Creating Vector Elements and Exploring Design/Colour Theory

After a busy but exciting week for my learning project last week, I was excited to see where my work would take me this time. In last week’s post, I discussed my journey of learning the basics of Adobe Illustrator and exploring the use of gradients. Those skills would serve me well in my journey this time around.

This week was another busy week as I set out to accomplish many things. To start my learning project this week, I decided to first explore Design & Colour Theory. Previous to this project, I have had no in depth education of these concepts. Similar to others, I knew the basics of the colour wheel and its components or related concepts of course, however I had never looked into these topics in depth in terms of design before. After researching a bit, I was able to find two fairly good articles that describe each of these in considerable depth. Now of course, you can probably plan entire units or classes around these topics, however these two articles provided me a good crash course on both of them. The first article I used was titled, “What is Design Theory? The Only guide You Need,” which was a good resource with many insightful points. It was well organized and included some fundamental quotes which I thought were very powerful. For example, one quote that stood out to me was, “Being a good designer is more than just knowing the software, it’s about understanding the theory behind it and how this should affect your decisions and outcomes.” The second article that I found useful was titled “The Fundamentals of Understanding Colour Theory,” which was also very informative and well organized. I also found it helpful that it included examples of logos that followed the idea it was discussing, such as showing how the Burger King logo used Triadic colours. I have chosen to show my in depth understanding of Design and Colour theory in the following video…

For the next part of this week’s learning project, I wanted to start to tackle vector images and vector drawing. Now, vectors are basically artistic elements within illustrator, or any design software, that are made up of shapes, lines, fills, and colours to create the logos and digital art we see all around us. As I described in my colour theory video, every logo or poster you see in your home once started as a vector image and has just been transfer or printed onto different surfaces. If you have read my previous posts, you would know that I have had practice with vectors before. However, I have only used vectors simply to create basic 2D logos. I have had little to no experience using vectors to create artworks or characters. So, this week I wanted to try a small project doing just that.

To do this, I signed up for an account on a website called SkillShare. This website is a great resource to use if you want to learn any new skill. It’s basically a huge online school, where others (mostly professionals in their field) create top quality content (video courses) for others to use and learn from. The only downside to this website is that a premium account costs between $12-$20 per month, depending on the plan you choose. However, if you are looking for a resource to learn a skill in a short amount of time, you can sign up and get the first two months free. I heard about this great resource through the Draw with Jazza YouTube channel, who is an Australian based artist that tackles a vast amount of artistic and creative challenges in attempt to show the creativity and fun that can arise from any artistic medium. If you are an artsy person like me, and enjoy great humour, definitely check him out!

Now, for my practice with vector drawing and creation, I found a great course by Xenia Sorokina who taught me how to create fun little avatars in Adobe Illustrator using vector elements. Her course was pretty good and easy to follow. I found she was a bit fast and was hard to understand at times, however those things could easily be maneuvered around by stop and replaying parts of the videos. In her course, she designed 6 different avatars from scratch. Although I liked her examples, I wanted to change mine up a bit. So, following her tutorial examples and staying in line with her style, I decided to create an avatar based on my own Mojo Designs business logo. All in all, I think it turned out great!

For next week’s learning project, I plan on continuing my practice with vector images. I want to find another course on SkillShare that with teach me how to create full characters. I would also like to find other resources on how to incorporate texture and possibly 3D effects into a vector illustration.

Digital World = Digital Classrooms

Our world is constantly changing. Throughout history, the world in which we live has always evolved. Evolution, both on a biological standpoint and on a behavioural standpoint, is a natural occurance. However, within the last half century a new evolution has been taking place. That is the evolution of digital technology and the networking world.

Today, we live in an era of facetiming, texting, social networking, and tik tok dancing. Some may see these things as unnecessary, outrageous, and inappropriate. In some ways, they have valid points. Sure, fads like the Git Up dance did not “alter human history,” however, I believe trends like that have “changed” the world. All you have to do is look no further than the Numa Numa Dance described by Micheal Wesch in his keynote presentation “An Anthrological Introduction to Youtube.” That dance took off and created, what Wesch described as a, “Global Phenomenon.” Nowadays, with social networking platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok, it is common to see trends like that spread across the globe like a virus (pun intended). However, unlike the virus we are dealing with right now, these trends aren’t always harmful. If you look at the bigger picture, beyond the silliness of some of these fads, the arrival and departure of these trends reassure us that this “virtual world” is truly a global community. As Wesch described in his presentation and as we discussed in lecture, the invention and use of new networking platforms has connected us in new, sometimes unimaginable ways.

