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.