Archives for posts with tag: Geometry

After considering the possibility of hiding messages amongst the designs I have been creating, forming an amalgamation between type and geometry, I chose to research into the field of visual cryptography.

Forming images which can only be viewing in a certain manner is not a new technique. As many of you may remember the Magic Eye books, first appearing twenty years ago, where an image was only revealed if the reader were able to facilitate the parallel viewing technique. Beginning with a discovery by Bela Julesz alongside MacArthur Fellow in 1959 first highlighting the possibility that depth perception was a neurological process not something occurring within the eye itself as previously considered.In 1979 Christopher Tyler created the first single-image random-dot stereogram allowing the brain to see 3D shapes from 2D images. This formed the basis for the Magic Eye phenomena. Until you master the process of deciphering the stereogram within your brain you be unable to see the 3D image. Unfortunately those without stereo vision will be unable to decipher the image as it relies on the information from the two alternative viewpoints.

To reveal these single-image stereograms the viewer must train their eyes to focus beyond the image, creating a parallel viewpoint opposed to one focussed on the page. As this is not the natural focus position for the eye, the viewer will not see the image until they have managed to complete this process.

Normal Viewing Method

Anon., n.d.  Normal Viewing. [electronic print] Available at: <; [Accessed 17th December 2011].

Parallel Viewing Method

Anon., n.d.  Parallel Viewing. [electronic print] Available at: <; [Accessed 17th December 2011].

Example of a Magic Eye image.

Anon., 2011.  Magic Eye Image. [electronic print] Available at: <; [Accessed 17th December 2011].

Those capable of mastering the parallel viewing technique will be able to reveal the image of a car.

Visual cryptography method

Originally developed by Moni Naor and Adi Shamir in 1994,2 Visual cryptography allows images and information to be decrypted by human sight. By separating the image onto two or more separate sheets it is possible to make the image impossible to decipher without having both halves of the cipher.

Anon., n.d. Visual Cryptography, [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

This method has been utilised by Kai Jauslin in their ‘Visuelle Kryptographie” project, where the image is only recognisable when the box is in the correct position. This invites the viewer to interact with the box.

Jauslin, K., n.d. Visuelle Kryptographie. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 25th November 2011].

A simpler method which many will be familiar with is that to place a red filter over the hidden image.

People are always fascinated with hidden messages, designers alike. The thrill of uncovering a secret message is engaging for the audience and this was something I wished to carry through into my design project.

Developed by Professor Shinobu Ishihara the pseudoisochromatic colour blind test is utilised on this elephant in Antwerp. Here only those not suffering from red-green colourblindness will be able to see the M on the elephants back.

Price, R., 2008. Ishihara Elephant. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

John Locke and Jackie Caradonio were experimenting with hiding text with the following image from their studio, Lioninoil.

Locke, J., and Caradonio, J., 2008. What you are looking for hidden in plain sight. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

Many graphic designers also experiment with hiding hidden messages in their logo design. It is a way of engaging with the audience, providing stimulation and a reward for their effort.

Aguad, S., 2009. Toblerone Logo. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

Initially with the new design for the Museum of London the audience is likely to only appreciate the colour and flowing form. However the shapes used are not arbitary, they represent the changing shape of London throughout history.3

Porter Bell, C., 2010. Museum of London Logo. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accesed 17th December 2011].

Optical illusions such as the image below, which revels something different at different distances is something I wanted to consider with my design. By being able to read the hidden word at some distances but not others will engage the audience.

Anon, n.d. You Are Close. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

In researching the history of visual crytpographic methods and looking at methods used by other designers to hide and reveal messages offered several alternatives to hide the message I wanted to among my design. By comparing to the work of others I am able to not only analyse which methods work effectively.


1. Anon. n.d. History of Magic Eye 3D Pictures. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

2. Wikipedia, 2011. Visual Crytography. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

3. Anon. n.d. Coley Porter Bell. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

The development of the final image required a decision regarding the treatment of each component. As the components are repetitive it was important to treat them in a visually pleasing and appropriate manner as they form the overall basis of the piece.

