Tuesday, 24 November 2009
I am pleased with my overall work on the A9 Up Your Street assignment. I wanted to create a humorous and mock-sinister theme for the subject as I had the idea to use the iconic Godfather movie poster as a basis for the website.
I struggled, however, with the java script element as I wanted film strip effect for the gallery using a 'scroller' along with a 'lightbox' feature. With a bit of help from
Two more technically-minded students I managed to get it working. The current A10 assignment is good fun and also helpful in pushing us to explore and practice our creative-thinking skills.
I am confident with drawing skills so I am trying to look at different subjects and also use a mixture of techniques and media in order to create artwork and patterns.
I have found that last year's sketch work has helped me to develop my drawing and artistic skills. This assignment doesn't suit everyone on the course, especially those that regard themselves more as 'coders', but I am in my element.
I'm looking forward to another week or so of generating ideas before developing a selected work into digital artwork for packaging design.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
What experience do you have which is relevant to this post?
This would be a good opening question, to allow the interviewer to get a sense of the interviewee’s experience. While the CV should show past posts and qualifications, asking the interviewee to highlight relevant experience will also show how a person can cope with being put on the spot. An interviewee who has prepared in advance should be able to answer this easily and well. A weak answer will illustrate a lack of basic preparation.
Of the portfolio pieces you have shown us, which are you most proud of and why?
This question also allows for an overview of past work, but this time in terms of specific work that has been done. Like the first question, it will also show if there has been preparation. But in addition, it gives a chance to see not only what an interviewee is capable of doing, but also whether they are able to talk about their work. I would follow it up by asking the interviewee to explain the technical basis of one of the pieces in the portfolio. This will go some ways towards showing whether the interviewee is able to communicate with potential clients.
Here is a sample script of PHP. What do you think it might be used for?
This question will show the technical knowledge of the interviewee. It could also show whether the interviewee is able to think laterally to think of a use for a website.
What is the value of teamwork, if any? Describe a situation which you have been involved which required teamwork.
This question moves the interview to more general job requirements. It’s important to not only ask what the interviewee thinks about teamwork, but to ask them to give an example because it’s very easy for people to give the expected ‘right’ answer to a question like this. Asking them to give a real example shows whether or not they actually believe what they say.
Here’s a brief for a logo. Please take ten minutes to sketch a design and prepare to tell us what technical tools you would use to design it.
This question could show the applicant’s ability in a realistic situation. It will challenge the interviewee in terms of both the more creative, graphic side of the job and the technical side. In addition, it will reveal whether the interviewee is able to talk about their work to a potential client (an important requirement in the job description). Lastly, it will show what a person is able to do under pressure.
Here is an example of a working brief. Can you comment on the design and say what you like about it, as well as any improvements you might make.This question could show the interviewee’s level of knowledge design considerations such as PARC principles and use of grids in layout. It could allow them to show both what they know when they describe the brief, and their ability to solve problems or be creative in suggesting changes or improvements.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
A8 WEBSITE LINK
For the Pass Criteria:
1 and 2. Investigate applications and learn the fundamentals of PHP and MySQL.
My sketchbook shows my exploration and investigation of the use of PHP and MySQL. The notes show research of the fundamentals of PHP script and the way it communicates with the MySqL RDBMS.
The sketchbook also includes annotated printouts of PHP script, screenshots and email correspondence to show my investigative efforts and the development of my website, along with a database table.
3. Create a Website which uses PHP and MySQL. (Creative Brief)
As shown in the sketchbook, I used a range of books, websites and online forums to gather information on the subject, and to write my evaluation.
Following a guide in the book PHP6 and MySQL5 by Larry Ullman I downloaded and set up XAMPP on my laptop to provide a local server in order to use as a test bed for building the website.
I followed textbooks, notably PHP Solutions by David Powers and PHP6 and MySQL5 by Larry Ullman adapting the examples to create the solution to the creative brief.
I wrote a 1000 word (approx) evaluation of the SMLP, justifying the application of PHP and MySQL and my experience of answering the creative brief. After finalizing the website I reviewed it and highlighted the improvements that could be made.
For the Merit Criteria.
M1. The sketchbook includes notes and annotation of various sources, showing an understanding of the particular theoretical principles that are relevant to this assignment. Going beyond the gathering of information, however, the emails show an ability to synthesize information from a range of sources in order to overcome a problem that arose from initially relying on one source.
M2. The sketchbook shows the development of the assignment over time. The preliminary stage involved gathering information from a range of sources (books, online tutorials, online forums, and email correspondence). Drawing from the gathered information, I built the first element of the website, an include file. This required adapting PHP script and customizing it to suit my own requirements.
