Assignment 1 Commentary
For this assignment, we were tasked with presenting a visual abstraction for a chosen image, to best articulate the image in its most stripped-down version.
When I first read the assignment brief, I had a hard time choosing an image from my photo gallery to abstract as I wanted to choose an object that was unique. Hence, I decided to go for a walk around my estate to see if there was any object that could strike some inspiration in me. As luck would have it, I chanced upon a very cool looking Harley Davidson motorbike.
I was instantly drawn towards it as I thought it would be a very interesting object to abstract. However, I realized that it would be a challenge as well, due to the myriad of parts the motorbike consisted of. That being said, I decided to try and challenge myself and settled on abstracting the image of the motorbike.
For this stage, the image had to be the most high-fidelity and precise.
I placed the image of the motorbike on the layer which I had named “background layer” and reduced the opacity of the image to 40%. Then, I proceeded to create another layer, “Stage 1 artboard”, to trace the image.
Using the pen tool, I first started to trace over the silhouette of the motorbike. Afterwards, I focused on adding in the other miscellaneous objects that were on the motorbike such as the helmet, bag and spoke on the wheels. For the spoke on the wheels, I used the line tool, as the spokes were straight lines radiating from the center of the wheel.
Because the photo was taken during the afternoon when the sun was bright, shadows were being cast upon the motorbike. Visually, the shadows created a sense of depth, which made the motorbike look more 3-dimensional. Thus, I decided to use the color gray to make a gradient, to show where light is reflecting off the motorbike, so as to make the image look more realistic.
To ensure that the same shade of gray was being used, I used the eyedropper tool to pick the initial gray color that I chose.
For this stage, the next level of abstraction would be to remove all unnecessary objects. I defined unnecessary objects as items that could be removed from the image, without impacting the viewer’s ability to recognize the image for what it is.
Thus, I removed the helmet that was resting on the motorbike’s body, the kickstand, the spoke of the wheels and the part of the engine that was protruding out.
This image was still constructed using mainly the pen tool.
In this stage, to abstract the image even further, I decided to remove the shadows on the motorbike. This would reduce the sense of depth and make the motorbike look more 2-dimensional. The gray on the motorbike’s body, seat and engine were removed. However, the gray on the motorbike’s front fork and certain parts of the engine cover were retained as they were the actual color of the motorbike and not the shadow effect that I wanted to create with the gray earlier on.
For this stage, I also used the shape tool, namely the ellipse shape, to create circular shapes for the wheels.
This stage would see the greatest simplification of the image in the abstraction process. The inspiration I had in mind was the motorbike signs that we see on roads. I mostly made use of the shape tool to form the basic units that the motorbike was comprised of. I used the ellipse tool to create the circles for the wheels, the rectangle tool for the mud guard, and the rounded rectangle tool for the other parts of the motorbike. For the main body of the motorbike, I distorted a rounded rectangle by using the free transform tool. This made it look more like a squarish teardrop shape, which is similar to what it looks like in the photo.
For the final stage, the motorbike had to be pared down to the simplest of its composite elements. Thus, I used exclusively two shapes, the rounded rectangle and ellipses, to show the motorbike in its most abstracted form. I believe that the silhouette of the motorbike I have abstracted is still recognizable as a motorbike and not a bicycle, due to the presence of an engine, which is represented by a rounded rectangle in the center of the motorbike.
Some of the critique I received from my classmates about my final abstraction was that the proportions of the motorbike in stage 6 made it look like a bicycle, despite the rounded rectangle that I added to represent the engine. They suggested me to edit the handlebars and make it thicker and rounder so that it would look more like a motorbike. Another useful suggestion that I received was to refer to motorbike icon images online and study how they were abstracted. Thereafter, I can adapt and learn from the principles they used in my own design.
For my edited stage 4 abstraction, I used the pen tool to draw the silhouette of the motorbike body, handlebars, and headlight.
As for the wheels, I used the ellipse tool. For my eventual stage 4 abstraction, shown below, I dragged the anchor point inwards to change the direction of the path so as to make it protrude less. This was because I felt that the previous shape I traced looked too round.
For my edited stage 5 abstraction, I only used the shape tool to form the constituent shapes of the motorbike as I felt that it would make the motorbike look more abstracted. I also made the handlebars thicker and rounder by using the rounded rectangle tool as suggested, then I used the polygon tool to make the headlight.
I believe that my post-critique, updated stage 5 is an improvement from the unedited version as it retains the distinctive shape of a motorbike and can be differentiated from an abstracted bicycle.