The components for the final piece are as follows;

a. Square

b. End

c. Connector

d. Welded connector

The shape of the components was decided through investigation into similar shapes and their aesthetic appeal and retaining a connection with geometry. It was intended that each component represent geometry, so that the audience could read either the word of the composition of it.

I experimented greatly with a variety of fills, colours and structures for the components of the piece. External influences and consideration came partly from the vast amount of travelling I was undertaking before the final hand-in.

Moving frequently across the country I have had the ‘pleasure’ of experiencing a variety of graphic advertising styles on lorries along Britain’s motorways. Two in particular caught my attention as they illustrate the opposing treatment of components I was considering, firstly Waitrose (John Lewis) and secondly National Express.

Waitrose, 2011. Waitrose Lorry. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 10th December 2011].

Waitrose, 2011. Waitrose Logo II. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 10th December 2011].

Anon, 2008. National Express Lorry. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 10th December 2011].

Anon, 2011. National Express Logo. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 10th December 2011].

Waitrose, opts for a clean cut straight line logo with angles consistent with the Waitrose typeface. This approach is utilised throughout the John Lewis brand.

Opposing this National Express chose a rounded strategy, replacing all angles with smooth curves, meanwhile their lines are finished with connector components similar to my own.

It is interesting, how two very similar simple angled line components can appear entirely different by their treatment, emphasising the importance on my choice of structure for the final piece.

Ultimately I chose the rounded components, I believe the combination of these smooth modernist components sprawling vastly duplicated was the best representation of the repetition of geometry.

Later development of components

Following the development with the letter ‘T’ it was decided to progress to using the word geometry and using a more complex grid.

The font Apple Gothic was used due to its simple geometric forms, simple descenders and easy manipulation. The descender of the character ‘g’ was extended to drop below that of the ‘y’, signifying its importance. The ‘m’ was then connected to the ‘g’, retaining even spacing allowing the ‘o’ in ‘geo’ and the ‘e’ in ‘metry’ to align.

For development here only half the word, Geo-Me was utilised, due to the time consuming nature of the task. The development of the geometric piece from the simple elements aligning to a strict grid  again echoes the exterior of the Pompidou Centre.

Investigations were undertaken as to the correct representation of geometry, and it was decided the outlined bars were more effective, however the composition as a whole was failing to be successful. The geometry resembled a pattern, therefore the next step was to return to a more effective graphic utilising various elements as demonstrated by the below sketch.

Following my investigations into modern geometric precedent, I decided the next step was to begin experimenting with the relationship of geometry and type, therefore the use of geometry within letter forms.

As previously detailed, I prefer to work in a manner by which I assess the previous foundation for my experimentation to ensure I can build upon the discoveries of other designers and also prevent repetition.

Firstly using the primary geometric shapes (circle, square and triangle) a task was undertaken to create each letter form using only these shapes. I set myself this task to investigate the legibility of letterforms and the scope for geometric letters using a strict set of rules.

This combination of geometric shapes naturally takes precedent from the Bauhaus [as further explained in Influences – Geometric Type II] and I also intended to create a complimentary piece to that of Wete’s Roke 1984, however unlike Wete conforming to strict rules in order and focussing on the geometric shapes themselves opposed to the transformations.

Initially a physical model was utilised, formed from translucent plastic in order to view the overlapping forms.

This was then transferred into a digital format.

Letter forms were created from overlapping translucent equally sized shapes. Two shapes were required to create each letter form, the shapes may be the same however the colour may not in order to retain the required contrast.

The end result was one of abstract letter forms, similar to the Science Museum Logo they are initially difficult to read. This explored the possibility of forming letters from the minimum possible geometric shapes.

I was interested in the idea of forming letter forms from the smallest geometric shapes. Something I would like to investigate within my final piece, the possibility of break letters down, or forming them from the smallest, simplest components.

Following this letters formed from a variety of different sized primary geometric elements were investigated. Influenced again by the Bauhaus approach to utilising simple geometric forms to create characters sets and the previously mentioned Lego am and Lego pm project. Using a variety of techniques and rules to experiment it was interesting to observe how letter forms can be seen in abstract shapes.

Following these primary investigations I decided I wanted to progress in the direction of forming a complete word from smaller geometric shapes, following more complex rules than those initially investigated here.

