This module will encourage you to work in small groups on a single unpredictable design problem over the duration of the module project. Each week you will be introduced to different elements of the process and will then put these into practice on your task.
Designing for Print
The production of original visual material making use of principles is vital to graphic design and interaction. In response to this demand this module introduces designing for print and how graphic design conveys messages, meaning and information compositionally through the development of shape, structure, balance and hierarchy, and semantically through typography. This module will encourage you to produce experimental design ideas and explore arrangements of type and image with consideration to visual communication, through the awareness and proficiency with the operation of a range of professional image production software and associated processes and techniques (such as applications in the Adobe Creative Suite).
Designing for Web
You will study the basic concepts of web design and production using industry standard tools and techniques. You will be introduced to a range of different technologies and practices that will give you an insight into how the web works and the different ways of producing material for it, and will be introduced to applicable theoretical concepts such as Web standards, Human Computer Interface (HCI), Accessibility and Usability.
You will explore the production of images using a range of equipment and tools for the generation of images to fulfil design briefs. Initial sessions will cover the creation of a picture library and cover a range of manual illustration styles and the equipment required to complete them and then move on to cover a range of photographic techniques. Finally you will make use of digitisation technologies to develop a taxonomy of illustration options, assessing them critically for their affective properties in design.
Initially you will be introduced to the basic digital video production based practical skills e.g.: exploring software tools and output methods. This module places emphasis on practical video and animation work in order to develop your procedural, technical and constructive skills, and is designed to serve as an example of the complete production process. You will individually produce short animations for web based distribution and explore the technical considerations of encoding, bandwidth and interaction. You will be encouraged to make experimental use of digital and analogue animation techniques with reference to other creative forms e.g.: pixellation, stop-motion, paper-based and object animation and theories salient to the production of animation for screen based consumption.
This module serves as an underpinning perspective on the themes and complexities explored in the project modules. In so doing, design theory presents critical and core theory, texts and examples, and situates design within the broader cultural, political, artistic and commercial contexts. The module aims to support your project work by offering a range of perspectives, challenges and inspiration, and ultimately develop your understanding of where design might be located as a practice, and aims to examine both past and contemporary practices and practitioners. Knowledge and understanding acquired through this module will directly inform your preparation and design development for the project modules they are undertaking and, in order to enable this, the delivered content responds directly to the themes explored: process, identity, form, affect and environment. While this content is intended to support and underpin your practical project development, you are also expected to engage in essay writing and develop skills in research and the articulation of arguments through writing.
Graphic Design Agency
This module focuses on embedding employability within a design curriculum in a seamless and meaningful way within the context of your future working environments. While you will primarily rely upon programme staff for continuity and structure, you will also benefit from mentorship and support from external practicing graphic designers and agencies familiar with the demands placed upon graphic designers. While the programme embraces an ethos that design practices overlap and benefit from interdisciplinary this module recognises that there are situations where the roles of graphic design and web design are more clearly delineated, such as within the context of group and agency work. This module responds to this by having you work on projects within a mixed skill-base group, where the roles and expected contributions of the graphic and web designers are more defined, combined with lecture, mentorship and support sessions where graphic designers are encouraged to understand the complexities of their roles within agency team work, and in so doing become aware of the pivotal role of the graphic designer within design development.
Design Project: Materials and Processes
A sound understanding of materials and processes is central to the work of the designer, whether it takes the form of an awareness of the qualities of screen-printing inks, the functionality of mobile phone app data sources, or the ways that paper can be folded and scored. By understanding what materials are used for and capable of, you will also be able to present novel and challenging uses, enabling design innovation and the creation of unexpected solutions to briefs. This project is based upon recognition of the critical importance of materials and process (physical and data based), the very constituent materials that the designer must work with and use to solve problems. This project forces you to critically assess materials for their utility and qualities, seeking new ways of applying them within the confines of a design brief.
Design Project: Interpretation and Translation
A sound understanding of interpretation and translation is central to the work of the designer whether it is in the field of environmental design or interactive app development. Interpretation, a journey into the realm of hidden stories and little-known facts, can be exposed through text and image, light and other sensory stimuli. Interpretation will spark your imagination and conjure the invisible affording the audience memorable and meaningful experiences that educate, entertain, inspire and evoke. Translation is an indispensable tool, a means to convert information from one medium to another whilst retaining the message. All designers must be comfortable in their ability to interpret and translate; from client to audience, from word to image, from miniature to giant.
