Jonathan Hicks Graphics and Illustration for Educators learning journal

Welcome to my Learning Journal

I'm Jonathan Hicks, and I teach a class called "Digital Art and Photography" at a high school in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. This is my second time taking an Adobe Education Exchange class and I'm looking forward to freshening up on skills with Graphic Design and Adobe Illustrator, as well as getting exposed to best practice for teaching them.

Preview of Completed Assignments

Week 1: Basics of Graphic Design

Insights from the Lecture

  • Describing layers like a sandwich to students.
  • The ability to drag and drop colors to the swatches.
  • For gradients you can go to Window > Gradient > and then drag and drop colors to where you want them on the slider.
  • Exporting Selection is a new way of saving for me. Along with the opportunity to save multiple formats through this method simultaneously.
  • I liked how Lisa Cady created her gears by starting with a star and then using various path tools.

Insights from Live Class

  • Review the fundamentals of Graphic Design: Principles, Elements, Color Theory, Composition.
  • Pattern could be obvious or it could be something like placing a variety of elements within the same shape in a layout.
  • Love the idea of cutting out a graphic with a laser cutter.
  • The idea of adding an artboard is one that I am largely unfamiliar with so using the Artboard Tool could be useful for organizing my projects. I like how she suggested a shapes artboard and a typography one.
  • www.thenounproject seems like a fantastic resource for graphics to build on.
  • How did I not know about the color library on the swatches! Big help!

Assignment: Badges for Adobe Illustrator

For one of our projects I introduce students to Adobe Illustrator in a very "scaffolded" way. Students learn how to make simple shapes with straight lines (thus the "Straight Shaper" badge), how to pull handles to create curved shapes (Curve Master) and then ultimately learn how to create a silhouette on top of a photograph. I might work towards adding a badge between the Curve Master and the Silhouetteer.


  1. When I first started creating the initial shape I went to View > Show Grid and then again to View > Snap to Grid. This allowed me to make sure that my badge was symmetrical.
  2. I then copied the shape and increased the size, making it a little wider on the sides so that it tapered out. The inner version had a white 1pt. stroke added to it. Both shapes were given a radial gradient.
  3. I created a rectangle and selected both the rectangle and the smaller pennant shape. I went to Effect > Pathfinder > Subtract in order to create the separate shape at the top.
  4. I created the Pen image and the boxes to look like anchor points. For the anchor points I went to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow to give a subtle shadow behind it. I added additional thin lines that I set at 40% opacity and changed the blending mode from Normal to Overlay.
  5. I added a white shape on the right side that I set to 10% opacity to create the appearance of a reflection.
  6. My original design was going to say "Adobe Illustrator" at the top, but then I realized I wouldn't have a good place to put the name of the specific badge in an effective location. I then changed it to the Adobe Illustrator logo at the top which also made this much easier to customize for another Adobe program.
  7. For each one I changed the name of the file and then simply changed the color in the gradient from Blue to Red or Green. If I add one I think I am going to add Violet.

For the "Curve Master", I decided to make the line vary in width as it wrapped behind the pen icon. I did this with the Width Tool (Shift + W). I also changed the size of the anchor points so that it added depth.

For the Silhouetteer I recycled a silhouette I made from a demonstration I had done in order to keep the assignment original to me. For the project students capture photos and trace out the silhouette in Photoshop. This badge would be for those who have completed the project.

Reflection for Teaching

My biggest take away from this was the idea of using badges to encourage students to continue developing skills. I can use them for a project, but perhaps more importantly I can use them for extension projects. As of right now I have options for students to explore if they finish a project early, but if I had a badge for them going above and beyond they could begin to collect them and have something to be proud of accomplishing.

Week 2: Principles of Illustration

Insights from the Lecture

  • The Shape Builder tool was new to me and looks like a really great resource in addition to the pathfinder tools. Could be revolutionary!
  • Command+J to join the half circle was a neat shortcut.
  • I knew about the corner widgets but didn't know that was what they were called.
  • I had forgotten about the ability to right click and choose Transform.
  • I hadn't thought about using the warp features to curve something like the smile. I usually adjust the anchor points but I see the benefit of keeping the adjustment precise.
  • Cool shortcut to use Command + 2 to select the second shape that occupies the same path.
  • Command + F (front) and Command + B (behind) to paste was a nice shortcut as well.

