Using Black and White

(Part 2/Ideas/Using black and white)

Exercise – Using Black and White

I chose the word Building to do this exercise. At first I was going to use just a  dry stone wall as I thought that would lend itself to the exercise. However, I thought that would be too simple so decided to do a scene with a building.  This was my drawing of my house done with drawing pens.

I copied the image and reversed to colour to get the picture below. I  then started to cut and stick the black sections on the white to show the light and dark parts of the picture.
Having re-read the instructions for the exercise I now realise the drawing has too much detail in it as I can’t possibly cut out enough of the opposite colour to completely remove all the ‘lines’.

However, I do now understand the principal being demonstrated by the exercise. I failed to realise that it is just block colour that is required in the initial drawing without any details. (Should have read the brief more carefully before I started!) Simplicity is required. The picture below shows how far I got with cutting and sticking.

Having gone slightly off on a tangent with this one, I decided to take it one step further. I don’t have any black paper at the moment but the obvious idea was to reconstruct the house as a collage using only black and white paper.

However, I have overcome this deficiency by doing the added exercise on the computer. Using only blocks of black and white I have used the original picture to create a purely monochrome edition of it. The principle is the same in that I created all the ‘bits’ separately in layers, then combined them in one finished  picture.
The focus remains more or less the same on theses two pictures. The apparent very strong shadows take the eye from the corner of the wall in the foreground to the angular shape of the building.

The trees are more evident in the lowers example with the black sharply contrasting with the white behind it.
Compared to the original picture where the wall corner was very evident, the focus has shifted much more to the middleground.
It is block shapes of the final example everything more or less retains its importance.
This is the effect usually sought by logo designers. Their work is often black and white and very simple with each element having equal importance, as in the easily-recognised examples below.

The illustrations below are by Olimpia Zagnoli. She is quoted as saying,
“I like to work with graphical and clean illustrations with a retro feel. I like to play with shapes and lines and make them do a little dance before creating the final piece.” (100 Illustrators, Taschen, 2012, page 660)

What she describes here is exactly what we were asked to do for this exercise – cut out the bits then move them around until we were happy with them. Although she uses colour, the principle is the same and the simplicity of the design is at the essence.