Field Level 5 (ADZ5888) – Reflection on the year

While the subject element of my course is, to me, the larger part of the course as it focuses on fundamentals of design. I would have learned less this year if I had no engaged with my Field module. I have learnt a great deal of the periphery of my subject, learning about broad concepts that, although background concerns, nevertheless play an important role in shaping my development as a designer.

Circle Line

In my first module we were taught by Chris Glynn who was teaching the Circle Line module. We were asked to make an 8 minute, abstract documentary style video exploring the visual language of the Circle Line with the intention to bring a sense of the circle line’s past in an implicit manner through the use of editing, animation, visual effects and musical composition. We were to use both our own and archival media in the form of footage and audio recordings.

The whole experience, from the initial walk along the Taff river to the trip up the valleys from Cardiff to Pontyridd, and on up the valley towards Ton Pentre we were encouraged to change our usual perspectives and focus on things we wouldn’t usually. The work we were to produce should give the implicit sense of the area and its history without text and without narration, something never asked of us before. I admit I found it very difficult to adjust to this new philosophy initially.  Towards the end of the second trip, however, I found myself getting into it and found myself discovering much that I would have normally ignored.

The video editing process was also a steep learning curve, because this film genre departed from most typical rules of filming, in terms of framing of shots, linear and coherent visual narrative and unfiltered audio. I am not normally someone who would be drawn to such abstract work, but that is the same reason I think it helped me grow as a designer.

Information is Power

For our term project I was placed in the group ‘Information is Power’ which explored the role of a Graphic Designer in creating Info-graphics. Our first introduction to the topic was a look back at the origin of info-graphics, their development and their value or more complicated existing systems as a source of quick visual information.

Our first project was to collect some information of whatever kind we wanted and to display it in an appropriate manner as an info-graphic. My team did a survey on the power of a hand drawn ‘no entry’ sign to deter people from entering a bathroom that was, in fact, open and functional. This was an interesting look at human psychology as much as it was a new experience in info-graphic design. I was really pleased with my submission also.

Visual Storytelling

We were asked to create a narrative through visual story telling on any subject we chose. The idea was to create a visual piece that used a systematic approach to convey statistics or other forms of information. This was a difficult brief as it was very broad in its scope. I decided to create a website comprised on various info-graphics. This was a big learning curve as it required extensive animation as well as web design beyond anything I had done to that point. The whole nature of Field so far seems to be to drop you somewhat in the deep end with a new topic of study and see what happens. I’ve enjoyed that aspect. Being tested like that with minimal pressure to produce something amazing because it’s new to you, but occasionally surprising yourself with what you manage.


Web Design

In the end I decided that I wanted to make an interactive website to project my visual work in one clean, easily navigated source. I had originally intended to build a website from scratch before finding out it would be beyond me to do so in the timeframe allowed.

From that point I had decided on an animation. However by happy accident I found that my earlier research on visual storytelling:


I decided to investigate website template products. I found that websites like SquareSpace and Wix could facilitate most of the effects I wanted without the need for coding. I was infatuated with the concept of parallax scrolling and other visual effects. These were available to me.

I wanted a double layered site. The front portion would be the meat of the site, the information, the graphics and written work. The background would consist of relevant images that would help guide the narrative. I also wanted the website to be entirely simple to use. Allowing a viewer to simply scroll down to access all of the information in a clean package.

Here is the result:

I have to mention, the editor fought me every step of the way, with elements moving and disappearing when I switched between devices and screen ratios. I had originally intended for the third animation (the 10 countries with the highest dog population) to include buttons in the shape of the countries concerned that would display further information when the cursor was passed over them. I did this only to come back to it, the day of the project and find that they had all been removed without explanation.

My Thoughts

This was a very exciting and challenging brief to complete. I honestly wish we could be set a task and then reset the same task again immediately after so that all the bugs and mistakes we made the first time could be eliminated and we could produce new work of much higher quality.

From One to Many

It has been found that all dogs currently living are descended from a common ancestor, the grey wolf. I wanted to in some way illustrate the enormity of our joint progress through the millennia while also creating an installation that could stand as a piece in its own right.

I did some extensive research on the history of dog breeding in the UK and found that there were 90 distinct breeds that originated across the Uk and Ireland. I couldn’t distinguish the origins of the Irish dogs to include only those originating in the North so rather than exclude them I included the entirety of Ireland.