Design Project Play and Interaction
A sound understanding of play and interaction is central to the work of the designer whether it is in the field of graphic design or interactive app and web development. Play and interaction results in things being put together in new ways and will make you aware of new options. Play is how we engage our human brains to develop novel ideas and solutions. How do we design for Play? How can design seek to evoke a sense of enjoyable? What are the constraints or problems to solve through play and interaction? How we play and interact with design becomes paramount to understanding the user experience and engagement. All designers must be comfortable in their ability to explore notion of play and interaction; learning how to critically analyse users’ needs and define user experience through systematic research principles, play and interaction methods.
Design Project: Intervention and Provocation
Design is not a passive activity, it naturally calls for and brings about change within the audience. Whether this occurs through informing and presenting perspectives (e.g. infographics), the mode of persuasion and voice used to talk with the audience (visual communication), or taking an explicitly interventionist stance such as through protest and concepts like detournement. The point here is that design has the capacity to bring about change (or to reinforce existing practices), and thus the actions of the designer have weight, significance, and ultimately responsibility. This project recognises the critical importance of the design’s ability to call for and bring about change, and within it you will explore the ways that you can intervene and provoke reflection and change. In so doing the you will recognise that the designer is not simply a subordinate element of a commercial design process, but that design can be used for social good and bring about change. This project forces you to critically assess the messages and prevailing social context of design and designing, seeking ways of exploring and applying this within the confines of a design brief.
Design Theory: User Centered Design
This module further develops your understanding of the interconnectedness of theory and practice within graphic design and interaction, and in particular the critical importance of understanding the needs, demands and perspectives of audience and client. This module serves as a supportive perspective to the themes and complexities explored within the project modules (materials and processes, interpretation and translation, play and interaction, and intervention and provocation). In so doing Design Theory: User Centred Design presents critical and often contradictory perspectives on these themes, through the exploration of exemplars and texts. This situates design within the broader cultural, political, artistic and commercial contexts, and exposes the competing discourses that a designer must be aware of, must navigate, and make use of.
Design Project: Simplicity and Complexity
It is important for designers to be aware of and have experience of the relationship between simplicity and complexity – and thus situations where designs can only make incremental or temporary improvements. This presents design not as a magic bullet, but as part of the ways that humans rationalise and interact with their surroundings and contexts. In addition to being a humbling and useful concept to engage with, simplicity AND complexity also helps prepare you for the pitfalls and challenges within a Final Major Project that follows after this module. This module challenges you to explore the relationship between (apparent) simplicity and complexity, and the ways that design can respond to such messy real-life contexts.
Graphic Design: Final Major Project
This will present you with the opportunity to produce a substantive piece of work that represents the culmination of your understanding and ability in your chosen areas of creative practice. It allows you to conceive, plan and create a major project under your own initiative but with tutorial support from subject specialist tutors – allowing you to learn from other practising graphic designers as you negotiate your project. Introductory lectures will look at examples of possible outcomes for the final major project, creative methods for tackling a wide variety of ideas, existing practice and audience. Workshops will demonstrate techniques for idea generation, planning, proposal writing, time-handling and waypoints. You will then be able to nominate subject specific tutors from the teaching team who then (where appropriate) are able support you in their on-going graphic design project production.
Graphic Design: Dissertation
You will be supported in the completion of a proforma indicating the proposed topic for study and how it sits within graphic design as a discipline, and any resources considered to be essential to collect data and to lead to the completion of the dissertation. You will be expected to produce a written individual study of approximately 10,000 words. A 200 word abstract at the beginning of the piece will summarise the topic, the approach adopted and the main conclusions. Your individual study can embrace any topic related to graphic design, either a further development of work explored earlier in the Programme or a new topic that sits within graphic design. You will be expected to indicate how the proposed dissertation intersects with graphic design as a discipline – this therefore allows you to propose emergent and novel dissertation subjects but ensures that you remain focused upon and within graphic design as a discipline.
Design Practice: Employability and Exhibition
Workshops, seminars and lectures throughout the course should be designed to deliver knowledge and skills with guidance being given on sources of information. Several external talks will focus on design jobs within the design sector and will provide you a useful contact network for future internships and work experience. A summary exhibition of student work is intended to ensure you realise the importance of presentation within a public arena in order to compete with other graduating designers.