Final 2D Project: Nature Study

An Analytic Study of Design In God's Creation

Nature (God's creation) is the ultimate example of excellent design. 
Creation's design offers a full measure of subject, form, and content.
This study will focus on the form of natural design. 
Utilize what you have learned in our previous design element problems as you complete this analysis, discovery and graphic communication.


To graphically express prominent design features of the surface and structure of a natural subject, along with other features that reflect the designed nature of the subject.

To engage the viewer's attention.

To communicate effectively with that viewer.

To develop a unified design in the overall document, site, project or exhibition.

Design Issues

Selecting Your Subject

Format/Medium Options

Document Design Issues

Design Analysis Issues

* * * Required Content outline summarizing project content and options. Explore this section carefully!

Design Issues

Design Analysis: Your final project involves studying a natural object in order to recognize and understand the formal characteristics of that subject. Then you will select several particular design topics to present to your viewers/readers. Select those topics that are most most interesting and appropriate to your subject. Consider which design traits can be best communicated visually.

Design Graphic Communication: Then you will develop images and diagrams and text that explain and present those characteristics. Devise graphics that effectively communicate and emphasize the formal traits you have identified.

Designed Presentation: You will design a presentation format that presents content in an orderly and engaging manner. The presentation should be both enjoyable and instructive. The final product of this project is a graphic communication of the insights of your analysis. It may be presented in diverse and creative ways.

Design your project development and implementation: Finally, you must also plan and implement it all you'll need to design your use of time.

Document Design

Design a format for each page so that the presentation will be perceived as a unit. Consider the margins, typefaces, colors, motifs, arrangements and other graphic traits that will provide a sense of continuity from one page to another.

Unity and Variety

You must also design your pages for flexibility and variety. Your page designs must allow for the individual communication-graphics on each page--no two pages are alike.
How will your document pages provide similarity? —and variety? How will you create harmony in the entire presentation?

Exploit the Medium to Introduce Engaging Interactivity

How can the specific medium you choose, be effectively used to engage the viewer?
Consider transparent overlays, cutouts, additional materials, etc. that might be used.
In Flash and Web design, consider intractive features, annimations, audio and general navigation technniques that will exploit your technologies.
In exhibitions, consider what is offered by a broad, extended wall—rather than isolated pages of content. Consider how the space within the exhbition might be exploited—encourage the viewer to move through the space in ways that set up unexpected viewpoints or discoveries.

Explore Earlier Studies

Go through several of the earlier nature studies.  ( see Nature Study Samples ) Explore the analysis, the craftsmanship, the document designs, and the graphic communication concepts of other student designers.

Explore scientific and popular journals that deal with design, nature, morphology, biology, etc. See how images, especially, are used to communicate significant features and relationships.


Develop an expressive concept for your study.

You might tell a story about your subject. You might use a character to narrate content and lead the viewer through. You could create a mystery or hunt —invite the viewer on a search. Imagine the reader going through your study —will they understand what you're talking about, or would you have to explain?

Develop a graphic concept for your page layout, color, illustrations and text.

What medium will be appropriate for each design or diagram? What medium are you familiar with; what will offer you the most range of effect and the most control in illustrating, clarifying and emphasizing the features of interest? What do your time and talents allow?


Develop your concept for the entire presentation via thumbnails that storyboard the entire project. All pages/panels of the project should be sketched at roughly 1/4 size. Show the order/sequence of pages and content—position sketches side-by-side so that you can see the flow of both image and content at a glance.

Develop a consistent page design at this stage.

The Cover/Splash Page/Exhibit Sign  

Book: Design a cover page.
Web Site or Flash Site: design a splash page.
Exhibit: design a sign that promotes the exhibit and might be used at/near the exhibit entrance.

The cover design should be consistent with the page designs that follow.  The page designs of the main study should be reflected in the design/layout of the cover—the cover design intimates the designs that follow.

The cover should introduce the topic clearly —what is the subject? Make it clear that this is a visual and/or formal study of the subject. Aim to very briefly communicate the content and purpose of what follows.

The cover should engage the viewer—get the viewer's attention. Provide imagery, text or form that incites curiousity.

Type, Text, & Lettering

Have a plan for how type will be incorporated —hand written?, printed directly on pages? or pasted onto pages?
Your type/text is expected to be professional. This does NOT mean that it has to be computer-set, though this is the best option if your hand-lettering skills are not strong. Hand-lettered text must be fully legible, consistent in character with the page design, consistent in style throughout the document. Text should not overwhelm graphic imagery, or otherwise detract from it. In general, use a very limited variety of typefaces or styles--when in doubt, simplify your type selections rather than adding variety.

Text should introduce, support and clarify content.
Text should graphically complement other graphic features.

One of the most common type-design errors invovles inadequate contrast between forground (type) and background. Make sure that the value contrast is adequate for type readability.

Another common type flaw involves busy or cluttered backgrounds that obsure letterform legibility. Be careful that other graphic elements do not compete with your type. Also, preserve white space (relief space) around your type. There is no absolute rule about how much of a 'cushion' of relief space is needed, but, in general, introduce relief space to isolate and enhance the graphic impact and the legibility of your type.

Formal Elements Analysis

Examine and analyze your subject according to the topics that follow. (see Visual Elements & Formal Relationships, below)

Formal Analysis: Explore and Discover Significant Formal Traits

Assess the design characteristics in your subject —what interesting visual and formal features are present? How can you emphasize or clarify what those features are? What design relationships are present? Think carefully about the particular characteristics that you want the viewer to become aware of. One of the best ways to get started is to explore ealier Nature Study project—see how others have solved this. What traits did they present and how did they make those traits graphically prominent to the viewer?

Graphic Communication: Devise Images, Diagrams, & Designs that Express Those Traits

How can you graphically illustrate, explain or diagram those relationships? What kind of images will enable viewers to notice the particular forms that you have discovered in this object?   Consider adding written notes to the images to explain or elaborate graphic content.

Remember that graphic communication (any communication) depends more on concept than on 'artistic talent' -- this presentation is not 'about' realistic imagery, but about images that communicate ideas.

Effective images emphasize what is important, and subdue what is not important to the idea being communicated.

Think before you draw! Think before you edit or enhance images. How can you best describe, explain, illustrate, and point out characteristics of interest? Provide more than pictures of the subject; provide images that emphasize characteristics.

How can you make the entire presentation engaging, enjoyable, and inviting? How can a humble artifact from nature have so many characteristics worth noting to fill an entire presentation? You're going to have to get to know your subject well -- let it teach you about itself -- about its own design. You don't start out knowing what you will discover -- you discover as you go. So get going!

Design each page so that your room-mate can understand what you've discovered without you having to explain it.

Preliminary Sketches, Notes and Plans

Before beginning work on actual pages of the book, first complete sketches of the various views and make notes on the techniques you will use, and notes on the ideas that will be presented in the book. You will present a sketch of the design of the entire book in thumbnails, along with a comprehensive sketch, at least 1/4 size, which presents enough detail to make your layout features clear. Your decisions regarding your subject and page topics should be indicated along with these sketches.


Clayton's HU Home Page

2D Design Home Page

Nature Study Project Home Page

Feel free to send the instructor suggestions or questions regarding this project.