The Sound of Silence

These last few weeks in Visual Design class at BYU-Idaho have been devoted to the creation of a slide presentation using Adobe InDesign.

There were quite a few guidelines and instructions, but it ended up being pretty easy to follow. We were to seek out an existing ad that was well-designed and included the company logo and at least one line of text. We were to create a new ad using Adobe Photoshop– an ad that seems to be from the same ad campaign as the existing one. To do that, we had to match the original ad’s dimensions and find some sort of element like colors, typography, layout, message, etc. to repeat. We had to use legally obtained images, of course, and type in our own text. Finally, We had to design a slide presentation on InDesign to analyze the original ad and explain how our recreated ad fits within the themes of the original ad campaign. The slides were to be 10 inches by 7.5 inches. We were required to create at least 6 slides, with at least one to introduce the company and campaign and at least one explaining how our recreated ad fits the campaign. We were to “reverse engineer” the original ad, focusing on how the ad utilizes the principles of design, with focus on only one idea per slide and without the use of bullet points.

 

Following are a few of the slides I designed for my presentation project.

Target Audience

Our target audience was provided for us in the instructions of the assignment.

“You are asked by your employer to analyze one of their existing ads, use these findings to create an additional ad that would fit the same campaign, and make a slide presentation that would assist you in explaining your findings.”

My audience is my employer. I feel this design appeals to my employer because of its simplicity. The background is a calming and friendly shade of blue-green with a slightly lighter oval in the corner of each slide drawing attention to the idea to be presented. The pictures are each aligned with the bottom-right corners, leaving a nice border in between so they’re not pushed right up against the sides, and the text is right-aligned against the pictures. Overall, I feel this design is simple and easily accessible, and avoids unnecessary flash or extravagance.

 

Design Analysis

I created 3 different kinds of slides for this assignment: Title slide, Ad introduction slides, and Idea explanation slides.

Title Slide
Ad Introduction Slide
Idea Explanation Slide

The title slide stands out among the rest. It introduces the background and typography used throughout the presentation, as well as the oval to be used as a repetitive element in the rest of the slides. The oval is exactly the same throughout the presentation, with only its position changed. It is slightly lower in the Ad introduction slides than in the Idea explanation slides to accommodate the second line of text. The color choices and many other design choices were explained above under “Target Audience.” The Idea explanation slides have one additional element in the form of the green circles highlighting an example of the focus ideas.

The font used is called Tekton Pro. It’s subtle in some letters, but the text has small serifs. I chose this font because I thought it was pleasing to the eye without being too boring or too gaudy.

 

Photography

The original ad was found on Google images and used under fair use. All photography for the recreated ad was legally obtained from Pixabay.com.

Used with permission of sarvakarthi
CC0 found on Pixabay.com
Used with permission of Natalie White
CC0 found on Pixabay.com
Bose Logo used under fair use

 

There we have it! My slide presentation for visual design class using Photoshop and Indesign. This was a good exercise in the cooperation and coordination of the various Adobe products we’ve been learning this semester. It was a good way to flex and showcase the skills we’ve been building. Sure hope my employer likes this presentation.

Alliance Rubber Band Ad

These past couple of weeks in Visual Design class at Brigham Young University-Idaho have been devoted to the creation of two advertisements for a randomly generated product and a randomly generated target audience. We were to select a brand that produces the product we are advertising, and design an ad using Adobe Photoshop. The requirements for the ad included the use of at least 2 legally obtained photographs blended together in some way, the company logo, a creative headline, a 1-2 sentence body copy, and a call to action. Furthermore, the ads were to be symbolic representation as opposed to literal. in other words, we were to create something that would be impossible to photograph.

The product/audience generator determined I would advertise rubber bands to single females, aged 45-54, with PHD’s or Master’s Degrees, who make 60-89K, and enjoy magazines and social media. The randomly generated media preferences determined the size of the advertisements we had to create.

