Primary Tools & Materials:
cutting tools, Data visuals
Additional Tools & Materials: inkjet printer, card stock, foam adhesive spacing discs, camera, Adobe Illustrator
Inspired by elevation topography maps (as my data visualization component), this letter is made of 11 layers of hand cut card stock, stacked and spaced equally apart with little foam adhesive discs that allow the levels to "float" about 1/16" apart.
I started in Adobe Illustrator with a capital D from the quirky, pudgy typeface Pusab. I wanted to use an actual topographic map to create the layers, but I wasn't able to find an image that worked well with this letter. So instead I purchased an abstract stock vector map with topography levels included, and removed all the elements I didn't need.
I then reversed the letter D in Illustrator, and arranged the topographic artwork until I liked how it looked. This was because I planned to print on the back of the paper. After that, I scaled it to the size I wanted my letter to be, and printed about a dozen copies of the letter, reversed, with the topography guides printed on the back. From there I could hand cut each layer and stack the shapes together. When I first stacked each layer, I planned on simply gluing the pieces together, but I realized I wanted some space between layers for added shadow and dimensionality. I used little round adhesive foam discs, about 1/4" in diameter, to space the levels, and sometimes had to cut them in half or even quarters to hide them under the smaller cut layers.
What I think is most interesting about this letter is how it interacts with light and shadows. The change is dramatic from just a slight adjustment to the light source, giving this letter an almost architectural, sculptural quality. I wish I had been able to better integrate the counter (the negative inside space) of the D, using the topographic layers to build up from it to create a trough. Instead, I chose to keep this letter abstract, as though a slice of a 3D elevation map had been cut out in the shape of a D, rather than the D itself having topographic layers.