Archive for December 2011

Snowflakes   Leave a comment

I know that I’m behind on showing off my recent game-related work but I thought I’d share something more recent before I get back to normal updates. I decided to make some snowflakes for my grandmother but, while I was making them,  I started thinking about them in terms of art and design so I scanned them in before mailing them off.

4 snowflakes 2011

Paper Snowflakes – 7 December 2011

Making paper snowflakes is a pretty simple craft project. It’s so simple, that it’s often used as an art project in kindergarten classes. You start by folding a sheet of white paper and then cutting geometric shapes out of it to create radially symmetrical patterns that represent falling snow. While the basic idea isn’t very complex, the results sometimes can be, with a bit of time and effort.

As I mentioned, it all starts with folding. Most of the snowflakes I see start with folding a sheet of paper in half twice. Sometimes, a third fold is thrown in. This results in a pattern that either repeats four or eight times. Real snowflakes usually form in hexagon patterns, so, when I’m not lazy or in a hurry, I like to use the more difficult three folds required for a hexagon shape. Instead of folding the paper directly in half length or width wise, I fold it along a diagonal. Then I find the center point of that fold and try to fold it into thirds from there for the two subsequent folds. To get a truly realistic pattern, I’d fold the result in half one more time.

As you can see above, in three out of four of my examples, that the pattern repeats three times, not six, because I left out the extra fold. The obvious reason behind it, beyond laziness, is so I have extra room to create special shapes. The example in the upper right corner would have benefited from the extra fold, since it’s purely geometric, almost fractal.

4 paper snowflakes, still folded

Snowflakes, folded – 7 December 2011

So, what does any of this have to do with design? With enough practice, skill, patience, etc, you can make more and more complex patterns. However, it goes much deeper than that or, rather, it could go much deeper than that if you analyze it from the perspective of a designer.

The easiest place to start is with basic design principles. The most obvious principle to apply here is the balance between positive and negative space. In all these examples there is much more white than black. While that may seem like a good thing, since snow is white, but I’m a bit unhappy with the final products here because the balance seems off to me. I think I’d like to aim for something much closer to 50/50 than what I have here. The larger fields of positive and negative in the tree/snowman (upper left), in my opinion, make for the most balanced and interesting composition of the group. The geometric (upper right) looks worst to me because of the uniformity of the patterns and the lack of negative space. In a previous attempt, years ago, I took the opposite approach and ended up with too much negative space. It ended up looking like a lace doily.

Rather than droning on about it further, as I tend to do until a post is unbearably long, I’ll just post the scans in the order I made them, below:

Paper Snowflake 1 – 6 December 2011

Paper Snowflake 2 – 6 December 2011

Paper Snowflake 3 – 6 December 2011

Paper Snowflake 4 – 7 December 2011

Posted 8 December 2011 by Gameitect in General

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