Graphic design and computer graphics references

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Project Briefs

CD Cover/Music Poster

Feature Article




GOING GRAPHICS? Graphics and Technology

Like hand is to glove, graphics is to computers. Now a days when we speak of graphics there is an unstated undertone of using computers and digital technology. It seems the popular movement in graphics is towards computer based design, and why not? With pressure from industry and the increasing demand for computer literacy in the arts it seems a disservice not to give students the opportunity to experience the array of tools available to them digitally. For most of us just the sound of the word "computer" sends chills up the spine. If this is you, well then, you're not alone. In the face of rapid technological change, it is difficult to find the time and energy to familiarise, train and keep abreast with what is needed to survive within the

technological wave of the new millennium. For this reason many of us tend to tread the safe road, making use of common technology in graphics leaning on the photocopier and over using the light box to trace, manipulate and modify design work. But going down the bumpy road of computer-graphics need not be as daunting as it sounds.

Going slowly and taking small steps you'll soon discover the array of possibilities available with computer and digital technology.


Take the Risk

OK, so you're not Bill Gates, but getting started on the road to computer assisted drawings and design need not be a tiresome and difficult task. Pluck up the

courage and take the plunge. Most schools have a technology support structure and an IT person that can be your first port of call. Ask them to help, they may be able to:

• Show you the basics in getting started

• Give a demonstration (for you or possibly the whole class). Otherwise, you might like to invite them into your class for the first few lessons - just for moral support (and to answer a few simple questions) until you feel more confident and find your feet.

Consider Training Opportunities

There are lots of Professional Development opportunities available to teachers to gain experience and training in computer technology. For those interested in National Competencies and Vocational Education there is TIPS (Teacher Industry Placements

Scheme). Last year I was fortunate to be placed at a graphics firm where I spent two weeks learning what really goes on in graphics and the printing industry. I had exposure to 'hands on', real life processes and projects. The experience gave me on-the-job training in a variety of computer programs relevant to the visual arts. Importantly it gave me insight into what the industry needs from its up-and-coming graphic artists.

Go Slow

OK - So you've got the basics; some computers, a scanner, a digital camera and a few cool programs such as Photoshop, Painter and Publisher. Where do you begin? When starting out, it is advisable to introduce the technology and its capabilities slowly and in small chunks. Start with small and simple tasks and gradually build up skills and techniques. Original drawings and designs can be simply inserted into pre-set layouts in Publisher to create graphic items such as brochures and cards. Also, art history assignments can be presented in these programs and compiled to create a magazine of information for the class on a given topic or art movement.

Self Discovery

Remember the computer need not dominate the whole design process and if teaching a whole bunch of year eight's doesn't tickle your fancy, try offering it as an

extension activity to a smaller group of students. Pair students together and give them a simple task, sit back and reap the results of self-discovery. You'll be amazed

at what students can come up with.

Facilitate Learning

Do you feel as though the students know more about computer technology than you do? As teachers we don't (and can't) know everything, so a facilitated teaching structure to computer-graphics might be a more appropriate method of instruction. A co-operative learning approach, teach-the-teacher or a pair and share situation could be useful. Don't be too precious! You're not a failure if you don't have all the answers.

What is important is that you provide students with

  • relevant resources for them to expand their knowledge and abilities

  • opportunities to experience the technology

  • a chance to explore and experiment with the technology and the creative possibilities it provides.

What's the use in having the technology there, if it’s not being utilised?

Take small steps

Don't try to do everything on the computer. The whole design process and product does not need to be all done on the computer itself. The computer is just another tool at the artist's disposal and should be used with sensitivity and discernment, just as any other media or material available to him/her. Simple ideas for using digital technology in the graphics process may include:

• The digital camera can be used as an initial starting point for students. It can be used for ideas gathering, for exploring different angles, or points of view on a given subject or theme.

• Students could scan original line drawings into the computer and experiment with colour development and various tool functions available in the program.

• Final artworks created by hand can be downloaded, manipulated and text may be added to the work to create posters, postcards, invitations and calendars.


Old Vs New

The onslaught of computers need not over power the need to maintain traditional techniques in graphics. There is much to be said about equipping students with the relevant skills to arm them for success in the real world of graphic design. Knowledge and understanding of computer-aided design and drawing is definitely one of them. The more computer literate they are the more competitive they will be in the workplace. But there still needs to remain a balance between traditional and contemporary graphic techniques. Teachers should continue to stress the importance of strong drawing skills, which need to be practiced and mastered. Old age techniques and the use of tools such as the airbrush and hand rendering skills are still important to a young artist, as is the need to be exposed to modern technology.

Students need exposure to all forms of graphic tools and techniques. Remember graphics like any other art form is about getting a good, strong design, which has been thoughtfully considered and sensitively executed. To do this one must have a broad exposure to techniques and understanding of the tools available to them. A balance of the old and the new is essential to the creative development of the young graphic designer.


Narrogin Senior High School

July 2002

Project Brief Studio Area: Graphic Design – YEAR 10

Project: CD Cover/Music Poster

Create a design for either one of the above.