Insights from Live Class

  • Henk De Bruin had a really nice format for his slides that would be worth taking influence from. Will definitely look into IceCold.cool more!
  • PROJECT IDEA: Love the skateboard design. Would be an awesome advanced Level 3 project. / A themed alphabet book would be an awesome project idea as well.
  • I like the circuit board graphic overlaying the text.
  • It's neat to see that his ideas still start in a sketchbook by hand with a variety of ideas.
  • PROJECT IDEA: I liked his interpretations of songs... this could be a good idea for my silhouette project and having students communicate the idea behind a song instead of a random idea...
  • The rounded rectangle could be used to make a "lego avatar" fairly easily. Could be a fun idea!
  • Great idea for teaching the pen tool - create straight line version and then use the Anchor Point tool to make it curve...

Assignment: Create an Avatar

I really struggled back and forth with this. After a few attempts at more "realistic" features I decided it was time to cartoonify my avatar. I am very happy with the final results despite the challenges along the way. After multiple attempts, the only thing that remains from the original is the glasses and the shirt collar. I had to come to terms with the fact that my original was becoming more of an obstacle and that I needed to be willing to let it go and give myself a fresh start.


  1. In my original design I found that slight variations in placement of facial features changed the look of the avatar. I placed my photo next to the artboard to compare the alignment of features.
  2. I began by creating and modifying two overlapping circles that I merged together to create the shape of my head. I found that my head wasn't working with just one oval. I filled the head with a subtle radial gradient.
  3. I opted to avoid black lines throughout the design to keep it light and colorful.
  4. I find that using the Width tool (shift + w) to provide variation in line thickness is always one of the best tools for adding nuances to the image. I used this to change the line thickness on the outline of the face, the nose, and the mouth.
  5. In the past when I tried to do the beard as a solid shape it made the beard look overpowering and "bushy". I decided to create the beard shape and then turn down the opacity to about 20%. The beard color was dark brown to tan to medium brown. This allowed me to provide nuanced detail in the facial hair.
  6. I later added the "stubble" on the beard with a simple pattern. I made a couple thin brown lines with varying thickness (width tool) and then made the pattern by going to Object > Pattern > Make.
  7. For the eyes I simply made ovals and then selected the bottom anchor point with the Direct Selection tool (A) and nudged it up to make my eyes a little bit squinted. A small white circle was added as an accent.
  8. The glasses I literally traced over one side and then copied, pasted, and flipped to make the glasses an accurate shape. I obviously made them oversized.
  9. The body was a later addition, in which I tried to add

By request, here is my "Avatar" deconstructed. Almost makes me think of Mr. Potato Head! This allows you to see how the head was two ovals merged together, the ears are rotated ovals. For the beard (both the pattern and the gradient, I copied the bottom part of the face so that it would line up right and then connected it together. The eyebrows and beard both had the opacity turned down.

Reflection for Teaching

I really enjoyed the idea of this project and can see using it as an exercise with students. It is relatable and a fun exercise. I believe I saw somewhere once the idea of making personalized emoji's as well, and think that would be a great extension project.

I was also reminded of the importance of exploration and trial and error within art. I often feel like we do students a disservice by telling them to try something once and make a "finished product" right away, when the reality is that it may take 100 attempts to get "good" at something. I've been using Illustrator for a long time now and done many "self-portraits" and I still had to play around with different ways of solving the problem. Reminding students of this can free them to take risks and try new things.

Critique on Avatar

A classmate suggested that the stroke between the bottom of the shirt and the top of the pants should be brown instead of blue in order to make it look like the pants were in front of the shirt. I liked that suggestion and decided to go for it!

Another suggestion that was made was to make the smile stay within the beard. On the left is my original. In the middle is a variation with a slightly smaller mouth and more exaggerated beard. On the right the beard is the same but the mouth is much smaller. In the end I decided to keep my original. I tend to have a big goofy smile so I felt like this feature helped to create an accurate caricature of myself.

