Intro to Computing Art // OMG American Gods

For students to refine their skills using Adobe Illustrator’s Pen Tool, my students accepted the challenge of the OMG project, as in “Oh my gosh, this is so challenging and time consuming!” But the effort is well worth the outcome.

The theme was to recreate a god or goddess in modern society. Students researched Greek, Roman, and Aztec mythological figures to learn about their core characteristics, and brainstormed how to apply them in our current culture.

They photographed themselves, friends, or family as their models. Then they used that photo as a template to make a vector illustration in Adobe Illustrator.  Tiny solid shapes make up the entirety of the photo to make a realistic representation.  They spent about three weeks on the project. The process is like creating a digital painting! Below are some examples that were turned in. I also included the outline imagery of a couple illustrations to show the number of shapes that were created to make up the compositions. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results! These illustrations are sure to blow your mind!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.

Aditi by Madison Wigginton
Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 3.49.17 PM
(Outline of shapes)
Hera by Carson Brantley
Venus by Caylee Hubbard
Apollo by Darren Cheairs
Hecate by Elizabeth Gammill
Grayson Brown_American Gods_Athena
Athena by Grayson Brown
American Gods
Loki by Rebecca Bailey
Apollo by Whitney White

Intermediate Computing for Design // Reinterpret a Cliché

The third project for Intermediate Computing for Design class was called Reinterpret a Cliché. Imagery seen too frequently is often not seen at all. This is the case with overused design symbols and everyday objects. Overuse renders them ineffective, and they lose their power to communicate. It is the function of the designer to revitalize these clichéd symbols and objects by interpreting them in individual and personal ways.

Students picked 6 of the following 12 examples of typically clichéd objects to be reinterpreted:

  1. Heart
  2. Key
  3. Apple
  4. Sun
  5. Stars
  6. Mouth
  7. Light Bulb
  8. Tree
  9. Cloud
  10. Eye
  11. Rose
  12. Nuts & Bolts

Then they chose a theme all 6 illustrations would have in common. Not only were they to work stylistically, but conceptually, as well. The final product had to be black & white. They scanned their sketchbook designs into Photoshop or Illustrator to continue rendering them to completion, either using the Pen Tool or Live Trace option.

Below are some designs that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.

by Bethany Smith; insects
by Cara Moore; flowers
by Carly Bond; fairy-tales
by Connor Booth; under the sea
by Gerald Wicks; Harry Potter
by Imani Smith; dancers
by Ques Nevels; fighters
by Sarah Ferguson; fruits & veggies
by Stephen Latham; bit-syle Mario characters
by Taylor Knight; stereotypes
by Laura Leigh Hicks; facial hair

Design I // Shape

For Design I’s second project, we focused on geometric and organic shapes. Students constructed 3 compositions: 1 for all geometric, 1 for all organic, and 1 for a combination of geometric and organic. The medium used to depict these shapes was black construction paper and white Bristol cardstock. Good craftsmanship was emphasized. They also had to implement the elements and principles of design in their work.

Below are some of the composition sets that were submitted. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.

Combo by Abby Jenkins
Combo by Breanna Rochelle
Geometric by Breanna Rochelle
Organic by Breanna Rochelle
Geometric by Dylan Turner
Geometric by Forrest Russell
Combo by Kaleb Baker
Organic by Kimberly Kazmark
Combo by Landen Rucker
Combo by Lexi Bennett
Geometric by Lexi Bennett
Geometric by Forrest Beasley
Geometric by Jillian Lovato
Organic by Jillian Lovato
Combo by Laken Beasley
Organic by Laken Beasley
Combo by Samantha Marshall
Geometric by Samantha Marshall
Combo by Taylor Fikes
Geometric by Taylor Fikes
Geometric by Wes Edgeworth

Intro to Computing // Creature Cartoon

In Intro to Computing, students learn the basics of Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. This Spring semester, I teach one section of the class. During the Fall it is primarily students who are trying out for the graphic design program in November, but during the Spring it is mostly fine art students who are taking the class as an elective.

