Plan Of Attack

Class 4C
Apr 30, 2016

This is posted in advance of the actual session to serve you as a help in advancing your designs and preparing the “plan of attack” that you should bring to class.


In a case you still struggle with finding a good form for your product, here is a list of some websites where you can find inspiration:
Huge collection of cool things of all sorts, it has tens of thousands of posts. I wish the website had categories for easier browsing, but if you’re interesting in something in particular just use the search bar on the website.
Great resource for design of all sorts, this is more curated (less posts) than NotCot, and there are categories.
MocoLoco unfortunately doesn’t appear to have categories, so it maybe time consuming to find exactly the things you need, but it’s always inspiring.
Just found out this one, decent collection of very nice things (has many other categories, too).
Dezeen has been a great design reference for a decade already, and bunch of stuff to find there.

This is an obscure little blog that I accidentally found, but apart from posting inspiration, this particular person explains the entire process of designing a kitchen utensil. Look for posts called “Creative Product” to follow the process from thinking about market opportunities to sketching, prototypes and the final product. Very useful for our class, wish I found it earlier :) © Joshua T. Farnsworth


Most of the final deliverables for this project assignment will be the same for all students, regardless of whether they’ve chosen to do the “Physical Object” or the “Ad/Rendering”:


Then there are the differences. Obviously the biggest one is that one group of students will make physical objects, while others will do posters/ads. Another difference is that the Objects group do not need to create posters – it’s enough to just take (very good!) photos of the product, no logos or other overlays.

deliv-2 deliv-3Here’s the overview of the deliverables in a table, specifying what needs to be posted and what the students need to bring to class.

Deadline : May 13th, 11h


Plan The Fab Lab

If you are doing the physical product, you should definitely do this before 4C session:

It’s also important that your model is 3D-printable, if this is how you are going to produce it, so you might want to check some online resources about the details:

Make notes on all of the above, and bring them to 4C session.
This will be one part of your “Plan Of Attack”. The other part will be to plan the images of your product.

Plan Your Images

All students are expected to make good images of their product, whether you’ve chosen to make a physical object, or present it through renderings.
If you make a physical object, you will be taking photos of it – and we are going to reserve a time in photo studio to do it properly.
If you are working with renderings, you will have to be able both to realistically render your object, as well as make cool photomontages  – which makes image-making more complicated but that compensates for not having to do a physical object.

Whether you plan to take the photos or the physical object, or represent it through renderings, you should apply the same methods that I present here.

Here are some questions you should think about:

Hero or a Lifestyle Image? Or Both?

When thinking about images, first you need to decide what kind of images better describe your product: is it a “hero” or a “lifestyle” image.
For those who do renderings: you have to do both.
If you are making a physical object, you can do only one of these (although it’s suggested you try to do both, too).

For more details on difference between the Hero and Lifestyle images, see 4A lecture (note that I used another term, “Studio Ad” instead of “Hero”).

Taking Photos In The Studio

We have a photo studio in our school, and I am arranging to have a studio photoshoot session on May 12th where you can bring your products to take good photos of.

16.Kitchenware_Collection_by_Office_for_Product_DesignIf you are making a physical product, we can arrange that you make both hero and lifestyle photos in studio. If your photos will have props (ie. other objects such as wood surface to put the product onto, fruits or vegetables that your product is designed to cut, jars, or anything else) then you should bring all these objects to studio.
We will make a typical lighting set-up that will work with all of your products, and work quickly to take photos of all products using the same set-up. However, as I said you can add more elements (props) to your photo – just be sure to plan ahead and bring them to studio. For example, if you’d want to take the following photo – bring the lemon and the kitchen towel, too.

