Here is a great beginning design exercise for you to try. When I teach an introduction to two-dimensional design class this is one of the first assignments I give. I usually start with the Synergy exercise I presented in this blog back in February of 2015 and then a couple of days later I give this exercise, which I call Minimal Cuts.
Both the Synergy and Minimal Cuts exercises train you to see and “read” visual images. Both exercises depend on your ability to understand the conceptual and formal design elements that underpin visual imagery. I suggest you refer to our book “Design: A Beginner’s Handbook” for further guidance and that you look at the Synergy exercise before beginning work.
The best way to start is to lay out a large assortment of photographs you’ve found in magazines (or online). Don’t intellectualize at this stage, but rather, randomly look through the images to see if any of them attract you. Now, ask yourself what is it the image is telling you? Are you noticing a narrative unfolding? Perhaps you’re becoming aware of the formal aspects of the image, such as shape or line relationships.
The next step is for you to make a minimal number of cuts in the photograph and then reassemble the pieces to emphasize the primary elements you’ve discovered. You’ll want to use all the pieces, no throwing away parts that you’ve cut out. Pay attention to composition, in particular balance and negative space.
Complete this project by using rubber cement to glue the photographs to poster board or paper. Please share you work with us on our Facebook page.
Here are a few examples to get you started. They represent just a fraction of what is possible. (If you are reading this through email and have trouble with the images loading please click here.)
The following examples of student work do not include the unaltered photograph. See if you can figure out what the student is saying with the cuts they’ve made.