A Look into Geometric Shapes in Design with Yo Az

A Look into Geometric Shapes in Design with Yo Az
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Before the days of photography, artists strove to capture the real world as clearly as possible in their paintings. After photorealistic images were no longer hard to come by, artists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque took their view of the real world and transformed it, creating geometric masterpieces.

Designer Yo Az’s style is a modern take on this classic movement. His distinctive body of work uses geometric shapes to combine a colorful variety of shapes into vector images. He attributes the rise in popularity of geometric design to the rise in popularity of simple, minimalist themes. “Images that are clean and sleek convey a sense of modern elegance,” Yo Az says, “They indicate that whatever is being referenced in the design is on the forefront of the latest technology, and that draws people in.”

As a designer, you have probably mastered the design basics needed to create aesthetically pleasing graphic art pieces, but to stay to competitive, it’s important to continue learning new ways to enhance your creations. And like the Cubists, sometimes the best way to enhance your art is to reduce it to its most basic shapes.

Getting started
Yo Az’s geometric designs often start with a recognizable image. For example, a Stormtrooper Mask from Star Wars. With this piece, he sat down and drew out the image by hand first, focusing on the most important lines to truly define the graphic. After he was satisfied with the outline, he scanned it into his computer and started adding his own personal touches. (Don’t have time to mess with a scanner? Try using Adobe Capture to easily digitize images and upload them to Adobe Illustrator.)

“Star Wars is always a good subject because the basic design is already very strong,” Yo Az says. “I just had to apply my own style. The challenge was trying not to loose the basic design too much in the shapes.”

The key to Yo Az’s technique is that once the image has been scanned, a designer can break it down into geometric patterns. Yo Az first transforms the lines into shapes on one half of the image, and once he is finished, he creates perfect symmetry using the mirror tool to get the exact same design on the remaining half of the image. Since geometric design is so heavily focused on clear details and preventing the image from getting muddled, ensuring that both halves of the symmetrical image are perfectly equal is vital for overall composition balance.

For Yo Az, the way to convert a solid shape into a compilation of shapes is to go by instinct. “I believe that art in general is a question of feeling,” he says. “You start with a feeling. Then, you must think over everything and coordinate your work in a certain way so that your creation shares that feeling with others.”

The process begins when Yo Az creates his basic outline and scans the image. He then builds a series of parallel lines off within the outline itself. These lines will be the basis and guides for the geometric shapes as he selects and adds them to the image. Each of those geometric shapes gives the final composition a feeling of depth and detail.

When you look at a picture, consider how can you alter the geometry of the image without losing its recognizability. Even though when you’re done the outline and defining lines will be gone, you should still be able to immediately identify what the design depicts — in other words the Stormtrooper helmet should obviously still be a Stormtrooper helmet.

Finding inspiration

As with traditional Cubism, the best geometric designs are based on the real world. From patterns in nature to human faces, nearly everything can reflect geometric symmetry. Inspiration for new interpretations of geometry is everywhere. “Lately, I’ve been looking into tattoo art because many tattoo artists offer geometric interpretations of basic symbols or images.” Yo Az says. “I also find ideas often spring from looking at photos and examining street art.” The possibilities are endless.

Best practices
Here are a few recommendations from Yo Az to help you make the most of your experience with geometric design:

  1. Try to keep the shapes equal. Designing on the computer allows you to create shapes that are identical in angle and size.
  2. Choose contrast and shading over multicolored designs. Too many colors will cause your design to lose its integrity, while various shades of a single color will accentuate the differences between shapes.
  3. Focus on symmetry. While computer programs allow you to mirror pieces of the image, you can also manually examine the design to make sure it flows harmoniously.

For more tips and tricks to make your foray into geometric design as rewarding as possible, check out Paul Trani’s instructional demo video here. And learn more about Yo Az from his Q&A.

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