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					History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                  Spring, 2010

      The history of graphic design begins with cave paintings and includes Egyptian
       hieroglyphics, Chinese calligraphy, and medieval manuscripts.

      Today graphic design embraces printed material; such as stamps, labels, tickets, books,
       magazines, posters, advertisements, trademarks & logos. There are now also extensive
       systems of information design, signage, corporate identities, multi-media, film, and

      The graphic designer is basically organizing and communicating messages. By manipulating
       visual forms into an appropriate style, the designer can attract the right audience for a
       product or idea.

      Other titles: Graphic Arts, Commercial Art, Commercial Graphics, Applied Arts

Early Human Markings

Early Africans and Europeans left paintings in caves, including the Lascaux caves in southern
France. Pigment was made from charcoal and iron oxides and then mixed with animal fat to form a
liquid medium. Although theories of the reason behind the drawings are many, including magical
rites to gain power over the animals and teaching aides to instruct on hunting methods, it is for
certain that the drawings were a method of visual communication.

      petroglyphs – carved or scratched signs or simple figures on rocks.
      pictographs – elementary pictures or sketches to represent the things depicted.
      ideographs- symbols to represent ideas or concepts.

Pictographs evolved into abstract writing called cuneiform (from the latin for “wedge-shaped”)
and characters were composed of a series of wedge shaped strokes rather than a continuous line
drawing. Much later cuneiform became rebus writing, which are pictures that represent words or
syllables that sound similar to the object depicted.

Writing and visual communication allowed for societies to establish laws, standard measurements,
ownership of property, and an established history.

Unlike the Sumerians who evolved their pictographic writing into the abstract cuneiform, the
Egyptians retained their picture writing system call hieroglyphics (Greek for “sacred carving” after
the Egyptian for “the god‟s words”). After the Rosetta stone was discovered, Dr. Thomas Young
proved that hieroglyphics were to be read in the direction that the glyphs of animals and people
faced. Lines could be written horizontally or vertically. Jean-Francois Champollion did the major
deciphering and realized that some of the signs were alphabetic, some were syllabic, and some
were determinatives (signs that determined how the preceding glyphs should be interpreted.)
There are over 700 hieroglyphs. One hundred remained strictly visual pictographs and the rest

Egyptians made extensive use of cyperus papyrus plant, including a substrate called papyrus. The
inner pith of the plant stem was soaked and pounded into a somewhat flat surface. Papyrus could
be written on with ink and then rolled into a scroll. As paper and ink were used more extensively,
hieroglyphics evolved from a picture to a quickly drawn gesture.

Benita Brewer                                                                                      1
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                   Spring, 2010

Asian Contribution
The many contributions by China to the European include calligraphy, paper making, and relief
printing. Calligraphy is a purely visual language. Chinese calligraphic characters are logograms,
graphic characters or signs that represent an entire word. Calligraphy was never broken down into
syllable signs, like cuneiform, or alphabetic signs for elementary sounds. Learning the total
vocabulary of forty-four thousand characters was the sign of wisdom and scholarship.

      Li (three legged pottery vessel), History of Graphic Design, Meggs, 2-5

In earlier times the Chinese wrote on bamboo slats using a bamboo pen with ink. The strips of
wood were used for short messages or tied together with leather strips or silk strings for longer
messages. Later, woven silk cloth was used some but it was expensive.

The process for paper making continued almost unchanged until papermaking was mechanized in
nineteenth-century England. Natural fibers were soaked in a vat of water and beaten into a pulp
with pounding mortars. A vatman dipped a screen bottomed, frame-like mold into the pulp
solution, taking just enough onto the mold for a sheet of paper. The vatman then raised the mold
from the vat, while shaking it to mesh the fibers as the water drained through the bottom. Then
the paper was pressed onto a woolen cloth, to which it adhered while it dried. The sheets were
stacked, pressed, and then hung to dry.

Relief Printing
The Chinese also invented relief printing; the spaces around an image on a flat surface are cut
away, the remaining raised surface is inked and a sheet of paper is placed over the surface and
rubbed to transfer the inked image to the paper.

Greek and Latin Alphabets
The invention of the alphabet (from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta) was
a major step in human communication. An alphabet is a set of visual symbols used to represent
the elementary sounds of a spoken language. They can be connected and combined to make a
visual configuration signifying sounds uttered by the human mouth.

The Phoenician alphabet was adopted by the ancient Greeks and spread through their city-states
around 1000 BC. As early as 2nd century A.D., the Greeks developed a more rounded writing style
called uncial. This script could be written more quickly because its rounded letters were formed
with fewer strokes. Greek scribes made their pens from hard reeds, cut into a nib and spilt at the
tip to aid ink flow. These pens gave their writing a totally different character than writing by
Egyptian scribes, who used soft reeds to brush ink on the substrate. The Greek alphabet fathered
the Etruscan, Latin, and Cyrillic alphabets.

