Wednesday, Jan. 23 + Wednesday Jan. 30


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Work day for Animal Totems.

We are working on introducing ourselves to the following tools in this project:

1. The Pen Tool

2. The Shapebuilder tool (adding and subtracting)

3. Tracing an image

4. The Blob Tool and Eraser Tool

This is a great tutorial for more advanced Blob Tool options

5. Shaper tool 

6. Filling with color + using swatches

7. Edit color and Recolor Artwork


Reminder: CRITIQUE NEXT WEEK! (Feb. 6)


Wednesday, Jan. 16

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Design Project One: Animal Totems

“From Sketch to Vector” – Surreal Storytelling.

Excellent job last class at our practice exercises!

In our introductory design project, you will sketch and design an Animal Totem to represent you and introduce your style/personality to the class. Your totem can be serious, funny or abstract, but should evoke some emotion. Once you have completed 2-4 sketches in your sketchbook, we will scan them and convert them to vector graphics, trace and add color to them.

Artists have used anthropomorphism since the cave paintings .. and we will continue on this path, finding a new and modern design to a classic trend. I’m crazy about this modern take on Victorian portraits and am looking forward to seeing the new movie, Life of Pi (the book was great!) Have you seen the movie, “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”? and of course, Beatrix Potter books are a childhood classic. Some of the above images are taken from this artist, who produces beautiful and creative animal totems. Another new one here

This project will introduce you to Illustrator and get you more comfortable with the tool bar.

I will show several previous student projects as a way to get ideas for your own. Also seen here.

I really liked this online tutorial for its simplicity.

Design goals: Produce a unique design that shows technical skills in the pen tool, addition of an aesthetically pleasing color scheme and a basic general knowledge of Illustrator.

1. Watch previously assigned intro videos + Check out Chapter 5: Drawing Basics in the PDF textbook

2. Sketch out your animal totem. Produce 2-4 rough sketches. Scan into computer.

3. Trace, add color, tweak lines, alter if necessary.

4. Build through use of the pen tool, shape builder, fills, etc.

5. Critique Wed. Feb. 6


Wednesday, Jan. 9

Welcome to our first day of class!

We will go over the following logistical things: syllabus, student work examples/projects,

Semester Projects: 

  1. Animal Totem
  2. Infographic
  3. Pattern Design
  4. Music Illustration Poster

In addition:

I will give an overview lecture on Illustrator program basics such as :

What is Illustrator? What are vector graphics?

The PEN tool – the pen tool is one of the most important tools to master in Illustrator. Throughout the semester you will get better at the pen tool, but only with lots of practice!

Setting up new document

Selection vs. Direct Selection

Pen tool basics: add, subtract, convert, handlebars, curves, pencil

Creating/editing shapes + fill with color/stroke, Pen tool, Shape builder and Image Trace demo

Good link on drawing basics

Fun interlude: Play this game for a few minutes to practice the pen tool 😉 

More pen tool resources: 

         Pen tool tips

Other general Adobe Illustrator tutorials

In class assignment: With internet images or your own, work on practicing the use of the pen tool. Add and subtract anchor points and merge shapes together. Due at the end of class.

  1. Two complex images traced with the pen tool
  2. Two shapes built with the pen tool – without image reference
  3. Two images traced with the shape builder tool
  4. Two “image traces” (altered differently)

Homework: Finish watching video tutorials as well as bring in a sketchbook and pencil for Animal Totem brainstorming.


Lets talk socio-political

Assignment: Design an illustrative poster with global, critical, socio-political content that stimulates emotion, provokes dialogue, and rouses an audience to support or engage in an issue or event, cause or mission.
In other words: Take a stand + make other people care too.
Project Goals: Introduction to the visual language of advocacy and engagement. Understand the power of the poster. Continue building your Illustrator skills. Can include text as a visual component but does not have to.


Project and FINAL PORTFOLIO DUE: Dec. 10



Nature + Environment + Climate Change


Employment Discrimination

Patriot Act


Hot misc. topics


Putting it in Perspective







Remko Heemskerk: NYC

Chris Ware

Chris Ware : Lost Buildings series and Building Stories series



Adobe: Perspective tool help

Perspective Tool help

Defining the grid


Assignment details: Design and illustrate a cityscape using the perspective tool and a unique color scheme. Your cityscape can be fantasy, based on a real place, or a combination of the two. Build a unique world and put as many details in as possible, continuing to build our storytelling skills.

Your cityscape can be anywhere in the world… Where do you want to go??


I liked this one for its use of an antique map for reference. Remember my post on digital library collections that are now all available via public domain.

Croatia map

Due date: Nov. 26 

Note: We will have one more project, and not a lot of time to complete it, as our last class is Dec. 10. Final portfolio day: Dec. 10. 


Project 2: Package Design

Inspired by our love of food and its relevancy in our marketplace –


Assignment: Produce a package design set for a drink product of your choice.

Project includes 3 package designs that function individually but also as a cohesive and designed brand. All original vector based imagery.

Examples include:

Coffee, Tea, Soda/Sparkling Water, Etc., Wine, Beer

Assignment fulfills the following Course Learning Objectives for GRA2152C : 

Create a package design/3-D solution.

Create a design solution using all original elements/illustration. Formulate multiple solutions to one design problem.

Do some research: Find 10 packaging designs that inspire you (online, in a store, etc.) Compile images (see below) and save them in one PDF to be turned in with your final product.


During this critique, I’d like to go a different direction to accommodate the commercial direction of this project. The critique will be a business setting where you are “pitching” the idea to us. Sell us your product. Why is this design superb? Who is your target audience and why would I want to purchase your product over any other product in the same beverage category?

Questions to ask yourself: How can I get this product to jump off the shelves by still using the standard Principles of Design? How can I design something that is not only graphically interesting but communicates the product functionally?


Additional online resources:

Inspiration: Packaging of the World

Inspiration: Wine Label Design

Reading on business aspects: Packaging Design business strategy

Reading on Brand Strategy: LaCroix Curate

Previous posts about packaging on



Critique and Design Pitch: tentative: Oct. 22/29. Dress professionally. 

Today’s goals: finish Family of Characters. Intro Package. Critique next week + time to brainstorm and plan.