Graphic Design Visual Communication Assignment Number 1:
"The Black Square Problem"

The Black Square Problem (from “Visual Literacy” by Wilde and Wilde)

GOAL: By using ONLY FOUR black perfect squares, create a graphic image that best expresses the meaning of the following six words (see below).

VIDEO TUTORIALS NEEDED FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT:

PREPARATION:

  1. Create a new folder on your network folder (making a GRAPHIC_DESIGN folder might be a good idea!), called “Lastname_black_square.”
  2. Using Photoshop, create a total of SIX canvases, each 300 x 300 pixels for each of the following six words:
    • ORDER
    • INCREASE
    • BOLD
    • CONGESTED (either like a cold or like traffic.)
    • TENSION
    • PLAYFUL
  3. Use your Photoshop Rectangle Tool to make FOUR AND ONLY FOUR BLACK squares. Use the Free Transform Tool as needed to rotate, size and move your squares.
  4. Create SIX preliminary sketches for each word using the proper Photoshop tools and techniques. Try to use different placements and ideas for each canvas.
  5. DO NOT THINK OF THE EDGE OF YOUR CANVAS AS A "BORDER" THAT YOU CANNOT CROSS! THE BEST "BLACK SQUARE" CANVASES ARRANGE THE SQUARES SO THAT YOU CAN NOT EVEN TELL THERE ANY SQUARES IN THE WORK!
  6. Save them to your “Lastname_black_square” folder as “ORDER_1.jpg”, etc.
  7. You will create a total of 36 different small canvases for these six words. You will select one of the 6 samples to be the most effective and execute it in large format using Photoshop.

FINAL EXECUTION:

After completing all of your trial canvases, we will execute each of your final designs using Photoshop.

  1. Create a New White Canvas, dimensions 600 x 600 pixels.
  2. Pick what you feel is the BEST of your six versions of each of the words above and recreate them on the new larger canvas.
  3. In the lower left or right corner of your larger canvas, use the TEXT TOOL to write:
LASTNAME

WORD ("tension", "increase", etc.)

2011

Use Black or White letters, depending upon the color of the corner you are using.

  • Save each of these as: Tension_FINAL.jpg, etc.
  • Turn in your entire Black Square Folder, with all 36 trials and the 6 final products.

SAMPLE CANVASES: From the Graphic Design classes of 2009-2010.

GRADING: As this project is predominantly about the process of brainstorming good answers to a graphical problem, you will be rewarded 2.5 points for each practice canvas completed. Final canvases will be worth 1.5 points each. You will receive .5 points for free. This yields a project point total of 100 points.

If the student demonstrates care and thought in the creation of their canvases, they will receive full credit for each file. Sloppy, ordinary or rushed work will receive a total of 50 percent credit for each file. Uncompleted files will receive ZERO points.

These pictures may be displayed in the classroom, on the website or in the hallway upon completion.