Benita Brewer                                                                                       2
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                   Spring, 2010

      Greek wooden tablet with unicals,                Inscription on Roman tomb, History of
       A.D. 326, History of Graphic Design,              Graphic Design, Meggs, 3-18
       Meggs, 3-12

The Latin alphabet came to the Romans from Greece and contained twenty one letters (A B C D E F
G H I K L M N O P Q R, S, T, V, and X). Following the Roman conquest of Greece the Greek letters
Y an Z were added to the end of the Latin alphabet because the Romans were appropriating Greek
words containing these sounds.

Rome took great pride in its imperial conquests and created monumental letterforms for
architectural inscriptions celebrating victories. The simple geometric lines of the capitalis
monumentalis (monumental capitals) were drawn in thick and thin strokes with organically
unified straight and curved lines. A Roman inscription became a sequence of linear geometric forms
adapted from the square, triangle, and circle.

The serifs, which are small lines extending from the ends of the major strokes of a letterform,
came from either the chisel marks made by the stonemason as he/she finished carving a letter or
by the sign painter that gave a short gesture before lifting the brush to sharpen the termination of
the stroke.

The Roman written hand took several design styles. The two most famous are the capitalis
quadrata (square capital) which were written carefully and slowly with a flat pen and had stately
proportions and outstanding legibility. The second most popular was the capitlis rustica (rustic
capitals). These extremely condensed letterforms were written quickly and saved space. Parchment
and papyrus were expensive and the style enabled the writer to squeeze half again as many rustic
capitals on the page as square capitals.

      Capitalis quadrata (square capitals),            Capitalis rustica (rustic capitals),
       Vergil, A.D. 400, History of Graphic              Vergil, A.D. 400, History of Graphic
       Design, 3-19                                      Design, 3-20

Benita Brewer                                                                                          3
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                     Spring, 2010

Illuminated Manuscript
The luminosity of gold leaf, as it reflected light from the pages of handwritten book, gave the
sensation of the page being illuminated; this effect gave birth to the term illuminated
manuscript. Today this name is used for all decorated and illustrated handwritten books produced
from the late Roman Empire until typography was developed in Europe around 1450.

Manuscript production was costly and time consuming. Around 190 B.C. in the Roman Empire,
parchment, made from the skins of domestic animals, began to be used as a substrate. Vellum,
the finest parchment, is made from the skin of newborn calves. With the use of parchment, the
codex (book form) began to compete with the scroll. Nearly all books were created in the monastic
scriptorium or writing room. The head of the scriptorium was the scrittori, a well educated scholar
who understood Greek and Latin and functioned as both editor and art director. The scrittori laid
out the pages to indicate where the illustrations were to be added after the text was written. The
copisti was a production letterer who spent his days bent over a writing table penning pages in a
trained lettering style. The illuminator or illustrator was an artist responsible for ornamentation and

The colophon of a manuscript or book is an inscription, usually at the end, containing facts about
its production. Often the scribe designer or printer is identified. Some illuminated manuscripts were
small enough to fit into a saddlebag. This portability enabled the transmission of knowledge and
ides from one region to another and one time period to another.

Two important new techniques for writing simpler and faster letterforms came into prominence
during the course of the early Christian period. The uncials so named because they were written
between two guidelines that were one uncial (the Roman inch) apart. They are rounded, freely
drawn letters more suited to rapid writing than either square capitals or rustic capitals. The curves
reduced the number of strokes required to make many letterforms, and the number of angular
joins – which have a tendency to clog or close up with ink - was significantly reduced.

A step toward the development of minuscules (small or lowercase letterforms) was the semiuncial
or half uncial. Four guidelines instead of two were used and strokes were allowed to soar above
and sink below the two principal lines, creating true ascenders and descenders. Half uncials were
easy to write and had increased legibility because the visual differentiation between letters was

      Uncials from the Gospel of Saint
       Matthew, eighth century A.D.,                Half-uncials, sixth century A.D., History of
       History of Graphic Design,                    Graphic Design, Meggs, 4-3
       Meggs, 4-2

Benita Brewer                                                                                           4
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                    Spring, 2010

Celtic Book Design
Ireland was an island tucked into the far corner of Europe and the Celts lived in relative isolation
and peace. In early 5th century A.D. Saint Patrick and other missionaries began to convert the
Celts to Christianity. Pagan temples were converted to churches and Celtic ornaments were applied
to items brought to Ireland by the missionaries. The Celtic design concepts of geometric linear
patterns weaving and filling space were applied to book design in the monastic scriptoria.

The Book of Kells is the culmination of Celtic illuminated manuscripts. Ornament was used in
borders which enclosed full page illustration on the opening pages of each gospel. Important
passages were highlighted by ornate initials and carpet pages organized the material. There are
over 2,100 ornate capitals and 339 leaves.

Celtic manuscripts took the half-uncial and changed it into the insular script. Words were now
separated by a space and written with an angled pen. Ascenders bent to the right and have a
triangle perched at the top and the last letter of the work sometimes pulls out into the space
between the words. The Chi-Rho page is a graphic explosion using the monogram XPI. This letter
combination - used to write Christ in manuscripts – is called the Chi-Rho after the first two letters
of the Greek word for Christ, chi (X) and rho (p).

