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5 Things I Learnt From My Graphic Design Degree

This article was written for Study101.

Milton Glaser states, “there are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for”, and if you’re looking to use or develop skills to create the ‘WOW’ then Graphic Design might just be for you.

But, before you embark on your course selection, allow me to share some wisdom from my experience of studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts with a major in Graphic Design at the University of Wollongong.

WHY GRAPHIC DESIGN?

My dream was to end up in the creative industry. Was I sure of exactly where I wanted to be? No. When it came to course selection in the midst of year 12, I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. I remember sitting down flicking through the UAC Guide feeling extremely overwhelmed. I just remember someone asking me what I was passionate about, and saying that I wanted to be creative and make a difference and that is exactly what led me to a degree in Graphic Design and looking back I wouldn’t change a thing!

Most people have a vague idea about the extent of design (it’s literally everywhere around you, from the bottle of water you purchased at the shops, to the course providers that you’re scrolling through, to the place you’re dreaming about taking a holiday to). Design gives people the power to make a difference, to see things differently. Let’s not forget to mention that being a designer the world is literally your oyster – you can achieve anything you wish and no two days are the same.

WHAT DID I LEARN FROM STUDYING GRAPHIC DESIGN?

1. Take risks and push the boundaries. 
As designer Paula Scher states, “the greatest risk is not taking one”. As a designer, you will be constantly learning and every project will bring something new to the table. It is important to step outside of your comfort zone and say yes to things you may not be comfortable doing, often figuring out how to do it as you go. If you fail, see it as an opportunity to learn.

2. Appreciate criticism.
As you will put so much into your designs negative criticism can often feel very personal. It is important to step back, separate yourself from your work, and grow to appreciate feedback that will inevitability make you a better designer.

3. Ask questions.
If you refrain from asking questions you’re only inhibiting your ability to progress. You will need to ask your teachers or clients questions to better understand more about them, their brief and what it is they want to achieve. Ask for feedback and share ideas with people around you such as your classmates and colleagues, and never forget to ask yourself questions like “does this answer the brief?”

4. Be self-motivated & experiment.
Studying at university will provide you with knowledge or skills, but remember that there is always room to improve and in a dynamic field like graphic design you will need to constantly adapt to the changing environment around you. It is extremely beneficial to develop side projects and watch tutorials outside of your study, there are endless amounts of resources.

5. Most importantly believe in yourself and remember that great design takes time.
In the duration of my degree I often compared myself to others, but through time I realised that we are all unique and have our own individual strengths it is often just a journey of discovery and experimentation that will reveal what yours is. Remember to keep motivated and to continue to source inspiration within your daily life. Sometimes ideas and concepts may take longer than others, and you will find yourself rethinking and redeveloping within the duration of the project, but this will contribute to better design.

 

Check out Study101’s page if you’re looking for course information and more insights from other past and present students!

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Submission

Today we submitted what was required by us for CAOS206 this semester. Have a look at it here!

Portfolio

Slideshow

The feedback from our presentation included:

  • further developing the level navigation (e.g. how will a user determine what level the character is at – buttons jumping up and down?)
  • change level complete screen (suggestions included darkening or blurring the background, so the pop up box stands out more and doesn’t blend in with the background)
  • eliminate works and make more icons (children are only just learning to read at this age)
  • elements of UI and navigation (which Amber and I were a bit confused and surprised about, this brought us down a bit as we were told not to worry about these at this stage of the project)
  • how the parents will watch the children’s progression, and what if there is more than one user for the application

Level Examples

For our final submission we decided to place a character in each level to give individuals an overall feel of how the application would function. It shows a character in each background environment performing an activity that the child may need to complete.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 11.01.03 pmScreen Shot 2017-06-03 at 11.00.57 pmScreen Shot 2017-06-03 at 11.00.52 pmScreen Shot 2017-06-03 at 11.00.48 pm

Although we were told that navigation wasn’t required for our part of this assessment, we decided to do a screen of what it would look like when a child completed a level and was successful.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 11.01.08 pm

Level Navigation

In week 12 tutorials after discussion with Etienne we decided it would be in our better interest to develop the main navigational map. However, in doing this we found it quite different to join all the levels together in a coherent way. We weren’t happy with how our first attempt at this turned out so we gave it a second go. After viewing the Candy Crush Saga app we implemented a step-by-step progression shown as the character moves between dots to show the users level progression, with the layout map having a frontal view rather than a birds-eye view, we think that this was more successful in working towards what we intended to achieve.

Attempt 1

Screen-Shot-2017-06-01-at-5.49.27-pm-19y4iz5.png

Attempt 2

Screen-Shot-2017-06-01-at-5.50.14-pm-wdpc4e.png

Typography, Colour Palette & IA

The typeface used for the project was Rabbit Over The Moon. This font was previously used for the assignment, and after multiple testing of different fonts we concluded that this was the most suitable in order to target children aged 3-5 years old, in terms of both readability and letterform.

Screen-Shot-2017-06-01-at-5.43.47-pm-2eayzvl.png

The colour palette used for the project was that which Amber found towards the beginning of the project known as ‘gigantic’. We followed the RGB values in order the be suitable for an iOS iPad device.

Screen-Shot-2017-06-01-at-5.44.59-pm-2l0yt23.png

The information architecture was difficult to establish when developing the application. Screen-Shot-2017-06-01-at-5.39.15-pm-17flez6-1024x722.png

Although hard to view due to the size, it basically outlines how each level and component of each level link to each other.

Level Clustering/Final Character Set

When discussing the levels and activities in class, we came up with the idea of clustering. Basically this involved grouping tasks that involved similar movements together.

From this we formed the idea of having 4 separate locations (3 activities at each). The idea of this was the beach, jungle, farm and space. We integrated this with the character onesies as a reward system – so to explain this, as the child progresses through the activities the unlock an animal onesie to match the location they’re playing at, and when they progress through space they unlock medals that attach to the astronaut costume.

From this I developed a few more characters to suit the needs of each location, and a few from the original set were removed from the final application.

For the jungle we have: a tiger, lion and bear costume.
For the beach we developed: a turtle, a penguin and a seal
For the farm we developed: a sheep, cow and chicken
For space we developed an astronaut with: a bronze medal, a silver medal and a gold medal.