One self-critique that I made was that the white felt a little flat on the mug and the gray on the ring. I also wasn't entirely happy with the steam. The left shows the original and the right shows the revised version.

Week 3: Icon Design and Branding

Insights from the Lecture

  • I didn't know that you could hold Option and then click and drag to copy an object.
  • I like the idea of starting by teaching simple shapes to create something like an icon at the starting point and then progressing to making modifications to a circle to understand how the Direct Selection tool works.
  • Under the Transform menu at the top you can check Scale Corners and Scale Strokes and Effects. I have had problems before from these not being checked but didn't realize that these options were available.
  • I like the blend option. I learned this recently but it was a good reminder that it can be a helpful tool.
  • PNG files can be better for Illustrator Files because it won't compress the image like a JPG.

Insights from the Live Class

  • Interesting to consider how students need the opportunity to work certain ideas out on paper or a board and not entirely online.
  • The importance of creative play...don't make too many judgments early on. Come up with as many ideas early on as possible.
  • Sometimes students have "enough of the computer".
  • Helping students understand that it is worth developing at least 20 ideas and then trimming them down to four or five and then one.
  • Logos great with PNG, AI, and SVG. SVG is for web use and is vector-based.
  • An icon "directly represents (or shows us) an idea, concept, operation or action".
  • What is a logo? = What are you and what do you do?
  • Five principles of effective logo design: Simple, Memorable, Timeless, Versatile, Appropriate.
  • With images in Illustrator, you can choose how many colors you want to use when you live trace.
  • Had NO IDEA that you could put two strokes on the same path under appearance! That is awesome!

Assignment: The Four Icon Challenge

From Left to Right:

  1. Hunting the king's deer in Sherwood Forest
  2. The famous feathered hat on a wanted poster indicating his status as an outlaw
  3. Gold coins torn from a money bag to indicate "robbing the rich to give to the poor"
  4. The split arrow from the famous archery contest


Robin Hood (RH) has been a favorite story of mine since I was a child. I was introduced to RH through two classic versions - "The Adventures of Robin Hood" starring Errol Flynn, and the 1973 Disney animation. I loved playing in the woods, and the idea of a hero who hangs out with his buddies in Sherwood Forest putting bad guys in their place captured my imagination.


Idea Development: I saw the potential in using this as a class assignment, especially as an introductory level project or extension activity. I also have been reflecting a lot on the idea development process and wanted to rehearse for myself what this could look like and have as an example to use for my students. Below is my list of anything I could think of that was significant to the story. I looked for connections and items of importance.

1st Icon: While Sherwood Forest naturally came to mind, I had forgotten about the significance of RH hunting the royal deer. It became obvious that these two could be combined.

2nd Icon: The feathered hat is another feature that RH is iconically recognized by, so placing it on the wanted poster seemed to effectively communicate his outlaw status.

3rd Icon: No story of RH is complete without his defense of the poor and downtrodden. It would have been a crime to not include something to represent the way he so famously “robs the rich to give to the poor”.

4th Icon: Lastly, the legend of RH is not complete without telling about his impeccable accuracy with a bow and arrow. The split arrow serves well to tell the story and to symbolize this famous skill.


I continued on to begin sketching the ideas out to determine the best composition within each icon. I try to emphasize to my students that everything you do has a composition. I also encourage them to consider the multiple solutions instead of just going with whatever comes to mind first. On the page below I simply folded the page into quarters and drew a series of 1" thumbnail sketches with each one having a different possible solution.