This is the second semester I have implemented this project as an introduction to Adobe Illustrator. For Creature Cartoon, each student pulled words out of separate bags– one for a physical trait, one for an action, and one for an emotion. The end goal is to illustrate a unique creature that accompanies all these traits successfully in Illustrator.

After receiving their words, students brainstormed and submitted a series of thumbnails of their ideas, which were then narrowed down to their top three when I visited them in class one-on-one. Those three were turned into well-drawn comps that were drawn with Sharpies and Micron pens, and critiqued by their entire class. The best drawing was scanned into Illustrator, and vector shapes were placed on top. The focus of this Illustrator project was learning the Pen Tool and conducting organized layer management.

For even MORE fun, my students will turn their illustrations into animated GIFs when we start the Photoshop segment. Stay tuned to see those later this semester!

Below are some illustrations that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.

by Carson Brantley: anxious, fly, antlers
by Elizabeth Gammill: crawl, giggly, long tail
Monster Illustration
by Grayson Brown: mellow, shell, exercise
Basic RGB
by Jacquelyn Mullins: bored, whiskers, jumping
by Shannon Shepherd: big feet, running, sad
by Whitney White: afraid, mane, asleep

UPDATE: See GIFs created later during the semester here.

Design I // Line Explosion

This semester I teach 2 sections of Design I. A new experience for me is teaching an overwhelming number of Landscape Architecture majors, along with Fine Art, Photo, Interior Design, and Floral Management. Also in semesters past I have taught more girls than boys, but this semester’s numbers even out more.

For their first project, we focused on line and the psychological meanings of straight and curvy line work. Students chose 1-3 adjectives to illustrate using line, creating a “line explosion.” The medium used to depict these lines included Sharpies and Micron pens of different thicknesses, and good craftsmanship was emphasized. They were to also implement the elements and principles of design in their work.

Elements: line, shape, mass/form/volume, space, value, color, texture, time/motion.
Principles: balance, rhythm, repetition, unity, variety, size/scale/proportion, emphasis/focal point.

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.

by Abby Jenkins: bold, loud
by Breanna Rochelle: wrinkled, awkward, gooey
by Dylan Turner: sharp, tight
by Kaleb Baker: gooey, wild, prickly
by Lexi Bennett: whimsical, confusing, flat
by Paige Davis: steady, suspicious, wrinkled
by Taylor Fikes: sharp, bold, tight
by Willie Griffin: sharp, awkward, suspicious

Intermediate Computing for Design // Oh What a Character

It is a brand new semester!

Intermediate Computing for Design is for students who submitted their portfolios for the graphic design review in November and were accepted into the program.  All of these students took my Intro to Computing class in the previous semesters. The last time I taught Intermediate was 2 years ago and I really enjoyed it, so I am excited to have the opportunity again.

Their first Intermediate project was called “Oh What a Character!” They found an image online of a celebrity, changed it to black and white, placed it in Illustrator, and worked on top of it like a template to create their own caricature of the person.  The requirement of the illustration?  It had to be completed using a maximum of 7 letters and 2 symbols in black only from one typeface on their computer.  Yes, a typeface!  They could rotate and resize typeface items as needed.

Below are some designs that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.

Jackie Chan by Ques Nevels
Princess Diana by Cara Moore
Miley Cyrus by Carly Bond
Bette Midler (Hocus Pocus) by Connor Booth
Chance the Rapper by Darby Taylor
The Weekend by Gerald Wicks
Connor McGregor by Trent Furr

Design I // Suddeth Elementary School Installation

Fall 2016: For Design I’s final project, I wanted to do a collaborative vinyl installation similar to one my class did a couple years ago as blogged about HERE, but in a location with more permanency to be enjoyed by the public. Getting students outside of the classroom to put their skills to use opens them up to the realization that the things they are learning in this freshman level class has meaning and a place in the world.

