Form & Composition

Order, Tension, Playfulness, Congestion, Comfort

“This Assignment is an exploration of how objects in space can convey meaning through their placement in relation to other objects in space and to the space itself.” — Communication Design Fundamentals Project Statement


All compositions used only black squares of any size that could overlap each other and the page to convey chosen themes of order, tension, playfulness, congestion, and comfort. The process for each design is shown below including the initial brainstorming thumbnail sketches, Adobe Illustrator iterations, and the final version of the designs.

Thumbnail Sketches

Some of the designs from each category were chosen and iterated further in Adobe Illustrator.

Adobe Illustrator Iterations

Order, Tension, Congestion, Playfulness, Comfort

Desk Critique

Order — I looked into adding more negative space between the vertical blocks and aligning the smallest squares more precisely in the other design.

Tension — I changed the size of the three blocks to balance the positive and negative space. I brought the lower diamond closer to the edges for the bottom left design above, in order to increase the feeling of tension in the composition.

Congestion — Work with the alignment of the larger squares so that it does not distract away from the rest of the composition. I also focused on pushing the negative space in order to make the composition more thoughtful and more than just a jumbled bunch of boxes.

Playfulness — There are too many tension points in the design with a background pattern an box in the foreground. I focused my iterations on the spiral pattern and looked at the rotation, angle, and dialing back the largest box.

Comfort — Look at the scale and negative space in the compositions. I increased the scale difference for the surrounded box. For the arc design I played with the ratio of negative space on either side and the amount of positive and negative space in the composition.

further iterations were made after this feedback…

Order, Tension, Congestion, Playfulness, Comfort

Final Designs

Order, Tension, Playfulness, Congestion, Comfort
Final Design for Order


The feeling of order in this design for me is in both the positive and negative space. The use of gradually increasing block sizes from lower right to upper left gives an order of scale. The consistent gap between all of the blocks creates a balance in the negative space. The lower right of the canvas is much darker than the spread out smaller blocks in the upper left which draws the eye from the to the largest block and then the viewer works their way through the descending block size order.

Final Design for Tension


I think the idea of gravity in this composition is key to the feeling of tension. I used the size difference between the lower and middle squares to give the sense that the center one is being stretched by the weight of the bottom one. The proximity of the lower edges to the edge of the canvas increases the intensity of the layout, by drawing the viewers eyes to the corners of the hanging square.

Final Design for Congestion


While there aren’t many blocks in this composition, for me it still expresses the feeling of congestion. The imbalance of negative space creates a large open space at the bottom, that’s cutoff from the rest of the composition by the smaller blocks resting between the two larger blocks. The slight arc created by the two smaller blocks gives the composition a stationary feeling. After feedback from my final critique I would consider enlarging all of the blocks to fill the canvas more and potentially bleed off the top of the page. I think this could accentuate the feeling of congestion and emphasize the negative space that remains at the bottom of the canvas.

Final Design for Playfulness


I used a sense of motion and depth to express my version of playfulness. The gradual increase in square size with a constant rotation both gives a sense of rhythm and creates a foreground and background. If you assume all the blocks are actually the same size then their apparent sizes determine their depth in the canvas. The spiral originates from a box far in the distance and spirals forward towards the viewer until the largest box which is so close it’s not even fully visible.

Final Design for Comfort


The feeling of comfort I feel in this composition comes from the simplicity, stability and softer lines. I used three blocks to create the gradual arc and move away from the harsh corners of an exposed block. The large negative space gives the composition a clean look and the flat center of the arc gives stability to the design. I used an off center placement to make the composition more interesting and to give both the negative and positive spaces interesting forms.