There were two quotes that really stood out to me in Wesch’s video. These quotes stated, “These trends start to look less like an infectious joke and more like a cultural order,” and that the use of networking media “creates new forms and celebrations of empowerment, voice, expression, and community.” These quotes capture the positive side of the digital world perfectly. Although there may be negative, harmful things that come with social networking and technology, there are also vast amounts of positive effects it brings as well. It has allowed us to become more and more connected than ever before. We are able to meet and discuss with people from all over the world. Information and knowledge can now be passed from continent to continent with the click of a button. Only a century ago, the same amount of information would’ve taken weeks to cross an ocean by ship. This easily accessible knowledge and the ability to connect with different individuals creates possibilities for not only dancing trends, but possibilities for new discoveries, new relationships, and of course new means of education.

Now, in terms of education here in Canada, this technology brings in the same possibilities into our classrooms. As our former U of R President Vianne Timmons stated, “our classrooms should not reflect the society in which we live but instead the society we want in the future.” I believe this quote can be related to the idea of technology and social networking in the classroom. We want our students to network with their peers, ask questions, think critically, assess information, collaborate with others, and become creative with new ideas and knowledge. We also insist they do this in a world where technology isn’t going away. Therefore, as Dr. Michele Jacobsen stated in her article “Teaching in a Participatory Digital World,” digital technology is transforming the way we learn and it is necessary for today’s students to have access to opportunities to explore and efficiently use these technologies so they can thrive in a “digitally rich and net-connected” world. As discussed in the article “Jenkins on Participatory Culture,” schools have been known to have slow reactions to the emergence of new trends and new participatory culture. However, as we discuss these ideas in terms of the future of schools, and the whole idea of education, it is important we adjust our mindset with the times. Although it may seem scary to think about changing the way we teach and adjusting the way kids learn, it is still important to evolve our practices with the world in which our students were born into and know well. Furthermore, with the current COVID-19 situation still ongoing, we have been granted time to experiment and explore the possibilities of online learning and using social networking in educational ways. Some say it’s not working, but everyone should remember our practice with it is just beginning. As we finish off this school year and work our way into the fall semester, we will become better and better at utilizing the potential of these resources. Before we know it, a child’s education will not end with the bell at the end of the day. Students already use these resources for personal, creative use. Soon students will be able to collaborate with peers, research, learn, assess information, and think critically both in and outside of class. Our classrooms could look a lot different in the near future, as we could become teachers 24 hours in a day instead of 6.

“Social Media Tools” by jrhode is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Intro to Adobe Illustrator and Exploring Gradients

Graphic Design is such a broad topic to begin with because it encompasses many different possibilities and creations. This made it particularly hard to try and figure out where to get started with this learning project. Now my learning project is probably quite different compared to a lot of others in this class because I have had previous experience with my skill. As I said in my previous post, graphic design is actually a huge hobby of mine and I actually run my own little business creating logos for people. However, over the past few years I’ve been doing this, I have been forced to use just a simple and free program called Gravit. It was a good program and it was able to get done what I needed. However, as my business and my experience has grown, I figured it was time for an upgrade.

So, to begin this learning project, I wanted to learn the basics of a new program called Adobe Illustrator. Now for those who are unfamiliar with these programs, Adobe Illustrator is a program under the “Adobe Creative Suite” which also includes other programs such as Photoshop. Illustrator is often the standard software preferred by professional designers and is often used to create things such as logos, posters, illustrations, info graphics, t-shirt designs, and flyers. To learn the basics of this new program, I found a great Adobe Illustrator Beginners Course on YouTube made by Gareth David Studio.

This course is a 19-part series that is split into 3 sections including Introduction to Illustrator, Essential Practice, and Test Project. For this week I was able to cover the Introduction section. I watched the first 6 videos of his course which covered a large overview of the basic mechanics of the program. To begin, he first taught me the different interfaces, tools, and functionalities of the program. I found many of the tools such as the pen tool, the selection tools, and the layer functions to be very similar to my old program. However, he then went into other tools that allow you to do different things such as combine shapes and colours, as well as he taught me how to set up my own personal “workspace” (which can be found on the right side of the screen) to meet my own personal design preferences and needs. In this custom workspace, I was able to explore and find tools that helped with things such as colours, gradients, layers, strokes, brush types, text, etc. Then in the last few videos of the introduction section, he covered the basic functions of vectors. Vectors are simply creative elements or drawings in illustrator. Designers combine a variety of vectors with a variety of shapes and colours to create the images and logos we see around us on a day to day basis. When discussing vectors, he showed how to resize and rotate vectors as well as create “anchors” or selection points along a vectors border which can then be used to further define shape and curvature.

