Graphic Arts and Design · Uncategorized

Mystery Bag

Describing an Object Using Only the Principles and Elements of Design

How would you describe this object?

ipod image

A description that might come to mind would be: It’s an iPod! It’s black, has a rectangle shape and a square screen for viewing you’re music files. It also has round dial so you can scroll through those files and a button to select a song or video.

Simple right!

Now, take that same iPod and describe it using only the Principles and Elements of Design: line, shape and volume, texture and pattern, illusion of space, illusion of motion, value, and color.

Principles and Elements of Design

A little more difficult right? Maybe a little confusing?

For Example: The object is black, rectangular, has a square on top and a circle within a circle on the bottom. the outer circle turns. the object has depth. the square is reflective. 

Doesn’t sound much like an iPod anymore, huh?

This is exactly what we had to do in class.

Our assignment in class was to gather into groups of five, grab a mystery bag with an unknown object inside, create a description of that object using only Principles and Elements of Design terms, submit it, then take another groups description of a different object and draw a picture based upon their description. 

After gathering into groups of five, we chose our mystery bag, went into another room and opened it up. Our object was not as simple as an iPod unfortunately…

Our object was a bottle of window cleaner

We began the assignment by brainstorming ideas, and jotting down any terms that we thought would fit. It became apparent though that the terms we were using didn’t fit with the terms of the Principles and Elements of Design. They were too descriptive, such as using the word “foamy” to describe the foam in the bottle.  We also couldn’t use “bottom,” because the bottom of the object could be any part of the surface, or even non existent.

Our group decided to create a sketch of the object by breaking it down into simple shapes. By doing this it allowed us to easily describe our chosen object through the specific Principles and Elements of Design terms.

pic 3
Pre-description Sketch

Once we wrote out our description, we submitted it and grabbed another groups description.

These were the ideas we sketched based upon the description we got.

pic 5
Preliminary group sketches of object description
Pic 4
My Personal Sketches

Although the end result had included much of the description, it was based upon the assumption that the object was a speaker. Because we tried to guess what the object was, our assumptions dictated our drawing rather than our own imaginations.

Pic 2
The End Result. It turned out the object was not a speaker, but a utility clip!

The group that had our description created an accurate drawing. Everything was included from the description and it produced a fantastic piece of art and design.

pic 1
Our description as drawn by the other group

I really liked this assignment because it allowed us to create new ideas from pre-existing objects. I hope we do it again in the future. This was a fun creativity exercise.


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