      Book of Kells, text page                           Book of Kells, Four Gospels page

Carolingian era & graphic renewal.
Charlemagne was the leading ruler of Europe in 700 A.D. and Pope Leo III declared him emperor of
the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne was illiterate but fostered a revival of literacy and learning.
He assembled scribes and ordered copies of important religious texts to be made. He formed a
standardization of page layout, writing style, and decoration. He used the Celtic method of four
guidelines and an ordered uniform script called Carolina minuscules. This is the forerunner of our
contemporary lowercase alphabet. Characters were set apart, roman capitals were used for
heading and initials. He also revised sentence and paragraph structure, punctuation.

On the Spanish peninsula, isolated from Europe by mountains, Islamic design was mixed with
Christian traditions. Supernatural explanations were assigned to natural phenomena that were not
understood and many people awaited the destruction of earth as told in the Bible's book of
Revelation. The Commentary of Beatus on the Apocalypse of Saint John the Divine was widely

Benita Brewer                                                                                       5
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                   Spring, 2010

read. The scribe and illuminator Facundus drew figures action out the final tragedy and the four
horseman of the Apocalypse who are traditionally war, famine, pestilence, and death ride to
unleash their terror upon the world.

      Beatus of Fernando and Sancha,
                                                   Qu'ran, Mustafa al-khalil (front piece)
       The Four Horsemen of the
                                                    Meggs, 4-18
       Apocalypse, Meggs 4-13

Islam, one of the world‟s great religions, emerged from Muhammad‟s teaching as recorded in the
Qur‟an. The sacred book forms the divine authority for religious, social, and civil life in Islamic
societies. Hundreds of thousands of manuscript copies of the Qur‟an have been made. Muhammad
called upon his followers to learn and read and write. Calligraphy became an important tool for
religion and government. Geometric shapes containing calligraphy are surrounded by rhythmic
organic designs. Figurative illustration was not utilized because Islamic society embraced the
principle of aniconism, which is religious opposition to representation of living creatures. Only God
could create life and mortals should not make figures of living things or create images that might
be used as idols. Pictures were tolerated in some Islamic regions as long as they were restricted to
private quarters.


      The art and technique of printing with movable type.
      The arrangement and appearance of printed matter.

The development of typography is one of the most important advances in civilization. Writing gave
the human family a means of storing, retrieving, and documenting knowledge and information that
transcended time and place; typographic printing allowed the economical and multiple production
of alphabet communication. Knowledge spread rapidly and literacy increased as result of this
remarkable development.

Benita Brewer                                                                                       6
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                  Spring, 2010

Guttenberg's Movable Type
Johann Gensfleisch zum Gutenberg is credited with first bringing together the complex systems
necessary to print a typographic book around 1450. Through 30 years of struggle and borrowing
money for new innovations Gutenberg published the first typographic book called the Forty-Two
Line Bible (Gutenberg Bible).

Gutenberg‟s system first engraved each character in a font – small and capital letters, numbers,
punctuation – into the top of a steel bar to make a punch. This punch was then driven into a matrix
of softer copper or brass to make a negative impression of the letterform. Once cast, the type was
stored in compartmentalized cases and pulled out letter by letter to set the lines. After a page was
printed, the type was returned to the compartments. His system was used for four hundred years
with moderate improvements.

The Latin word incunabula means cradle or baby linen. Its connotations of birth or beginning
caused 17th century writers to adopt it as a name for books printed from Gutenberg‟s invention of
typography until the end of the 15th century. Typographic printing reduced a book‟s price to a
fraction of its earlier cost, turning the serious shortage of book into abundance. Typography
created a sequential and repeatable ordering of information and space. It led people toward linear
though and logic and toward a categorization of information.

Copperplate Engraving:
Engraving is printing from an image that is incised or cut down into the printing surface. To
produce a copperplate engraving, a drawing is scratched into a smooth metal plate. Ink is applied
into the depressions left by the scratches, the flat surface is wiped clean, and paper is pressed
against the plate hard enough that the ink transfers from the plate onto the paper. Scholars have
speculated that Gutenberg, may have also been involved in he research and development of
copperplate engraving.

         The Three of Birds by Master of the            Nuremberg Chronicle printed by
          Playing Cards, 1450, Meggs, 5-17                Anton Koberger, 1493, Meggs, 6-7

Benita Brewer                                                                                        7
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                     Spring, 2010

Wood cut prints and Koberger
Anton Koberger ran a huge printing firm that produced several masterpieces of the time. One of
the most famous is the Nuremberg Chronicle. It‟s a history of the world from the biblical dawn of
creation until 1493. It has 1,809 wood cut illustrations and is 18 x 12 inches. The title page is a full
page woodblock of calligraphy, attributed to George Alt, a scribe. Koberger financed the production
of the book by contracting with publishers payment and printing in portions before production
began. The publishers stipulated several quality controls but Koberger could periodically bill the
publishers for the portions that had been printed and gathered into sections.

