Wednesday, November 10, 2010

History of Graphic Design

Here is a wonderful website for those of us who don't have a budget for a set of classroom textbooks about graphic design...and it is much more up to date.    I noticed that on their history of symbols page, they already have an example of the Culture Jamming/Rebranding of the BP logo.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What do Graphic Designers Do, Anyway?

Need to be able to explain the career of a graphic designer?  The AIGA has a very thorough guide to the careers of graphic designers.  For a quicker source, just check out the list with explanations of what kind of projects designers actually work on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Leslie Alsheimer Book on Black and White Photography and Photoshop CS4

Two years ago I recommended Alsheimer's wonderful and thorough book for perfecting black and white digital photography, enhancing in Photoshop, while also managing your photos with Lightroom.  You can read the original review here.

There is now an updated edition for CS4 and the latest Lightroom. If you think there can't be much you can do with creating digital black and white images, you need to read this book.  If you have a gazillion photos on your hard drive, but haven't tried Lightroom yet, it's time you do (and read this book). I love Lightroom not just because of it's organizational abilities, but it's sophisticated photo adjustments (called aptly, "developing") are often all I need. Asheimer's insights into the art of digital black and white photography should lead you to some exquisite images.

Paraphrasing Alsheimer, you will need to awaken your inner geek for some of the content, but she does a great job of making you feel at ease if you don't quite get it the first time. There are chapters that I have to reread because I don't always remember all the technical info. But, her style of writing is very comfortable and refreshing, and the book is very well edited and designed, so I never feel overwhelmed or bored reading it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Suggested Beginning Flash Projects

As promised, I am sharing how I started my Flash unit, using Flash CS4.

For the Sampler, I demoed step one, had them try step one, etc. Demo/try, demo/try, etc. Peer helpers are very important.

Practice Flash Project

The project has at least 4 layers:

1. Dingbat, modified to graphic symbol, moves around stage and distorts as it moves. (Motion tween)
2.Shape morphs into another shape. (Shape tween)
3.Shape appears to move into stage, but actually the shape grows larger. (Shape tween)
4.A shape changes alpha (opacity) from 0-100%.(Shape tween)

Flash Concept Animation

Using what you learned in the Practice Flash project, express one of the following concepts using shapes, letters or dingbats:

1. congestion
2. playful
3. tension or stress
4. lost
5. victory
6. fear
7. perseverance

Requirements:At least 100 frames in length. Must successfully express the idea without words. Use 3 different objects, each on it’s own layer, and at least one motion tween and one shape tween.

Have a peer from across the room critique your animation and make any agreed upon changes. Don’t tell them which topic you chose; see if they can recognize it. Your peer must also check that you put it in your finished folder and named it properly.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Visual Literacy: A Conceptual Approach to Graphic Problem Solving

This is a fantastic book of projects for a 2D design class, by the founder of the Graphic Design Department of The School of Visual Arts, Richard Wilde. The projects are clearly described and there are many wonderful student examples. The book itself is a fantastic example of visual literacy.  (Ironic how non-visual so many visual literacy books and presentations actually are.)  Fun projects that challenge your students to turn on their creative mind, for grades 11-college.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Design Revolution: On the Road to Change the World

Great article from the San Francisco Chronicle that explains design as innovation projects that have made a difference.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Interviews with Graphic Designers

If you teach graphic design, you may want to share interviews with graphic designers with your classes. has some wonderful ones under their Creative Inspiration section, but it that site requires a monthly fee (well worth it).

Another one, which is also a great example of using object animation, is from the School of Visual Arts, of interviews with designers who were students of Richard Wilde. (Love the target assignment!)

Good Flash Examples

If you are teaching Flash animation, you probably have bookmarked some excellent Flash interactive sites for examples. Would you please take the time to share them with us? Just add your favorites in the comments section with a short explanation (appropriate for public school viewing, please).

I'm looking for innovative, captivating educational sites for my classroom examples.  has a Flash category. The Bendito Machines are ones I found there. I always show BM1 at least, and have fun letting the students interpret the meaning. There are 4.

Here is a great one on the MOMA site about their Tim Burton exhibition.

Another one from MOMA, but very different is their What is a Print? interactive

Here is a Flash portfolio site  by a very talented student, whose website is titled ""

Another museum interactive for younger children, from the Art Institute of Chicago, has some beautifully done storytelling, for example.

From the Smithsonian, a site about book illustrations

An interactive site about color theory.  I use this in my graphic design classes as an alternative to a lecture style lesson about color.

A nice example of Flash poetry, Why do you stay up so late?

Please share what you've found. If you have some successful student Flash sites as well, let us know.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Painting with Light

You may want your students to take part in The Carrot Revolution's collaborative project of images created with open shutters and some flashlights. The deadline for entries is March 1st and you should register your class ahead of time. Visit their website for more info. You may also want to follow the Carrot Revolution blog, as well as read this NPR article about the project with student examples.  I plan on taking part and will post my students' examples soon. For some more info on light painting, check out this earlier DAE blog post

Color Decisions

Creating color combinations is a sensibility that most students haven't had a chance to develop. Cutting and combining Color-Aid paper is not the most efficient way to acquire color experience. (Ok, if you don't know about Color-Aid paper then you really are young.) Teaching color theory and relationships is much easier in Illustrator and doesn't have to be a mind-melting experience thanks to the Window>Extensions menu in Illustrator CS4. Your students can choose Kulor and download swatches of color schemes into their swatch collection without actually going to the Kulor website. You can tell your students which swatch collections to work with for each color exercise, for example, or just require them to choose a swatch collection and stick with it. The above color scheme is called "Haiti Relief". If you need to brush up on color theory, visit the links page.  There is even a link to Colorstrology where you can find the Pantone color that vibrates with your inner you... or something like that.