First year University of Cincinnati School of Design students spend their first design studio learning how to develop intricately detailed illustrations, and then abstract these illustrations in various ways spanning multiple design disciplines in the process. Early in the semester, the spend the bulk of their time photographing a series of leaves, recreating these in pencil. 

Following this investigation into detail, students then simplify their drawings into flat art, adding a system of graphic elements as they do so. This allows them to not only explore how shape, line, color, scale, repetition, and rotation can be used to generate content, but it helps them develop an inherent understanding of how a design system can be applied and altered to create potential meaning and visual interest.

Ultimately, this design system gets torn apart and reassembled as students use each element to create five unique compositions which act as a series of storyboards illustrating some form of mutation between two states of being. Some students investigated complexity to simplicity, while others explored orthographic to organic forms.


Michael Emeric

Nathan Meyer

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Sarah Porter