Albrecht Dürer
In 1498 Albrecht Dürer published Latin and German editions of the Apocalypse and illustrated them
with 15 woodcuts. The book is 32 pages long and 16 inches high x 12 inches wide. Koberger
supplied the type (fonts) on the left facing one of Dürer‟s illustrations on the right. His work is said
to have unprecedented emotional power and graphic expressiveness. Over the next few years
Dürer became one of the most famous printers in the world. He published two other large format
volumes, The Large Passion and the Life of the Virgin.

He traveled to Venice and studied Italian artists printing methods. He later produced a book on
draftsmanship; A Course in the Art of Measurement with Compass and Ruler. The book covered
linear geometry and two dimensional geometric construction. His Roman capitals with instruction
for their composition contributed to the evolution of alphabet design. He related each letter to the
square and worked out a one to ten ration of the heavy stroke width to the height. His book the
Treatise on Human Proportions was published after his death in 1528. It shared his knowledge of
drawing, the human figure and advances developed by Italian artists.

         The Four Horsemen of the
                                                      From Underweisung der Messung by
          Apocalypse by Albrecht Durer,
                                                       Albrecht Durer, 1525, 6-16
          1498, Meggs, 6-13

Benita Brewer                                                                                          8
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                  Spring, 2010

Dissemination of Information (Scientific and Philosophy)
Erhard Ratdolt from Augsburg, Germany worked in Venice with partners, Bernhard Maler and Peter
Loeslein to produce Calendarium (Record book) by Regiomontanus. It contained 60 diagrams of
solar and lunar eclipses printed in yellow and black. Fear and superstition were being swept away
as scientists began to understand natural phenomena and printers disseminated this knowledge. In
the back of the book is a 3-part mathematical wheel used for calculating the solar cycles and is an
example of one of the first uses of “die-cut”. The book also features lines to separate and “graph”

The foundation of information graphics is analytic geometry. Developed by Rene Descartes. He
used algebra to solve geometry problems, formulate equations to represent lines and curves, and
to represent a point in space by a pair of numbers. On a two-dimensional plane, Descartes drew
two perpendicular intersecting lines called axes: the horizontal line is called the x-axis and the
vertical line is called the y-axis. Any point on the plane can be specified by two numbers. One
defines its distance from the horizontal axis and the other number defines its distance from the
vertical axis. These numbers are called Cartesian coordinates. The axis can be repeated at
regular intervals to form a grid of horizontal and vertical lined called a Cartesian grid.

                                                      Calendarium byRegiomontanus
                                                       designed by Erhard Ratdolt, Peter
        Cartesian coordinate system
                                                       Loeslein, and Bernhard, 1476, Meggs,

Benita Brewer                                                                                        9
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                        Spring, 2010

Letterform Vocabulary

      Type: a piece of metal or wood with a raised letter in reverse on its top used in printing; or
       a printed or photographically reproduced character.

      Typography: the art and process of printing with type.

      Typeface or Font: A set of characters. In the world of metal type, this means a given
       alphabet, with all its accessory characters, in a given size.

      Font Family: A typeface plus any versions of the alphabet such as italized or bold.

      Foundry: Originally, a factory in which metal type is made; now any maker of type.

      Baseline: The line on which letterforms rest. (Round letters like "e" and "o" normally dent
       it, pointed letters like "v" and "w" normally pierce it, and letters with foot serifs like "h" and
       "l" usually rest precisely upon it.)

      Capline: an imaginary line that runs along the tops of the capital letters.

      Meanline: an imaginary line that establishes the height of the body of lowercase letters

      Ascender: That part of a lowercase letter that rises above the x-height, as in letters 'b', 'd',
       'f', 'h', 'k', 't' and 'l'.

      Descender: That portion of a letter that falls below the baseline, as in 'j', 'g', 'q', 'p' and 'y'.

      Serif: A small stroke at the end of the main strokes of letterforms.

      Point: A unit of measure used by printers, equal to 1/72 inch. The height of a font.

      X-Height: The height of a lowercase letter 'x' in a particular font.

      Leading: The amount of space between two lines of type.

      Kerning: The amount of space between two letters.

      quad: metal blocks inserted between the pieces of type to achieve spacing between letters
       or words.

Benita Brewer                                                                                           10
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                    Spring, 2010

      Em: a quad that is square to the point size of the letterforms.

      En: a quad that is ½ the square of the point of the letterforms.

      Roman letters have serifs adapted from the way Roman stonecutters carved their letters.

      Gothic letters are sans-serif letters and have lines of even width.

Industrial Revolution

      Occurred in England during the period from 1760 until 1840.

      It was a radical process of social and economic change. The harnessing of energy was a
       major reason for this conversion from an agricultural society to an industrial one.

      A factory system with machine manufacturing and division of labor was developed and new
       materials, such as iron and steel became available. Mass production increased availability
       and lowered cost of goods and the cheaper, more abundant merchandise stimulated a cycle
       of supply and demand.

      People moved from rural areas into the urban areas as factory jobs grew.

      The audience for reading matter proliferated and graphic communications became more
       important and widely available during this time.

Sans Serif
The third major typographic innovation of the early 1800‟s, sans serif type, meaning the absence
of serifs. It was used primarily for subtitles and descriptive material with fat faces and Egyptians.
Each company named their sans-serif font a different name but Figgins named his version "sans-
serif" in recognition of the font‟s most apparent feature and the name stuck.

