Class 2 // A1: Narrative Composition


Before I read Molly Bang’s “Picture This” I completed the in-class exercise to create an Emotive Composition. Using basis shapes to create feelings of fear, anxiety, tranquility, misery, and joy I found that this exercise came to me naturally by relating to and drawing up these emotions in my head. These are basic emotions that I have experienced tenfold throughout my life thus far. Thinking of myself in this way helped to translate these emotions through shapes. As I read “Picture This”, I began to understand why I chose the shapes and placed them on my substrate. Pointed shapes make you feel more scared and objects on the bottom half of a picture make you feel more threatened, heavier, sadder and constrained. When I was working on “anxiety,” I referred to my own feelings of anxiety where I felt small, so I placed a circle at the bottom. Jagged triangles were pointed at me to further give the feeling of anxiety. I feel small and stressed and less empowered when I am feeling anxious.

For the feeling of “tranquility”, I chose a large circle and placed it in the middle of the substrate. Bang explained that curved shapes embrace us and protect us. When I feel embraced and protected, I feel calm and tranquil. It’s as if the circle I chose is hugging me and keeping me safe. Recreating it with the color blue promotes more feelings of calm.

It’s very interesting, although it makes a whole lot of sense, to break down designs into lines, points, and planes, and look at them in the most simple way like we did in the emotive composition. After all, designs, even the most complex ones, are a combination of lines, points, and planes, just as Ellen Lupton describes in “Point, Line, Plane.” To fully understand design and eventually become a good designer, it’s important to understand and look at designs in their simplest form, as lines, points, and planes.

When reading about balance, and symmetrical designs versus asymmetrical designs, I recall how challenging and unnatural it is for me to create anything without symmetry. I think it’s the anxiety that asymmetrical designs give me. I like structure and balance, and designs that give me a feeling of calm. To create something that isn't balanced or chaotic is asking me to move out of my comfort zone which is uncomfortable (ha!) for lack of a better word. I seek balance like Lupton explains in this section of her book, in not only my designs but also in other aspects of my life. So much so, I incorporated self-care into my design manifesto.

Narrative Composition

For my Narrative Composition, I chose “The Moon” by the Brothers Grimm. After reading this tale, I sketched out every 4"x4" square before creating it in Adobe Illustrator. Using Molly Bang’s composition for inspiration and the design parameters provided by my professor, I focused on a few colors and very basic shapes to tell the story about the moon. Overall, I found this assignment to be challenging. Choosing the colors that I wanted to use and how big or small I wanted elements to be, or deciding whether objects should be still or give a feeling of motion were all challenging aspects of the assignment. For certain parts of the story, when the people of the town were dancing because they were happy they could see, I wanted to make sure the people, who were depicted as triangles, were moving and dancing around the moon. In other parts, I wanted certain characters to appear larger and serious based on the decisions they were making. For example, in one scene the three fellows were normal size, and then in the next scene, I wanted them to be bigger based on their decision to take the moon from the oak tree and bring it back to their land. By making them bigger in this scene, I wanted to show power.

Overall, I think I did my best and am happy with the outcome. I am looking forward to hearing feedback.

Please find sketches here >>

The Moon (PDF)



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Jennifer Novicki

Jennifer Novicki


Process blog for my M.S. candidacy in the Integrated Digital Media program @ the NYU Tandon School of Engineering