For the Magazine preference, I created a half-page ad, sized 8.5″ x 5.5” with 250 ppi.

For the Social Media preference, I created a Facebook static ad, sized 400px by 209px with 72 ppi.

 

Target Audience

These ads would appeal to my target audience, I feel, because the bright purple color of the background would capture their attention and draw their curiosity. The main picture is accessible, easily understood within seconds. I think they would appreciate how the headline matches the message of the picture. Furthermore, I think they would be able to relate, in a way, because a single, middle-aged woman’s life in the workforce can be quite hectic, and they may sometimes feel like their world is held together by only a few strings.

 

Design Analysis

I began by searching for photographs of the product to see if it might spark any ideas. I found a picture of a rubber band ball, and wondered how I could use it in a design. Two thoughts occurred to me: that rubber bands are everywhere and that they hold things together. I thought about how to make this idea symbolic and non-literal. Rubber bands hold everything together. What if they held EVERYTHING together?

I found a picture of the Earth and set to work. I tried a few things to make it look like the rubber bands were surrounding the Earth. I tried laying the rubber band ball over the picture of the Earth and deleting the bits I didn’t want with the auto-select and the magic wand tools. It was very time-consuming and didn’t work very well anyway, so after about 15 minutes, I decided to try something else. I finally found success when I placed the Earth over the rubber band ball, placed a mask on the Earth, and blanked out the parts of it that were covering some of the stronger, more prominent rubber bands.

After this, I had to find a background. I didn’t want to go with plain old boring space, so i found a very nice photo of a deep purple space with the perfect splotch of white light over which to place my Earth. I added my text bit by bit and aligned them all to the right. I made the conscious decision to keep the wording in the headline and the call to action lowercase. It seemed a bit more uniform and streamlined, I thought.

I’d had the idea for the current headline, and thought it was alright, but reconsidered and changed it to something like “Without us, your world would fall apart.” Then, when I saw on the Alliance Rubber Company’s website the exact words I’d originally considered, “Holding your world together,” I knew I had to change it back.

All of this was for the larger ad– the half-page magazine ad. Transferring it to the Facebook ad was a simple copy-and-paste job. I merely resized the pictures and text and realigned them to fit on the smaller space. For a little bit of contrast, I moved the Earth to the right side and aligned the text to the left. There was not room in the smaller ad to include the body copy.

Photography

Rubber Band Ball used with permission from Donna O’Donoghue
CC0 found on Pixabay.com
Earth used with permission from WikiImages
CC0 found at Pixabay.com
Abstract Galaxy used with permission from Lumina Obscura
CC0 found on Pixabay.com
Alliance Rubber Company logo used under fair use for educational purposes
There we have it! An advertisement for rubber bands. There’s something you don’t see every day!

There were some spots of difficulty, but overall, I enjoyed learning to use Photoshop. Personally, I still find Illustrator easier and more accessible, but I was glad for the opportunity to develop skills in Photoshop. It’ll be a useful skill to have out in the working world.

Incredible Four

When a friend shared a fun fact about “The Incredibles” the other day, it seemed like a great jumping-off point for this week’s blog post. The Incredibles are often celebrated and only occasionally criticized for being heavily inspired by another superhero family- one I’ve analyzed in several prior posts. In this post, I’d like to explore some of the symbolism and meaning behind the powers gifted to Pixar’s favorite family and how the characters are fundamentally different from Marvel’s Fantastic Four.

The Incredibles

The idea my friend shared was, I believe, based on this video. The theory expressed is that the powers of each member of the family is believed to be based on their role in the traditional family unit.

Mr. Incredible is the father and the man of the house. Traditional family values and stereotypes put pressure on men to support their families and be strong for them. Hence, Mr. Incredible has the power of super strength.

As the matriarch of the family, Elastigirl is expected to be flexible and able to handle everything around the house at once. Elastigirl’s body is stretchy and flexible to the extreme.

