First, we were introduce to the project (Designing Characters) with a different categories:
- Sea creatures
- Fictitious creatures
- Sad blobs
- Happy geometry
- Random characters
What is Merging?
- After I do some research about knowing the meaning of Merging, I end up with this definition:
- MERGING: Merging is the first step of the search process where we bring diverse ideas, objects and thoughts into concert.
- SEARCH: Pursuit, examine. A divergent process with an idea to broaden your knowledge.
- RESEARCH: an investigative process, Precedence studies.
- EXTRACTION: Examining the potential impact and meaning of the chosen avenue of exploration.
- Icon: An icon resembles the thing it represents, such as a pictorial representation, a photograph, an architect’s model of a building are all icons , because they imitate or copy aspects of their subject.
- Index: An index has a factual or causal connection that points toward its object e.g. Green crescent sign.
- Symbol: Has an arbitrary relationship between the signifier and the thing signified. (Direct link between the sign and the object) e.g. Smoke for fire, foot prints for person.
This was the process of my thinking as I tried to decide what sign to design.
- Signs that are important and those that are not. Example: arrow to indicate emergency exit and arrow to indicate direction of lounge in airport.
- Signs we ignore and signs we obey. Example: No smoking signs in cafes in Malls in Qatar and No Entry signs on streets.
- Signs that are important, but that we ignore.
- Signs that are important because they indicate danger, but we ignore or we don’t see them.
The problem seeking: its not known, some people don’t switch off their car while other have no idea how dangerous it is specially that we live in a hot country. Also you hardly find such sign in a petrol station, its either hidden somewhere behind or not there at all.
- Petrol station signs about switching off engine while filling with petrol.
- In a hot country like Qatar, there is a high risk that an engine could create a spark and cause an explosion while the car is filling with petrol. However, most people do not know this. The petrol companies know about this and there are signs that tell people to switch off their engines when they are filling with petrol. The problem is that these signs are small and they are not very obvious to drivers, so people do not usually switch off their engines when they are filling with petrol.
- Make very large signs that everyone can understand because Qatar population is from many nationalities, so a sign is more useful than a sign with text. If the sign is big, drivers will see it and they may switch off their engine.
- At the same time, the sign needs to be clear and does not depend on where a person comes from. This means that it is better to make signs that are linked with local driving, that are high visibility, and that are not so formal (high visibility).
- Aware that it’s a must to switch off their cars off once a car is getting filled with petrol.
- Our goal is that people will be aware the next time they visit a petrol station.
- Meaning for any language speaker and for people who cannot read.
The sign should have:
- a key;
- a petrol station sign;
- an off sign;
- colors that indicate danger;
Global vs. Local
Official vs. Unofficial
High Vernacular vs. Low Vernacular
- Global: understood worldwide without indicating a specific culture.
- Local: specified to one region and only understood by them. (Qatar, Gulf Region)
- Official: government signs that are shown in the public roads, clear distinction without additional context.
- Unofficial: humorous, silly, funny, adding a twist to the official sign.
- High Vernacular: think of museum designs, sophisticated, abstract…
- Low Vernacular: a more exaggerated sign of the unofficial signs, graffiti signs, rapidly designed, a hacked sign in a bad neighborhood.
- the global sign for switch off is to turn to the left.
- The key is the thing that they have to turn.
- The local sign should have more impact to locals if it looks local.
- Changing the brand 4 x 4 as the car. This car is very typical of Qatar.
- I thought of the road sign of a person crossing which shows a man wearing a Thobe and that inspired me to use a very typical local car.
- Signs with a line through them have the standard meaning of something that is not allowed. That is what I wanted to show in the official sign.
- I wanted to make the unofficial sign like something that warns of danger in a very strong way. I thought that red color is a good way to do this, especially if I contrast red with another color.
High vernacular/low vernacular
- I wanted a sign to attract attention, and to be clear what message it was sending to the audience. I know that if a sign is confusing, people will ignore it.
- After critiquing my work, I gathered the comments and I found it so helpful. It helped me to see people’s view and how I can improve my designs.
What I gathered from the comments:
- The High V. and Low V. are similar to each other.
- I got a really good feedback after critiquing my final design, it was so clear as the audience said, and I just have to fix my craft on illustrator and make it more accurate.
• I kept the global sign with a key turning to the left as this seems to be a universal way of turning off an engine. I made it bold by placing the sign inside a circle to attract attention
• For the local sign, I wanted it to be understood by all people, including the many workers who live in Qatar, but who do not read or write Arabic or English. This is why the sign is very explicit and shows exactly what they should do when they are filling their vehicles with petrol. This sign is also inside a red triangle, which is also used on the road to warn of danger with a sharp edges.
