The same basic process is used to

  Concept the idea what you want to do
  Form the process the process and the product
  Content the meaning does the form satisfy the concept?

design everything. The three components of the design process are:

The objectives of this lesson are to:

Learn how all designing is accomplished.

Learn specific design processes for two-dimensional artwork.

Use these processes to design and make a symbol for the sun.



The concept is the starting point of all design -- the prime mover.
Everything starts as an idea -- a gleam in the designer's eye. Some ideas are minor and not worth much effort to accomplish (what's for breakfast?). Some ideas are so important that generations have not been able to accomplish them (world peace).

The concept is the most important part of the design process. All that follows is directed by and must answer to the concept. The results are only as good as the ideas that originate them.


Thomas Edison said: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." The same can be said for the creative process.


This is where you give form to your concept and the work gets done. This is the physical part of the design process. You can never tell what might happen along the way. Tenacity and flexibility are as important as artistic skills. Willingness to work until you are successful is an important attribute.

The designer must work with the form until all of the problems are solved. The end result is the product. Only the product is seen by others, but it's success is dependent on careful planning and production.


This is the bottom line of the design process -- the reality check.
Only when the form meets the expectations of the concept is the process successful. The content is checked throughout the designing -- each step of the doing or making must validate the concept. If the process strays and the results are at odds with the concept, the form must be modified or the project may fail.

If the process inspires the designer to a new or better idea, the concept can be modified.

In most designs there is a continual give and take between the concept and the form. Which one gives depends on the situation. Sometimes the concept is so specific that it cannot be changed. Sometimes a better idea is found along the way, and the concept is changed to take advantage of the new discovery.

Designing two-dimensional artwork.
The three parts of the design process outlined above are used for all designing -- from deciding what to wear to building a hospital. For this class it is necessary to give more specific guidelines for designing two-dimensional artwork. These procedures are tried and true over the long history of art.

The first project is planned so you will use all of the design steps to introduce you to the process. In subsequent projects all of the steps may not be used. The process is flexible enough to be used in almost any situation.


For more go to Finishing up.

Student example #1

Student example #2

Student example #3

Design and make a symbol for the sun or the moon. It must be made in black and white and one color. The finished product should be at least eight (8) inches across. It may be drawn with ink, collaged out of black, white and colored paper, or a combination of both techniques.

The entire project is about THE DESIGN PROCESS  and should be labeled as such. All of the parts of the process for this project should be in your book, starting with the thumbnail sketches and including all of your rough drawings.

A picture is a very specific representation of what something looks like -- one thing at one time from one point of view. A symbol is an image that represents an idea and is more general and universal than a picture. It can represent a concept or a generic object. If it is an object it stands for a set of similar things, not just one specific object.

A picture of the sun.
The sun has been represented for as long as there are records of image making. This is not surprising since it is such an important item in our lives. It makes an ideal subject for this project because it is both important to all of us and has a different significance for each of us.

The sun is one of man's oldest symbols. Compare this Petroglyph from Painted Rock, Arizona, with the picture of the sun. The are quite different looking but you can see that they also represent the same thing.

They have, in fact, visual features in common: a round central shape with, curved rays (solar flares) extending out from the center. These solar flares would not have been visible to the artist that made the petroglyph. They represent the energy of the sun. What other visual ideas can be used to represent the sun and its characteristics?


A picture of the moon.

For more images try NASA or astronomy pictures.


The moon is also a popular item to be represented by a symbol. It allows the use of a circular or crescent shape. And then there is the "man in the moon" that is often used with a moon symbol.

Both the sun and the moon have been symbolized many times yet still offer the possibility of new and creative interpretations. Think about how you feel about them and what about them is important to you. Make the image personal yet universal in that anyone looking at is will know immediately what you are symbolizing.

Colors are very useful aids for conveying meaning. Choose a color that makes the image read more clearly and helps to communicate the meaning of the symbol.

There are two things that a designer tries to accomplish in every composition: unity with variety. These concepts are in many ways the opposite of each other. The goal is to reach a balance between the two. You will study more about how to accomplish this balance when you study gestalt in part IV.


The root word for unity is unit -- one.
It is important that all of the parts of a composition work together to make a united whole. If the visual elements fight against each other they can cancel each other's effectiveness or split the composition in two. Another way of saying this is: the whole is more important than the the sum of its parts. It is often necessary to adjust, even compromise, the details to better serve the total composition.

Variety is the spice of life.
A blank paper has perfect unity but lacks any interest. Variety is what develops interest in a composition. There are a lot of ways to achieve variety: by using different sizes, shapes, colors, textures and subject matters. The difficulty is to use enough variety to generate interest without loosing the sense of unity in the image. Be willing to experiment -- try lots of things but have enough sense to know when you have gone too far.
The next three parts of the site will investigate the design process as used by two-dimensional artists with specific information regarding how the process will be used in this class and for this assignment. Go to Part A: Concept

© 2006 James T. Saw
Do not copy or reuse these materials without permission.