To produce a professional product the CD design will be printed onto the appropriate CD paper and labels, and the A3 poster will be laminated (all printed in colour). The focus of this project will be to challenge your creative ideas. Begin the project in a group for ideas and photo session. Complete remainder of the project individually, exploring/extending your Photoshop skills.

Arts Ideas (AI)

In groups of 2 or more, brainstorm your ideas and complete the first handout.


1. Ideas/creativity of combining everything to produce the final product ie. Combining the research, digital photo and individual flair to resemble the genre you've selected. Particularly how you deal with the photos of the people in your group. Images from other sources may be included if you wish eg. car, flower, etc.

2. 2X A4 layout designs: Organise your information/research from handout, collected images AR and AIS questions below, in an interesting layout.

3. Clothing/camera shot ideas, when creating a certain "look" for photo shoot.

4. Thumbnail sketches of your product, including several of text or style of font, which suits your product. This is essential for any designer as you must be able to show the client your ideas before you spend any valuable time on the computer!

5. Folio organised to clearly show the development of ideas.

Skills and Processes (ASP)

Use your Digital and Photoshop skills to portray images that suit your genre.

• In your groups have at least one digital photo taken.

• Individually manipulate your images to suit the "genre".

• Thoroughly explore the text tool, to create special effects.


1. Consideration of camera shots/angles.

2. Photoshop techniques/ideas used.

Arts Responses (AR)

Select and paste at least two mini posters (provided) onto one of your A4 layout designs.

Consider angles/shots, colour, text style.

• What makes them a good poster? What makes them work?


1. Review of at least two posters, answering the above question in four to five sentences.

Arts in Society (AIS)

Consider the role of the graphic artist in coming up with a new image. Answer this by thinking about what makes you look at one image over another, when you are in a CD store or cinema.

• Why is a CD cover/Movie poster important in terms of:

a. grabbing the attention of customers.

b. Selling the product.

c. Information on the product.


1. Answer this in four to five sentences and include it on one of your A4 layout designs.

Advanced students only

Advanced Photoshop techniques/ideas should be evident in your final piece.


The following may be helpful to art educators new to or experienced in teaching Graphic Design and Computer Graphics. Some may also be helpful to senior students of Graphic Design. All are available in Public Libraries unless stated. If you have experience in using any of the listed, your opinion would be invaluable. Similarly, if you know of texts that others may find useful, forward details to the webmaster

Labels and Tags, c1998

Rockport Publishers, Gloucester, Mass. Showcases effective and inspirational designs for labels and tags for a wide range of products.

Call Number: Q 741.692 LAB

Layout (working with Layout for great design), c1998

Author: Kaye, Joyce Rutter

Learn what makes a design layout compelling. Features inspiring graphics created by industry trendsetters.

Call Number: Q 686.2252 KAY

Type (building great designs with type), c1998

Author: Kaye, Joyce Rutter

Demonstrates the myriad ways type can be used as an essential design element. Shows also how to stretch and alter for any graphic design assignment.

Call Number: Q 686.224 KAY

Basics of Design: layout and typography for beginners, c2002

Author: Lisa Graham

Compact guide for readers with no graphic design background.

Call Number: 686.2252 GRA

A History of Graphic Design, 3rd ed., c1998

Author: Philip B. Meggs

Expanded and updated third edition includes hundreds of full colour images and new material in many areas, including alphabets, Japanese and Dutch graphics, and computer revolution, which has impacted all aspects of contemporary design and communications. With its approximately 1200 illustrations, lucid text, and interpretative captions, the book reveals a saga of creative innovators, breakthrough technologies, and important design innovations.

Call Number: Q 760.09 MEG

The Designer's Lexicon, 2000

Author: Alastair Campbell

Illustrated dictionary of design, print and computer terms; gives computer, Internet, photography, typography, prepress, paper, printing and general terms.

Call Number: 741.6 CAM

Computer Graphics for Designers and Artists, 2nd ed., c1994

Author: Isaac Victor Kerlow & Judson Rosebush Includes computer graphics, computer animation and bibliographical references.

Available at Alexander Library

Call Number: Q 006.6 KER

Make Your Scanner a Great Design & Production Tool, Rev. ed., c1998

Author: Michael J. Sullivan

Step-by-step instructions and a gallery of art guides the user through the use of the scanner as a publishing tool.

Call Number: Q 006.6 SUL

Painting with Pixels, c1999

Author: Glen Wilkins

Demonstrates the use of computers for creative arts - including how to imitate pen and ink, pencil, charcoal, pastels, oils, watercolours and acrylics.

Call Number: Q 760.02 WIL

* Highly recommend

Photoshop 5 for Windows and Macintosh, c.1998

Author: Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas

Compact and easy to follow technical book. Affordable. Displays good work samples. 'How to" instructions are set out step-by-step in accessible language for students. Versions for Illustrator and Corel Draw available. (Recommended text by TAFE Multimedia courses.) Availability: Good Bookshops!

* Highly recommend

Photoshop, Corel Draw and Illustrator are filtering into most Art Departments. What reference material are you finding useful for these softwares? We would

love to hear from you!



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