The next area for investigation was the current use of geometry within graphic design. In order to ensure my work remains current and relevant it is important to compare it to the work of others in my field.

Recently many designers are taking a geometric based approach, and thanks to available vector-based software fully scalable geometric based work can be created.

The following examples utilise a range of techniques incorporating geometry within their pieces.

Diego Bellorin with the Virtual Chaos and Escapulario projects uses simple geometric forms to create abstract worlds. These pieces are of interest to me as they show such seemingly complex work can be formed from the simplest geometric forms. I am interested in exploring the messages that can be conveyed using these simple building blocks of geometry. I would be interested to know the intention of the artist when creating these pieces, as little description is available, and it is always advantageous to compare the working process of others to that of yourself.

Bellorin, D., 2011. Virtual Chaos. [electronic print] Available at: <> %5BAccessed 3rd December 2011].

Bellorin, D., 2011. Escapulario. [electronic print] Available at: <> %5BAccessed 3rd December 2011].

Charis Tsevis meanwhile, explores the use of breaking an image down into its geometric roots, stemming from cubism and futurism, this is an alternative approach to geometry within graphic design. I find it important to consider a variety of different styles relating to my chosen subject area, although within my initial investigations I discussed the possibility of forming a larger piece from a variety of components, it is advantageous not to restrict ones research so greatly at such an early stage of the project. This ensures I will follow the most suitable path for my body of work.

Tsevis, C., 2010. Turkey 2010 Basketball Championship Illustration. [electronic print] Available at: <; [Accessed 3rd December 2011].

Following a visit to the Science Museum, London, I considered the recently redesigned geometric based logo.

Banks, J., 2009. Science Museum. [electronic print] Available at: <> %5BAccessed 3rd December 2011].

Released in 2009 by Johnson Banks, following a commission to increase the attraction for visitors, the designers attempted to form an identity for the Museum which would convey the message of its exhibitions.The logo incorporates a geometric grid and simple geometric forms, aiming to convey the message that science require decoding and understanding.1 Further information relating to the formation of the logo and branding design can be found at the Johnson Banks website –

The work of Johnson Banks relating to the Science Museum was an interesting avenue of investigation for me, it allowed exploration into the manner in which other designers tackle problems of conveying a message in a simple manner and retaining (and gaining) public interest.

Another example of a use of geometry within design is an architectural one; The Kirkcaldy Maggies Centre by Architect Zaha Hadid.

Hadid, Z., n.d. Maggies Centre Kirkcaldy. [electronic print] Available at: <; [Accessed 3rd December 2011].

Anon, n.d. Maggies Centre Kirkcaldy. [electronic print] Available at: <; [Accessed 3rd December 2011].

Her buildings, including the above example, often utilise geometric forms both within the plan and 3D form. However Hadid has faced criticism as they often fail to contain their geometric forms for a specific purpose and are only utilised at their aesthetic value.

Here I have investigated two alternative uses of geometry, that for purpose within the Science Museum, and that for aesthetic value.

This contradiction; using geometry to enhance a message or purely for aesthetic purposes is intended to be explored within the project. I believe geometry should not be used as ornamentation, I believe I follow many of the modernist principles, that every part of the design should play a purpose.

1. Banks, J., 2010. Science Museum. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 3rd December 2011].

Following my extensive investigations into the subject of typography for my SAT1 assessment I wanted to include a typographic element to my design for the practical assignment. I therefore begun to investigate the amalgamation of typography and geometry both currently and throughout the history of typographic design.

Wete – Roke 1984

In the below piece, Wete constructs the characters of his Roke 1984 by allocating geometric transformations to letter forms.

Wete., 2010. Roke 1984. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 30th October 2011].

I find the utilisation of geometric transformations to form characters an interesting approach, however those used appear almost arbitrary and it does not seem that a strict set of rules were followed to create a logical typeface. The overall effect I believe is visually pleasing, however I would be interested to investigate the process undertaken to achieve the letterforms or if Wete chose their transformations simply for aesthetic value? I would be interested to see how literally this project could be taken, is it possible to create the letterforms from the transformations illustrated from starting geometric shapes?

