Independent Dorset Poster Campaign: Audience Testing

Before we put up our poster we gathered some data about the potential audience and how people used the space in order to find the best location to place our poster.


Here’s a map of the space. The orange boxes indicate doorways. The blue circles are seating areas and the red box is a coffee bar. Black are other fixed miscelaneous objects.

On average the number of people who walk through the space was 30 people per 5 minute period, and around half that number were taking more time in the space doing activites such as chatting in groups or having coffee, both sitting down at the tables and  standing.


Highlighted in blue are the main areas where people tended to congregate and spend more time, although, if standing, people did not tend to stay very long, a minute or two at most. People who were sitting down tended to stay longer, but were often engaged in other activities, such as doing work, and tended not to explore the space as much.


These arrows show the main pedestrian flow we observed through the space. On average people only took 10 seconds to move through the space whilst walking through it, so positioning will take a key role in the prominence of our poster. Notably, a statue in the entrance of the lobby attracted some people’s attention, so that might be a good place to place our poster.


This map marks several possible places where our poster might get noticed more often. Around the coffee bar is one of the prime areas, as as well as being in the path of  a major traffic route for the space, people also tend to congregate there waiting for coffee etc, which would give them time to read the poster. Other possible locations include doorways and a pillar which are prime areas of heavy footfall. One of the interesting things I discovered when researching the space is that the wall areas near the seats were rarely looked at, even though they were filled with television screens and printed media. A possible reason for this is that the printed media already there has quite dense text, which the audience in the space might not have found very eyecatching. Another reason might be that as they are so close to the seats, anybody standing trying to read them would be effectively catching the eyeline of a seated person, which would be uncomfortable. This could be discouraging people from trying to read the posters.

We did our observations durig the day, during the week. If we had done more observation during different times of the year we would have more data to extrapolate from and could have gained a very different perspective of the space. For example around exam periods people might be more busy and less likely to take time in the space, whereas during events such as open days people might be doing the opposite.


Independent Dorset Poster Campaign: Construction


Having finalized the design of the poster, we decided to create a 3D version using acetate. We printed each layer of the design onto a layer of acetate attached each of these layers onto a frame one in front of another.

construction tape

During this process, we noticed that this made the poster quite dark, so we decided to put LED lights in the back layers of the poster to illuminate the front layers.

construction2 frame2 hill

We experimented with the placement of the lights in the frame. Originally we wanted to place the lights behind the mountain in order to create the effect of a sun rising behind the mountain. However, during testing this did not work very well and we decided instead to place the lights around the frame.


Here’s the result of the end of our manual testing. We decided to add a layer of tracing paper over the lights so that they weren’t so bright and the light was spread around the image more. We might play around more with trying to get the text brighter as it is still quite hard to read in some areas. Placing the lights around the frame does make the poster stand out more in dark areas, however this style of lighting also has connotations, for me at least, of the style of advertising used in Hollywood’s “Golden Era” and so does not quite fit the theme for the poster.


Although made out of layers, the end result is quite flat due to the layer of glass in front of all the acetate layers. Another method we could have used, which might have been more successful in creating a 3D effect would be to build the layers out of card and glue them together onto a bigger box, as is used in tatebanko paper dioramas, (which can be seen here This would have created a more 3D effect but it would have also increased the construction time and skill needed and the end result would also have been more fragile, which might not have survived well in a public space.

It’s a Beautiful Day Ltd., 2014. Tatebanko [online]. Available from: [Accessed 16.10.2014]


Independent Dorset Poster: Finishing the Design

castle curled

Images by Charlotte Strethill-Smith

We began to construct the poster for the independent Dorset campaign. Our team mate, Charlotte designed the graphics for the poster and here are some of her early designs. As a group we deliberated on the placement of the mountain scenery and decided that arranging the mountains in more of a central column was more pleasing visually, and drew the eye’s attention to the center of the image.


Image by Charlotte Strethill-Smith and Sam Pothecary

In the next iteration of design we added colours. We used a palette of colours similar to a sunset as we had discussed previously how these are often used to symbolize Dorset and are a key part of its heraldry. We also decided to offset the mountain slightly from the centre, in order to make the image more dramatic, and abide more by the artistic principle of the rule of thirds where important elements of a composition are placed along the lines which break up a composition into thirds. We also decided to angle the wyvern’s head more upwards, as we felt that this was more triumphant or happy body language , whereas in our opinion the previous pose was too protective, as if the wyvern was clutching the castle and also led to negative connotations. It also leads the audience to read the text, as the human eye tends to follow the eyelines of subjects in a composition.


Image by Charlotte Strethill-Smith, Sam Pothecary and Joel Trew

Here is the finished design. We added the text, making “be free” the central part of the poster as we wanted that to be the part of the poster that stood out the most, and was the lasting message people who had only looked at the poster for a few seconds to take away. We also added a layer of “fog” to add more mystery to the poster and break up the lines of the background layers so they became less dominant in the scene.

Our next task is to try and construct a 3D version of this poster using acetate, and to test it with an audience.

Wikipedia, 2014. Rule of Thirds [online]. Available from: [Accessed 15.10.2014]

Expert Photography, 2014. How to Use Eyelines to Influence Your Viewers – Composition [online]. Available from: [Accessed 15.10.2014]

Perlin Noise

Another important way to simulate randomness is using Perlin noise generation. Perlin noise generation differs from random generation as it uses a “smooth” sequence of psuedo random numbers, where a singular value in a sequence depends on its predecessors. This is especially useful in creating natural phenomena such as clouds and the textures of materials like marble or wood. Take these examples;

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 13.12.13 Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 13.13.18

This example assigns a random brightness to each pixel on the screen. Notice how dark pixels are adjacent to light ones, creating a grainy texture.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 13.07.44 Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 13.05.50

However this sketch assigns a random brightness to each pixel on the screen using Perlin noise. As the brightness value of each pixel depends on its neighbours, clumps of brightness and darkness form.