I contacted Suddeth Elementary School in Starkville, MS to gauge their interest in the project. They happily accepted, and they considered windows throughout their campus that would be an inviting place for colorful vinyl stickers. This hallway with two sets of windows was chosen by their faculty committee for this project:

Next we had to determine a theme. Suddeth’s faculty committee decided to illustrate quotes based on kindness per set of windows: Plant Kindness, Grow Love and Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti.

My class was split so half were to work on one quote, and the other half focusing on the other quote. Each student brainstormed with a series of thumbnails, and I helped them narrow down to their best idea to be drawn in more detail on proportionally gridded spaces on typing paper in relation to the window dimensions. Then my students voted on the strongest sketches in the class, 3 designs for each quote for a total of 6 ideas.

I invited Principle Mosley to come to our class for a presentation of the top 6 sketches to choose the top theme for each quote. School counselor Mrs. Caradine joined her. After the presentations, they consulted their faculty committee and chose the final designs (labeled as WINNERs below).

Below are images of the top 6 sketches and presentations :

Plant Kindness, Grow Love

Anna Terry’s sketch
Anna Terry’s presentation
Caroline Fitzwater’s sketch
Caroline Fitzwater’s presentation
WINNER: Meghan Norman’s sketch
WINNER: Meghan Norman’s presentation

Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti

Savannah Martinez’s sketch
Savannah Martinez’s presentation
Megan Henry’s sketch
Megan Henry’s presentation
WINNER: Melissa Sones’ sketch
WINNER: Melissa Sones’ presentation

Meghan and Melissa were so excited to have their designs chosen!

I scanned in their designs and worked on various color combinations using Adobe Illustrator, only using yellow, blue, red, and green. I also added a fun elementary-feel typeface for the text in place of their sketched handwriting.

Meghan Norman’s design with color
Melissa Sones’ design with color

The vinyl was ordered and shipped, so it was time to cut out the stickers! The digital images were projected to scale onto our classroom wall. Students traced off the shapes onto the corresponding colors of vinyl with Sharpies, and handed them off to another group  who cut out the shapes with an X-acto knife and peeled away the unnecessary background vinyl. Then large-surface masking tape was applied on top of the vinyl sticker and labeled to be fully prepped to operate as a sticker for installation day.

Finally it was installation day! Students carpooled over to the school that rainy morning and we got to work.

Organizing (and sometimes improvising) stickers
Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer
Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer
Working together to separate, organize, and install stickers
Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer
Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer
The finished product!
The finished product!
The whole crew: (Top left–right) Mary Katherine Swindoll, me, Tess Frazier, Savannah Martinez, Meghan Norman, Karleigh Harfst, Anna Terry, Hayden Hunt, Dee Triplett & Eric Lindsey. (Bottom left–right) Ashtyn Carpenter, Melissa Sones, Megan Henry, Caroline Fitzwater, Haley Lawrence & Elise Sears.

The project was featured on Mississippi State University’s “State Spotlight” blog on December 8th and MSU’s College of Architecture, Art + Design blog on December 7th.

We greatly appreciate the opportunity of Suddeth Elementary School opening up their hallway for us to use as canvases, and hope the children and faculty enjoy these art installations for many years to come!


Intro to Computing // Pen & Pixel

Fall 2016: My students’ next Photoshop project was entitled “Pen & Pixel,” in which they had to construct a self portrait. It was a requirement to scan in textures, drawings, paintings, or items they could edit to become a part of the image. Many students demonstrated impressive concepts about themselves. Below are some examples that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.

by Carly Bond
by April Porter
by Bethany Smith
by Gerald Wicks
by Laura Leigh Hicks
by Mary Emily Moore
by Milly Rone
by Olivia Ketchum
by Parker Webb
by Allie Hanson
by Katherine Jenkins
by Josie Goodman
by Meredith Morris
by Morgan Helton