Violet is a defensive teenage girl. She puts up boundaries. She simultaneously wants to be invisible and to be seen. She has the powers of invisibility and telekinetic forcefields.

With the endless energy of a typical young boy, Dash has super speed.

Finally, Jack Jack is a baby with unlimited potential to fill any role in life. Therefore, his powers at the time are undefined and infinite.

The Incredibles’ powers are based on the types of people they are. While their abilities are similar to the Fantastic Four’s, I’d like to set forth a theory on the Four and add upon the list of reasons they differ from the Incredibles.

The Fantastic Four

Thinking about the theory that the Incredibles’ powers are based on what the people are, I thought about whether this theory also applies to their Marvel counterparts. Something didn’t seem to add up until it occurred to me that the theory could be applied in reverse. The Fantastic Four’s powers are not representative of the characteristics they have, but rather on the characteristics that they lack. In that sense, they were incomplete people before their life-changing event, and their powers complete them.

Reed Richards is and always has been an almost entirely logic-based man. He’s first and foremost a scientist, and he sees the world in terms of black-and-white. He’s utterly inflexible, and so Mr. Fantastic was given the power to stretch and contort his body, much the same as Elastigirl.

Susan Storm is, as mentioned in a prior post, perhaps the most empathetic character in all of comic literature. She is open with her feelings, she hides nothing, she keeps nobody out. Therefore, the Invisible Woman’s power is (any guesses?) to become invisible and create forcefields, much like the Incredibles’ Violet.

Johnny Storm Is a little bit of an odd-man out here because he’s always been a bit of a hot-head. He has always thought he’s the most popular, hottest thing in the room. There’s the key. He has always THOUGHT. In many portrayals, Johnny is shown to be a bit of a wannabe or poser, if you will. He wants to be popular, well-liked, included, but he’s still something of an outsider a lot of the time. Then, the Human Torch received his power of pyrokinesis, and legitimately became the hottest thing in the room.

Ben Grimm has always put on a tough facade, but underneath, he feels emotions quite deeply and often struggles with a hefty load of inner turmoil. He’s soft on the inside, so his powers made the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing literally hard as a rock on the outside.

While the Incredibles and the Fantastic Four share much in their conception, they are still fundamentally different for a variety of reasons. I hope you’ve enjoyed this additional take on the subject. Viewing both teams from this new point of view, It’ll be quite interesting to observe the subtleties in future installments of these franchises. At the time of writing, and so far as I know, there are no known plans for any more Four films, but “The Incredibles 2” is set to hit theaters in June of 2018. Personally, I can’t wait to see what new challenges face Pixar’s favorite family, and I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in that sentiment.

Until next time, all the best. Thanks for reading.

Cover Letter

My name is Benjamin Emley. I’m a Communications-Advertising student at Brigham Young University- Idaho. I’m currently maintaining a 3.9 grade point average and planning to graduate in July of 2018. When I have spare time, I enjoy performing on stage and behind the scenes, making music, solving puzzles and other mind games, watching movies, playing video games, and meeting new friends.

Throughout my academic career, I have been consistently praised as efficient and quality-oriented by my professors and peers. Though my focus is Advertising, I have taken a variety of additional classes providing me a basic understanding of financial and managerial accounting, economics, and human anatomy and physiology. Through my studies, I have developed proficiencies in Microsoft Office programs, WordPress, and Adobe creative programs including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Audition. As the manager of the Hot-Spot Improvisational Shows at BYU-Idaho, I have developed proven organizational, interpersonal, and creative-thinking skills that I hope to be able to leverage in a career setting.

