Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating visual continuity, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
(mechanical noises) - [Narrator] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. In this movie, I want to go over creating visual continuity. With every design project, or illustration project, for that matter, you're going to have to train your eye to be able to pick up on continuity within your shapes, within your composition, with how you handle both negative and positive space.
This is really important. Specifically in the context of iconography, this is probably the most important thing, is to retain visual continuity. An iconography set has to be the same style from one icon to the next; it has to have the same perspective, and all the detailing aspects in it, if you look at this set here, you can see all the negative space, whether it's the white lines on the inside of the TV, the checkmark, white, it's the same continuity in terms of weight, as the antenna on top.
It's the same continuity of weight as the gap in between the monitor and the stand it's on. If you'll look at the analytics icon for shopping, to the right of that, you can see that that same negative space in between the bars, is the same as the space on the lines, on the inside of the TV, and all the gaps are the same as well. You carry over to the shaking hands, it utilizes the same weight of those lines. So the continuity between all these shapes work.
Whether it's a positive, whether it's a negative shape. Other aspects are the same as well, such as the outside frame of the TV is the same weight as the shopping cart itself; so on, and so forth. This is common when it comes to iconography. This kind of methodology is going to apply regardless of what kind of graphic shape or design you're creating. It could be, it's always used in the context of logos, for example, when you're creating a brand mark, and it could be used in the context of illustration to avoid visual tension problems along the way.
Along the creative process. Now, as you start paying attention to this, you're going to take notice of things all the time, that relate to this kind of context. So, here's one example. So I was in Minneapolis, and I saw this sign, and, they're everywhere. Everybody has seen a sign like this. And you look at the graphic on the sign, it's an icon, and it has some continuity to it. All of the line weights are the same, the two tire weights are the same, the frame and the handlebars, everything there is the same.
Now, there's some subtle problems that I would take with this, and once again, nobody walks by this and notices this, but, I kind of did, waiting for the light to change. The inside part of the wheel, I thought the fourth didn't align with the front one too well, and on the back one, it looked a little off to me. And that, and the pedals. I didn't like how those were handled as well. But, overall, it's not the worst I've seen, it's just not that great. But, it has continuity, nevertheless. And, the more you train your eye to see these things, you're going to notice them more and more, both the good, and the bad.
So I was in a parking lot at a train station, and I noticed this sign in the parking lot, telling people where to park their motorcycle, and I'm looking at the icon just going, "that is a horrible icon." That's like, who designed that? There's so many problems with it, it's just, the continuity is all wrong, and, you might be looking at this and going, "well, yeah, the sign looks old, and kind of cruddy, but, why does the icon look wrong?" Well, let's analyze it. So we're going to do that, turn it to black and white, and I've simply built the artwork exactly as it is, so that we can kind of deconstruct it, and understand what the problematic natures of this design are.
So here's the artwork, here. Now the first thing I noticed, was just the inconsistency, the lack of continuity, in terms of the weights in this graphic. So, if you look at the front wheel, and the back wheel, they're different weights. Now, I realize motorcycles' front wheels have a smaller tire almost all of the time than the back tire, but, for iconography, you're supposed to bake things down and simplify things. It doesn't necessarily have to be realistic, it just has to communicate well.
And, this one communicates, it's just the artwork, the aesthetic, the styling just isn't handled very well, and is very flawed when it comes to continuity. So, the main problem with this, is the weights here. So if you look at the weight of the handlebars coming down, the green, compared to the frame, in the front, the blue. Those, in terms of an icon's context, should be the same weight, just to communicate better, and it shouldn't taper down, it should be the same weight, going up here. Also, if you look at the back of the frame, this part of the frame is thicker than the front part of the frame, so, you have some weight problems, some inconsistencies regarding weight of visual areas, in this design.
Let's take a look at something else, and this has to do with inconsistent angles, that don't make sense, and also scalability problems. Now, the first one I'm going to select this wheel, this is just a clone of the front wheel. If I bring it back, you can see just how much larger it is than the pack wheel. I don't know how this happened, but, it just shouldn't be. It should be the same size. So somebody wasn't paying attention when they were creating this, and doesn't have an attention to detail, and that's what I'm trying to reinforce there, is, you should have an attention to detail.
You should be paying attention to these type of things, because nobody else will, if you don't. So, that's one problem here, and I realize there's custom bikes out there, there might be a custom chopper and it's styled after the big wheel we used to ride, and the front wheel is bigger than the back wheel. But when it comes to pedestrian iconography, for example, here, it should be something anybody can relate to. And so, this really should be the same size. Also, the inside part of the wheel should be the same size as well, and that's larger on the back, smaller on the front, and, there's other issues, and other issues are the inconsistent angles.
So you've got the angle of the front frame here, and if I pull this back, notice how this line, in terms of the inside detail of the engine, really should be at the same angle just to carry forth, once again, that continuity. And that's not there. That's a big one for me. I really think that would've improved it a lot. And the other one, which, this isn't such a big deal, but, it still doesn't really make sense. If I pull this out just so you can see how this angle looks, and interacts with other areas of the design, like all of this is going to be massively huge, a little change of scale, it doesn't associate with anything else.
It doesn't align with the profile or shape, of any other shape in the design. Therefore, it's just kind of thrown in there. And, I always try to add things that make sense in some way. Like, well that lines up with this. Whether or not anybody notices it, it looks better when it's all said and done. So, that's one angle that didn't make any sense to me. Here's another one. We pull this one out. And you can see, this really doesn't line up with anything either, and, I just find that a little problematic.
