Axis is the most basic and most common organizing principle. Simply stated, axis is an imaginary line that is used to organize a group of elements in a design. In diagrams, axis is represented as a dashed line.
Axis is mainly used to align elements. When elements are arranged around an axis, the design feels ordered. As with most things in life, we enjoy things that are ordered because they feel more stable, comfortable and approachable.
When we encounter something linear, such as an axis, we naturally follow the line in a direction. If we arrive on a street, we walk down the street. If we open an elevator into a long hallway, we walk down the hallway. Lines prompt movement and interactions. The direction of movement depends on the end points. A defined end point signals a place to start or stop.
Although axis is an imaginary line, you can make it more apparent if the edges of surrounding elements are well defined. A common example of this concept in architecture is a city street. The city street is an axis that is reinforced by the buildings on both sides. If a portion of the street is missing a building on one or both sides, the street’s axis would not feel as strong.
If an end point is undefined, you will follow the axis until you reach something of interest or are tired of interacting with the axis. While the concept of an undefined end point in architecture is uncommon since it’s difficult for something architectural to go on forever, it’s becoming more popular in product design with infinite scrolls.
Symmetry is when elements are arranged in the same way on both sides of an axis. Perfect symmetry is when elements are mirrored over the axis and exactly the same on both sides.
Symmetry adds balance to a design. When elements are the same on both sides of an axis, the design feels harmonious. If we design a street with five houses on one side and five on the other, walking down the street would feel comfortable because the arrangement of homes is balanced.
Designs are asymmetrical if the arrangement of elements are different on both sides of an axis. If we design a street with five houses on one side and one on the other, the street will feel unbalanced and perhaps uncomfortable.
Hierarchy is when an element appears more important in comparison to other elements in a design.
An element will appear more hierarchical if it is larger than other elements in a design. We naturally look first at the largest element in a design. If there are five windows on the front of a building, and one is twice the size of the others, our attention will focus on the biggest window first.
An element can also appear more hierarchical if it is different than other elements in a design. We naturally look first at the irregular shape in a design. If there are five of the same windows and one door on the front of a building, our attention will focus on the door first.
Last but not least, we can place elements in more hierarchical positions. Within a circle, the center is the most hierarchical. The end of an axis is naturally more hierarchical than points along the line.
Rhythm is the movement created by a repeated pattern of forms.
The best way to understand rhythm is to think of a song. Songs have rhythm when a piece of the song repeats. When listening to a song with good rhythm, we recognize the pattern and begin to expect beats.
A break in rhythm will appear more hierarchical. Think about a song. When a song has a repeated rhythm and the rhythm is broken, something quite special usually happens.
My concept of expressing these 18 emotions was heavily inspired by how the physical body reacts and feel in coherence to evoking them. For instance, when you’re anxious, you tend to scruff your hair, grit your teeth, bite your finger nails, your cheeks would blush and you might have that tingly, uneasy feeling in your skin. With these reactions in play, I have portrayed them with the simple use of lines, shapes and tones. Below are the designs elaborated further:
Noodles sliding and latching onto the hills and valleys (the ups and downs when you are feeling anxious) of the drain. There is no sense of balance as gravity is acting on both the upward and downward forces giving the lines an uneasy, squeamish and uncomfortable feel.
Tiny black, unstable triangle hiding in the comfort of surrounding tiny triangles, away from the bigger black ones in the outer parts of the spiral to show how one would want to flee from embarrassment. The triangles are arranged within the Fibonacci curve as it loosens in density as it spirals outwards.
Disoriented triangles of different sizes were placed against the organized, uniformed triangles at the bottom to make the contrast between normality and the outlandish much more prominent. More patterns such as scales, curls, waves and dots to amplify the eccentricity of the strip.
Slow-moving, heavy and sluggish drips of paint running across the strip to show the feeling of worn out and weary. Lines were added inside the individual drips to give it more weight and volume.
Sticking much closer to how fragile nature is, I have decided to draw out a spider web to show the frailness of this particular emotion. You feel vulnerable, weak but delicate. The reason why I have put in two different focal points was to display the contrast between the tighter and the looser areas of the web where it is more susceptible of being destroyed.
When I imagined this emotion in my head, I could distinctly see myself as a string of emails/information flowing through cyberspace to be delivered to another place. The organised and orderly movement clearly shows systematic. I have drawn the planes moving towards a vanishing point to bring out some dynamism as opposed to leaving it flat.