I find it difficult to respond to the typeface provided by Wete further, as there is limited information regarding its composition. It appears the geometric transformations listed on the letter forms are ornamentation alone, as someone who likes to implement regimented forms and structures around my work I would prefer if the transformations listed were relevant to the letter forms.

Urs Lehni, Juerg Lehni and Rafael Kock – Lego am and Lego pm

Lego am and Lego pm was developed originally as part of a student project at the Schule für Gestaltung.1 The construction of letters solely through individual lego units, responding to post-modern principles and an anarchy against ‘slick computer aesthetics’.2 The isometric projection used in the final piece responds well with the simple ‘lego’ shapes used.

Lehni, U., Lehni, J., and Kock, R., 1999. Lego am and Lego pm. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 16th November 2011].

I enjoy this simple piece, by limiting the design to a simple set of units to construct the letters an interesting, engaging post-modernist piece is produced.

Further development of this work resulted in an exhibition poster. The title, in the typeface, is not instantly understandable, the audience is required to engage more in order to decipher the meaning.

The typeface itself was released in a ‘cut-n-paster’ manner to allow users to ‘construct’ their own letter forms from the individual ‘lego’ blocks.

I appreciate the rigour in which the typeface was approached, by adhering to a strict set of principles to create the letterforms. By taking the modular and alignment ideas from International Style and applying them to a childlike form before applying geometric transformations the piece becomes distinctly post-modern.

By looking at these current examples of the use of geometry in relation to typography I have established several points which I wish to bring into my own work;

  • Any geometric transformations utilised must be for a purpose or adhere to a strict set of instructions. I find it difficult to appreciate Roke 1984 any further than as an aesthetic piece as the geometry does not relate to the letter forms.
  • Attempt to follow strict guidelines and principles as utilised with the Lego am and Lego pm to experiment with the possible outcomes from following such rigorous procedures to the end.


1. Triggs, T., 2003. The Typographic Experiment: Radical Innovation in Contemporary Type Design. London: Thames and Hudson. p.108.

2. Triggs, T., 2003. The Typographic Experiment: Radical Innovation in Contemporary Type Design. London: Thames and Hudson. p.109.

Following the initial sketching, I begun to focus on the primary elements of geometry. I investigated the basic building blocks of “geometry” before delving deeper into the topic.I believe I work in this manner of forming the basic foundation before developing it as I prefer to be thorough with my investigations before exploring further into my own practical work.

I undertook research via the internet, through journals and mathematics textbooks I had from my education to establish the basics of geometry.


“the branch of mathematics concerned with the properties and relations of points, lines, surfaces, solids, and higher dimensional analogues.”1

The word geometry developed from Latin and Greek, “gӗ” meaning earth and “metria” meaning metric. Therefore the word literally translates as earth measuring.

Geometry consists of solid and planar elements.

Planar Geometry

Solid Geometry

Geometric transformations alter the appearance of basic shapes.





I develop solutions to creative problems by assessing the work of others, utilising it as precedent for my own work and then expanding from there with my own experimentation.

I use the work of others and focusing on the scientific and mathematical background of the project to generate new ideas using a combination of these techniques. Upon embarking on a project I will evaluate the ideas by comparing them with the work of others in my field and considering if they compliment the goal I had set out to achieve. By looking at the initial building blocks of geometry I was able to plan where to take the project next. I considered how I could build these forms into characters.

For theses primary investigations I used simple tools to record my findings, in my sketchbook before representing in illustrator to form the simple shapes. I found this was a good stage to transfer the simple primary shapes to illustrator. This allows me to test my illustrator skills and practice ready for the later part of the assignment.

Once I had considered all the primary elements of geometry and represented them in illustrator I decided I was ready to begin considering further the implications of the project.


1. Oxford Dictionary, 2011. Oxford English Dictionary. London: Oxford University Press.

The keyword for my FAT1 Practice Module has been selected, and I chose the word ‘geometry’.

During my education, initially embarking upon a Mathematics degree I have held a close regard for the integration between mathematics, predominantly the geometrical aspect, and design.

Within my study proposal I highlighted my interest with the combination of geometrical forms and their effects within typography. Additionally for the previous SAT1 study I undertook an investigation into typography.

Therefore it seemed appropriate to further investigate ‘geometry’ from a graphic design standpoint, combined with typography.