English 853 Visual Communication

Practice Exercises

 

Practice Exercise One: Geometric Abstract Design and Pearce Center Logo Contest

For this exercise, we will begin exploring the design process by thinking creatively when playing with shapes.

Consider it a game, where you artificially set limits for yourself in order to bring about creative solutions, which would not have occurred to you without the limits.

For next class period, bring printouts of your two design exercises for in-class "Crit" sessions. These are not intended to be scary or overly critical, but rather as opportunities for the class to constructively apply and practice the vocabulary of visual communication and design which you will be learning.

For the Geometric Abstract Design, work in Photoshop on a sheet of 8.5 by 11-inch paper. You may work in color, black and white, or grayscale. You may also choose either vertical or horizontal. Using geometric shapes of various sizes and repetitions (squares, triangles, rectangles, etc.) create an abstract design. Try out ideas from the design principles discussed in the handout I give you in class.

The second part of this exercise is a "for fun" design contest. Try your hand at a logo design for the Pearce Center for Professional Communication (http://www.clemson.edu/pearce). You may use whatever electronic tools that are at your disposal. The logo should be suitable for a variety of uses, large or small, on brochures or business cards, or even as a clickable icon on a web page.

For the first part of this practice exercise then, you are restricted by the medium, the paper size, the shapes, the lack of concrete representations. For the second part of the exercise, there are no such restrictions, but rather, the sky is the limit, so long as the logo your design can potentially serve the purposes of the Pearce Center.

Practice Exercise Two: Makeover Project

For this exercise, we will gain experience with PageMaker while redesigning an interactive form. The Genigraphics form you will be given is a classic example of what NOT to do in forms design. Your job will be to improve on the design visually and functionally.

I don't expect you to have already mastered PageMaker. Most of you will just be beginning to learn the program. Feel free to use the QuickStart Cards available in the MATRF Lab. You can also check out PageMaker manuals with an ID card during the Lab's open hours.

Redesign the Genigraphics job information sheet. The form should contain the information discussed in class and on your handout, not the information on the old form.

Use design concepts to make the form functional and aesthetically pleasing. Information should be arranged logically, and you should make effective use of design and Gestalt concepts to group information and create visual hierarchies (Consider elements such as white space, typography, contrast, balance, scale, and texture).

The complete assignment should include the following:

Two copies of the new form

A two-page posting to VisComm debriefing and analyzing your experience with this exercise, the application of design concepts, your frustrations, where you felt you succeeded, and the inherent difficulties both with the original form and with the design task.

For next class period, bring printouts of your two design exercises for in-class "Crit" sessions.

Practice Exercise Three: Photo Editing Montage Project

For this exercise, we will gain experience with Photoshop in scanning and editing images for high quality print reproduction use. The content of the composite image you create is open to your visual imagination. You may create a poster-style flier, combining text layers with image layers, or you may just choose to create a composite image from photographs.

Here are the skills I expect you to apply to this task:

Scanning at least one image, manipulating the various settings on the scanner software for contrast, resolution, color depth, descreening, and other effects.

Using several images in layers, using a critical eye to crop, edit, dodge, burn, sharpen, or alter the image in other ways using the filters and modes settings in Photoshop.

Save your work in a variety of formats the way a professional image editor would. This includes one full version in Photoshop, with all the layers intact, one version in .TIF for final import into a PageMaker document (300 dpi), and one version used in publishing "FPO," meaning "For Position Only," a low res (72 dpi) version, for use when setting up layout (most likely .GIF or .JPG format). You should also carefully archive all of the source scans you are using under separate names and save them in your U-Drive. Never work directly with your original source scans. It is a good idea to have several different named iterations of your full layered version as well.

Image files eat a great deal of memory, so professional image editors learn quickly to expect crashes in both Photoshop and PageMaker. They have developed forms of insurance to protect themselves and their clients from time and material losses due to lost or corrupted files, especially files for pre-press (300-1200 dpi or more), which are usually sent to the printer on a Zip disk. Archive all of your work both in your U-Drive and create a full backup folder in your "Turnin" folder on CLE. Save your work faithfully every ten minutes.

Now is the time to develop professional work habits. It will save you much grief in the long run, and clients will come to rely on you.

The complete assignment should include the following:

A "Pre-Press Package" in your "Turnin" folder. This will include a PageMaker document with your image imported in as a linked resource, your .TIF image as a linked file, your "FPO" low res version. This is a pretend copy of what we would be sending to a printer. This should be in a separate folder from your backup files, and it should not include your layered version, or your source scans, for which the printer would have no use.

A two-page posting to VisComm debriefing and analyzing your experience with this exercise, the application of design concepts, your frustrations, where you felt you succeeded, and the inherent difficulties both with the original form and with the design task.

There is no need to create printouts for this project, unless you want to generate some rough composites for proofing purposes, in black and white.