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I've been given an Illustrator assignment where I have a number of 100mm x 100mm squares in which I have to design using just shapes, and black and white colour, something corresponding to a descriptive word such as 'tumble', 'condensed', 'bold' or 'momentum', using fundamental design principles such as contrast, size, shape, colour etc.

I'm finding it quite hard to come up with anything other than a depiction of the literal meaning, eg. repeated shapes going down the page for tumble; lots of shapes squeezed into one big shape for condensed; and for bold, I can use contrast of size or shape or both.

I am wondering how I could take these 'themes' and develop them more to evoke the theme in a less direct/obvious way? They just seem too easy, or that there is not that much to the concepts, and I feel the whole point of the exercise is to develop a concept using the basic building blocks of design, not just put pretty shapes on paper.

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closed as too broad by Scott, Yisela Jul 18 '13 at 6:04

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Perhaps if it seems easy, that's a good thing. Many can't convey simple things using basic shapes. I wouldn't over-think the project. Basic concept of motion or descriptive phrases is a valuable skill set to have. Your instructor may simply be "feeling you out" to see which students grasp the concepts and which do not. This way the instructor knows where to start teaching from. – Scott Jul 17 '13 at 5:31
This question has been put On Hold because it's quite broad. Do you think you can limit it to a specific problem or example? It's not a bad question, it's just very difficult to answer without a "focal point", so to say. – Yisela Jul 18 '13 at 6:06

I would suggest two things.

One, I would try to find out from your instructor what they want. It is possible that you are supposed to clearly show the meaning of the word in a minimal, simple, first-read kind of way.

If, though, you are supposed to get more conceptual, then my suggestion is that you are dealing with interpreting words, and so you should use more words in your thinking process. A simple technique I use often is to write the word you are interpreting, then write down under it every word or image it makes you think of. Then try a thesaurus for more, and try a google image search for more. Then look through your list, matching up the words in your mind and imagine picturing those combinations. Just as an example, for the word "tumble," you might think of a laundry machine, Jack and Jill, Tumblr, etc. Then you think of those visually and compare and combine them to find elements you want to use.

One more complex step is to write a second list, of your design elements, then compare your lists. Say your elements list includes "line," you match that up to "washing machine," "jack and Jill," "Tumblr," and see what that sparks. Then you move on to "contrast," and compare it to your word list, etc., etc. Every time I have done this I have come up with ideas I did not expect.

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Awesome tips! Cheers – theringostarrs Jul 18 '13 at 3:40

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