Friday, 30 March 2012

The Other Cross

The Other Cross

Many of you may have seen the traditional Christian Cross?

But have you seen this?

Unless you've studied Early Christian and Byzantine art you may not be aware that for the first few centuries Chi Rho crosses were depicted as frequently as the t cross we're more familiar with.

Look to the left of the picture. There's a stylized Chi X blended with a Greek Rho. It's not just Irish manuscripts that have Chi Rho crosses.

There is more than one Cross symbol. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


are one of our oldest symbols.

You may have seen Spirals as part of Celtic culture but they predate that .

This bowl with its spiral motif of a sort of that appears centuries later in Irish manuscripts dates back to the early Neolithic and comes to the Romanian Cucuteni Culture one of the oldest known European cultures to use ceramic.

But spirals seem to be universal. Here's another Neolithic example from an area and time with no possible connection to the Eastern European Neolithic or later Celtic culture.

No its NOT Chinese! Its from the Banchiang culture in an area that's now part of  N.E. Thailand.

So and don't grimace as I state the obvious but its TRUE SPIRALS REALLY ARE A UNIVERSAL motif. Now try drawing one by hand and imagine painting it and getting it right on the first attempt without over painting on a curved surface.

Its as if the potter or whoever painted on the pots was saying ... THIS IS NOT JUST A MARK but a meaning pattern stating if nothing else that this vessel is a product of thought and skill and design.

I could provide further samples but instead I suggest so you can confirm for yourself that you google Ceramics along with the following keywords

Jomon Cycladic Helladic Newgrange Maze Spiral .


Monday, 19 March 2012

A matter of A's



( you might need to save the images and clcik to enlarge them in some browsers?)

Raster versus Vector is less on an issue on a small scale but if you're doing posters or capitals you probably should do your lettering in a vector program even if you plan to import the file into another program depending on what filters and plugins you may be using for the final edit?

This first A is a png saved from a svg file created in Inkscape an Open Source Vector program.

(Hey I can't afford Illustrator and Open source programs are also far less of a processing hog
though I do have a tipjar if you want to help me buy a copy? )

Notice the crisp clear edges ?

Now here's another png file but created in a raster program GIMP

Though if I'ld made the A's much smaller you probably wouldnt have noticed the differences.

Finally here's a jpg converted from that png raster file

Still crisp and sharp but a jpg saved from the raster png isn't.

Try it yourself!

Why? Cos its the best way to test whether your fonts work at a larger size.

Likewise try testing ornamental fonts at smaller sizes too!

Probably its safest if you're creating lettering you want to use for both print small and large and the web also to make the first file 150 to 200 dpi unless you're doing a really really BIG object.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

How Many H's ?!

How Many H's ? !? 

One of the reasons for the triumph of the Roman alphabet over other scripts is that its combination of vowel and consonant signs makes it extremely adaptable to a variety of sound systems.

Most of us take H a fricative for granted ... oh h yeah sometimes its silent and sometimes people use it after a vowel to show a long or rounded vowel sound but our simple humble H is also used to show other sounds.

the symbol on the left is PHARYNGEAL and although we do not  have it in English it is used in Hebrew and Arabic .

The sound to the right a GLOTTAL is used in Igbo an African language but also in Dutch  and Czech.

Here's some languages with our H a glottal fricative.

English, Korean, Magyar, Japanese, Hidi, Thai, Hausa, Cantonese, Amharic. 

There's also a VELAR fricative sound  written as [x] by linguists that 's also written as a h used in Croat, Bulgarian, German, Gaelic Farsi and Sindhi.

The 2 rarest "H" sounds are probably the Epiglottal  Fricative used in AVAR and a soun dthat appears in Swedish dialects which is a sh+ x and written 'sj' though the IPA symbol looks like the sign on the right with a descender curl. 

A final use fo H to note is the use of h after a consonant to show its a palatal or palatalized as in Portugese and Catalan NH and LH.

So if you're planning to learn any of these languages bear in mind that simple H letter in the Roman Alphabet sections of the text may not be the H you're familiar with?! 

Monday, 5 March 2012

Kawaii and Miyabi poster for exhibition

Kawaii and Miyabi

Cuteness and Elegance in Japanese Design

I was looking of images of Cherry Blossom SAKURA to illustrate how Kanji are used in Layouts thinking this fits into this blog's theme however loosely because Cherry Blossom is a cultural symbol.

I found two very contrasting images.

Poster for show of Atomi paintings

This gorgeous poster as far as I can make out on the wierd translation of the website and my limited Japanese is for a show of late Rimpa ? Hasegawa ? style paintings by a Japanese woman painter called Atomi who was also famous for supporting women's education.

wonderful elegance layout that has yuugasa and miyabi and its just gorgeous!

however due to the large number of manga and anime pics online to find this image I also had to scroll thru a lot of images associated with a character called Sakurahime Princess Sakura .

It's extremely KAWAII and SHOJO and barely saved from being kitsch by the designers skilful use of cherry blossoms and a related color set in the background counter balancing the calligraphy to the right  and plainer text at the bottom.

If I understand the Wiki this was also created by a female artist?

It's not a manga / anime I'm very familiar with so if you are a Sakura fan accept my apology.

My idea of a shojo is more beautiful creative and brilliant Winfrey from Full Metal Alchemist.

Finally a example of Sakura rendered with elegance on a kimono possibly one of  the best and most beautiful way to display this national symbol?.

You're welcome to share other examples of Miyabi and Kawaii linked to Cherry Blossom!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The First Spirals

Mesolithic Petroglyph from Northern Italy
One of the earliest human abstract symbols is the SPIRAL MAZE.

Something changed in the human mind during the period called the Mesolithic. While rock art painted or engraved continued to depict animals and humans abstract objects and patterns begin to appear.

It was once thought or presumed that these rock engravings were done by bored shepherds but archaeologist snow believe much of this kind of art  dates back to the very beginning on the Neolithic or even earlier to the Mesolithic.

In Europe humans were adjusting to the retreat of the glaciers and the great northern plains reverting from steppe and tundra back to forest or warmer grasslands. The use of bow and arrow and fishing nets and lines showed a change in hunting and domestication was beginning with wolves who tolerated humans hunting or camping with or near them becoming household and village dogs.

What did the spiral maze represent to them? A dance pattern? A calendar?

Any myths and stories we have about mazes come from a much later era.

Myths and folklore about Troy dances and Labyrinths date to the Bronze Age which was 3 or 4 thousand years after the Mesolithic and those stories were recorded at a time when people had half forgotten the remains of the Labyrinth at Knossos were once a palace and the Troy and other maze pattern dances were mere echos of religious rituals.

Time changes meaning.

Mazes became follies in the gardens of aristocrats but the pattern underlying hedges is an ancient  mystery.

This image of an Italian petroglyph shares a pattern and perhaps an origin with them?

Had any of the first designers of mazes stumbled upon petroglyphs?

What do you think?