Design as Activism: Illustrations

We have been tasked with creating an animation using design as activism. As group we have decided to create a short anti drug/drug awareness film. We have decided to concentrate mainly on cocaine.

As I missed a lot of the planning for this project when I got up to date the idea was almost finalised. The original idea starts with a pair of decks. The disks start to spin, as they do, the camera zooms in to one deck. Then a line of cocaine in the shape of a question mark appears and dispapears down the line with a sound effect of some sniffing, we then see a pair of eyes. The pupils shrink and then grow. then the pupils and iris start to shake alittle bit before darting side to side, the movement slows, the colour fades to monochrome.

Since starting this post, a few things have changed, due to technical difficulties and creative differences in the start when the question mark shaped line has changed to be some white circular shapes spin. Next we see, as before, the decks starting with music. The decks make up eyes then a white line appears, as if drawn, this creates a nose. The line continues down to show a pair of eyes that look like this:

Anti Drug Eyes Final

The eyes go through a number of stages as i have said before. The final piece with eyes looks like this:

Multiple Eyes Element Final

Sadly these eyes will not be in the final due to lack of communication in our group! I was in charge of creating the eye element of this video. I am a little disappointed that the final video isn’t as i imagined it.

The way I created the eyes was simple, here is how I created them:


To start I created the basic eye shape using the ellipse tool. I then converted the side anchor points to square.

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I then used the bottom right hand handle to make the shape more eye like.

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Then I duplicated it and reflected the duplicate.

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I then created an almost black rectangle over the top to create a mask or cutout. The colour code I used for the black is: 221f20

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Then selected everything and used the exclude tool in the pathfinder window.

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Which gives a cutout which you can see bellow.

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Then to create the eye lids I used the rectangle tool with the fill colour of: c9aba6. I duplicated it to create top and bottom eyelids.

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I then sent them behind the cutout and resized them to fit.

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I then simply created four ellipses, two for the pupils, and two for the iris’.

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To ensure the pupils were right in the middle I used a little trick I learnt in college. If you create the first circle the deselect and use the ellipse again put the mouse in the middle so it says centre, then hold alt when creating the shape. Holding alt with any shape tool creates shape from the middle instead of one corner.

I then changed the fill colour of the iris to: 7faab5  and sent the pupils and iris’ to the the back.

By creating the eyes in this way it gave me a simple but effective way of expressing emotions and drug affects simply but effectively.

Now to animate!

Oh wait hang on…… Multiple eyes element first!

So to create this:

Multiple Eyes Element Final

I did most of it the same way using the ellipse and exclude tool as before. But with a little difference as the simple rectangle eye lid technique would not work here so i had to create a new shape using the ellipse.

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So I duplicated the original eye shape.

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Then used the delete anchor point tool to delete top anchor point of one and the bottom anchor point of another to create top and bottom lids. I then changed the fill colour.

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Put them together and you have a closed, then duplicated both parts and reflected them as before.

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The rest I’m sure is obvious. but here is the end result anyway.

Multiple Eyes Element Final

If you are wandering why only the big centre eyes have eyelids they come later in after effects.

So the point of this last eye shot is to show how paranoid and crazy he has become. The red eyes would appear slowly at first but speed up quickly. The eyes in the middle would dart around looking at the eyes as they appear.

The next step is to animate and put all this together.






Protest Ephemera

Today in our field groups we were asked to make ephemera relating to our chosen issue. Our chosen issue was poverty, we wanted to combat capitalism. To start this project off we sat down as a group and though up some punchy quotes:

  • If Time Is Money Then I Want Less
  • Wealth Doesn’t Define Wealth
  • Poverty Makes Them Rich
  • Feed Our Children Not The Economy
  • Count Your Blessing Not Your Money
  • Save The Homeless Not Your Money

There was six people in our group so we split into pairs and created a piece to each pair. Me and James decided to make a plaque whilst the others created posters. Because capitalism was our main issue we didn’t want to create anything on the computer as this would be hypocritical. We wanted to create ours by hand with spray paints, brushes, and stencils. This would also give it a fitting anti establishment look.

Firstly James did some sketches to decide which quote we would use and what it would look like.

protest-sketchesprotest-sketches-2protest-sketches-finalMe and James decided to go for ‘Save The Homeless Not Your Money’. We then had to go and find a big enough piece of cardboard, this was no easy task. We went o the office first but they had already given theirs away. We decided to go and check Tesco for cardboard (and get me some lunch) but they couldn’t give us any either. Luckily the way to Tesco went past the building I used to work in and there recycling bins were usually full of cardboard boxes. We had a rummage and James basically climbed into the bin to get the piece we ended up using. We also brought a few more for the others in our group.

We decided that the ‘Save The Homeless’ part would be free hand with brushes. We did this so that it looked like one of those boards that the homeless have. The ‘Not Your Money’ bit would be in stencil to give it a more structured and controlled look. Here are the stencils we created.

I created the ‘Money’ stencil and James created the ‘NOT Your’ stencil. We did this to speed up the process sharing the work equally. James had never used spray paints and i have plenty of experience so sprayed the design. Spray paints contain solvents so we had to do it outside, as it was raining, we found an area by the print studio that had a roof but was open to the wind. Here’s how it looked:


It was difficult to be accurate with this as the cardboard was so warped and we did not use stencil card. This meant that the paint would get into gaps we didn’t want to because of the wrinkles in the cardboard. The problem with not using stencil card is that the card we used flapped around to much in the wind, to remedy this I had to get James to hold down what he could whilst I did the same.

To do the ‘Save The Homeless’ bit we used Indian ink with a biggish brush, I let James do this bit as there was no need for two of us to write the words. To insure that he could fit it all on he pencil’d in the words first.

Here is the finished result:


Me and James were very happy with the result, we felt it was powerful yet simple. Maybe its just because were Graphics students but we felt we didn’t need to create and image. The text on an old bit of card was enough of an image.

Whilst we were creating  our piece Simeon and Callum created this piece which is my favourite from our group.


I just love the quote, and the punkyness of the poster. I could see it up and around Cardiff easily.

The next was created by George and Dan.


I love this piece to but feel that they should have kept to stencils instead of painting ‘save our society’ with a brush.

When asked where by the tutors “where would we see them?” would they be by other posters?” I made the point that our pieces would look even better by normal digitally made posters as it would outline the anti establishment elements to our designs.

I am really looking forward to this next brief as it will make us more mindful of protest art and its importance.