New Printing Presses
The printing presses used by Baskerville were similar to the first one used by Guttenberg, 300
years earlier. Inventors were working on increasing the hand press‟ efficiency. Lord Stanhope„s
printing press was constructed completely of cast iron parts. The metal screw mechanism required
approximately one tenth the manual force needed to print of a wooden press and Stanhope‟s press
enabled a doubling of the printed sheet‟s size.

      All iron parts press by Charles,
                                                     1st steam powered cylinder press, 1814
       third Earl of Stanhope

Benita Brewer                                                                                      11
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                  Spring, 2010

Friedrich Koenig obtained a patent for his steam powered printing press. His press printed 400
sheets per hour in comparison to the hourly output of 250 sheets on the Stanhope hand press.
Other innovations included a method of inking the type by rollers instead of the hand-inking balls.

Another innovation was the supply of economical and abundant source of paper. John Gamble
was granted a patent for a production paper machine. The machine poured a suspension of fiber
and water in a thin stream upon a vibrating wire mesh conveyor belt. As long as the supply of pulp
was maintained and the conveyor belt continued to move and shake, an unending sheet of paper
could be manufactured.

Even though the printing and the paper was becoming automated, setting the type by hand
remained a slow and costly process. The first patent for a composing machine was registered in
1825, but Ottmar Mergenthaler perfected his Linotype machine in 1886. Mergenthaler‟s machine
involved the use of small brass matrixes with female impressions of the letterforms, numbers, and
symbols. Ninety typewriter keys controlled vertical tubes that were filled with these matrixes. Each
time the operator pressed a key, a matrix for that character was released. It slid down a chute and
was automatically lined up with the other characters in the line. Melted lead was poured into the
line of matrixes to cast a slug bearing the raised line of type.

Hand set metal type faced a dwindling market after the Linotype became popular. The fourteen
major type foundries merged together in to the American Type Founders Company in an effort
to stabilize the industry by forcing the weaker foundries out of business. Design piracy was
rampant. After foundries released new typefaces, competitors immediately electroplated the new
designs, and then sold the type from the counterfeit matrixes.

      Ottmar Mergenthaler, The Model 5 Linotype,1886

Benita Brewer                                                                                     12
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                    Spring, 2010

Photography's Beginning
The camera obscura (Latin for dark chamber) was known in the ancient world as early as the
time of Aristotle and has said to be used by many artists in aiding their compositions and color
combinations. It was a box with a small opening and/or lens in one end. Light would pass through
the lens, be projected onto the opposite side, and form a picture reflecting the scene seen through
the lens. Artists would then hand copy or trace that image to aid in their drawings or paintings.
Early photographers used the camera obscura as the basis for their experimentation. They began
to play with ways to “fix” the projected image onto something permanent.

      Camera Obscura, artist and date                 Joseph Niepce, the 1st Photograph
       unknown                                          from nature, 1826

Joseph Niepce (1765- 1833) a Frenchman, was one of the first successful experimenters with
what eventually became photography. He was interested in the printing process and capturing
reality to print faster. His first experiments included using a pewter plate in the camera obscura,
leaving it exposed to light all day, washing it with lavender oil, and then a hazy image appeared.

Lois Jacques Daguerre (1799-1851)
Daguerre had been conducting similar research and contacted Niepce. The two shared information
and in 1839, Daguerre presented his finding to the French Academy of Sciences. He called his work
daguerreotype prints. In the first year after the French government had acquired Daguerre‟s
process and it was made public, a half million daguerreotypes were made in Paris. Daguerreotypes
had limitations, each plate was a one of a kind and the process required meticulous polishing,
sensitizing, and development. Also the plate had to be viewed at just the right angle or it would
reverse itself – showing what we call the negative.

      Louis Jacques Daguerre, Paris boulevard, 1839

Benita Brewer                                                                                         13
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                    Spring, 2010

Henry Fox Talbot (1800-77)
Simultaneous research was conducted in England by Talbot. Frustrated by his lack of drawing skills,
Talbot started experiments with paper treated with silver compounds that he called photogenic
drawings – made without a camera or camera obscura. He first floated paper in a weak brine
(water and salt) solution, let it dry, and then treated it with a strong solution of silver nitrate to
form an insoluble light sensitive silver chloride compound in the paper. He placed the paper on the
table, laid a slightly transparent object (like a leaf or lace) against the paper and held it down with
a piece of glass. He then exposed the entire thing to light. The parts of the paper not covered by
the object turned dark. When it reached the darkened stage, Talbot washed the paper with a salt
solution or potassium iodide to make the unexposed silver compounds insensitive to light and
“fixed” the image.

Talbot combined these experiments with a microscope to produce the first microphotographs. Plant
cross sections to small for study with the naked eye were photographed.

      William Henry Fox Talbot, cameraless                William Henry Fox Talbot, print from
       shadow picture of flowers, 1839                      the 1st photographic negative, 1835

Sir John Herschel (1792 – 1871) was an astronomer and chemist that learned about Daguerre
and Talbot‟s research. He duplicated Talbot‟s research but was the first to use sodium thiosulfate to
fix or make permanent the image by halting the action of light. He shared this information and
both Daguerre and Talbot adopted this means of fixing the image in their processes.

