Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Lettering on the curve; belt or disc?

Song of Solomon: timeless love poetry in contemporary calligraphy. 

Rough draft, undecided
between disc or belt,
with both curves shown.
The warm yellow tone in
the center will come later. 
About V: 2 - 6. Letters can suggest not just depth but also the angle you are seeing it from.  I had a lot of trouble deciding whether the curved arms that spiral outward from the galaxy's vortex should look like they are on a belt, like a ring from an astrolabe, or suggest a disc, like the rings of Saturn.  They looked confusing in my draft, shown at left.  
It was hard to describe the problem with words, even to myself, so finally I had to build little models out of stiff paper, letter on them, and stare at them.  

Right, note how the verticals lean in at the ends of the upper curve in this belt mockup...           
...or out at the ends of the lower curve.  

Left, in the disc mockup, the letters lean out at the ends of the upper curve... 

...or in at the ends of the lower curve.  


I just could not decide how to portray the universe using letters.  Finally, I went back and looked at the astronomy photos that first inspired me.  That's when I discovered I should use BOTH kinds of letters.  They needed to start out flat on a disc, and end upright on a belt, and then vice versa below the vortex. 

There are two useful design lessons to learn here: 
1. If you can describe the problem, you can start to solve it;  
2. Your original inspiration--thumbnail sketch, napkin scribble, or internet search result--is often the most useful corrective to confusion.  

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