There are lots of ways to generate and explore ideas in design, but one great tool for this is writing code. It’s easy to start with even a few conditions or settings—a color palette; a group of shapes; a series of sizes, positions, orientations, or textures; a typeface—and quickly generate many hundreds of variations and iterations. Using code to explain to a computer how to make something can help you think it through and understand it better yourself. Mistakes in the code, and unanticipated effects and outcomes, can sometimes result in something better than what you’d originally planned to make. They can even help you discover new design ideas, directions, and possibilities.
Participants in this workshop will learn the basics of writing in Python, a popular and powerful programming language, working in the free and user-friendly application DrawBot for the Macintosh operating system. No previous experience with Python is needed. You’ll create high-quality vector art, and work with text to explore DrawBot’s advanced typographic features. You’ll be able to save your creations as static or moving images (.jpgs and .pngs, animated .gifs and .mp4s), and even export to multipage .pdf files. You can treat these files as sketches, using them as starting points for work in other applications, like the Adobe Creative Suite. Or, you can refine them further in the DrawBot code editor to develop final products: animations, type specimens, posters, magazines, and books.
The first day of the workshop we’ll cover Python fundamentals and learn our way around DrawBot, then learn the basics of vector drawing, animation, and exporting files. On the second day, we’ll explore a few more advanced drawing and animation techniques, and then cover text formatting and layout methods.
Maurice Meilleur is a recovering political theorist turned graphic designer and design researcher and writer. He completed a PhD in political theory from Indiana University Bloomington in 2004, and earned his MFA in graphic design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015. He’s an assistant professor of graphic design at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, where he teaches and studies typography and generative design, as well as design methods and semiotics. Maurice has contributed numerous type and book reviews to Typographica and Fonts in Use. He’s writing a book on the typology, principles, and history of constructed scripts, and he’s presented his research at Robothon, ATypI, TypeCon, and the Cooper Union. His experimental modular typeface, Kast, was a jury finalist in the Society of Typographic Aficionados’s 2016 protoType competition. Maurice explores digital animation using Python and Drawbot as part of a larger investigation into typographic representation and algorithmically-defined formal systems.