Graphics & Illustration for Educators A robert bourgeois learning journal

Course Final Reflection

What a great course! Throughout its five weeks, I honed my skillset with using Illustrator, learned a few new techniques and got some ideas for assignments I can incorporate into my classes when teaching vector graphics next school year. My toolbox is a little more full after this course!

So, how will I use these activities with my students? I am currently working on gamifying my classes, so I will be spending a lot of time developing a variety of badges for awards based on success with accomplishing a variety of learning objectives. One of the first activities I will use with the students is creating an avatar of themselves. I will be requiring them to use their creation as their Schoology profile image. I think the four icon challenge and the movie poster can and likely will be connected into a single activity where the same book or movie will be used for both. And, we currently don't have any material in my curriculum on typography, which is pretty important. Frankly, it surprises me that it got overlooked! So, I can definitely use the activity we did for a quick lesson on the topic. Although I found some of the activities to be more challenging than others for me personally, I think they are all lessons that my students could succeed at and would enjoy.

Similar to other Adobe Ed Ex classes that I have taken, I enjoyed the material learned, class/peer interactions and got a little more energized each day in developing my own creativity.

Class 5 - Minimalist Movie Poster

This week's assignment has been the most difficult for me to complete. Maybe it's because this one ran across Spring Break which placed me away from my computer, perhaps it was the difficulty I had coming up with a movie to use for it, perhaps crossing the tax deadline which I have been procrastinating on doing or maybe it is simply that I have had too much to catch up at work to make the time to do this one. However you look at it, I have struggled on this one.

And then, today, I was inspired! I love classic movies and thought I would select something a little out of the ordinary: The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn! I started right off the bat with making an archery target using basic shapes. Next, I created an arrow. One famous scene from Robin Hood movies is the archery contest involving Robin splitting an arrow in the bullseye in half to win the contest. So, I duplicated the arrow, placed a small rectangle in the middle and used the Shape Builder tool to remove the middle so as to not change the original size of the arrow. I then placed them on top of each other sticking out of the bullseye.

Next, I used the Pen tool to create grass and a Robin Hood style hat. Using circles and the Shape Builder, I created a shield. I also looked for fonts that would fit with the overall theme of an old English style printing. I placed the star's name, Errol Flynn, in the center of the shield and center aligned (both horizontal and vertical) everything. I placed the hat on the corner to add some flare. I placed the other major actor's names under the shield and center aligned them to the shield. I also added a ribbon with the Photographed in Technicolor, like the original movie poster. Check out my final poster below!

Robin would be proud of the minimalist look

Class 4 - Typography

This week's focus was on the use of typography. At first, I wanted to create a poster I could use for advertising the program areas at our school. But, the requirement of using five different fonts really made it look awful and I was feeling pretty bad and uninspired about the product. I was always told to never use more than 2-3 different fonts in any particular piece, so this really pulled me out of my comfort zone and I struggled a lot. You can check it out below.

But then, I decided to make an inspirational piece and I found my creative muse. I began by finding a quote by a world-renowned game designer: Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear series, among many other titles. Once I found a quote I liked, I got to work. Instead of thinking about this as solely a typography exercise, I started thinking about how I can make an inspirational poster with minimal graphics and five different fonts. The shorter phrase was much easier to work with under these conditions than the larger text-heavy idea mentioned above.

I began by copying and pasting the text into several different lines. I considered how the phrase would work once broken up and what aspects of it I might want to use in manners other than just keying in the words. I decided the numbers, impossible, possible, time and technology were the important aspects, so each were placed in their own text.

Once the text was entered, I had to decide on what I wanted to use for a graphical component. First, I searched for an image of Hideo Kojima. I found a really great image of him that was taken face-on with a flat gray background. I brought that image into Photoshop and removed the background, then placed it where I wanted and locked-down the layer. Next, I found a great piece of concept art from Solid Gear 4. To balance the graphics, I placed it in the opposite corner from Kojima, then I lowered the opacity to 15% so I could place text over it and still be able to read the information. I then locked-down that graphic as well.

With my project set up finished, I got to the overall point of the project - working with typography. Based on the phrase, I decided to start with the numbers. I made an area text box full of the word possible as this is the core word in the quote. I found a large slab serif font (Rockwell Extra Bold) for the numbers. I selected a large point and used this to create a some clipping masks using the area type. I also added a drop shadow effect to make the numbers pop. I used Chiller font for "impossible" and added a a twist warp effect to make it stand out a little more. I then used Blackoak Std on time and technology since I wanted another slab style for two more clipping masks. I found a clock for time's mask and a game controller and drawing tablet for technology. For possible, I used Broadway for the font and converted it to outlines then filled it with a gradient. For the rest of the text, I used Bodini MT and I selected Brush Script Std Medium for Hideo Kojima's name at the bottom.

