Song of the Sea, the most magical animated film

Graphic Design, Inspiration

Song of the Sea is a unique animation, directed by Tomm Moore and nominated for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year to the Academy Awards 2014. It wins you over through stunning visuals in a way that at the end of the movie, even if you liked the plot or not, you can’t feel anything else than mesmerised by the amazing artwork with deep roots in the Irish mythology and folklore.

Animation style

A nice surprise is that Song of the Sea is a traditional animation made up of hand-drawn illustrations. It strikes by its simplicity of execution with attention to symmetry that flows from natural lines and geometric patterns. As Tomm Moore states in an interview for Vox:

2-D for me just has a timelessness. It doesn’t age the same way that CG does.

Character design

The mythological creatures are as beautifully drawn as the backgrounds. An array of emotions is captured by geometric designs in clean lines. The characters are all built to showcase the legend of the selkies, that are living in the sea as seals but also on land as humans, similar to the mermaids. How not to be fascinated by eccentric and quirky characters that reveal stories of their own and bring emotions in flasks?

Colours

The palette of colours is wide, from pastels to vivid hues of blue and green to paint the sea. It is present the warm feeling of watercolours that draws you more into the story, making it feel “a bit mysterious” like Tomm Moore puts it, ending by saying that “it has a dreamlike feeling”. Dreamlike it is also the genius use of light that creates an even more magical, mesmerising atmosphere. All nicely embellished by the patterns on rocks and tree barks and the textures used on surfaces.

If you’re still not fully convinced, here’s what Tomm Moore himself says about his lovely animated film:

open yourself up to a gentler, modern fairy tale, to see something that’s more organic and handmade and full of heart and not so much of a commercial endeavour

Full of magic and emotion, this tale is visually incredible! Must watch if you haven’t already and please let me know your impressions!

Visual Design in Action by Ladislav Sutnar

Graphic Design, Resources

Ladislav Sutnar, born in 1897 in Czechoslovakia, is called by some the father of information design, which is a discipline of graphic design.

Following his country occupation by the Nazi in 1939, he emigrated in New York where his contribution to American graphic design brought him an AIGA medal in 1995, almost 20 years after his death.

He was the one adding the parentheses around the American telephone area code numbers when they were first introduced by Bell Telephone Co. and as such, most of his work focused on communicating information by making it clear and accessible to the users.

Without efficient typography, the jet plane pilot cannot read his instrument panel fast enough to survive.

With the same objective…

A designer’s aim is always to intensify comprehension.

While he was the art director of F.W. Dodge’s Sweet’s Catalog Service, he wrote two books together with Knud Lönberg-Holmin on the information flow in industrial catalogs: “Catalog design” (1944) and “Catalog design progress” (1950).

He is though best known for the book “Visual design in action” published in 1961 and considered an iconic book of the mid-century, really informative and still relevant today. It reveals Sutnar’s directions on how to use colours, typography, scale and repetition based on his approach to graphic design:

resolution of the polarities of function versus form, utility versus beauty, and rational versus irrational

And now it can be yours 😉 as Designers & Books started a campaign on Kickstarter for reprinting this wonderful book, which has been successfully funded a week after the launch. Therefore, if you make your pledge of $62 by June 4th, a facsimile edition will arrive at your door this October, yay!

How do you feel about this project? Excited about the opportunity of having your very own “Visual design in action” by Ladislav Sutnar on your bookshelf?

Chineasy: The new way to read Chinese

Graphic Design, Inspiration

Developed by ShaoLan Hsueh and illustrated by Noma Bar, Chineasy is a visual-based learning system that teaches Chinease in a non-painful way and even more, quite creatively!

ShaoLan created a system of building blocks, compounds and phrases where the building blocks are basic characters and the compounds their derivates while phrases are formed by putting them together, side by side. Each building block is represented by a simple illustration that makes it easy to remember and the same illustration is adjusted in a way that makes sense to bring to life a compound. Below you can find some examples of the concept and also of the brilliant graphics that enhance the learning of one of the most difficult languages in the world.

I have learned about Chineasy last year at Design Museum in London where it was part of a 6-month exhibition following the nomination received for the Best Design of the Year.

It all started one year earlier in February when ShaoLan Hsueh gave a 6-minute TED talk to prove that even though the Chinese language seems to be to an outsider “as impenetrable as the Great Wall of China”, you can still “learn to read Chinese with ease”!

She then launched on July 23rd a project on Kickstarter that got funded in 10 days for £75.000, reaching 200% of the target in day 16 and raising in the end £197,630 from the contributions of 5,475 people that believed in this great idea. That seems like a successful campaign! 🙂

The Chineasy products consist of the Chineasy Book (physical and ebook), 60 Flashcards and 100 Postcards that can be bought from various online locations including Amazon. A second book will be released in Chinese New Year 2016 and I am sure that ShaoLan will come with many other surprises in the future given the fans that Chineasy gained during the time.

Have a look on the Chineasy Facebook page as it is daily updated with quizzes and new phrases, building a strong community of learners. You’ll be welcomed if you’d like to give it a try and you might catch up in no time!

As learning and visual communication are my main interests at the moment, I could not be anything but deeply fond of this project that makes so obvious the role of visual communication in the learning process.

What is your opinion: do you find this a strong example of innovative design?

Free Skillshare class the week of April 20

Resources

Become a better blogger: Content planning

An easy to follow class with specific actions to help you create a 3-month editorial calendar by carefully writing your blog statement, searching for inspiration and creating the calendar template.

An Online Skillshare Class by Andrea Goulet Ford

You will learn how to identify your audience, define your writing style and set goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, appropriate, realistic and time-bound). All these compiled will take the form of your brand statement which is actually the base for planning your content.

The next step is sourcing your inspiration and you will do this by defining your content pillars and digging into a variety of source libraries. Lastly, you will be handed out a template for the editorial calendar to complete with elements like:

  • date
  • category
  • topic/title
  • content details
  • keywords
  • status
  • publication channel

There are 10 videos summing up to a bit under 1 hour and each has an action item to walk you through the process, so do your homework and see you in the project gallery!

Free Skillshare class the week of April 13

Resources

Productivity for Creatives: Turning Ideas into Action

A 72-minute online class with insights on making ideas happen by identifying your drive and putting in place daily habits. I bet you’ll find some good advices in here to avoid procrastination if you have decided to start learning something new or to work on creative projects.

An Online Skillshare Class by Tanner Christensen

Hello Photoshop 1.0!

Miscellaneous

What happens when you go back 25 years right to the first version of Photoshop 1.0? 😀 An experiment carried out by CreativeLive with the support of the most appreciated instructors of this beloved software program.

Check it out, you’ll be mesmerised and I can bet it will put a smile on your face if not make you laugh out loud!

Since when have you been using Photoshop? Have you come across the first versions?