The Zebra – the Epitome of Graphic Design

I’ve always seen the zebra as the epitome of graphic design – it has all the elements – line value, diagonals, white space…

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I was a Fine Art major in college. My emphasis was on life drawing. We would spend hours doing “contour drawings” where we would draw to actual contours of a model, never lifting the pencil from the paper. The idea was that when completed the dimensional shape would be evident in your drawing. Sometimes it was successful, sometimes not so much.

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I experimented with sumi brushes making the lines thick and thin in order to show depth along with contour and I was a bit more successful with that method in creating something that was closer to being art and not just an exercise.

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None of my experiments even approached the success of the lines of the Zebra – curving over the curved parts, widening over the wider parts – unfurling like the waves of a striped flag in the breeze.

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It’s the ultimate use of negative space – show just the white on black and it’s all there, show the reverse and its design is just as successful.

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How amazing is it that these stripes serve as camouflage in an environment made up of golds and browns. A brown and gold striped horse on the African plains would have been just as successful, yet this bold design works just fine in the presence of color blind predators.

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Super-clean lines, completely functional design, bold styling – just perfect.

These Grant’s Zebras are a part of the herd living at the Promised Land Zoo just north of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

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21 thoughts on “The Zebra – the Epitome of Graphic Design

  1. Lovely. I’m a “reefer” (saltwater fish and coral reef hobbyist), and I’m always amazed, fascinated, and awed by the incredible beauty in my beloved critters. Most of those fish and inverts, their colors and patterns, are also practical defenses/camo in their environment.

  2. I find Zebra stripes absolutely fascinating. Every time I go to the zoo, I keep staring at the zebras stripes as though they are painted on (& on a hot day the lines will drip off and there’ll only be an ordinary plain coloured horse left – seriously).

    Great photos.

    • I love that! Here in the states we had a commercial campaign for Fruit Striped Gum that featured a talking Zebra in the 70’s – I still think of that gum when I see one.

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