Nathan Koch

Major Studio I: Seven in Seven

Thursday, August 31st 2017

My first project in Major Studio I was "7 in 7" – the completion of seven projects in seven days. As someone who didn't come in to MFADT with a lot of visual design experience, I pursued fairly formal executions of each project, and between my intent and the design constraints, I was able to focus on layout, motion, and typography in my studies.

My design constraints for each piece included:

  1. Each piece will be themed around a word that will not repeat, chosen at random from
  2. To provide context, the featured word must be present in the piece, but no other words are allowed.
  3. Any time-based media (like motion and sound) must be created procedurally.
  4. The only colors allowed are black, white, and gray.

7 in 7 Day One: Eustacy

Changes in world shoreline by changes in sea level.

My intent with my 7 on 7 design constraints were to push myself into some formal explorations of typography. Here the word "eustacy" truly leads itself to being transformed over time, with an encroaching border gradually reducing legibility.

I created this image in Sketch, and the font was Paralucent. I felt like it would distress in an interesting way.


I went into this project planning on iterating multiple solutions for each day, but at this point I found myself out of both time and ideas.

7 in 7 Day Two: Trabeculated

Transversely barred.

I'm beginning to feel like these solutions are too literal. I also made a mistake by requiring animation and sound to be procedurally generated, because that is far more work intensive.

Lining the lines up over the center of each letter made for an off-kilter grid, which I wasn't sure if I liked: Trabeculated version 1

I experimented with putting the lines on a grid, but it felt like it communicated the idea less well: Trabeculated version 2

Ultimately, adding a horizontal grid that was evenly distributed, to contrast with the vertical lines that were not, led to an interesting interaction between the two. Trabeculated version 3

Tomorrow I hope to include some sort of motion to add more interest. I also want to add more texture, more something as I feel like observers with a design background will find these pretty boring.

7 in 7 Day Three: Gid

Brain disease suffered by sheep.

Hit the jackpot with this one! I couldn't believe it when I opened this morning and this was my word.

I decided to go for a bit of humor, using royalty free icons from the Noun Project. I started with an intro screen. I also knew I wanted to use motion in this sketch.

Gid intro

I mocked up a second screen, un-sure at the time if I was headed toward something more interactive or ambient. Gid main

I realized my rules allowed for storyboarding but any animation would have to be executed in code. For my purposes, I decided to storyboard the remaining frames.

Gid Frame 3 Gid Frame 4 Gid Frame 5 Gid Frame 6

7 in 7 Day Four: Xanthopesia

A visual condition where things appear yellow.

I got Xanthopesia today. Not a good one for getting me away from literal readings of my words. And not good for playing by the rules, given my intent was "no color."

I decided to make a simple software tool in Processing that would apply a yellow tint to a chosen image, to demonstrate the effects of Xanthopesia. This tool loads a user-selected image and gives it a yellowish tint.

7 in 7 Day Five: Hylozoism

Doctrine that all matter is endowed with life.

Hylozoism, the belief that all matter contains life, dates back to the Greek philosophers although it had a resurgence during the Renaissance.

My interpretation of this was to make a small interactive piece, with amorphous cell-like "life" pulsing and following the mouse cursor.

I made a few mockups in Sketch first, to set some of the look and feel. Icons are courtesy of the Noun Project Hylozoism Intro Hylozoism Main

7 in 7 Day Six: Gasometer

Instrument for holding and measuring gases.

When I used as a constraint in these projects, I didn't realize just how obscure, and banal, some of these words would be.

My intent with these projects was to push my skills with typography further, but the only execution that came to mind today was a riff on yesterday's - a group of molecules bouncing around a container.

I made a few mockups in Sketch first, to have a clearer idea of what I was building. Icons are courtesy of the Noun Project Gasometer Intro Gasometer Main

This project was a chance to use a few of my "Nature of Code" (by Daniel Shiffman) tutorials again, as I wanted the molecules to accelerate in a random direction.

I'm still trying to push myself a bit with these projects, by forcing myself to go through a visual mockup process and work with typography at some level.

7 in 7 Day Seven: Brayer

Instrument for spreading ink in printing.

Once I saw my word (and realized it was what I know as a "paint roller") – I immediately had the idea of animating paint "rolling" across a static screen.

I made a few mockups in Sketch first, to have a clearer idea of what I was building, source some icons, and refine the typography. Icons are courtesy of the Noun Project.

Intro frame Brayer Intro

Main frame Brayer Main

End frame Brayer End

I enjoyed playing with the easing code to get that feel of slowing down as you reach the end of the patch you're painting. I think its helping to go through the exercise of building out animation frames in sketch before I start coding, to better dial in the design.

I ultimately am getting frustrated with my limitations: I can't draw, and I don't have the Photoshop skills to work with more realistic imagery, so I keep coming back to choosing fonts and icons as the main "variables" I can play with in design.

Thoughts on 7 in 7

7 in 7 was at times frustrating and oppressive, and at times fun and interesting. It allowed me to push myself a bit beyond my comfort zone in terms of screen design, and animation. Looking back at the individual projects, they feel very simple and naive, but this project wasn't really about their individual merits – in a sense it was more about "designing" the constraints than the individual projects.