At the same time, Talbot solved the problem of the reversed image by contact-printing his reverse
image to another sheet of the sensitized paper in the sunlight. Because the sun‟s rays were
diffused by the fibers of the paper (eventually known as the negative), the second print was
slightly blurred. Even though it was Talbot's invention, Herschel was the one that named the
reversed image a negative and called the contact print that restored the values of nature the
positive. Herschel also named Talbot‟s invention photography (from the Greek photos graphos,
meaning "light drawing"). Because of the exclusive patents that Talbot filed, it slowed the spread of
his methods for a time and Daguerre‟s process was dominant in the beginning.

Late in 1840, Talbot increased the sensitivity of his paper to light, exposed the paper to light using
a camera obsurca, and then developed it after it was removed from the camera. He called this new
process calotype (from the Greek, kalos typos, meaning “beautiful impression”)

Benita Brewer                                                                                       14
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                   Spring, 2010

In 1844, Talbot published his book The Pencil of Nature, in installments for subscribers. It featured
24 photographs mounted into each copy by hand. Each photograph was presented opposite a text
explaining the picture and forecasting the future uses of photography. Because the calotypes were
blurry (looked like a charcoal drawing), photographers looked for a way to adhere the light
sensitive material to glass so that the negative and positive process together would produce clear,
detailed photographs.

      William Henry Fox Talbot, pages from The Pencil of Nature, 1884

Wet Plate Processes
Frederick Archer (1813-57), an English sculptor, developed a “wet plate” process. By candlelight,
or other darkness, a clear liquid called collodion was sensitized with iodine compounds, poured over
a glass plate, then immersed in a silver nitrate bath. The glass plate was exposed and developed in
the camera while still wet. Because the "wet plate" process allowed for a much shorter exposure
time than either daguerreotypes or calotypes, it almost completely replaced them by the mid

Archer and his friend P.W. Fry devised an economical method for producing photographs for the
working class. They backed an underexposed negative with black velvet or paper and when the
person looked at the negative it appeared to be a positive. They called this an ambrotype. When
the collodion material was coated on black lacquered metal, the image was called a tintype. These
were produced by the tens of thousands and the working class could afford to have their portraits
taken for the first time.

      Archer & Fry, ambrotype

Benita Brewer                                                                                      15
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                     Spring, 2010

Photographic printing
Previous to photography, images were printed in books and advertisements using wood engravings
or lithographic stones. John Calvin Moss of New York developed a method for translating line
artwork onto metal letterpress plates. A camera was suspended to hold it still and a negative was
taken of the line drawing. In a secret process, the negative was printed to a metal plate coated
with a light sensitive gelatin emulsion then etched with acid. After hand-tooling the plate for
refinement, the metal plate was mounted on a block of wood that was the same height as the type.

During the 1860‟s and 1870‟s photographs were used a research source for wood engravers.
However, research was still being done to find a way to mass print photographs inexpensively.
Talbot experimented with placing a piece of gauze on the outside of the lens. This caused the
negative to form the image using dots. The darker parts of the image had dots closer together,
light areas had less dots. When the metal relief plate was inked and printed, the image was
revealed in the dots.

Stephen H. Horgan developed a halftone screen that broke the image into a series of minute
dots whose varying sizes created tones.

Frederick E. Ives (1856- 1937) of Philadelphia developed an early halftone process and worked
on the first commercial production of halftone printing plates in 1881. Ives, with his brothers,
produced consistent commercial halftones using etched glass screens. A ruling machine was used
to scribe parallel lines in an acid resistant coating on clear glass. An acid bath was used to etch the
lines and the indentations were filled with an opaque material. Two pieces of the glass were used
together, one vertically and one horizontally. The amount of light passing through each of the
perfect squares determined the value of the dot.

      Stephen H. Horgan, experimental photoengraving, 1880

Artist photographers
Artists were experimenting with the medium of photography and were expanding on the tradition
of pointing the camera at whatever was in front of them. Instead, photographers used the camera
to produce their own visions and artistic interpretations.

David Octavious Hill – a Scottish painter decided to immortalize the 474 ministers that withdrew
their congregations from the Presbyterian Church and formed the Free Church of Scotland. He
needed reference material for a giant group portrait so he hired Edinburgh photographer Robert
Adamson to help take calotypes of each of the subjects. Hill posed each subject using his
portraiture painting experience. The resulting individual photographs were lauded as equal to
Rembrant paintings. Hill and Adamson were so successful that they were later hired to photograph
and document the dangers with fishing boats at that time. The fishing boat series was the first time
that photography was used as a visual communication to inform an audience.

