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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I added a white shape on the right side that I set to 10% opacity to create the appearance of a reflection.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I opted to avoid black lines throughout the design to keep it light and colorful.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Created with an image by rawpixel - "indoors business copy space"