ]]
    • Imagine each gridded box as a page in a publication. Create a variation of line and pattern relationships from square to square (horizontal, vertical, long lines, short lines, dots, etc.)
    • Once you have all nine 3″x3″ compositions arranged, carefully glue each 1″x1″ text square to the bristol grid. Attention to craft and detail is very important here.

    Mores Code Pattern Grids (Part 2)

    • Take an all-text page from a magazine. Cut it precisely with an exacto knife along the edge of the magazine binding.
    • Using your black inking pens black out all the text on the page so that it looks similar to morse code patterns. This time taking notice of the negative (white) space on the page. Notice how line and pattern are created in the space around the blacked-out text.
    • Somewhere on the page, spell out the name of your favorite person, place, or line of a poem or song using the Morse Code Translator.
    • Make sure you create an unified composition. This means that you may need to go back and re-work your drawing to make sure the position/negative space successfully interrelate and you have achieved both variety and unity within the grid.
    • Keep this drawing well-protected.
    • References:
      Morse Code History
  4. Thoughtful Assessment (verbal and written)
    • Bring all assignment parts to class, protected in a portfolio case or protective paper or cardboard envelope.
    • Be prepared to present, discuss and analyze your finished work in terms of concept, craft, what you learned, and creative process.
    • State the following: your name, what you are presenting (title and design problem), which parts are successful and why, which parts are unsuccessful and why.

    Written Assessment: In your Creative Process Book, at the end of the Assignment #2 section, document your thoughts about this project. Think about what you learned, what you could have done better (planning, material use, craft), and how you will apply what you learned to your next project.

  5. Work Hour Tally
    • In your Creative Process Book, outline the hours committed for each portion of the assignment, including dates and times.