After reviewing my resume, I hope you will agree that I am the type of skilled and resourceful candidate you are looking for. I look forward to elaborating on how my varied skillsets and abilities will benefit your organization. Please contact me at (714) 319-8341 or via email at stage2450@gmail.com to arrange for a convenient meeting time.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Comm 100 Class Summaries

April

20, Class Intro– Sis. Scholes outlined requirements for the class- Portfolio, Class Summaries, Grad Plan, Faculty Mentor, Academic Discovery Center

27, I-Comm– Students involved with the BYUI Scroll spoke to us about opportunities to contribute to the campus newspaper- we could report on News, Arts and Education, Religion, Campus Events, etc. or be an editor or photographer. Students involved in the Soapbox Agency spoke about opportunities to get involved with the advertising agency located here at BYUI. We could help with research, video, PR, Design, reach out to clients, be like an overseer, etc. Between Scroll and Soapbox, it would probably be more beneficial as an Advertising major to get involved with the latter.

 

May

4, Grad Plans– Sis. Sheila Wener spoke to us about the grad planner system and the services offered at the Academic Discovery Center. The grad planner is a computer program- a tool designed to give students an idea of the classes needed for their graduation and how much time it will take. The Academic Discovery Center has services to help materialize our grad plans, design professional resumes, and prepare us for interviews. They run programs periodically to help students develop specific skills. These skills should prove useful in any field, including advertising.

11, Journalism– Bro. Lane Williams spoke to our class about Blogging, News, and Journalism. He extended 5 challenges to us, involving writing often, reading and supporting the news, and considering a career in journalism. The fifth challenge was a bit intriguing- be a voice for truth and righteousness in social media. Too much of social media today is focused on tragedy and the promotion of opinion as fact. These could easily and very well be tools and tactics of the adversary, designed to distract, confuse, and sway us. I’ll use my career and the responsibilities associated with it to promote wholesome values instead.

18, Video Production– Bros. Brian Howard and Christian Mawlam spoke to our class about the process of video production and the many careers associated with it. Video production is a collaboration of efforts involving storyboard artists who plan out long beforehand exactly how the finished project should look, casting directors who choose the actors to appear in the project, location scouts who find just the right place to film, costume designers who make the actors look good, cinematographers who film the project, sound designers who find just the right sound balance for the project, etc. There are so many tasks to undertake behind the scenes and so many careers associated with these tasks. A Video Production emphasis prepares you for these undertakings. This will be valuable to remember in my chosen emphasis, Advertising, as I hope to be able to brainstorm ideas for commercials and ads, and I will need to ensure they can feasibly be produced. It would be helpful in that sense to know the processes involved.

25, Visual Communication– Bros. Eric Lybbert, Derek Miller, and a third professor, Bro. James Rognon, if I recall correctly, spoke to our class about visual communication and social media classes offered here at BYUI. Visual communication is about learning skills and proficiency in Adobe programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. They also discussed an Adobe project convention where users of the programs submit their best works for the chance to win prizes. Photography was also discussed for a bit and Bro. Miller talked briefly about a program that pays for the use of stock footage. These skills will be useful in an advertising environment as it would likely be helpful to be able to create some visual representations of ideas to help coworkers and supervisor picture intended results.

 

June

1, Organizational Communication and Advocacy– Sis. Andra Hansen spoke to our class about the Advocacy major. Advocacy is, so far as I understand it, learning to mediate problems in the world and help those who need it. It requires a great deal of care and compassion, both for those you help and for their opposition. Advocacy can be a useful skill to incorporate into Advertising as I will have to consider both the needs of the client I will promote and the needs of the audience I will target.

8, Public Relations– Bros. Ward Hicks and Michael Cannon spoke to our class about PR careers and the PRSSA group here on campus. So far as I understood, Public Relation acts like a bridge between the public and pretty much every other Communications career. As such, they’ve got a bit of a hand in everything Communications-related. Jacks of all trades. They learn to write effectively, research, use social media and mass media, etc. Just about every industry or company requires a PR service in some form or another. The PRSSA is a chapter of, essentially, a Public Relations guild of sorts, located here at BYUI. At the PRSSA, they further their understanding of the career and the responsibilities associated with it. PR can help me in my Advertising major as I’m sure I will be working closely with Public Relations in some capacity in the real world. Also, PR is a good reminder to be proficient or at least capable in studies other than those of our focus.