Beginning with Wales. I created a silhouette in Photoshop and began filling it with images of Welsh breeds.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 13.51.47

There were only 10 distinct breeds originating in Wales and I didn’t want this to be the entirety of my image. As my research progressed I steadily added dogs by nationality.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 13.54.09

England alone had 51 distinct breeds and took many hours of work.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 13.55.24

In total there were 90 distinct breeds that I discovered. It took me an entire day to create and fill the template as well as researching every breed. The primary purpose of this piece was as an illustrative tool to show how people have effected dogs. They have been selectively bred for numerous roles and in modern society many are bred for aesthetics.

Possibly given more time I would have expounded upon the fact that many purebreds suffer due to genetic disorders as a result of their small genetic pools, while other such as Pugs, have issues such as breathing difficulties due to their underdeveloped snouts. I would also like to have had this last piece printed and framed as an installation for my submission, however it was a last minute decision to create and so i was left short on time. I think it makes a strong ending to my project.




How to visualise my ideas

Visualising my information was one of the key points in my process. I needed something simplistic that would convey the message in a powerful way. I looked at numerous examples of modern illustrated infographics and found hem to have a very similar theme. There was a lot of colour and vibrancy.

While many of these pieces were actually very appealing. I didn’t want to make something that simply copied their work. So I looked at the idea of using silhouettes.

One further reason for doing this was that I originally intended on making an animated piece.

Charles Burns

Charles Burns makes beautiful cutouts of people he meets with nothing more than paper and scissors. He calls himself the roving artist because he wanders around and creates his pieces in minutes wherever he finds himself.

I love the way he captures such a lot of a subjects personality with nothing more than a blank piece of paper. It is a testament to creative minimalism and harnesses the human phenomenon of pareidolia (our instinctive recognition of human forms) to be effective.

I wanted to create this effect with my work. As I had been focusing heavily on evolution. My obvious first choice was the The March of Progress, properly called The Road to Homo Sapiens. This must be the most famous representation of evolution currently.


The illustration was commissioned by Time-Life Books for the Early Man volume (1965) of the popular Life Nature Library. It prominently features the sequence of figures, drawn by natural history painter and muralist Rudolph Zallinger (1919–1995).

From all of my research. One thing I have found lacking in this illustration, is the influence of dogs. The evidence does suggest that without our interactions and subsequent coevolution with dogs, we would not be the force we are today.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 12.56.00

Here was my alternative. A simplified rendition of the original March of Progress with the role of dogs properly represented. Ad accurately as I could, based on the current knowledge of domestication of dogs, I have places a wolf like silhouette to show the transitional phase. And a Golden Retriever acting a docile pet to represent our current relationship with dogs.

Dogs and People – Research

Evoluionary Origins of Domestic Dogs

“Remove domestication from the human species, and there’s probably a couple of million of us on the planet, max. Instead, what do we have? Seven billion people, climate change, travel, innovation and everything. Domestication has influenced the entire earth. And dogs were the first. We’re not dissimilar to any other wild primate. We’re manipulating our environments, but not on a scale bigger than, say, a herd of African elephants. And then, we go into partnership with this group of wolves. They altered our relationship with the natural world.” – Archaeologist and geneticist Greger Larson

  • The origin of canine domestication is not well known. Various claims suggest it first happened in numerous areas of the world and that it began anywhere between in the past 30,000 years.
  • The archaeological record shows the first undisputed dog remains buried beside humans 14,700 years ago, with disputed remains occurring 36,000 years ago.
  • Dogs appear to have been domesticated independently in various areas of the world and have then interbred with one another and wolves and this means their genetic lineage is a bit of a mish-mash.
  • The closest living relative of the dog is the extant grey wolf and there is no evidence of any other canine contributing to its genetic lineage.

  • 33,000-year-old fossil suggests dogs arose in multiple places, study says.
  • Dogs—the oldest domesticated animals—are common in the fossil record up to 14,000 years ago. But specimens from before about 26,500 years ago are very rare. This is likely due to the onset of the last glacial maximum, when the ice sheets are at their farthest extent during an ice age.

  • The United States is home to an estimated 70 to 80 million pet dogs, making up 37 to 47 percent of all American households.
  • Canis familiaris, the domestic dog, was the first species to be domesticated by humans from Eurasian gray wolves at least 15,000 years ago. What is largely unknown, however, is where. (Conflicting information on origins)

  • Researchers from the University of Chicago and several international institutions found that several groups of genes in humans and dogs—including those related to diet and digestion, neurological processes, and disease—have been evolving in parallel for thousands of years.
  • The dog was the first domesticated species and appeared more than 15,000 years before present (YBP). The dog was established across Eurasia before the end of the Late Pleistocene era, well before cultivation and the domestication of other animals around 10,000 YBP, indicating that dogs were domesticated by hunter-gatherers and not early agriculturalists. Studies support two population bottlenecks had occurred to the dog lineage, one due to the initial domestication and one due to the formation of dog breeds.