• The official sign is a standard line through a circle, as this is the normal way to show that something is forbidden.
• The local sign is very dramatic and represents what might happen if the engine is not turned off. It is a clear warning and does not need to be interpreted.
High Vernacular/low Vernacular
• My final design for this aspect had to be clear and to catch attention. This is why I used the circle and the finger on the key.
The process of designing my signs began with a look at what people do not do, even though they should do this. According to notices in petrol stations, people should switch off their engines when filling with petrol because of the risk of fire, but people ignore these signs because they are not visual and are in languages that many people in Qatar cannot read. This was my starting point.
From there, I looked at how to make my signs universal and also with high impact. I decided that there could be two types of signs – one that is universal and one that is local. The universal signs contain the essential elements of a key and an indication that it needs to be turned off. The local sign is more explicit and also more dramatic in order to inform drivers who are not aware of the meaning of universal signs. In other words, I needed my signs to be available and accessible to the whole population of Qatar and not only to the minority.
I believe that by exploring the design of my signs through a process of thoughts that lead to drafts and finally to the finished product, I was able to create signs that have both local and international significance and that can be used to help to improve safety in Qatar. These signs have value because they inform and also carry a sense of urgency and importance, and are not easy to ignore.
Summarizing the story
Snow-White and Rose-Red are two little girls living with their mother, a poor widow, in a small cottage. They are very good little girls, they love each other dearly, and their mother is very fond of them. Rose-Red is outspoken and cheerful and loves to play outside. Snow-White is quiet and shy and prefers doing housework and reading.
One winter night, there is a knock at the door. Rose Red opens the door to find a bear. At first, she is terrified, but the bear tells her not to be afraid. “I’m half frozen and I merely want to warm up a little at your place,” he says. They let the bear in, and he lies down in front of the fire. Snow-White and Rose-Red beat the snow off the bear, and they quickly become quite friendly with him. They play with the bear and roll him around playfully. They let the bear spend the night in front of the fire. In the morning, he leaves trotting out into the woods. The bear comes back every night for the rest of that winter and the family grows used to him.
When summer comes, the bear tells them that he must go away for a while to guard his treasure from a wicked dwarf. During the summer, when the girls are walking through the forest, they find a dwarf whose beard is stuck in a tree. The girls rescue him by cutting his beard free, but the dwarf is ungrateful and yells at them for cutting his beautiful beard. The girls encounter the dwarf several times that summer, rescue him from some peril each time and the dwarf is ungrateful each time. Then one day, they meet the dwarf once again. This time, he is terrified because the bear is about to kill him. The dwarf pleads with the bear and begs it to eat the girls. Instead, the bear pays no heed and kills the dwarf with one swipe of his paw. Instantly, the bear turns into a prince. The dwarf had previously put a spell on the prince by stealing his precious stones and turning him into a bear, but the curse is broken with the death of the dwarf. Snow-White marries the prince and Rose-Red marries the prince’s brother.
- Snow White
- Rose Red
At first it seemed like a strange idea to mix letters and especially to mix Arabic and Latin letters. This was my first reaction when I understood the task. This is because the two forms of letters are so different that I did not think that I could combine them in a way that would look good and that would make artistic sense. That was my first mistake because I did not see more than the idea that the combinations of letters had to make sense to people, but that they had to produce a visual effect that would look pleasing to people. In other words, this project was about pure design, without any reference to meaning. At least, that is the idea that I understood finally.
So when I started to look at how to combine letters, I began with Arabic because that is what I have most experience with. Combining letters should be easy, but there is an unusual feature in Arabic writing, which is a little like upper and lower-case letters in English. The rules for when to use the different cases in English are not very difficult, but in Arabic, the shape of a letter may change depending on where it comes in a word (beginning, middle or end for example) or also what other letters it joins with. So there is no one standard way to write a letter. So when I started to join Arabic letters together, I had to consider the shape of each letter to see if it made sense to place it beside another letter. That means that I was immediately involved in design.
Latin/Latin also made me think about how to combine upper and lower case and which was easier to do. It seems to me that upper case is easier because the lines of the majority of letters are straight and so they can combine more with similar letters. In contrast, lower case letters are more curved and rounded so it is not so easy to find combinations of upper and lower case letters that look natural together.
Finally, Arabic/Latin combination was the most difficult in my opinion. This is because of direction of writing a letter and also because of the typefaces that were available to use. I found that a contrast of a white letter or background and the “dominant” letter would change the emphasis when compared with the reverse image and it was more difficult to merge the two alphabets. This is something that I will have to remember when I am working as a design professional.
Overall, I found that it was an interesting experience to work with letters as design and not with meaning. I showed me the value of design compared with message and it allowed me to experiment with typefaces.