Problems encountered along the way are recorded in the sketchbook. The ability to overcome each problem allowed me to build the next element, leading to the eventual completion of the website.
M3. When devising the Creative Brief, I chose features which would require a number of variables to be used in combination. Specifically, I wanted the website to include a gallery, a feedback form and PHP includes to add further features.
These elements required a range of technical skills for example, in addition to using CSS for the layout, I wanted to create an online gallery which requires communication with a MySQL database. This retrieved information is specifically linked to each image as it is selected whilst the PHP script links a thumbnail image to a larger image. To do this, I had to adapt a PHP script from another source for my own purposes.
I also adapted an include file which highlights the current page; this required customizing a navigation script to suit the style of my website. Another include file is one I used on the footer element of my website, which will calculate the current year from the year the page was copyrighted.
The result of these creative and technical endeavors is a website of a near-professional standard.
In conclusion, this work satisfies the merit criteria.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
The job I have seen advertised is for a front end web designer/developer based in
I’ve noticed that this advert specifically states that all websites from this organisation are required to abide by W3C standards. This makes me appreciate the process of showing validation on the website work we are doing on this course as this is a web design standard expected in industry.
There are a few skills listed in this job advert that I do not yet have. One core skill requirement is Flash. I hope to have a chance to learn Flash, if not on this course then on my own or on an evening course. Not only does there seem to be a demand for it, but it also looks interesting to me.
The job also requires an understanding of online marketing tools such as SEO and PPC. While I have not yet had experience with these, I hope there will be a chance to learn about these types of tools. Additionally, although it’s not mentioned in this particular job advert, I’ve seen ads requiring Content Managing Systems (CMS) such WordPress and so look forward to learning this as well.
Finally, this job mentions Fireworks and Quark as desirable, though not strictly necessary. Obviously, the more technical knowledge I have, the better equipped I will be to find employment.
One current concern of mine is whether I should purchase a Mac. This job specifies both Mac and PC familiarity. To date I have always used PCs. I have noticed that many job adverts seem to require both. If not having a Mac means that I won’t be able to get a job, then I might need to consider it as an investment and overcome the cost issue.
The job also specifies other less technical skills that may not be as easy to demonstrate. According to the advert, this position would involve interaction with clients which would require both listening to understand their website requirements and the ability to explain technical issues, both verbally and in writing. While I have had to rely on my communication skills working with others on this course, I am also hoping to draw on my experience in other jobs to date for these less technical skills.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
For the final two assignments of the first year: A1 Sketchblog and A7 Rasterized, I was pleased to find that I had improved on my grades compared to previous assignments. I was hoping this was the case as am feeling much more confident with the digital imaging software and graphic design elements of the course. I am also pleased with my sketching and visualising skills as they appear to be a basic requirement for all-round web designers, which is what I aspire to become.
Bearing this in mind I have also looked at PHP and tried out some script, setting up an Apache local web server in order to test out web pages with PHP. I think that I am now at least familiar with PHP although still see myself as a beginner. I now have an appreciation of the way PHP works as a 'server side' code whilst HTML works in a web browser. For the A9 assignment I intend to use the open source XAMPP package as it includes the MySQL database.
We certainly hit the ground running on the first day back, launching straight into the first assignment of the second year. This is the A8 iMe Assignment, the first component is the Self Managed Learning Plan (SMLP) which involves choosing a course-related subject (PHP and MySQL in my case), and devising our own project through a creative brief.
This all seemed quite daunting to me at first but I have been looking into PHP during the summer months and have (hopefully) a fairly good idea of what I would like to achieve and what is realistic for me given the limited timescale and my limited PHP knowledge.
For the SMLP I intend to create an online thumbnail gallery for a friend who is researching monuments in Cumbria and North Lancashire for a book he hopes to have published, and has supplied me with a collection of photographs for an accompanying website which will form the basis of the creative brief.
I'm quite excited about the project as it's a 'live' project and quite similar to the work I hope to be doing on a self employed basis. It is also quite an interesting project in itself.
I'm also quite anxious about getting it all working correctly within the timescale...
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
This could include: Providing a content management system using MySQL, creating secure contact forms, image galleries, and navigation guides.
This will provide me with working practice and experience of PHP and also provide me with a showpiece website to add to my portfolio.
I intend to use online and textbook tutorial(s) to find out what applications to incorporate into the website and to learn how to write them. To this end I have looked at a number of books on php and have a personal preference for 'PHP Solutions'by David Powers.