  • Europe has the oldest uncontested Palaeolithic remains and having been the centre of modern dog breed creation.
  • Most modern breeds share predominantly European ancestry.
  • The fact that dog and human populations rose together is evidence that their success is intrinsically linked.


Research – Dogs

Highest Dog Population by Country

  • 10. Romania (4.1 million)
  • 9. France (7.4 million)
  • 8. Argentina (9.2 million)
  • 7. India (10.2 million)
  • 6. Phillipines (11.6 million)
  • 5. Japan (12.0 million)
  • 4. Russia (15.0 million)
  • 3. China (27.4 million)
  • 2. Brazil (35.7 million)
  • 1. USA (75.8 million)

Extraordinary Dogs

  • Largest Litter




    The largest litter of puppies is 24, all of whom were born on 29 November 2004 to Tia, a Neopolitan mastiff, owned by Damian Ward (UK) and Anne Kellegher (Ireland) of Manea, Cambridgeshire, UK.

    They were born by Caesarian section, one was still born, three died in the first week. There were nine females, 15 males in total. Tia’s full name is Abellatino Arabella. The father is called Caesar.

  • Largest Dog Biscuit



    The largest dog biscuit weighed 279.87 kg (617 lb) and was made by Hampshire Pet Products (USA) in Joplin, Missouri, USA, on 8 July 2011. The biscuit was 1.16 m (3.8 ft) wide, 5.79 m (19 ft) long and 0.04 m (1.63 in) deep. It required a total of 10 bakers to bake it. The biscuit was baked to celebrate the company’s 10 year anniversary and when the attempt was over, it was broken into smaller pieces and distributed to dogs at the Humane Society in Joplin, MO.

  • Largest Dog ZEUS



    Measuring an incredible 111.8 cm (44 in) from foot to withers, Zeus is the same size as an average donkey.Standing on hind legs, he stretches to 7 ft 4 in and towers over his owner Denise Doorlag. The humongous hound weighs 70.3 kg (155 pounds or 11 stone) and eats around 12 cups of food a day (equivalent to one whole 30-lb bag of food!).

  • Smallest Dog (living)

Examples of dogs helping people

  • Swansea Jack (1930 – October 1937) was a famous Welsh dog that rescued 27 people from the docks and riverbanks of Swansea, Wales.
  • He was a Black Retriever

  • Frida the Labrador retriever made global headlines after the Mexican president praised her work following a deadly 7.1 magnitude quake.
  • Employed by the Mexican navy.
  • Frida belongs to SEMAR and has helped save 52 lives in various natural disasters at national and international levels.

  • Angel the 18 moth old Golden Retriever fought off a cougar about to attack an 11 year old boy.
  • Happened in Bar Boston, a small Canadian town some 150 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Happened in 2010.

  • Kelsey the Golden Retriever
  • A man who broke his neck outdoors in freezing conditions survived lying in snow for nearly 24 hours thanks to his dog, who kept him warm through the night and barked for help.
  • Temperatures of around -4C.
  • “I was screaming for help but my nearest neighbour is about a quarter mile away and it was 10.30 pm, but my Kelsey came,” said Bob.


Further Complicating Matters

As I have already outlined in my blog, I have decided to combine a website and animation as a means of showing my info graphic designs. What I have now come to the realisation of, is that I would like to add another element to this. It is perfectly easy to have, in my online maps, hyperlinks which would then show further information. My idea is to create a series of maps detailing various worldwide statistics as well as highlighting the locations and dates of certain important instances.

These would include:

  • First archaeological evidence of domesticated dogs
  • Locations of important dogs (largest, smallest, most expensive, rarest, fastest etc.)
  • Locations of news stories involving dogs (disaster response, protection, lifeguard, firefighting etc.)
  • Working breeds (hunting dogs, guard dogs, sled dogs)

Other examples may follow but these are simply off the top of my head. I may have a short time in which to do this, but now that I have inspiration I will be able to proceed quickly and efficiently. I work well under pressure.

One other advantage to this idea is that the maps could double as printed ephemera with very little extra work. I will show my research and progress in later blog posts.