Point, Line, Plane: Jasper Barbosa-Rodríguez

A point. A point can be everything and nothing all at once. Given the placement, whether that placement is deliberate, or undirected, gives a point its purpose and is up to the designer who put it there. It can be sequenced with other points and form into a line, or it can be another drop in an ocean of points, which then become a plane – either way, each point has the same amount of potential as another, given time and space. According to Graphic Design: The New Basics, “A plane can be solid or perforated, opaque or transparent, textured or smooth” (pg. 38), making each point in a plane necessary to convey what the designer intends.


A snapshot taken from page 7 of Will Eisner’s “Last Day in Vietnam: A Memory” (2000).

Now that the philosophical aspects of points have been beaten to a pulp, let’s see what we’re talking about being put into practice. Shown to the left is a sample of 2000’s “Last Day in Vietnam: A Memory” by famed graphic novel forefather, Will Eisner. Here we see actual points creating tonal variation, much like the halftone process in old photographs. Eisner used this kind of pointillism to emulate sepia photos from the late 1960s in his graphic novel, and built up the darkness to simulate heavy shading. In doing so, he created planes and implied lines along the scenery that draw the eye towards areas without as many points, as seen with the hand of the soldier gesturing towards the “right pretty” country. The country itself could be argued as a point of focus, being surrounded by a dark frame and even having a finger pointing it out in the image.

Eisner also manages to blend his images together using this tonal variation, but zooms in and out of an important figure, giving us spatial translation, which helps to differentiate the images from each other as different parts of the novel’s tiers.

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