We’re at a point in the year where you are ready for some self-chosen direction. Some of you have stuck with the class format pretty religiously, and some of you haven’t. For some, you’ve watched the videos, asked questions, researched, designed, redesigned, became very specific in your self-critique, etc.., and as such, the quality of your work has improved noticeably. Most of you have probably started to develop a feel for what type of design work you prefer, or more importantly, what type of work you feel allows you the most creativity. I’m going to break the traditional mold of our classroom a bit, and we’re going to expand on this self-directed format a bit more. I’m going to remove specific project topics for the time being, and have each of you CHOOSE a direction you want to go within the class. If you want to focus on specific poster designs (PSA’s, Movie Posters, Advertisements, etc.), go for it. If you would like to focus on illustration work (Portraits, Logos, Vector Illustrations, etc.), you can. There will be SOME resemblance of requirements within this new format (hence the title of this post), but just enough to keep you on task, and no more.
First an foremost, this change in direction for the class is a working experiment of sorts. The success of this experiment, and ultimately the deciding factor as to whether or not this format continues for the semester, hinges on your ability to keep yourself on task. I want you all to be reading tutorials, watching tutorial videos, asking questions, etc. If you see something online you think looks great, don’t assume you can’t replicate it, LEARN to replicate it. Part of separating yourself from a first year design student (remember Digital Design 1), and a true designer is trial and error as well as experimentation. I have 11yrs of design experience working in the Adobe Suite, and to this day, I’m still learning, improving, researching, asking questions, etc. I watch tutorials just like all of you. I read “how-to’s” just like all of you. The day that you realize you’re never done learning or improving is the day you become a true designer.
Blog Post Assignment
Ok, motivational speech aside, here’s how this is going to work. First, I want to hear your thoughts on this new change (and on how the class format leading up this has been working for you). Make a post on your blog (2-3 paragraphs, proper grammar and spelling, full sentences, etc.) reflecting on the class up to this point. How do you like the self-directed learning involving videos, posts, and our website? Has it worked for you or not? Why or why not? What do you think about choosing your own type of projects and designs? Do you have concerns? If so, what are they?
Since we will not all be working on the same projects at the same time anymore under this format, the grading system is going to change. You will be graded on an effort/quality of work component. This system will similarly mirror the grade system outlined in our student handbook, but will translate to a 5 point system.
“5″-100% – Superior (Work demonstrates top level quality)
“4″-93% – Above Average (Work is at a high level, but revision(s) would improve overall look)
“3″-85% – Average (This work is on par with what you would produce in Digital Design 1. Little to no effort placed beyond completion and submission).
“2″-70% – Below Average (Project appears incomplete, design lacks any creativity or effort, design doesn’t follow any quality design guidelines, etc.)
“1″-60% – Are you kidding? (Work barely resembles a design piece, poor color choice, font choice, project is incomplete, or projects not turned in. Work isn’t even at a beginner level).
Part of this new format will also require that you self-evaluate your work at periodic intervals throughout the year. You SHOULD be your toughest critic, and as such, I want all of you to self-analyze your work, and identify areas that need improved. Criteria used throughout your previous projects will be used during this evaluation process. You must address proper font choice (serif/sans-serif, thick vs. thin, decorative vs. minimalistic), color choice (complimentary/contrasting), and the appropriate graphic design elements/principles of design:
Part of developing your design work, and taking it to the next level involves PRACTICE. Not just regular practice, but practicing advanced techniques in both Photoshop and Illustrator (you may expand to other software in the Creative Suite if you wish). As I said earlier, to this day, I STILL read and practice tutorials. I’m always learning new techniques, shortcuts I never knew existed, and producing effects and final products I couldn’t before. Tutorials, love them or hate them, advance your design capabilities faster than traditional instruction, and since you’re working at your own pace, you will focus more, and rush less (in theory anyways).
You will be required to complete 2 advanced tutorials(your choice) every two weeks and make a post at the end of every two weeks on your blog showcasing your work and explaining what you accomplished, what you learned, and how you plan to incorporate these techniques into future projects.
**Each tutorial update will be worth 50pts.**
As for the projects, one rule all of you must follow, is you are never “done.” There is no, “I’m finished, what should I do now?” questions. No “I have nothing to do” comments. You will be required to post weekly progress posts on your blog showing me what you’re working on. When you finish a project, post it to your gallery in the appropriate category, and move on to the next of your choosing. You will be evaluated at specific intervals (every week) on your progress and quality of work.
Stuck? Visit these sites for inspiration:
- Smashing Magazine Top Tutorials
- Digital Photography School
- Mac Lab Student Work (Yes…STUDENT work)
To summarize, my hope is you all will embrace this change, and take this unique opportunity to truly expand your expertise. You will learn far more from experimentation, research, and self-evaluation than any one specific instructor can teach you. Take control of this process, and you will see results. Ignore it, and you will simply get back what you put into it…nothing. Good luck!