Saturday, 10 December 2011


Final outcome:

I was quite pleased with the final outcome of my laser-cutting project, despite the fact that it might not have matched my original ambitions for the brief. I feel my result is quite bold and graphic, and conveys some of my personality as someone who, first and foremost, draws.

I was forced into a totally Illustrator-based drawing outcome because I lacked the technical knowledge to convert my drawings into something that would be able to undergo the laser-cutting process. As a beginner with the software, the task of vectorising, live-tracing and cropping my original drawings into functional components of a 3D object quickly became very hard to achieve due to my naivety of the process. Unfortunately, as I had waited until after the Illustrator skillsets to fully get to grips with the brief techincally, the window of time I had to learn these processes became quite narrow, and due to poor time management, I found myself unable to find any experienced technical advice on how to proceed. I didn't feel that I was totally unable to produce an outcome however, and resorted to alternative means to achieve my final end product.

The piece still fulfils the aim I set myself of having a three-tiered, semi-3D object, and each layer does add both to the aesthetic and the conceptual basis of the project. For having a very basic, perhaps imprecise, footing in Illustrator, I feel the shapes surrounding the central infinity icon add to the drama of it, and give the graphic a tongue-in-cheek, "exalted" personality. The sharp arrangements of vectors, as basic as they are, carry some of the allusions to science, atom-structure, and celestial patterns that I had hoped to include as part of the theme of infinity, and totality. Still, the piece isn't as sharp as I had hoped, and maybe if I had further understanding of the software I could have ended up with a richer, sleeker fulfilment of the brief.

I think my main issue was a slight intimidation at the technical processes behind it, although a relatively accurate outcome became achievable with some lateral thinking and some pragmatism. The printing process was still very difficult without any technical advice, and there were a number of trial runs before the final components were cut. As with the other digital media and craft projects, one of the main lessons I've learnt is to allow time for things to go wrong and to think adaptively when they do.



Unfortunately, we weren't able to bring our project idea to full fruition before the presentation deadline, but we still felt proud as a group of what we achieved within the time. We all contributed illustrations and ideas, and I think some of our elements were quite compelling because of their illustrative nature. The project had a graphic identity that invited quite an immediate response, although it only performed about half of the functions we were hoping for it to have.

As it stood at the time, the "Astounding I" stall would recognise the user approaching and raise a curtain, and the eyeball character, although incomplete, would appear to watch the user. The piece did actually also project fortunes as a response to spoken user requests, although we were unable to incorporate the "scroll" flash animations we had made, which displayed the response on a scroll which appeared to be opened by the character. Also absent were the blinking light animations we had discussed, and we were unable to get the two halves of the character animation to interact properly. Overall though, our piece was not very far from its conclusion, and we would probably be able to overcome some of its issues given an extra week or two.

The stage was a mixed-media graphic work that we worked on collectively, and the various components and animations were a shared effort between the group. Our project may have suffered from a slight over-ambitiousness, as it turned out that combining all our various ideas in the time we allowed ourselves was more slow and time-consuming than we thought. Our one main error was that we under-estimated the need to troubleshoot, and so didn't allow ourselves any time for errors or difficulties in the manufacture of the end product. In future projects, we would probably have more rigid and time-specific goals with regards to the manual programming of the outcome.

I think as a group we were most proud of the outcome's personality and very instant, readable nature. We felt it made quite apt use of the Isadora platform and played well to our strengths as a group of illustrators. Obviously the technical facet of the project became under-developed, but overall, we were quite happy with our outcome.

If we were to continue the project, we would obviously be able to make the fortune-telling device as originally intended, but we felt it could make quite an interesting installation graphic piece, with a fun, sideshow feel. We had actually discussed making a material "tent" or stall to present it with, although we felt that logistically this may have been over-reaching, especially due to the demanding nature of the programming. We could also use the principles of our "artificial intelligence" set-up in other ways, and felt that it could be a good platform for further illustrative outcomes. The project probably wouldn't put any of us off using Isadora in future, if we had an idea that might require some of its software capabilities.