Benita Brewer                                                                                        16
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                   Spring, 2010

      David O. Hill & Robert Adamson,                   Julia Margaret Cameron, Mrs Herbert
       Reverend Thomas H. Jones, 1845                     Duckworth as Julia Jackson, 1867

Julia Margaret Cameron was forty-nine when her daughter and son-in-law gave her camera and
equipment for processing collodion wet plates. Her family thought that she coul d use photography
to entertain herself. Her work (mainly portraits) have been hailed by critiques for expressing the
human condition. Cameron was interested in recording the greatness of the inner man as well as
the outer man. Partly because Cameron did not need to make a living from her photography, she
experimented a great deal with her work. She often made „sets‟ and costumed her models to
represent scenes from famous novels and biblical stories.

FT Nader was a Frenchmen looking to increase his income and began by taking portraits of
writers, actors, and artists. He also made the first aerial photographs from a hot air balloon. He
pioneered artificial light photography by using gas light to light and photograph the ancient
catacombs and the sewers under Paris. He also had his son Paul take a series of photographs as
Nader interviewed the eminent scientist Michel Eugene Chevreul. The series of 21 photographs
shows the scientist‟s expressions and gestures while answering the Nader‟s questions.

      FT Nadar, Portrait of Sarah                   Mathew Brady, Dunker Church and the
       Bernhardt, 1859                                Dead, 1862

Mathew Brady was a New York studio photographer that formed a company to photograph the
battles of the civil war. His photographic documentation had a profound impact upon the public‟s
romantic ideal of war and joined artist‟s sketches as reference material for wood engraved
magazine and newspaper illustrations. Many of Brady's battle scenes were taken by photographers
that worked for his company. However, all photographs were marked with "photograph by Brady"
since the photographers were paid a salary by Brady's company.

Benita Brewer                                                                                        17
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                   Spring, 2010

Victorian age politics and beliefs

      Queen Victoria (1819-1901) ruled the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from
       1937 to 1901. Her rule brought about strong moral and religious beliefs, proper social
       conventions and optimism.
      Sentimentality, nostalgia, and idealized beauty were expressed through printed images of
       children, maidens, puppies, and flowers. Values of home, religion, and patriotism were
       symbolized with sweetness and piety. Victorians loved fussiness, complexity, and
      Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's husband) held a grand exhibition with 13,000 exhibitors from
       all industrial nations and it was attended by 6 million visitors. It was called the Crystal
       Palace Exhibition because it was held in a 800,000 square foot steel and glass exhibition hall
       that was built for the exhibition and is still a landmark in England.

      Talbot, Title page for The Pencil of Nature, 1884

Lithography is Greek, meaning printing on stones, and was the first fundamentally new printing
technology since the invention of relief printing in the fifteenth century. It is a mechanical
planographic process in which the printing and non-printing areas of the plate are all at the same
level, as opposed to relief printing where the design is cut into the printing block. Lithography is
based on the chemical repellence of oil and water. Designs are drawn with oil-based crayons on
specially prepared limestone. The stone is moistened with water, which the stone accepts in areas
not covered by the crayon. An oil-based ink adheres only to the drawing and is repelled by the wet
parts of the stone. The print is then made by pressing paper against the inked drawing.

The process was invented by Alois Senefelder in Germany in 1798 when he needed an
inexpensive method to reproduce his plays. After much experimentation, he used wax pencils to
write his plays onto a stone. Almost immediately, attempts were made to print pictures in color and
this was referred to as chromolithography. Chromolithography simply means printing in colors
from drawings on stones.

Benita Brewer                                                                                     18
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                     Spring, 2010

                           Lithography Process                                         

Godefrey Engelmann patented the process named chromolithography in 1837. After analyzing
the colors contained within the original subject, the printer than separated them into a series of
printing plates and printed these colors one by one. A final (usually black) established the image
after separate plates printed other colors.

IN 1846, Richard M. Hoe (1812-86) perfected the rotary lithography press (lightning press) which
increased lithographic production six-fold relative to the flat bed presses then in use. It boosted
lithography competition with letterpress and economical color printing was possible.

The Printers

John H. Bufford was a master draftsman whose crayon style images achieved a stunning realism.
He specialized in art prints, posters, covers, and illustrations and often used five or more colors. He
used a black stone as his master plate and flesh tones combined with red, yellow, blue, and slate-
gray backgrounds. Browns and oranges were created by the overlaying of the colors. In 1864,
Bufford‟s sons entered his firm as partners. Their designs were knows for their meticulous and
convincing tonal drawing and the integration of image and lettering into a unified design. In their
political graphics they included patriotic motifs such as eagles, flags, banners, and liberty clothed in
the flag.

American lithography maintained a German heritage. The best stones were from Bavaria and
prepared for printing and then exported from Germany. The Dusseldorf Academy of Art was the
major training school for artists who created images for lithographic printing.

Louis Prang achieved his printing quality by using up to 40 stones for one design and for throwing
out the black master plate and building up the colors through many layers of subtle colors

Prang became know as the father of the American Christmas card. He began printing holiday
images suitable for framing and in 1872 published an English Christmas card. in 1875 Prang began
publishing American cards after the introduction of the "penny post" card by the U.S. Postal
Service. He also held competitions among art students awarding between $2,000 and $4,000 for
prizes ensuring that he was able to purchase some of the best designs.