My resource list will contain:
1: PHP version 5.3: Open source
2: Apache local server: Open source
3: MySQL: Open source
4: Microsoft Notepad
5: Online tutorials: eg: PHP.net/manual, WC3 tutorials,
6: Text book: PHP solutions, By David Powers.
7: XHTML and CSS
8: A sketchbook and Digital Imaging software will be used for the website design.
Friday, 21 August 2009
With the current downturn and lack of jobs I am planning on developing the most currently in-demand skills and being prepared to work as a web designer initially on a self employed basis just as a means of building up a portfolio, and also developing the necessary skills. After gaining some experience I hope to be able to work either in contracts or full time as an 'all round' web/graphic designer.
Having looked at the required skills on various online jobsites (such as totaljobs), the most commonly sought - after coding skills after html and css apears to be PHP. So it makes sense to me to develop a working knowledge of this language. As it is also an open-source language, it is widespread as web development tool and integated into the GNU project, so is likely to be around for some time.
Learning the fundamentals of php will also allow me to incorporate secure contact and booking forms into any websites I build whilst working on my own. Online purchasing and feedback forms are a common requirement of websites for small businesses and sole traders - which will be my most common source of work.
I will also learn MySQL as it works alongside php as a database management tool.
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
I remember how I felt at the time, which was basically worried about a lack of knowledge in even the most basic aspects of web design and the social networking aspects of the internet, such as blogging, using forums and even creating an avatar.
I found the first couple of weeks to be quite a steep learning curve due to such seemingly small tasks as the creation of an avatar in das-forum, setting up this blogger site and adding links to forum and blog posts. These tasks have now become second nature to me, as they are frequent requirements of the course.
I was also apprehensive in returning to college as a mature student, and was hopeful that there would be other students with similar backgrounds and reasons for returning to college.
I found the first assignment quite frustrating, although it was useful in providing us with a basic knowledge of the technologies, equipment and programmes involved in web design and the Internet, there was a distinct lack of creativity involved. There was also an emphasis on precision of the assignment presentation and in particular the referencing which I thought made me more apprehensive and took some of the enjoyment of learning out of the tasks. I realise of course that precision is an important element of graphic and web design so it was a kind o preparation for other tasks and for the industry we will hopefully become professionally involved in.
During this period I also had to set up my email account, which despite having a few teething problems went fairly smoothly. This was relevant to me and I gained some confidence from the experience.
I also had another learning curve using Photoshop for the first time (apart from resizing photographs which I have done in the past.) This was due to creating an entry for the college Christmas e-card, I think I was more involved in learning techniques in Photoshop (such as layers and masks) than in sticking to the brief, as I managed to create a reindeer theme which was not really the modern look required of the brief.
The A3 'Sounds Like a Plan' assignment was the first taste of web design proper, it required research and development of a minimal one page website, which was plenty enough for me to cope with at the time. I didn't have much confidence in my Photoshop skills in creating a banner, and often felt quite confused as to what was expected from us as a final outcome. I spent a lot of the Christmas break learning Photoshop and In-Design techniques to develop the website plan.
Looking back now I think I could quite easily achieve the same results with much less time and with much more confidence, due largely to having more familiarity with the whole process of presenting a web design plan prior to creating it online. I can also see the wisdom in this approach as a lot of the design process can be resolved at an early stage,saving considerable time in the web development stage.
The A4 assignment was a grounding in layout and graphical presentation, introducing us to basic printing elements such as the use of grids, white space and leading. The assignment was refreshing as it allowed us to get more creative, albeit within tight production specifications. I found that the limited scope for creativity actually helped t develop skills in page layout, and kept us focused on the basics and helped us to produce effective designs.I also enjoyed learning about typesets and fonts, some of which can be linked to certain periods in time and have historical significance.
The A5: Builder assignment was our first real taste of creating websites with XHTML and CSS, and also of using Dreamweaver, which is not everyone's favourite tool for building websites. I certainly preferred hand coding rather than Dreamweaver and will concentrate on learning to build websites this was before I start to use other software. I had a lot of help on this first website-build, but I did at least begin to understand how the two languages work together. I also managed to edit some of the code to make minor alterations.
My sketching skills have been brushed up and put to good use in the development of both A6 and A7. I was hoping to do better in the final part of the A6 Magic Circle website design but the finished artwork lacked the finesse I was hoping to achieve, and so I will have to put it down to a learning experience.