If you are doing renderings, you will most probably need to take some photos for your photomontage, so the studio session may be good for you too. For example you may need to take photos of people or “hands” and then insert the rendered image of your product into the photo. Please note that a studio session on 12th may be a bit to  too late for this, so the best way is to already prepare your photomontage before the session. To do this, you want to take temporary photos of the people, and create photomontage based on these photos. Then you render your object in Rhino in a perspective that matches the photo, and prepare your PSD file and layer using the good rendering but the temporary photos. Finally, on a last day (which may be risky!) you take the good quality photo in the studio and replace the temporary photo in your PSD.
These two (lousy) sketches illustrate the process:


Think About Visual Composition

Yep, this is the same thing we’ve been talking about so much in the first semester: symmetry, asymmetry, color palette, rule of 1/3, etc… Here are some steps on how to think of visual composition

Choose The Best Looking Side Of The Product

I am pretty sure that each one of your products have some views that it looks the best from. For some products that’s the top view, for others one of the side views – and some actually may look best in perspective. Choose the best looking, the most iconic and most special side of your product.  This will be the base of your image, especially for “hero images” which very much focus on the look of the product.

Symmetry or Not?

asym1Probably the basic question to resolve, as I said think about what each of them imples – symmetry = static, serious, asymmetry = dynamic fluid. Obviously the form of your object will largely dictate this decision, like in the following two examples:

However, it’s not necessarily the case, and we can use asymmetrical compositions to add visual dynamics to otherwise symmetrical products, like here:

Color Palette

color-1This is very important, and to start with, try to reduce numbers of colors you use in your photo. Usually the simple black/white/one-color setup works the best, where that one-color can be wood, or a person’s skin color. Also note that the color of persons clothes (if that appears in photo) is very important – try to match the color of your product, or a background, or just use a neutral color for the clothes.

Although sometimes you may want to go with bolder colors, but be careful – usually you only want to go with bold colors when the colors are very important for your product.

Rule of 1/3, Diagonals…

… and everything else we talked about in the first semester. Never forget about these, and always actively use them as a way to improve your compositions.


Zoom Level

Think about how close you want to get to your object or person who use it. Let’s borrow the terminology from the films, I assume you will probably be working with one of these shots:

Close-Up: Most likely all hero images will be close-up on your product. But also lifestyle images can be close up, for example on  hands to use the product.

Medium Shot: This is basically half a person. Most likely from waist up, but if you’re focusing on legs or feet, it can be from waist down.

Long Shot: This is really about the context. We see the full body and lots of stuff around (although the body is still a dominant object).

Different product concepts work best with different shots. Some lifestyle images should be close-up if the way the object is handled is important and novel. For products that are very much about the environment, obviously long shots would be more appropriate.


Very often the best way to represent a product is to create a story from the image. We can see how that’s done in different examples, and for different purposes.

Most often it’s a story that explains how object is used:

Going further, your story may explain what your product means in wider context.Here is an example of images advertising iPad as an educational tool – in a very not subtle way. The overall feeling is too corporate and forced: story-ipad

Much more subtle are these examples of how a fitness gadget Jawbone may appeal to you both inside and outside of the gym, doubling as a fashion accessory:


Often the “stories” we create simply want to associate our product with “coolness” by showing it side-by-side with other cool things, cool people or inside of cool environments.


Finally, it’s always nice to appeal to emotions, especially the positive ones:


Homework: Do The Sketches!

As I repeated dozens of times, each good images starts with sketching.
That’s why you should sketch the images of your product, and bring them to class for 4C session.

Here’s what your sketches should cover:

Sketching Hero Shots

ske-1Here you want to focus most than anything on visual composition.
Your sketch should include information about the lighting, as well as the value (remember? it’s bright/dark).

Lifestyle Close Ups

This type of sketches is similar to “hero” shots, in that visual composition plays an important role.
One thing that’s very important though is to sketch how parts of body that handle the object are positioned, and the perspective of your object – you will especially need to think of perspective if you are making a rendering / photomontage!


Medium Shots

This is similar to previous two types, only a bit more complicated because we have more elements to work with – most notably the human body.


Long Shots

Ok, I didn’t have time to actually sketch these, but you can see examples above where I talked about different kinds of shots.
Here you really are focusing on context, space around the object and the person. Also need to find a way to emphasize your product even if it’s small on the image. You usually do this by “continuance” where for example the way persons on the photo are oriented points to your object (remember, we tend to follow the eyes of the persons on images).

Students' Work