  • I created a square by using the rectangle tool and holding down shift while creating the shape. I then used the live corner widgets to manually decide how much to round the corners.
  • I did a quick search of illuminated letters and medieval graphics and found that the graphics were typically on parchment so I made the base of the icon a tan color and there was color but they tended to be somewhat muted. I had considered trying to add a parchment texture on it but decided not to do so. As I started I decided to limit each icon to the tan background and two shades of a color. In the end I added a subtle gradient to the shapes.
  • I created most of the shapes with the pen tool and used Pathfinder > Subtract or Add to merge shapes together. So I created the antlers different than the deer head and merged them together.
  • For the deer I referenced the deer photo here. Even though I didn't specifically use the photo in my project, I used a photo reference that was free for use.
  • For the hat I created two triangular shapes and merged them together. For the wanted poster I created a simple curved paper shape. I did a complicated method of adding anchor points along the side (+ symbol). I wish I would have kept it simple and just rotated little rectangles and subtracted them from the paper.
  • For the money bag I made an oval and rotated it. I added anchor points and moved them around with the Direct Selection tool. I then made a gradient that actually went from light to dark to sudden light at the end to give the bag form. The $ symbol was warped under Effect > Warp.
  • In the end I grouped each icon so that I could align them and space them evenly apart.
  • I had to laugh because I thought to my self, "I finally have a reason to use Old English Text" and I realized that Ai didn't have it! So I went to dafont.com and found Medieval Scribish for free!

Reflection for Teaching

I really enjoyed coming up with the ideas for this assignment. It made me realize that sometimes I am doing students a disservice by saying, "Go find pictures and come up with ideas based on them." By giving a specific direction like a book or movie it allowed me to have a starting point for my brainstorming.

I hope to at least provide this assignment as an extension activity. I think some students will really gravitate towards it.

Week 4: Typography

Insights from the Lecture

  • "Don’t Forget: We usually only use type because what we’re trying to convey is too difficult to bring across visually, so it’s important to use text sparingly unless it's being used as a design element."
  • "‘Sans’ means ‘without’ in french, so sans serif literally means ‘without serif’."
  • Fascinating that Caslon, Baskerville, Didot, and Bidoni are people's lat names! Love this video too!
  • Type kit looks like an awesome feature that could make life easier! Typekit.com/fonts
  • Remember fontsquirrel.com and Google.com/fonts
  • I like the idea of starting out with 2 artboards and using one for "scrap paper". Never thought of that before.
  • 1 inch margin works great so that if it is framed the text won't get cut off. Good thought!
  • So great to be able to use two strokes and use the inner/outer settings to determine where each stroke will go! Never know you could do two strokes on one path...I've always copied the stroke and placed underneath.
  • Interesting...leading because they used to place a piece of lead between the letters. Cool tidbit of information.
  • I like the idea of having the text inside the letter by using the large letter to create a clipping mask.

Insights from the Live Class

  • Sans Serif tend to work better on computer screens, especially when the text is small. Serifs don't always render well with pixels.
  • Old Style (tapered serifs) and Modern (straighter serifs)
  • Monospaced has everything evenly spaced and works well for computer programming.
  • Good reminder that fonts communicate ideas and can accurately represent something or inaccurately represent something.
  • https://www.fontspring.com/matcherator is a fantastic resource! How cool that it can find a font that matches something else!

Assignment: Typographic Poster

When I was in high school I was introduced to Rocky Balboa. I quickly became a fan as I lounged on the couch with my muscles clenched waiting to see if he would beat Apollo Creed. I loved these movies...and then I watched number 5 and felt "meh." Now I'm not a movie critic, but when the sixth movie, "Rocky Balboa", came out I felt like it had gone back in the right direction. It felt like Sly Stallone wanted to take care of some unfinished business and send out a message that mattered. I don't know about you, but I sure think this is a message that today's students need to hear.

  • I went back to watch the original clip and realized that the version I found online had minor inaccuracies, so I went back and updated it to make it accurate to the film.

