Dabbling in Digital Design

Thanks to my friend Cynthia for inspiring me to take a look at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) continuing education courses. She's been taking a Photography course there and has been sharing her work which I'm enjoying. Anyway, I found out that they have a certification program in Web Design and Development which is something that I have been interested in since I worked on our Intranet at the University of Georgia's Law Library. I've gotten more interested in Design in general and digital design from the scrapbooking that I do digitally using Photoshop. My two favorite scrapbookers, Ali Edwards and Cathy Zielske are both graphic designers in their day jobs -- and I love their clean style. Here's the program description:

This certificate program prepares students to enter, or stay current with, a complex and continually evolving field. Its programmatic objectives address technical functionality and design topics while acknowledging the electronic media professional’s responsibilities to organize information, communicate clearly and consider and incorporate the user’s needs. From the initial creative concept through website development and management, students assemble a web portfolio while practicing the strategies for meeting a client’s expectations for timely project delivery.

You can take up to two courses towards the certificate before applying for the program so I thought I'd take the course that's a prerequisite for most of the others, see how I like it, and then decide if I want to go further. So for the next few months for three hours on Tuesday evenings I am going back into Providence to take a course in Digital Design for the Screen. Here's the course description:

The screen is the entryway through which we view our digital world. This introductory but fast-paced course begins with the real hardware assets (processors, monitors, memory) needed for digital design work, and from there moves on to the software tools and protocols that impact what can be viewed on the screen -- QuickTime, HTML and the components of Adobe's Creative Suite of software tools. All the elements can be daunting, but once explained, we're well on the way to digital fluency which, in turn, leads to original and unexpected visual solutions. This course enables students to better understand computer aided design and digital workflow as we gather, preserve, modify and combine images, text and information until they comprise examples of well considered design.

We started out in this week's first class with the basics of searching for freely usable images on the web and saving them for use in Photoshop. It was a bit of a learning curve for me because the class is held in one of RISDs computer labs and they use Apple computers with those wonderfully huge 27 inch screens which I crave. I've never worked with the Apple operating system so I had to spend time learning how to navigate, but once I got used to that I was a bit ahead of the curve because I use Photoshop Elements all the time for digital scrapbooking. The instructor was very engaging and kept a good pace. He introduced the first assignment which will be due in three weeks, and we started working on it in class. We all searched for and downloaded 6 images in 6 different categories and then swapped them so we all have different images from the ones we chose. We will be learning Photoshop tools for the next two classes and the rest of the assignment is to combine our images into an 8 x 10 collage using good photoshop technique and good design concepts -- which we also talked about. Part of the assignment will be critiquing each others work and we have a chance to resubmit our work to improve our grade if we want. The instructor showed some examples of successful collages from last semester and we talked about why they worked or didn't work. So, it's right up my alley so far -- a combination of computer/technical skills and artistic/design skills.

The final collage for Assignment #1 could look something like this, though of course I have different images to work with and put together. The challenge is that I didn't chose the images -- but I can use as much or as little of each one as I like. Anyway, sounds like fun to me and that's all that counts. Right?


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