Icons of an Icon

These past two weeks in Visual Design class at BYU-Idaho have been devoted to the creation of a set of icons using Adobe Illustrator. The instructions and requirements were relatively simple– We were to design 4 to 6 original icons, each communicating a single message. The icons were to be designed consistently and without the use of text, gradients, drop shadows, or pixels/raster effects. I chose to highlight a variety of Robin Williams’ characters. Following are the icons I designed for this project.

Target Audience

I began this icon set with the mindset that I wanted to pay tribute to a favorite actor- an icon in and of himself. I believe many movie lovers like me probably enjoy seeing him immortalized in different varieties of media. This set was designed for cinephiles and fans of Robin Williams– likely aged between 20 and 45, likely a male majority. This set would appeal to this audience because they would instantly recognize some of his most famous roles, which in turn brings forth fond memories of the times he entertained them– made them laugh, made them cry.

Robin

I began with a basic outline, which I knew I could copy and add to for each successive icon. I drew inspiration for the general shapes of his face and nose from depictions of Robin Williams in episodes of “Family Guy.” His eye color was a bit difficult to discern, but a few close up pictures found on google show he has bright, blue-green irises. I did my best to match the color, but I’ll admit it’s still not spot-on. I chose the shirt color based on what he wore to a stand-up comedy show he performed not long before he passed. For my first draft, each icon had the same expression- The same one on the Patch Adams icon. Several classmates who gave feedback and constructive critique commented that they all looked sad. “He wasn’t sad all the time,” they said. I implemented their advice and made the expressions unique for each by repositioning the eyes and changing the curvature of the mouth– interestingly enough: only on the left side (Robin’s right side from his perspective). Each curve to the right of the where his lip dips in the middle is identical. For Robin himself, I attempted to give him a somewhat expressionless face– He is a blank canvas, ready to perform any role.

 

Patch Adams

Patch Adams was the second icon I created, and the easiest of the “roles” to create. He was a simple copy and paste with different colored shirt and hair. Beyond that, I created a simple red circle for the rubber nose, and added a small shine to it. As mentioned before, his was the original expression all of them shared in the draft, so it was actually Robin’s expression I changed for the final draft, not Patch’s. The only change I made for Patch between the draft and the final was his hair color. Patch and Pan originally shared Robin’s hair color, but I decided to make them each darker to reflect the movies a bit more. Apart from that small change, Patch is exactly how I made him in the draft. I was actually quite proud of Patch even from the beginning. Comparing it to the movie poster, it was pretty spot-on with the expression, the colors– even the shape of the hair, which I designed first for Robin, matches the poster really well.

 

Peter Pan

Pan was a little bit more difficult, but not much. Again, he was a simple copy and paste with different color palette. I dragged the top of his ear just a bit up to make them a bit elf-like. I deleted the collar and buttons. creating leaves instead. Each of the leaves is the same. just one leaf, copied, pasted, and rotated, placed around the collar. I began the leaf collar with the idea that I might use the shape tool to delete the unnecessary bits I didn’t want, but that wasn’t going too well. Ultimately, it occurred to me I could simply bring forward the flesh-colored triangle layer that makes up his chest in front of the leaf layers. Again, I darkened the hair and changed the expression between the draft and final. Voila! Peter Pan.

 

Genie

Genie began as a copy/paste, not of Robin, but of Pan. I’d found that nice ear shape and I wanted to maintain it for him. Beyond that, I changed his colors, deleted all the details on his torso, and deleted his hair. I created the little ponytail with the pen tool- not difficult at all, created a general beard shape with the pen tool as well, and used the spiral tool to give him that nice squiggly at the end of of his chin. In the draft, the spiral was a bit blocky, but I used the width tool to change the thickness of the line for the final, giving it that nice point. The eye color wasn’t working for me on this design, for some reason, so I changed the fill to a uniform black. also for the final, I rearranged the eyes, the mouth, and actually removed his eyelids to give him that excited look. It’s fair to say he’s probably the most different from the rest, but I couldn’t create a set of Robin Williams’ greatest roles and not include the genie! That’s sacrilege!

