August 30th, 2018

Materials needed for THIS CLASS (see Supply List for details):

** Note: if you are unable to afford these items due to financial aid delays, please make arrangements with a classmate to borrow or share supplies.


The Elements: basic components used as part of any composition, independent of the medium.

  1. Point: An element that has position (x,y), but no extension or mass. A series of points forms a line, a mass of points becomes a shape.
    Seurat La Parade detail | Seurat La Parade du Cirque
  2. Line: An series of points, which has length and direction. It can be the connection between two points, the space between shapes, or the path of a moving point. A closed line creates a shape.
    Mondrian | Klee | Norman McLaren
  3. Shape: Created by line (contour) or a grouping of points, it is an area that is separate from other areas, defined by its perimeter.
    | Gris | Gris | Jacob Lawrence
  4. Organic shape: is one that resembles the flowing contours of an organism.
  5. Geometric shape:  such as circles, triangles or squares often have precise, uniform measurements.

The Principles: basic assumptions that guide the design practice.

  1. Frame: This boundary (rectangle, square, circle) is represented by the edges of the paper or the margins drawn within.
  2. Figure (positive space): The shape of a form that serves as a subject in a composition.
    Craig Stephens | Matisse
  3. Ground (negative space): The space surrounding a positive shape or form; sometimes referred to as ground, empty space, field, or void.
    Matisse | Rubin’s vase
  4. Figure/Ground: The relationship between positive and negative space.
    MC Escher | GDBasics
  5. Obvious (stable) Figure/Ground:  A figure/ground relationship that exists when a form stands clearly apart from its background.
    John Currin | Rousseau
  6. Ambiguous Figure/Ground: A figure/ground relationship that challenges the viewer to find a point of focus. The figure and ground seem unclear.
    Casa Rex | Turner Duckworth (Coco Cola Campaign)

STUDENT EXAMPLES: Can you determine which image demonstrates Obvious and Ambiguous Figure/Ground? And why? Are they all successful or could some be improved? How?
Example 1 | Example 2

Let’s look at some professional design examples from 2017

OpenLab Refresher

  1. Create an OpenLab account and/or sign in.
  2. Join our OpenLab COMD1100 Student Blog

Design Process Introduction

Project 1: Urban Artifacts

Phase 1: Discover

  • Together we will walk around the College building.
  • Along the way you will be looking for small “urban artifacts” — detritus, objects or fragments of objects that have been discarded, lost, or destroyed.
  • Compose 6 photographic compositions:
    • 3 compositions should demonstrate an obvious figure/ground relationship

      Obvious figure/ground example

    • 3 compositions should demonstrate an ambiguous figure/ground relationship

      Ambiguous figure/ground example

Post to the Class Blog:


  • Look at the images of the objects you discovered on your Urban Archaeology Walk.
  • Think about the history of each object; the shape,  the texture, how it ended up where it did. Is there a theme or connection between the objects? If not, find one, invent one… or take another walk.
  • In your sketchbook write the heading: ‘Urban Artifacts’ and compose a minimum 1-paragraph description of the images. Describe the shapes. Are they geometric or organic? Note the figure/ground relationships. Which are stable or ambiguous and why? Create a 1-2 paragraph story about these artifacts, imagining how they happened to turn up in the location that you found them.

Documentation and Feedback

  • Refine and spell/grammar-check your writing.
  • Edit your blog post Urban Artifacts: Phase 1 to include your reworked writing.
  • Include the hours that you worked on this part of the project.
  • Then comment on at least 1 other student’s post.

A Glossument – Introduction (30 minutes)

Overview: This semester-long, cross-disciplinary student project will be a graphic representation of your glossary posts for ENG1101, developed on the class’ shared OpenLab course site. Based on artist Tom Phillips’s altered text “A Humument,” it will allow you to create a personal portfolio of words to highlight different ways of seeing design and writing concepts in the two First-Year Learning Community courses: COMD1100 & ENG1101

Problem: Using a found hardcover book you will create an entirely new written and visual document that encompasses your exploration of the ways we see, read, hear, speak, touch, and understand the world. You will use multiple techniques to communicate: painting, drawing, and cut-up,  as well as writing forms such as collage and concrete poetry.

Choose your Book to Alter.

  • Consider the size, shape, and content/theme of the book.
  • Look for a hard cover book that has a sewn signatures and a little bit of spaces between the pages and cover.
  • The book should not be falling apart or contain brittle pages.
  • Skim the book to find a “thread” or theme that speaks to you.

On Thursdays we will try to devote about 30 minutes to working on our Glosuments. More information can be found on the shared OpenLab course site > A Glossument


  1. Complete Design Process Blog posts for Project #1: Phase 1: Discover
    Don’t wait until the night before!

    • NOTE: You can still comment on at other student’s posts, even if you don’t have access to your City Tech email and OpenLab account.
  2. Find or buy a hard cover book for your Glossument. Check help section for details.
  3. Materials Needed for NEXT CLASS (check Supply List):