After I watched the introduction section of Gareth’s course, I did not want to leave this week without at least designing a couple things with the new tools and skills I had just learned. In my old program, the options for tools and functionality are pretty limited, especially compared to illustrator. Therefore, my experience with trying new techniques was also limited. Almost all of my logos that I have done are 2D with basic flat colours. There was never any gradients or 3D effects involved, simply because it was not possible for me to attempt. However, with this new program, the sky is the limit with any technique imaginable. So, I began exploring and found another tutorial on YouTube that taught me how to create a fluid swoosh as shown below. This type of design could be used as a great background or wallpaper, and when creating it I learned a few techniques involving gradients and shape combining that will serve me great when creating logos in the future.

I believe this week was a great start to learning the Adobe Illustrator software as well as learning some new techniques to help with my logo creations. Next week I plan on following vector creation tutorials, continuing with Gareth’s Illustrator course, finding online resources on colour and design theory, and potentially start learning how to make my logo creations look more 3D.

Twitter as a Professional & Educational Resource

It was always one of those things that I never really got into. Since I was 13, I have been active on all types of social media platforms. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, you name it. However, Twitter was never really one of them. It has always been kind of a mystery to me. Growing up, I always saw twitter posts, or “tweets,” being discussed in other media, especially through all the different sports networks I used to (and still) follow. Constantly there was some pro athlete or celebrity using Twitter as their main platform for major announcements such as signings, trades, retirements, sponsorship deals, and in some cases, they even used it to verbally fight amongst each other. This was of course always entertaining to hear about, so one day I actually decided to download the app and try it for myself. However, after only about half an hour and 30 followers later, it did not live up to the hype for me and I never used it again. That is of course until this week.

Before I began this class a couple weeks ago, I always viewed twitter as another typical social networking platform. To me, it was no different than Facebook or Instagram, besides the fact that there were less pictures. Maybe that’s what did it for me. Maybe I’m one of those people that believe “a picture can paint a thousand words.” Now, I realize there are still pictures on twitter, however, I’m not one of those people that just enjoys reading post after post that is simply just text. I like to break it up a little. Otherwise it becomes too boring for me.

However, after last class and the discussions we had about Twitter being a professional learning platform, my mindset has somewhat changed. I always knew that twitter offered more “news” and “learning” than other platforms because some individuals in my family have often used it as a means to read the news and current events, but it never occurred to me that it could also be used for professional development and as an educational tool. I started researching after last class to see what others had to say about this idea and I found a few resources that I agreed with. Similar to the first article I read, I also believe it is important for educators to always be “continual learners.” As teachers, it is our job to guide young learners in our classrooms, so it should also be important to practice what we preach and continue learning ourselves. Furthermore, with technology becoming more and more important in education, platforms like twitter are a great way to combine these two ideas. It gives us an online network where we can learn current events, collaborate with other educators, keep up to date with the latest trends, and of course find further resources to evolve our own teaching practices. The second article I found, that I agree with, took twitter’s possibilities a step further. It discussed how platforms such as twitter can be used a tool to help students (of all ages) to become more engaged in certain subjects and topics. It allows students to use a relevant tool to further discuss topics, collaborate with peers, and find additional resources, very similar to how it helps professional development. However, I think the biggest advantage of using platforms such as twitter as educational tools, is that it allows the discussion to continue outside the class. It allows students to keep talking without time limits, it allows them to share findings more easily, and it helps bring in outside guests into the topics and discussions. When precautionary of other, more negative things, platforms such as twitter can become great tools.

Now I know I have only scratched the surface when it comes to discovering what Twitter can do. Our experiment with SaskEdChat was literally the first time I have ever Tweeted or anything. To be honest, I found it a bit chaotic and overwhelming in the beginning. However, after a while I became more comfortable, and I know as the class goes on, I will come to better appreciate what it can do. I look forward to discovering its possibilities!