Project One

Textural Interpretation


In the textural interpretation exercise, you will engage and explore design elements and principles discussed in our reading through our own creations in Adobe Illustrator. This includes point, line, planescaletexture; and transparency: By engaging in a textural interpretation, you will manipulate elemental forms (points, lines, planes) so they present themselves as a more complex visual composition. You will begin to gain understanding of the visual complexity of typefaces (fonts), and to consider how different visual styles can be used in the service of visual illustration.

This part of the project is adapted from Ellen Lupton’s “Physical and Virtual Texture” assignment in “Graphic Design: The New Basics.”

You will reinterpret one or more of your environmental source photographs into a vector graphic image in Adobe Illustrator. Translate physical texture—something photographed from the physical world in which all your senses come into play, including sense of touch—into virtual texture, in which sense of sight is primary (see page 72 from the Texture Chapter in Graphic Design: The New Basics, or page 56 in the online library edition).

Choose a photograph or photographs you would like to use for this project. Pick a photograph(s) that demonstrate(s) contrast, including a range of fine and bold texture, smooth and rough texture, etc. You may make one textural interpretation study (8×10) of a photograph that demonstrates multiple textures, or you may make two textural interpretation studies (5×5 each) using photographs that demonstrate single textures (say, one study of an all-over rough texture and one study of an all-over smooth texture).

Write a descriptive paragraph(s) about your source photos, focusing on the formal characteristics of the image (what vocabulary and concepts can your use from your reading?). You will post this on your blog along with your photo(s).

Using your descriptive text as content, re-create the texture typographically in Illustrator using one 8×10 artboard or 2 5×5 artboards (place the reference photo(s) on additional artboards so your instructor can compare). You may only use the words and lines of your text, no other backgrounds, shapes, etc. Employ repetition, proportional scale change, layering, and color. You may choose any one typeface, but do not distort its proportions as you scale it up or down. You may also use transparency.

Required Readings and Tutorials

From Graphic Design: The New Basics:

  1. Point, Line, Plane
  2. Scale
  3. Texture
  4. Transparency


  1. Watch How To Get Started With Adobe Illustrator CC – 10 Things Beginners Want To Know How To Do
  2. Create Text in Illustrator
  3. Read the Using Color in Illustrator PDF (pgs 111-127)

Technical Specifications

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based drawing and design program (you can use bitmap images in Illustrator, and you will, but the software is not made for the editing of resolution-based images). You should be able to engage this project to create complex designs regardless of whether you are an advanced student or a beginner. Make sure to complete the required Illustrator tutorials, regardless of your skill level.

  1. Name your file “”
  2. Use artboards as explaine above.
  3. Convert type to outlines before handing in final files. (Make sure all instances of type are selected and choose Type > Create Outlines.)
  4. Make sure bitmap images are either embedded or linked to the images in your “source-images” folder. (Go to Window > Links to verify.)
  5. Make sure the various paths and objects you have used are well-organized on your Layers panel. You will want to the various components of your image ordered in some logical way using multiple layers or groupings of objects. Your image will consist of many, many small, separate pieces of text.
  6. Save the specific colors you use in the Swatches panel. It is also a good idea to save the colors you plan to use together is a Color Group.
  7. Export your final files as high resolution jpegs (Export > Export As) and save them as PDFs (File > Save As) in addition to saving as AI files. These should be named “yourlastname-texture.jpg” and “yourlastname-texture.pdf”
  8. Turn in all files to your dropbox folder.
  9. Try to print your work to one of the printers in AML 101 or 103 too. Hand these in.

Revisions for Project 1

If you feel strongly that you would like to revise this project once you have received your evaluations, you may do so under the advisement of your instructor. Make an appointment to meet so you can discuss goals and due dates for the revision. In order for a grade to be revised, significant improvements will need to be made.