 

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy is, interestingly enough, a new addition between the draft and the final. I’d considered creating him for the draft as well, but I’d just finished Mrs. Doubtfire and was satisfied with my work and ready to call it a day. Good thing, too, because the hat was particularly difficult. Looking at pictures of the character Robin plays in the “Night at the Museum” series, I noticed the brim of his hat is not uniform, but is pinned up on the right side (the left, from Teddy’s perspective). This took some creative use of the pen tool to recreate, and a lot of minor adjustment to anchors and paths to achieve just the right shape. The brim doesn’t actually go all the way around his head. This may have been possible to do with some clever layer arrangement, but I couldn’t figure it out. Instead, the brim is that very shape you see front and center. the glasses were pretty simple to create, but also hide a subtle little technique. The frames are just circles and arcs– outlines with a dark brownish gold stroke. the lenses are actually shapes of their own, placed under the frames– circles the same shape as the frames , with no outlines, a bluish white fill, and the opacity at 16 percent. This way, you can see that lenses are there, and you can also see through them. The colors were relatively simple. I started with the hat and mimicked the colors in the shots from the movie. I colored the coat he wears the same as the ribbon on the hat, and the shirt underneath is the color of the shadow where the brim lifts.

 

Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire was perhaps the most difficult to create. I just couldn’t figure out how to do the hair and get it just right. I tried first to build it from circles, using the shape builder tool to delete the unnecessary bits. That didn’t turn out too well. I referenced pictures again and again, considered using just arcs or spirals, I couldn’t figure it out. Finally, I just used the pen tool to make a general shape and tweaked the anchors and paths to arrange it just so. I added the streaks and coloring to attempt to give it some texture. Creating the glasses, I figured out the same shape-over-shape technique I used later to create Teddy’s glasses. The flowers on Doubtfire’s blouse are similar to the leaves on Pan, in that they are the same flower, copied, pasted, and rotated.

 

And there we have it! My set of icons paying homage to an icon. I quite enjoyed using Adobe Illustrator. Drawing pictures on a page, I’m a terrible artist. on Microsoft paint, I’m even worse. Somehow, I understand Adobe Illustrator in a way I haven’t understood any other kind of visual or graphic media creator before. It allows me to create icons like you see above, that I could never hope to create with my hands. I am excited to be able to use this program, and very happy with the results. I hope you enjoy them too.

Hibernating Beauty

It sounds like something out of a fairytale– after nearly three years, Rosetta awakened from her sleep. “Hello, World!” she said. She rose from her slumber, warmed up her navigational instruments, and chased her handsome prince around the Sun.

Rosetta is an exploratory spacecraft launched by the European Space Agency, with the mission to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. After 31 months in hibernation, the internal alarm clock determined the solar-powered craft was in close enough proximity to the Sun to resume its functions.

After a few reboot protocols, Rosetta positioned it’s antenna toward earth and sent a signal home to inform mission operators it was back in range of communication and its power source.

Rosetta’s task was to scout the comet, identifying a site on which to deploy a landing craft. This would be the first time a landing on a comet had ever been attempted.

Rosetta was equipped with instruments and apparatus designed to map the surface of the comet and measure the atmosphere as it orbits around the Sun, among its other important functions.

When it awoke in January, 2014, the craft was 9 million km from its target. It arrived at its destination on August 6 of that year, according to http://rosetta.esa.int, and deployed the lander shortly after in November.

Philae Landing Craft Touchdown

Over the next year, Rosetta continued to orbit the comet, collecting data from the lander. In December 2015, it returned to earth and completed its mission.

Awakening 9 million miles from its destination, Rosetta is a rare story of a long-distance relationship with a happy ending.

For the full story, visit https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140120111111.htm and http://rosetta.esa.int

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