Credits and Fonts


  • I created two artboards using the method demonstrated in the lecture. I then copy/pasted the quote from online onto the right artboard. I set up "margins" using the guides which I dragged into place from the rulers.
  • I went on to separate the quote by sentences so that I could arrange them differently when I moved them to the right hand side.
  • I wanted to make the poster red, white, and black to create a sense of intensity and show the general color of boxing gloves. I created a large red rectangle and found a shade of red that I was happy with. I locked it on the back layer so it wouldn't move.
  • I began dragging pieces of text over and looking for grungy fonts and fonts that appeared to be done by hand. All fonts were labeled 100% free on dafont.com or came with Illustrator. I checked the box in the search feature so that only fonts that were 100% free came up in my search. By only installing these fonts I know that I can use whatever fonts I have in my font book whenever I need them.
  • I had thought about making my own graphics but for the sake of time I went to the noun project and found most of my graphic resources. I looked for images that would give a consistent look.
  • The first text bubble was the first thing I did and it seemed to make sense to use for "Let me tell you...".
  • Originally I was going to have a large pair of boxing gloves hanging but then decided to deviate from that idea. I tried multiple icons for some of the shapes to get them to have the right look. I did, however, still aim to have various sizes of icons.
  • The "Downcome" font was very grungy and it clashed with the clean look of the globe and rainbow. I went to vecteezy to find a grunge texture to apply overtop. I had to delete areas of it and move parts to other layers so that it wouldn't cover the text or white boxes too much.
  • I had explored a variety of icons but ended up changing the fist forward to the first to the right, and felt like the hand pointing wasn't the right style. I also tried an angled arrow to counter the starburst under the boxing glove but it was going to be my only slanted text and didn't want to slant more lines just to accommodate that one line.
I liked the "text message" look of the first line, and then thought that making a black rainbow would be an interesting contrast between what you normally think of with rainbows. The dotted line seemed like a good accent and is aligned with the left of the text above it. It also allowed for the globe to hang down a little bit.
I was going back and forth with the T and I g touching the top of "BUT IT AIN'T", but decided that it was worth letting them touch in order to get the overall spacing correct. I was happy with how the Y of You dropped next to the star and how "BUT..." nestled in to the right of the star.
I think the arrow turned out nicely. I wanted it to communicate the idea of forward movement. I made a long white rectangle that I put behind the star on the left and then I made the arrow head out of a square (deleted an anchor point) and placed it in front of the black above and below it.
I was pretty happy with how the "is" and "done." interact with the top of the trophy. I lowered the handle in order to make this work and lined up the top of the d with the top of the trophy.
This was another one that I went back and forth on regarding the placement, font, and arrangement. I was trying to decide if it was too much of a basic font, but in the end I felt like it was a needed "rest" from the active feeling throughout the rest of the text. I also felt very happy with the arrangement of the text between the hand and the trophy.
Originally this was the Avenir font but I wanted to bring back the "Downcome" font. It was also entirely in the black at first but then I decided to have it 1/3 of the way out at the top. Don't have much explanation there other than when I tried it I liked it better! I got to the end and realized I was out of space but still wanted to include the name Rocky as the originator of the quote... I rotated it 90 degrees counter clockwise and aligned the top and bottom.

Reflection for Teaching

I generally use Adobe InDesign for page layout things like this but had a lot of fun using Illustrator! I think if I were to do this again or do it with students I would have them sketch out the text and icons in 2 or 3 different arrangements. To be honest, I felt kind of lucky that the spacing worked out as well as it did in the end! It was a challenge with such a long quote!

The use of fonts is something that seems simple but actually takes a lot of work to make them work effectively. It is a combination of knowing the rules and ideas of alignment, spacing, font use, etc. as well as simply developing an eye for what's working and what isn't. For the project to be done well, I would actually save this for my level 2 or level 3 students...especially the part about using 5 or more fonts.

If I did this with students, I would recommend starting with a quote shorter than the one that I used, limiting colors, and mixing in some basic sans serif fonts with the decorative ones so that there are some visual breaks. I also recommend breaking down the quote into individual text boxes so that it is easy to move them around.

It was a really great exercise in mental gymnastics to get my assignment to where it is now. I would need to remember that while I thrive off of the trial and error and back and forth "dance" of arranging something like this, some students may shut down or just put it somewhere right away and call it done. Encouraging students to save multiple versions will allow them to feel more comfortable with taking risks. In fact, it might be worth requiring students to create two variations of the poster.

As with each week, I enjoyed looking at what my "classmates" have done. I saw many examples that challenged me and provided inspiration. This activity encourages me to continue showing a variety of past examples and providing opportunity to critique others.