On the positive side I was pleased to receive some very positive feedback for my sketch-book work and initial designs, so with a bit more practice I am hoping to achieve some more effective final designs.Having just handed in the final assignment of the year: A7: Rasterized. I am more confident with the final outcome although have the familiar apprehensions about missing out fine detail...
Looking forward to the next academic year...
My experience of web coding with XHTML strict and CSS has developed skills in coding, and I am please with my progress in this area, as I feel it may be a potential source of future work. I am considering learning Php as the Self-Managed Learning Programme as another facet for future employability, although I also intend to keep improving my skills in Photoshop, Illustrator and possibly Flash. I am also looking for a short course in a relevant area during the summer break. My aspirations for the next year:
Have more confidence and working knowledge in the most commonly used software packages relevant to web design.
- Develop my coding skills, and also to practice during the summer break.
- Learn an additional related programme such as PHP.
- Learn an additional software tool such as Flash.
Friday, 1 May 2009
The very first task was to listen to the music and create a review of it in five hundred words, which was quite difficult for me as it involved expressive writing and trying to avoid various cliches about music and art.
The logo design was next, and we had to develop three logos, one of which was selected by the 'client' during a sales pitch. I found it quite difficult trying to sell the designs and try to make them sound special and unique. I also felt under pressure from the rest of the seminar group who were also judging my sales pitch.
I was happy enough with the selected logo, although I had also put a lot of work into trying to design 3-d style logos.All of the logo designs involved learning how to use the pen tools in Freehand and Illustrator, which was a steep learning curve but both enjoyable and useful, as I also used Illustrator to trace an image for the CD packaging artwork.
I have also developed more skills in Photoshop, bringing in vector shapes and rasterizing layers, creating background images, overlays and adding shading and reflections. So far I am quite pleased with the graphical side of this assignment and my supporting sketchbook work.
I am a bit anxious about creating the A7 web page as I am not yet fully confident with the coding side, although I realize coding requires practice and partly learning through trial and error.
Thursday, 2 April 2009
I enjoyed the learning process of coding, although I did require a lot of help in getting it finished. I'm feeling more confident for the next coding project in the A7 assignment and will attempt to complete as much of it as possible on my own. I was quite pleased with a pass for this assignment but hope to achieve better results for future coding projects.
I have also completed the A6 assignment which was based mainly on digital imaging manipulation using Photoshop. I have mixed feelings about my overall performance in this assignment: Pleased with my sketchbook work, but a bit disappointed with the final outcome of my web design for the Magic Circle.
I experienced a steep learning curve using Photoshop to create my web design and feel that with a little more practice and experience I could have made something a lot more finished and cleaner looking. However I am confident that I have learnt a lot from this project and think I am on the right track. I am please to know that my initial sketch work is to a good standard and realise that this is one of the most important aspects of creative design work.
The technical knowledge I need to transform my ideas into digital work is just a matter of perseverance, and the current A7 assignment should help me to get a step further..
Sunday, 22 March 2009
Insen is the 2005 follow up album to the highly acclaimed Vrioon (2003) album created by Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Insen is a modern album done in the minimalist electronic tradition. While its modern sound may not be readily accessible to the general listening public, research of professional musical reviews shows that Insen has been well received by music critics.
According to BBC writer Colin Buttimer,1 Insen is an exploration of electronic sounds combined with traditional acoustic instruments, which in the case of Insen, uses the piano skills of the multi-talented Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto. Alva Noto is the pseudonym of Carsten Nicolai, one of the three members of the recording label Raster Norton (the other two members being Frank Bretschneider and Olaf Bender).
The Raster Norton label is renowned for its spectrum of electronic based music that is largely experimental and ranges from stripped down incidental sounds to abstract and experimental music. The music can be linked with art movements such as Minimalism and Futurism and harks back to the days of Kraftwerk and early electronic music of the past 1980’s, although it belongs to a more creative and artistic plane than popular music.2
The album is the result of Nicolai’s masterly dissection and rebuilding of Ryuichi’s delicate piano scores, complimenting these notes and rhythms with a network of interwoven electronic sound that has the effect of encompassing the entire album in a reflective ambience, tugging at the emotions and heart-strings of the listener.
The music takes on a simplistic, elegant yet stripped-back style to produce delicate sounds which provide both contrast and harmony. The subtle notes of the piano are complimented and augmented with the meanderings of digitally created sound, as if they are being carried on the air like delicate bird song.
On the first opening notes of the leading track ‘
‘Morning’ has the feel of a clear and still air of an early winter’s day; cold repetitive notes become hauntingly familiar as the track continues.
