Monday, December 12, 2011

Darwin Day Submission

Man is descended from a hairy, tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in its habits.
~Charles Darwin

After much prodding, I transformed my human evolution design into a piece that I could submit for the Darwin Day T-shirt competition.  Here is the final design I decided to submit.

As you can see, the design is centered around my original human evolutionary tree concept, but I added the text and the outlines of extant primates.  The three additional taxa of primates include Pan (lower left), Gorilla (lower right), and Pongo (upper left), since these genera are mostly closely related to Homo out of the primates living today.  I decided to remove the arm with the apple because I didn't think a disembodied arm would work well on a t-shirt, without an edge to line up with.  
Instead I added a finch perched on the girl's outstretched hand.  If you are familiar with Darwin you will recognize the finch as a one of the species of Darwin's finches that had developed a large wide beak in order to specialize on tougher food sources that finches with long narrow beaks could not easily consume.  Finches with narrow beaks specialized in feeding on different resources, allowing the different morphs to exploit different niches rather than directly competing for the same limited resources.  Over time, initial variation in beak dimensions was enhanced, since different shapes provided different advantages allowing some birds to access resources that the others could not.  Thus they didn't starve and were able to reproduce and pass their genes onto the next generation.  Anyway, I digress, basically the finch is an homage to Darwin as well a representation of a possible mechanism of change.
I wasn't sure if I should draw the lettering or use a font.  Also, I realized that since Darwin Day isn't until February the actual year would be 2012 (oops) so I fixed that in my final design.  Here are the original design layouts with the girl, the text, the arm and the bird.

Originally, I had just thought I would use my design with the girl and text on a red background, but the t-shirt had to be white so that limited the background color.  Since I didn't want to just put the girl in a square of color I tried to add color to surround the outline in by containing it in the shapes of the other primates.  I didn't like the first design because I didn't think the ape was distinct enough, so I removed that image and changed to the large ape on the right of the girl.  I then added the small ape on the left bottom and finally re-added the one at the top left.  I was trying to use the apes to make the girl stand out more so I had a difficult time laying them out to minimize the area of the girl bordered by white while simultaneously positioning them to look like they looked like they belonged in the image.  Amusingly, all of the background primates are based on pictures of chimps, but by manipulating the size and design of the images they definitely look like different apes.  Finally, I changed the color to orange to fit with the Tennessee theme.

I mostly like the way the design came out.  The lettering is a little strange because it crosses the orange and white backgrounds, but I tried multiple different text layouts and I couldn't find any that I like better.  I really like the addition of the extant primates because it adds context to the evolutionary tree depicted in the girl.  It would be cool to include similar evolutionary lineages in the other primates, but unfortunately I am not very familiar with the evolutionary records of other primates and I know for chimpanzees few fossils have been recovered.
The judging of the designs doesn't happen until January, so I guess there won't be any updates till then.  Hope you like the design, and think it would make a neat t-shirt. :)

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