I was happy with how this turned out so one of the immediate benefits is printing it for my classroom! (13x19 on Epson Premium Luster with Epson P600 SureColor)

Week 5: Color Theory and Layout

Insights from Lecture

  • Great video resource on color theory...
  • Great interactive lesson on color...
  • Great lesson on using layout and grids...
  • The C.R.A.P. acronym (contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity) is a great way to remember these key ideas, I like the following list as well: Emphasis, Balance, Symmetry, Asymmetry, Radial (arranging around a central point), rule of thirds, white space (breathing room for your eyes).
  • Cool resource on the history of film posters...
  • The Minimalist Film Poster "is also quite a nice way to introduce your students to problem solving through a shared cultural experience."
  • The birds poster is really neat and a great example for the project.
  • I appreciated this line of instruction: "The challenge is not what needs to be portrayed in the image, but more of what doesn’t need to be there. We suggest you draw up a rough sketch and then decide what isn’t helping to tell the story."
  • Interesting that Melissa Arnold chose to have multiple art boards for each part.
  • I know shift keeps it even but I didn't know option would allow it to expand from the center.
  • Paste into place just adds Shift to Command V! Cool!
  • I like the idea of leaving the text off for students to guess what movie is being alluded to!
  • Wow! Over 900 Minimalist Movie posters!
"It may also be quite frustrating at first as you grapple for a solution. This is great experience as this is a good reminder of how your students might be feeling as they try to generate a creative response."

Insights from the Live Class

  • Really neat graphic with the logos along the color spectrum. Worth sharing in class.
  • Adobe Capture and Color panel on your phone seems like a really neat resource to put on your mobile device!
  • The CRAP acronym showed up again in a neat infographic...Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity. Really good stuff. Great resource to the posters for them too!
  • I like the idea of creating a folder with specific resources already in place to pull from. I created a folder for each week that seemed to help.
  • Great to see that the instructor sketched on paper and scanned in drawings like I've done in the past as well. It's definitely a helpful way to do things.
  • If objects are grouped you can click twice on a subgroup to see the individual parts. Great tip.
  • I liked seeing some of the brush styles, I don't use these much but recently have seen the benefit of it.
  • The use of multiple artboards is new to me from this class, great to know that you can name them as well.

Assignment: Minimalist Movie Poster

The first movie in the Trilogy is all about, as the title suggests, the Fellowship of the Ring...the 9 diverse individuals committed to the destruction of Sauron's most powerful ring. I decided to represent each member of the fellowship with their iconic weapon. From left to right: Frodo, Gandalf, Sam, Aragorn, Pippin, Merry, Gimli, Legolas, and Boromir. I tried to line them up generally in order of significance to the first movie. I also tried to use the varying heights to loosely indicate the different races represented by each individual, with Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry being hobbits and having smaller swords, Gimli having a shorter axe as a dwarf, and Gandalf, Aragorn, and Boromir having the largest weapons.


  • I began by finding images of the different weapons online. For the swords, I traced one side of them and then copied/pasted them. I used the reflect tool (shortcut = O) to mirror the sword and make it identical on both sides. I then lined them up and merged them together using Window > Pathfinder > Unite.
Here you can see how I copied half of the sword and half of the bow and then reflected and united them.
  • I then simply added a black rectangle on the bottom layer and locked it in place. From here I would play with the arrangement of the weapons. One thing that helps a lot is to save it under a different file name after each time a significant change is made. This allows different versions to be logged and returned to if a risk doesn't pay off.
I attempted many different versions and arrangements of the weapons but felt like each one came up short. While I liked how the grid approach in A and B was developing, I wasn't happy with the final arrangements. Additionally, the placement of the text wasn't working out how I wanted it to in my mind either. I did like the direction that C was going, but in the end I preferred the "lineup" approach of my final version as it emphasized the size differences among the weapons. It also seemed to represent the journey aspect.
  • Similar to my typography poster, I added a subtle grunge texture to this one as well. I found it free on Vecteezy.com. I find that adding a texture can give a little extra life and interest that is sometimes lacking when it is purely flat shapes. Gradients can help. Textures seem to help the most.
  • For the text, I tried using the font matcherator but it didn't bring up an exact match. I ended up with Trajan Pro to emulate the actual poster title and I was pretty happy with the result. I made two separate text boxes for the LOTR title at the top. Originally I aligned the top of "OF" with the top of the "R", but it didn't look right so I chose to align it with the top of the "ORD".
  • For the ring I made two concentric circles. It was nice to use Shift+Option when dragging from the corner to keep the center point the same. I subtracted the top/smaller circle from the center of the larger one and added a gradient. I actually added a smaller version of this on the inside as well to show a subtle edge.
  • For the color theory aspect of the project, I decided to make the poster predominantly monochromatic black and white with the pop of golden yellow color on the ring. It felt like it made the most sense communicating the idea of having hope in the midst of a dark and seemingly impossible quest.