Both of the tracks ‘Logic Moon' and ‘Moon’ combine sudden stops and interruptions by using a glitch effect to break into the gentle melody.
‘Iano’ begins with a brief introduction of piano notes, electronic background samples and a crackle which forms into a part of the rhythm which picks up slightly before being rejoined by the piano. Static sounds become blended into the mix gradually giving a feeling of rainfall in the background. The beat can then be picked out and becomes pronounced with a more obvious fusion of piano and digital pulse before gradually fading away.
It seems clear that the two artists have worked together to create a natural fusion of their own individual and highly developed skills into creating a piece of work that is both mesmerizing and emotionally charged.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/release/rmhj/, Accessed 20 March 2008.
Monday, 2 February 2009
We have been given some self study work to be getting on with but I am currently not too confident about the A5 usability checklist we need to provide for next week. Looks like I'll be spending a fair amount of time researching WCAG2, Web Standards and other related issues.
Last week included feedback for our two previous assignments A3 and A4 and I was both pleased and relieved to discover that I have passed both of them.
Most of the feedback I received for both of these assignments was positive, although I could have improved on my results by producing some more sketchbook development work, especially for the A3 assignment. I also need to maintain a high standard of time-keeping if I am to achieve better results on future assignments.
Although I am pleased with my results I would like to do better in the next assignments and think this is possible for me to achieve if I put enough work and effort into them.
For the current A6 assignment I have started to create some tutorial hand-outs for our presentation tutorial on Photograph Repairs in Photoshop. I have enjoyed spending time learning the various methods and practising using them, and then making step-by-step guides for other students to refer to. I'm looking forward to learning some new Photoshop techniques during this assignment although I will probably get a bit nervous during our presentation.
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Its true that we haven't quite started on the most technical aspects, such as writing in XHTML and using CSS, but we have covered crucial areas such as setting up a website through a shared web hosting provider, using a control panel to upload images, setting up web mail and accessing this using outlook express (or the 'mac' equivalent). This was all completely new to me as I have never set up a website before, so it was quite a steep learning experience.
As I have just mentioned we are about to embark on our first (for most of us) journey into Markup Languages, and I was probably more anxious about this aspect of the course than any other. However having read a few chapters of HTML Dog (a few times in some parts) and also looking at the online help at W3C Schools, I am now looking forward to 'having a go' which the practical side of next semester should necessitate.
My familiarity with some of the industry standard software has also developed, and I am looking forward to developing more skills over the next semester with an assignment which covers imaging and Photoshop techniques. This will involve a presentation which may fill a lot of the students with dread. Whilst I expect to get a bit nervous I know from experience that we will all be in the same boat and that preparation will go a long way to calming the nerves.
One of the often tricky aspects of the course is the annotation of our inspiration work for the sketchbooks, which - it is important to remember - is a crucial part of an ongoing assignment. I am gradually finding it easier to annotate and describe why I find most of the pieces inspiring, useful or interesting, and I think this has been aided by listening to other students describing their inspiration during the weekly group seminars. The proces is perhaps a good way for students from more technical I.T. backgrounds become familiar with visual skills and techniques.
The sketchbook annotation is also useful in providing a starting point for debate and to help some students gain confidence in talking out in a group meeting situation. I realise that whilst my descriptive writing is advancing there is still some way to go and I need to keep making plenty of effort with it.
I am relieved to hear from our tutor that the most theoretical assignments of the first year are over and in the next semester we can look forward to more practical based study, where we be seeing the relevance of what we have already learnt. I am hoping that by the end of this academic year I will have designed and produced my first web page complete with web authoring in XHTML and CSS.
Friday, 9 January 2009
Having said that I'm still feeling the pressure- I just realised last night that some of my reference links for my A3 assignment weren't working properly and at first didn't have a clue why. Fortunately when I deleted and re-linked them they were fine. Even though I think I'm just about finished with the assignment I'm still anxious about handing it in in the correct order and not missing or messing up any details such as the date at the footer of the pages, or the naming of the data files.
I have enjoyed the A4 mini assignments and the element of creativity work it has provided, using InDesign to design page layouts and banners, albeit under a bit of pressure. Its a nice way to gradually finish steps towards an assignment. There's just the font and type test next week to get through but with a bit of reading up this should be ok.
I also managed to find time this week to design a 'Type Trumps' card for an in-course competition, using the Eras font which I was assigned. Despite being a bit pushed for time this week I enjoyed designing it and regretted not being able to spend a bit more time on it. But I guess there'll be plenty more opportunities to develop my graphical design skills...