EDTECH 506 – Design Challenge #5 – Figure and Ground


I altered the assignment a little bit but learned some really cool things! Instead of re-creating a magazine cover, I used that as inspiration to make a different shape. The shape I originally found was interesting and significantly darker than desired. Plus, I wanted to create something that I could use in my work regarding students with disabilities.

Inspirational Magazine Cover – The Economist: The New Face of Terror

The cover page has an image of text that is in the shape of a skull. Words include groups of terrorists or places where there has been terrorist activity, or has been home to known terrorists. In red at the bottom, it says “The New Face of Terror”.

Attempt #1 – Not Sure How to Describe

  • I decided that I wanted to use the universal disability icon of a person in a wheelchair. The exact icon was limited to .png files that I could find online.

Attempt #3 – Create Word Cloud

Version 01

Disability Word Cloud version 1

Version 02

Version 03

  • While I could have, and maybe should have, use the Text tool to add each disability-related word, I wanted to focus on Figure and Ground. I chose to create a word cloud using WordClouds.com, which allows for fantastic customization! My favorite word cloud generator thus far.
  • I had to make 3 iterations, to ensure the colors were accessible for contrast. There is a fantastic website called Color Safe, that allows you to input the background color, and it will suggest accessible colors to use, based from WCAG’s recommendations. It ranks the Current Ratio, and the colors decrease in ratio (decrease in contrast) the further down of the color list you go.

Attempt #5 – Using Clipping Mask

  • I watched Fit Image to Shape in Photoshop | Clipping Mask Tutorial which changed my life! Made what I was trying to do to be so much easier. Add your shape as a layer, add the desired texture or picture above, then hold down ALT while hovering between the two layers and WHAM! Amazing. I used the universal disability icon color as the background.
  • I discovered how important it was to use a shape where the background is completely transparent. This icon had a subtle diagonal strips which is very apparent and frankly ugly.

Attempt #6 – Inverted But Bad Background

  • I was curious to see if Figure and Ground would be more apparent with the shape layer and texture layer inverted. However, because I chose a different color, it looks more like a while solid shape on top of a word cloud, which was not the assignment.
  • Also had issues with a transparent background, because of the png file of the universal disability icon I used.

Attempt #7 – My Favorite

  • This was my favorite design. The shape of the wheelchair is clear, as it is the same color as the background color. The mind fills in the more apparent words like “inclusion” which is in the middle, in big, bold white font.
  • I learned how to change the background color (again) using Fill, how to “Fix” a layer using a Color Overlay, and the Clipping Mask Tool.

Attempt #8 – Inverse of My Favorite

  • This design probably would have been better had the words been in the shape of the universal disability icon, instead of having the word cloud overlaid on the shape. Alas, good learning acquired for next time.
  • Putting attempts 7 and 8 together gives one the complete word cloud and demonstrates how an inverse could be helpful or interesting.