Reflection for Teaching

I enjoyed the different approach to this project. I felt like, for the most part, the assignment wasn't really introducing new skills as much as expanding on the key concepts we had been challenged with previously. Specifically, it built on the idea of boiling down an idea or story down to its essence. I feel like having a project like this would be helpful for reinforcing prior skills and deepening conceptual skills.

The concept was specific enough (movie posters) to give me direction but also broad enough to let me explore an idea that I was interested in. Finding that sweet spot for an assignment can be challenging.

I think for my students, I would show a variety of examples that were minimalist in nature...showing them what would and would not fit that criteria. It felt like some of the submissions that I viewed from the course fit the movie poster aspect of the project but didn't always fit the minimalist aspect as well.

Final Reflection

Personal Learning and Insights

I really enjoyed this class. I felt like I deepened my understanding of some of the tools and resources available. Things like the multiple artboards, the shape builder tool, and a range of shortcuts will become invaluable additions to my workflow.

I also felt stretched to come up with creative solutions and looked forward to seeing what the next assignment would be. I wasn't disappointed by any of them! Each one forced me to think critically about the direction that I wanted to go.

I appreciated the interaction with other classmates as well. There were a few members of the community who I began to gain respect for and would frequently seek out their work to see what a high standard of work looked like. While I believe that discussion boards have limitations, when you put effort and thought into them they can be an extremely enriching part of the class. Some of the learning journals that I really appreciated were from Amy Hawkesford, Rebecca Hembree, and Melinda Larson-Horne.

Lastly, I genuinely feel like I pushed myself to create a quality learning journal that would document key thoughts and ideas for myself, possibly provide insights for my classmates, and leave me with resources and example work to share with my students in the future should I use these projects in my classroom.

How Students Learn and Engaging Students

Through this class I there were a few key ideas that seemed to rise to the surface for me in regards to student learning:

  1. The Importance of Engaging Projects: In my classroom, I am always looking for projects that are appropriate for gaining skill and create the potential for creating work that students are proud of when displayed. However, sometimes in pursuit of these two goals, sometimes I may unintentionally neglect the benefit of project objectives that students are excited about. A challenging learning objective and assignment can be overcome in part when there is intrinsic motivation to represent something like meaningful song lyrics or a favorite movie. I plan to take this insight with me.
  2. The Viewpoint and Experience of the Student: Just like my students, I wanted to create artwork that people liked and commented on positively. Even for myself, there can be insecurities about the quality of my work and how people will respond to it. Students feel that even stronger. Additionally, referring back to the previous insight, it helps to have a general direction to build on. Rather than simply saying, “Go look around online for ideas,” providing basic parameters... like the movie idea... could really help students gain a sense of direction.
  3. The Benefit of Introductory Projects and Reinforcement Projects: As I mentioned in my last assignment, I found it beneficial that the last project didn't have too much emphasis on new skills or tools, but rather expanded on the ones that were already established. I can definitely see the benefit of providing opportunities like this to reinforce prior skills and expand on creativity and concept development. It's cool to think of scaffolding student learning in this way.
  4. The need for Flexibility, Determination, and Resilience: Throughout my own process I was resolved to do quality work and come up with solutions that I would be proud to post. In most cases, I had to try a variety of solutions and in the case of the Avatar even scrapped work that I had probably spent a couple hours completing. A few students have this level of flexibility, determination, and resilience, but most students need to be coached up to these qualities.


I felt like I really benefitted from this class. I shook off some dust creatively and artistically as I took part in a learning community. In fact, I'm feeling sad that it came to a close! I appreciated the opportunity to participate in this class and look forward to more opportunities in the future.

Created By
Jonathan Hicks


Created with an image by rawpixel - "indoors business copy space"