Thursday, December 20, 2012

12-20-2012 End of Fall 2012 Semester

I am a student of graphic design at San Antonio College in Texas, and I want to use this blog for several purposes:
>  to show off exciting art I've found on the Internet
>  to communicate with other graphic artists and designers about design and small business issues
> to show my own journey through art and life.

I just finished my first semester of this two-year program, the Fall semester, with Basic Illustration, Introduction to Computer Illustration, and Basic Graphic Design.
Basic Illustration took us through geometric forms and shading with graphite pencils, colored pencils and a still life based on a leather saddle, gouache for birds, architectural drawing with pen and a gouache wash, and a scratch board project illustrating a radio broadcast. We touched on Elements and Principles of Design, color theory, use of text and other things I've forgotten. This was probably the standard introduction to illustration.
Computer Illustration threw us into Photoshop and the infamous pen tool and ended up in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. We approached each project from the point of view of a graphic designer working with a client.
Basic Graphic Design also used Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, plus a pen tool exercise. Naturally, this class spent more time on Elements and Principles of Design, Gestalt, Color Theory and Rules of Composition than the other classes did. In fact, all but the last were the subjects of separate projects. I also learned some neat tricks, like how to copy and rotate an object around a circle.

All these classes covered other things:
> We were introduced to expressing our concepts in thumbnails and roughs.
> We learned to mat finished works on mat board according to the demands of different "clients" or instructors.
> We practiced the design process: discuss the concept with the clients, research with words and pictures, express the concept in thumbnails and roughs and discuss those with the clients, execution, matting and critique, and revision and critique.
I loved seeing what my classmates had done with the same subjects and same restrictions I had faced.
I revised several projects according to critiques partly to raise my grades and partly because I wanted the satisfaction of producing a better product. Of course, all those revisions made it harder to keep up in class.

In addition, all instructors used technology effectively. They employed overhead projectors from the instructor computer to show useful websites and demonstrate techniques.
In the two computer-based classes, students had to drop assignment files or folders with the correct file name into the correct electronic drop box, and this was still a source of some confusion at the end of the semester.
I was surprised how many students did not save frequently, and did not save incrementally under a succession of file names, like the instructors advised. During a "performance" exam, one student lost all her work to some computer glitch and walked out of the building to get control over her frustration. No one realized that the exterior building doors had been locked. She did not have her cell phone or coat with her and it was unseasonably cold outside. She was able to get back into the building with only 15 minutes left to frantically finish the exercise!
In the computer-based classes, I was pleased to be able to take notes in Word in one window and switch to the work in progress in another window or to the PDF project handout in a third window. I took notes on loose paper in the Illustration class, and now I wish I had used a spiral notebook, lined or unlined. I don't know how other students managed to keep track of information that was not in handouts, and some of them clearly didn't keep track.
On the first day of class, both computer-based instructors explained differences between the Mac computers in the classroom and the PCs that some of us had at home.

I also felt that I started near the bottom of the skill and experience bell curves in drawing on paper and use of Adobe CS programs compared with some other students. A few of us were in the same three classes, but other students were in different tracks or in different stages of the program. I learned that one stellar classmate had a BFA and was an art teacher, and other classmates had other related work experience.
But I was glad that I had experience in DrawPerfect, PageMaker and Paint, as well as Word, of course.
My preferred media include paper cutting, polymer clay, and bead embroidery and bead weaving, none of which prepared me to draw on paper or in a computer program.
Finally, I owe thanks to each of my instructors, who sometimes showed me the way they wished I would do something and then tried to put their vision and experience into words to help me learn.

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