Prang took an idea from the 18th century copper platers and designed advertising cards (business
cards). He sold them in bulk to merchants to imprint an advertising message on the back or in an
open area on the front. Prang rarely stamped his company‟s name on his products which makes
identifying his work (apart from superior color) from his rivals.

Benita Brewer                                                                                        19
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                       Spring, 2010

Attempting to teach art to his daughter, Prang discovered that there were not any non-toxic
products for her to use. His company developed, manufactured, and distributed non -toxic
watercolor sets and crayons. Prang believed that all children should study art, and that artistic
experience and observation quickens the imagination and independence of expression. His
company developed instructional book and an education curriculum. He printed reproductions of
famous art works and published the first American textbooks; Art in the School Room and Art
Education in High Schools. He even supplied art programs with Prang chalks, crayons, and paints.

Children’s books
Before the Victorian age, Western countries tended to treat children as miniature adults. The
Victorians developed a more doting attitude toward children. One of the ways this was expressed
was through the proliferation of "toy books". Toy books, also called six penny books, were 8
pages long, printed in full color and cost 6 pennies. Three English illustrators, who all worked for
the printer and publisher, Edmund Evans, produced work that is still influential today.

Walter Crane (1845-1915) was one of the earliest and most influential designers of children‟s
picture books. Instead of sending a moral lesson, Crane sought to entertain children. He believed
that an illustrator had an important responsibility in shaping the child's intelligence and thought
that children's books should encourage and inspire a child's imagination. He was one of the first to
be influenced by Japanese wood block design. Crane's style involves well defined forms, heavy
outlines, and bright colors.

Randolph Caldecott (1846-86) tried to entertain children through his use of humor. His
illustrations are lighter in line work and color than Crane's and often have an edge of silliness to
them. In addition to Caldecott's full-color book illustrations, he liked to include "sketches" within
the text of the story. He felt that it helped add interest and a rhythm to the story. He also used
brown ink instead of black for his outline color. Caldecott, along with advice from other printers,
was instrumental in gaining royalties for illustrators.

Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) used lots of white space, asymmetrical balance and soft color to
create her worlds for children. Her illustrations of children are often referred to as "doll-like" due to
the melancholic expressions and style of the hands and feet. She greatly influenced children‟s
fashion since the costumes that her children wore were considered old fashioned even for the
Victorian times. Greenaway was also a poet and when Evans published her writings and images
together she was able to gain two royalties. Consumers purchased her books in great quantities
but the critics complained about her apparent lack of drawing skills.

      Walter Crane, The Deer and the Prince, from                   Walter Crane, From Puss in

Benita Brewer                                                                                           20
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                   Spring, 2010

       Best Loved Fairy Tales of Walter Crane                      Boots, 1874

      Randolph Caldecott, And the Dish Ran Away                  Randolph Caldecott, The
       With the Spoon, from Hey Diddle Diddle and                  Queen's Guards, from The
       Other Funny Poems,1882                                      Queen of Hearts

                                                                  Kate Greenaway, Jack and
      Kate Greenaway, Ring-A-Ring-A Roses, from A
                                                                   Jill, from A Mother Goose
       Mother Goose Treasury

Harper and Brothers

The two elder brothers of the Harper family, James and John, started a New York printing firm and
younger brothers Wesley and Fletcher eventually joined the them. By 1850, Harper and Brothers
had become the largest printing and publishing firm in the world. During the 1840‟s, Harper and
Brothers launched a project that became the nation‟s finest achievement of graphic design and
book production to date; Harper’s Illuminated Bible. Printed on a specially designed press built for
its production, it contained 1,600 wood engravings.

The firm opened the era of the picture magazine in 1850 when Harper’s Monthly Magazine began
publication. Each issue contained English fiction writing and numerous woodcut illustrations. The
initial press run of 7,500 copies sold out immediately, and within six months circulation had
reached 50,000. The magazine soon began to print the work of American artists and writers,
among them Winslow Homer, Mark Twain, Frederic and Jack London.

Benita Brewer                                                                                       21
History of Graphic Design – Section 1 Class Notes                                 Spring, 2010

The monthly magazine was joined by a weekly periodical that functioned as a newsmagazine;
Harper’s Weekly. Harper’s Bazaar for women was founded in 1867 and the youth audience was
addressed by Harper’s Young People in 1879.

Thomas Nast

Nast was a talented artist that was hired by Harper to make battlefield sketches of the Civil War.
Eventually Abraham Lincoln called Nast, “the best recruiting sergeant” and General Grant declared
that Nast had played a pivotal part in ending the war.

After the war, Nast remained with Harper’s Weekly, where he drew his images directly on the
woodblock in reverse for the craftsmen to cut. He had deep social and political concerns and
stripped away details to increase the communicative effect. He had been called the father of
American political cartooning. Symbols that he has popularized include Santa Claus, John Bull (the
symbol for England), the Democratic donkey, the Republican elephant, Uncle Sam, and Columbia (
the symbolic female signifying democracy that became the prototype for the Statue of Liberty)

      Thomas Nast, political cartoon from Harper’s Weekly, 1871

Benita Brewer                                                                                   22