If I would have built this, I would have matched the angle at the top of the seat, for example, to make the angle of the back fender. So, if I approach this design, and re-designed it, how would I approach it? What would it take? Well, it is just simple shape building, and this is how I would approach it. I would just use simple shapes. I'm not using Bezier curves anywhere in this. I'm just using the pen tool to create a very geometric shape, such as here, I can go to my Dynamic Corners Tool, bu Astute, and just round this off to get that, and I can create the simple elliptical shapes, to create the tires here, and create a fender in the shape that's going to end up being the fender.
And I drop a baseline here to make sure my tires are aligned on the same base level as the back to the front. And then I have consistent angles between the front and the inside detail of the framework. And, I used strokes here, to create a fat stroke for the handlebar, but I've matched it on the back part of the frame, so that continuity is retained as well. And, when it's all said and done, what you end up with is an icon that works a whole lot better than the original icon.
So, if I compare, here's the new one, to the old. So this is bad, this is a whole lot better. This has a lot of core continuity, this retains continuity. So, continuity, visual continuity, communicates better because it makes sense. It simplifies the process. Now, this type of insight and detailing can apply to any project. And so, we're going to stick with the motorcycle theme here.
And once again, I just want to reinforce how easy building this type of artwork is. It's not complicated, it's not hard. You just simply use simple shape building methods, like the rectangle, the circle tool, and you can then create whatever shape you want. So, let's look at this shape right here. I wanted to create what you see down below, in the gas tank, and this is the way I did it. I just did a simple shape with the pen tool once again. No Bezier curves. Then I grabbed my Dynamic Corners Tool.
I use this rather than Illustrator's own rounding corner fillet tool, because that gets in the way of building. This tool is awesome. By Astute Graphics, so make sure you check it out. If you want to do what I'm going to do here, using Illustrator's methodology, you can, it's just going to be harder to do it that way. But I just grab here, and pull this out, and, once again, it's a visual thing. So I pull it out so it looks good, then, once I have that, I can just simply apply it, to these other corners like that, quickly.
Then I'll round these off a little bit, and you can see how quick it is, to form a shape like this. This is how I made the tank for here. But once again, this is simple shape building. So here's an ellipse, that's made with the ellipse tool here. There's a rectangle right here, made with the rectangle tool. I'll just select both, I'll go to Pathfinder, and I'm just going to go Remove From Shape, then I'll just select, actually, let's zoom in on this.
Then I'll just select my rounding tool, and I'll just round these front edges, because that's the way it looks from a profile standpoint. And that's as fast as it goes. Let's do one that's a little more complex, but really, it's not, it's super easy. You select a circle, and we'll go to Object, we'll go to Path, we'll go Offset Path, we'll go seven, and we'll select the circle again, go to Object, Path, Offset Path, and we're going to go minus seven here.
What we're creating, is the front fender shape. With this last shape we made, we wanted to make sure this is on top, and I have an F key set up for that. But if you want to make sure it's on top, you can go to Arrange, Bring to Front, but you can see, I have F5, because I use that instead of going to the menu. And now with these two shapes selected, we're going to create a giant thin donut here, so I'm going to punch this through the bottom shape. Or subtract from shape that is, using Pathfinder.
We'll click that, and now, with that shape, I can select this shape I created, just with the pen tool. We'll select the shape we made, and then we'll go Intersect on Pathfinder, and that creates a nice little fender for the front, and now we're going to go back to the rounding tool, and I'm just going to go pull this out, round it, and go ahead and round that, and you can see how easy we get that. Now, on this style, I have a halo outline, that's going to create negative gaps in between my art, and I want to do that on the front, so I'll just select this, I'll go to Offset, I'll go to Offset Path.
Just want to make sure I have Round on, and then in this case, I want it to be four, and go okay, and that's how I'll create the shape to work with the final style of having a nice gap in between elements like that. But that's how simple it is to do shape building on it. It isn't complicated. And notice, based off of the photograph, some areas, I've chosen to simplify, and not build. Meaning, such as the pipe going here. I didn't add that. Why? I don't really need to.
It's a simplified graphic; I don't need to add all the details. So, it's not just about having continuity of shape and form be a positive and negative, it's also learning as you go, and this only comes with experience and time, is, learning what not to add, as much as it is, to what you should add, in a given design or motif. So when it's all said and done, this is how this graphic came out, and it was very easy to pull off, once again, it's very iconic, but it works well for an application like this, which is a motorcycle club, printed on t-shirts, so it's going to work very well.
So, the more you train yourself to pay attention to visual continuity, the more your eye is just going to naturally pick up on problematic graphic details. You won't be looking for it, but you'll sense something is wrong and discover it in the wild. Such as, like this one. I saw this one a few weeks back, and, hundreds of people walk past this graphic every week, and probably not a single one of them ever notices the continuity problems it contains.
I mean, never mind the lousy printing, and the ironic purpose behind the sign. It's a sign shop selling graphic design, so this is that they can't even get their own continuity right. But, you, as a designer, should be paying attention to this type of detail, regardless if your clients ever do. If you have any questions about anything you've seen, or would like to suggest a future topic to be covered, in the DVG lab, send me an email, at email@example.com.
Thank you for watching DVG Lab. And until next time, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
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