“To improve oneself you must be as persistent as the drip, drip, drip of water filling a bucket. Do a little bit, every day.” ― Jeffrey Fry
After Basic Directions, the fourth tutorial of the Graphic Design Basic Element Series covers Four Basic Surfaces.
The quote by Jeffrey Fry reminds me of what it means to have a daily art practice. I don’t know of an artist who would say they have mastered art! Art is one field where there is always more to learn, do, express, and discover.
Exercising the Artist Within
Have you experimented with the mantra shared in the last graphic design post?
“line, plane, tone, small, medium, and large”
Creating an art journal is a perfect way to track progress. This way you’ll have an easy record of your daily art explorations. You can go back anytime and embellish or change up the variations you create and explore additional elements.
Try altering each of your illustrations, paintings, drawings, or images by using a different medium, too. Try incorporating new shapes, sizes, textures, tones, and directions.
Exercising the way we see an object or an interest while recreating that which we see in simplistic terms can lead to a pleasant storm of ideas.
I remember one of my art instructors telling me that all design in art is redesign. Another way to phrase the evolution of an idea is that it is a variation of a theme.
Identifying Four Basic Surfaces
It is time to experiment with the next category of elements in this series. These are the Four Basic Surfaces in graphic design.
- Reflective: A surface that gives back an image
- Opaque: A surface that is solid without light
- Transparent: A surface that transmits light rays so that objects on the other side are recognizable.
- Translucent: A surface that lets light pass through it but is not transparent.
The most common reflective surface that we experience is easily found in our homes.
The mirror is the most obvious device that reflects. But this brings up the question of how reflection is modeled in art?
Creating a collage from torn papers can be a perfect way to incorporate existing reflective surfaces by including foils, reflective tape, or paper in your design.
You can also purchase mirror paint at most any home improvement store. In an art store, you can find acrylic paint that is formulated to reflect or simulate reflective qualities in an artwork.
There is also another way to capture the qualities of a reflection. For example, a landscape painting may illustrate a lake with a body of water reflecting the trees and mountains above.
Another illustration could be a painting of a car with a shiny finish parked alongside a row of bright flowers showing a floral reflection as a point of interest.
What examples can you dream up and add to your daily art journal that offers reflective qualities?
A solid color that does not allow light to pass through it is very easy to illustrate and takes the least amount of imagination.
If you held up a piece of opaque paper to cover a lightbulb the luminous rays are not able to penetrate or shine through the surface.
In an art image the same is true. Just like the illustration of the curtains that cover a window, the objects on the other side of an opaque color are not visible.
Transparency in art can be created by using a clear film like medium or paper to overlay over another layer of colored paper. The color will be clearly visible.
A transparent surface can easily be modeled in a collage using see through materials as one of your supplies.
How might transparency appear in a painting?
Imagine an illustration of a window with lightweight gauze curtains covering a few panes of glass.
The glass clearly allows the distant scenery to glimmer through and this surface leaves nothing to the imagination for the viewer.
Another example, could be a painting of a pristine body of water that allows images of the colored stones that lay at the bottom to shine through the water’s calm surface.
Transparent surfaces can be implied or created. You might try using various types of see-through materials that allow objects and shapes on the other side to be fully visible.
Light also plays an important role in creating translucency. In this case, light passes through to create transparency, but the objects on the other side are not fully recognizable.
Artist materials could include tissue papers, or other lightweight see through materials such as a tinted film.
Using the previous example of a window with a lightweight curtain, we can see the material allows the glimmering colors and elusive shapes to shine through to the viewer.
Make sure to take time before moving on to the next post and record examples of each of the Four Basic Surfaces in your art journal.
You might like to take each of the basic shapes and apply a couple enrichments to each one.
Downloadable Tutorial Guide
Please feel free to download the image guide of the Four Basic Surfaces.
The next series post incorporates several Basic Surface Enrichments. They offer additional opportunities to change up your creative ideas and practice creating some fun art images.
To follow along, click > Art & Design Tutorial Table of Contents.