16 March 2004
The Nature of Design
In my quest to become a better web developer - a ever ongoing task - I have become increasingly aware of the need to not only be a good programmer, but also, to improve upon my aesthetic faculties.
It helps that I have always enjoyed art and design in general throughout my life. But, I have never had to do it for work, and it never been a big part of my job before now.
I am well aware that you can not be a 'guru' programmer, and a guru designer or graphic artist at the same time. So, since I seem to be enjoying the visual and front end side of things a bit more at the moment, I think I will focus on them for a while.
I can settle for just being 'good' at programming for now. I think.
Anyway, onto my point. On a mission to improve my understanding of visually pleasing things, I decided to try and gain inspiration in certain places, and to make a point of studying them. Such as a magazine, adverts, or a movie, maybe a tree. Yes, a tree.
That brings me to the first case study of mine. I decided, after prompting from another, that nature is a great place to find inspiration in design. It seems that God has been at this a lot longer than us, and it a great deal better at it than most of us. So, what's the harm in getting some tips off him? I'm sure he wont mind.
I decided to try and find something within nature that I could use for a study. The image above is a recreation of a branch from a bush I found near my place of work. The first things that caught my eye were the bright orange berries that plastered the bush. Even though I knew that this bright colour would have to be used less on a web page, I loved the combination of colours. I decided that this berry bush would become the object of my first study.
The first thing I did was try and get some of the colours - luckily the bush was visible from my office - on to my computer screen. I drew some circles, and started playing around with the colours, until I had all the colours that I liked. I did this by eye, but in the future I might use photography as a way of getting the colours to screen.
Seeing the colours together on my screen like this, helped me to see that they really did look nice together. I made a few changes, until I was happy that the colours on screen represented the colours on the bush outside the window.
What I decided to do now was to get some unnatural shapes together and see if these natural colours looked good on them. After all, a website is not shaped like a bush, and so different rules apply.
I cheated a little to get the colours right on these boxes, by using Fireworks to save off the effects applied to the original circles as Fireworks styles. Then I drew the above boxes and shapes, and applied the styles taken from the circles. With a couple of tweaks, and some changes to the styles after application, I got the above.
Even though the shapes above are quite random, and thrown together. I think you would have to agree that the colours really do look nice together, even in this environment, as well as on a bush.
After doing this, I decided to try and use the colours to draw a representation of the bush that gave me the original inspiration. Talk about going in full circle! This is where the branch you saw before came from. I think doing this helped me to see that I had the colours as close as I was going to get them, and gave me a few ideas for a design also. Ideas that I will be keeping to myself for now.
Now, the only thing left to do was to break the colours down into a simple colour chart that I can copy over onto other PNG's when I am creating a new design. Even though I might keep refering back to the circles for other shades.
I hope that this study has been able to help you appreciate, or re-evaluate, how nature can be used as a source of creative inspiration.
Maybe you can go out and do something similar to this, and use similar techniques. I will definitely be wanting to use this colour scheme in a design sometime soon. In fact I think I feel a new style sheet for wubbleyew.com coming on right now.
Feel free to discuss your own ways of finding creative inspiration in the comments. Especially, things in the natural world that inspire you.
A larger version of all these graphics is available here. File size is about 70k I think.
- Time: 15:00
- Graphic Design