To project such an emotion, my body is required to pulsate a positive and harmonious vibes. Which explains why I have used curves instead of straight lines to show a much fluid movement with the tiny bits floating in space, acting as the remnants in the debris from the pulsation.
I envisioned this strip to be nothing but utter turmoil and violence. I wanted quick and storm-like movements with a hint of danger as it spirals inwards. The sharp pointy lines were added to create a much angrier texture.
My main focus for this design was to push the boundaries of how foolish and idiotic it could possibly get. Random shapes and lines were overlapped on top of one another to distort the balance and symmetry that would make it too conventional. Bigger shapes were made darker to build a sense of heaviness in the background without forgetting how light and agile the lines in the foreground are.
Taking inspiration from lava lamps and the effects made when paint, oil, and soap are mixed, I have came up with a slightly insane and deranged pattern. This is how I would imagine our abstract minds to be when we experience demented thoughts. A myriad of tonal values were used in this strip.
When your thoughts are blurred, unclear, vague, or you simply cannot seem to make up what you dreamed of last night when you were soundly asleep. I used ink and blew the drops with straws to create a frilly trail downwards. I have left a lot of space empty to symbolize what our minds could not comprehend or decipher when our thoughts are obscured.
Flashing directional arrows that conflicts with one another to portray distraction. The smaller one is of darker tonal range to show contrast against the bigger one. This is how I see our train of thought when something distracting occurs.
Tapping into and taking inspiration from the works of Norwegian photographer, Solve Sundsbo, I have produced an abstract piece that closely resembles with his photographs of projecting light trails on women’s bodies. The curvy, voluptuous and voluminous lines crammed so close to one another displays “sensual” prominently.
I would like to call this strip an “structured mess” mainly because my interpretation of “sloven” is to be careless. So when you are careless, despite being very organized, you would be able to see the untidiness within. I have used circles to show some order while I filled the insides with messy lines and paint splatters to orchestrate sloven.
Fast lightning bolts shooting out from the corner of the strip to show spontaneous. I have made the bolts differ in thickness, opacity and frequency to illustrate speed as they complement each other. And I wanted to create the illusion of light dispersing from the corner. Hence, leaving the rest of the space white and empty.
Being heavily inspired the breaking and smearing of charcoal pieces, I captured the aggressiveness in the strokes that they leave behind when being dragged across the surface. The broken pieces emulate a sense of force and insistence which does not necessarily mean angry, but aggressive!
When you are feeling awkward, you tend to get this tingly, uncomfortable and unsettling feeling on your skin. Very much like how I would imagine acupuncture to feel like where needles are pierced into the skin to relieve some tension built. I have created layers of lines with different tones to illustrate a sense of density. Thorns were added to the needles to give them a much unpleasant effect.
A path that starts with a crossroad and slowly inclines into a maze of trails to show how indecisive one could get only to end up from where they started. I used the patterns on pebble paths with different tones to show how close or distant they are from the foreground.
For my research and development, I first looked up for the meanings as well as synonyms of each emotion to fully understand how I could effectively evoke them.
Afterwards, I went to google to find images of different patterns, expressions and objects that I find relatable and significant to the art I was expressing. Some of these images displayed obvious and more prominent emotions while other images goes deeper into showing microscopic organisms that are invisible to our naked eyes, but shows a lot of aesthetics.
I have had some references from other artistes as well. A few of whom were Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian, and Norwegian fashion photographer, Solve Sundsbo, where he reflected light patterns on the human body (see “Sensual”).
Below are the mood boards I have created, in addition to the definition I have found on the internet, to allow me to brainstorm more ideas and have a clear understanding before executing my designs:
The initial stages of this project consisted of the methods that has led to how I would achieve the results that I have envisioned to express the 18 different emotions. I have decided to go with a flatter, much cleaner way of translating these emotions onto paper.
The concept behind the designs was how the physical body reacts and feel in coherence to evoking these emotions. For instance, when you’re anxious, you tend to scruff your hair, grit your teeth, bite your finger nails, your cheeks would blush and you might have that tingly, uneasy feeling in your skin. With these reactions in play, I have portrayed them with the simple use of lines and tones.
For this project, I have worked with Chinese ink, brushes, straws, 0.1mm & 0.5mm graphic pens, brush pens, markers, pencils and ball-point pens to achieve the final results.
I have drafted out three or more sketches of the each emotion in my journal to bring out the best aspects of that particular design and develop further on the final ideas. After much consultation, some ideas were scrapped while others were combined and cross-incorporated to become my finalized design.
With each design, I have given a brief explanation as to why I chose to express the emotions in that particular way.