Overall, I am very pleased with the second attempt at this activity. I'm still not a fan of using more than three fonts in a single product, but I can see it working in certain situations such as this.

Informational Poster - FAIL!
Inspirational Poster - SUCCESS!

Class 3 - The 4 Icon Challenge

OK, at first I didn't think I was going to like this activity. I mean come on - how do you summarize an entire book or movie with just four icons???!!! Boy, was I mistaken! Once I decided on using A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, I was off to the races! I know...lots of people don't like this book but as someone who earned their initial degree in Psychology, I find this cautionary tale on the use of operant conditioning fascinating.

If you have ever read the book (or seen the film by Stanley Kubrick), you know that the main character is involved in an ultraviolent gang that constantly takes part in deviant behavior. Over the course of the film, he finds himself undergoing behavior modification causing him to be repulsed by such behavior, which becomes his downfall in the end.

I spent a lot of time trying to decipher what images I could use for this activity. I decided upon using a glass of milk identified as from the Korova Milk Bar (a location the characters frequent to get in the mood for violence), an image representing Alex (the main character who is often seen in a bolo hat with fake eyelashes), musical notes (for his love of Beethoven) and an image representative of the conditioning he undergoes (forced to watch violent videos while receiving eyedrops that make him violently ill). Once these were chosen, it was time to get to work on the icons themselves.

To create the various icons, I used a series of shapes and the Pen tool. Shapes included the Ellipse, Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, and Star. The Pen tool was used to create highlights on objects as well as the path for text and milk in the glass. I also did my best to find appropriate fonts for the text. The actual font used in the Koroval Milk Bar is Synthmesc, which is not free to use, so I did my best to match it by selecting Ravie. I then found the title font for at FamFonts which has thousands of free fonts from movies and such.

Once I had the icons made, I decided to stick with an orange color theme throughout. I used three different but related shades to keep the feel throughout. I played a little with making the hat black, but I really liked the orange there as well.

Overall, this was a GREAT activity! It really got me thinking about how I can use this with my students and shared it with the English department at our school as well. While I would love for them to use Illustrator, I explained they could also do it with paper and pencils.

4 Icon Challenge - A Clockwork Orange

Class 2 - Avatars

For this class, we were tasked with creating an avatar of ourselves. At first, I was highly hesitant as I do not have the best drawing skills and was worried I would be using the Pen tool a lot. But, after watching Kevin McMahon's tutorial, I was a bit more confident.

As was done in the tutorial, I outlined my face using basic shapes and wasn't expecting a perfect match. Once I was comfortable with the basics, I set to working on the details. Most of the outlines were done with basic Shape tools and I used the Pen tool in a couple of locations to add specific contouring and lines as needed.

While the overall outcome is not perfect, it's a pretty good likeness of me! The whole process took me about an hour and a half and I consider this to be time well spent. I got lots of practice with various tools in ways I might not have considered before starting it. This will definitely find its way into my future lessons on Illustrator and allow the students to create their own avatar for use in their LMS profiles for my class!

Before and After

Class 1 - Creating Badges

As a game design teacher, badges are a natural fit in my curriculum. That being said, I am embarrassed to say I have never made any. That is not to say that I haven't considered incorporating the use of them in my classes, I just never really had the time to create some of my own. That is all about to change.

The first class in this course required us to create a badge or set of badges. The students in my freshman level course are currently working on video editing, so I thought this would be a great place to start. I began by watching a post on the GenPro Facebook page where another participant showed the process they went through in creating their badge. I loved the way he used several circles to create the overall shield shape used in it, so I followed suit by overlapping several circles against guidelines and then using the Shape Builder tool to whittle it down to the shape I wanted.

Once I created the base shield and decided on some basic colors (green fill with a dark green stroke), I followed along with the lesson on how to make the ribbon, choosing a shade of blue I liked for the color. Then, I created a simple camera icon using the rounded rectangle, two circles and a triangle. I opted to make it the same color as the shield. I also used the Type on Path Text tool to create a header for the content area (Video Editing) and used a thick, black font (Rockwell Bold) to identify the badge topic.

I duplicated the entire artboard three times because I wanted to make four different levels of badges. Even though our district has returned to the old 10-point scale, I decided to use the 7-point to determine badge levels. This meant a student can pass a unit with a 60, but until they reached a 70, they would not earn a badge. And, since the district is trying to get everyone above an 80, identification as proficient would not be reached until the student scores a 77 or higher. Once this was determined, I added "gold" stars around the badges starting at the proficient level to indicate how far along the students were and I included the grade range in the center to make clear what the student needed to achieve for each badge.

The final result of my first set of badges is below. I think they came out pretty good for a first go. Now, I need to continue this trend and create unique unit badges and other awards for use in my classes! This plays nicely into my intention to completely gamify my classes starting next school year...I can't wait to make more!

Badges for Digital Design & Animation unit on video & audio editing
Created By
Robert Bourgeois


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