Beginning The Nature Of Code

To carry on from the Processing work we did in class, I began to read the book The Nature of Code and start some of the exercises within it. The aim of the book is to teach the reader how to program how to model a digital “ecosystem” using concepts from biology and physics. I chose to look into this book to learn some more advanced programming skills and hopefully I can complete most of the assignements.

To start off the book talks about normal distribution and how in nature variable information usually lies along a bell curve. For example take people’s heights. The height of people can vary greatly, but if you looked at everyone’s heights as a data set, more people would be near the average height than at the two extremes. The mathematics behind this is called Gaussian distribution.

The equations for this are included in the Java library and a version of this is included in Processing. Take for example this code which uses Gaussian distribution to place white dots around a particular point.

gaussiancode gaussian

The lines generator.nextGaussian() creates a Gaussian distribution with ysd and xsd being the standard deviation and xmean and ymean being the mean. The circles are semi transparent so one can see the brighter areas near the middle where more of the dots are clustered, whereas on the outside the dots are more faint as they are less likely to be placed there.

Shiffman, D., 2012. The Nature of Code [online] Mountain View: Creative Commons.

Beginning Work in Processing

The practical part of the first term of our second year is going to be based around the Java-based integrated development environment Processing in order to learn the basics of programming and eventually create a piece of interactive artwork using the program.

In a processing sketch conventionally there are two main functions, void setup, where any “background information” of the sketch (such as setting up arrays) is written and void draw, where functions that provide the output of the sketch are written.  Variables and objects are declared above both these functions. void setup is initialized at the start-up of the sketch whilst void draw is a looping function where the output is drawn at 30 fps.

sketch1code sketch 1 code a sketch1

This sketch draws a line between the point (150, 25) and the mouse. The screen becomes progressively filled with lines as the mouse is moved as a new line is drawn every frame. However on each start-up of the sketch the background color is changed at random.

sketch2code sketch2

However moving the background function to the end of the code provides an output of a sketch with a rapidly changing colored background but no line-mouse output. The background function will overwrite the rest of the sketch.

Beginning Second Year – Independent Dorset Project

For our first project of the second year we were asked to design a fictional poster campaign to support an independent Dorset movement. We initially found the task to be quite challenging as Dorset in quite a small county both in terms of landmass and population, and it was hard to think of many unique traits associated with it. The town of Bournemouth had only very recently (in the 1970s) been incorporated into the county which made the reality of an independent Dorset was also quite hard to imagine. Given the size of the county so it was hard to define a group who the poster would be targeting. A stipulation of the brief was that the designs had to be serious, which was hard given the subject matter could be easily interpreted into a comedic.


Straight away we decided not to use the Dorset flag on our poster as we decided it was a rather obvious solution to the problem. It also has very little history behind it, only being designed in 2008. We also surmised that the colour scheme of the flag might be quite hard to work with as the colours are very bold and very dominant.

tractor family

First image by Sam Pothecary

Initially we looked into the demographics and statistics of the county to get a better idea of the kind of imagery we could use. After finding out that traditionally a lot of the economy was based around agriculture we played with the idea of using farmland as a visual motif, with layers of rolling hills providing a background to the poster. One thing that we did learn from looking at the flag was the county’s association with sunshine (represented on the flag by the use of yellow) and incorporated this into the designs. We also looked at the idea of using family groups in the poster as conservatism is the dominant political view of the county. However in the end we felt these designs were fairly generic and also were leaning into the field of parody.

durdle door pirate

First image by Sam Pothecary

We then began to look into the history of the area, in order to find some different imagery to use in our poster. During our research we came across the history of the famous Tolpuddle Martyrs, a group of farm labourers who established the first worker’s union.

More information on the Tolpuddle Martyrs can be found at the link below:

The martyrs had a protest chant and from the last few lines we decided to take a slogan.

“We will, we will, we will, be free!”

We thought that this was a very powerful and moving statement and work well in rousing people to join an independence movement. People from the area are also likely to know the history behind the phrase.

We also tried to incorporate some of Dorset’s famous landmarks (such as Durdle Door) into our preliminary designs however when we tested these against an audience we gathered feedback that using the scenery by itself made the posters seem like a tourism advert and the strong message about a rally for independence did not come acoss.

We found in our further research that appealing to historical symbols had worked well for posters of the independence movement for Scotland (see examples in the link below) so we decided to look further into the history of the area.

In the past Dorset was part of a larger area called Wessex and people still feel attachment to this area today. We found that a popular symbol and part of the heraldry for Wessex is the wyvern, a mythical winged serpentine creature. The symbolism is still widely used today, (see below links for examlpes) and so we decided to incorporate this creature onto our flag.


Above is a rough sketch of the design of our poster, we willk continue to tweak the design based on further feedback from others.


In order to make our poster stand out we also wanted to try making it more 3D, by constructing it using layers of printed acetate. We will also experiment with the layout and construction of this to see if it is possible.

Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum,  2014.Welcome to the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Museum and Festival Website [online]. Available from: [Accessed 06.10.14]

Wyvern Cargo, 2014. Wyvern Cargo [online]. Available from: [Accessed 06.10.14]

British County Flags, 2014. Wessex Flag [online] . Available from: [Accessed 06.10.14]

Bella Caledonia, 2014. The Top 20 Indy Posters are.. [online]. Available from: [Accessed 06.10.14]