I first learned web design in my last year at Vancouver Island University. I had taken most of my classes in my Creative Writing Bachelor’s Degree and had a few electives left. I decided to take a few courses in Interactive Media program learning about audio, video, and web design. I knew that the publishing industry had been going through changes and I wanted to be learning about them through understanding the role digital media played.
This month I started reviewing HTML5 and CSS through the textbook we used in the first web design course, Basics of Web Design. Found that I knew some things (the basics) since my year-long break, but I needed refreshers on a lot of other coding techniques and elements (forms, CSS rules). It was good to review it before moving onto other web design languages.
It’s been a heavy week of reading, especially website design and revisiting HTML and CSS. Have to say that Humble Bundle has a great bundle of web design books on sale right now. I did start making WordPress Headers for the site and wanted to share a couple with you today.
They are still a work in progress but they’re a good start to showcase the topics I cover, and I now have something that will show up in links 🙂
Before I took a year off from school I remember doing one of my favourite class projects in school. It was to design a self-portrait through learning aspects of Adobe Photoshop. I think I spent about 20 hours on this piece, learning curves, image masking, different blending techniques. It still is one of my favorite pieces that I have ever done.
Why? That was a question I asked myself when I was 18. My mother gave away all the Lego that my brother and I collected since we were toddlers because we hadn’t played and built anything with them since we were 8 years old. I was more interested in writing and acting, throughout high school, than with building things.
I didn’t understand how Lego could be used creatively until a month ago. I always thought that they were only for play. However, there is an amazing amount of Lego design inspiration on Instagram, Twitter, and blog sites. From architecture to robots, to fantastical creatures you can find almost any build online.
A month ago, there was also a great humble bundle package from No Starch Press, in amongst their books on maker culture and programming they had four books on Lego Design. These books included “The Lego Technical Idea Book Simple Machines” and “The Lego Technical Idea Book Fantastical Contraptions” by Yoshihito Isogawa that provide great ideas on using Lego for design.
A week ago, I bought my first box of Lego in a long time. It’s another avenue of creativity that I want to tap into while building and designing other things. I know it will help with creativity especially when I have some free time from school and work. It also helps me get into another cultural spectrum that I have been looking at, maker culture.
When I begin to learn something, I like to start with simple explanations and examples. Things that I can work through step by step to pick up concepts. If there was a “Sesame Street” style show for learning programming languages I would be all over it. Especially if it has Muppets.
Two weeks ago, I began learning the Swift coding language and Apple’s XCode. I’ve had ideas floating in my head for the past couple years on apps that I wish I had while using my iPhone and iPad. Loving Apple’s products I wanted to learn how to code mobile apps on the iPad and iPhone first. I could learn how to program on devices I love and test them on products that I own.
Thanks to a great deal on Humble Bundle, I picked up “Coding iPhone Apps for Kids” by Gloria Winquist and Matt McCarthy. This a great book for those who want to learn how to code and it’s not just for kids. There’s step by step instructions for coding two apps with explanations on why you’re doing things. A great intro to the Swift Programming Language and a rundown of Xcode as an IDE (Interactive Development Environment).
Starting in September, as part of my college program, I have a yearlong course on iOS app development. I want to be ready for that class. In the first year, we are told to expect to do a lot of self-learning. A professor cannot cram everything about a program into thirteen weeks. To continue understanding programs and design we need to learn outside of school as well. I want to get a head start.
These are the next steps I’m going to take before taking my yearlong Swift Course and iOS App design:
It wasn’t until my second semester that I fell in love with thumbnailing my designs. Like many other students, I never understood them. I just wanted to design, not create pre-
designs. Many believe that it wastes our time, time that could be better spent doing something else. We were wrong.
Thumbnails are short sketches of what could be. They’re like brainstorming, allowing you to push ideas to be creative and understand what you’re working on. When finished they allow you blend the short sketches together to create an entire design. For me they allow freedom. Freedom from my boundaries so that I can work to design concepts that I love.
I realize how useful a tool thumbnails are, and now I can’t stop using them. For every project, I create at least ten different thumbnails offering different ways of making a piece work. Looking at different sketches and styles allows me to pick the ones that I can work on and the others that l don’t like. Thumbnails give designers the ability to weed out good and bad choices.
I like simple and relatable logo designs. When I started brainstorming ideas for a media company I wanted to keep the design simple and fun. The first logo I came up with was trying to work the top of a soda can into a design. The second idea I had was using playing around with the letter C while using bubbles to create another logo.
When starting design school many students do not understand design concepts. Thumbnails help charge our creativity and learn the concepts that we need. There is a great way to begin any design.
I know that I lost a year when I decided to go back to school. In the two months since then, I became worried about how much I missed. What would I retain? What did I lose? How far behind was I? I wanted to work on anything that could catch me up before I go back to classes in September. I went back and read textbooks, started learning on lynda.com, and decided that I was going to back a little earlier than September. I’m taking classes in May.
Still, I want to learn more. When I looked over the course possibilities that I could take in my second year I decided to learn more coding during the summer. In our program, we have three programming course chains, one for web design, two for mobile app design. I decided to focus on the programming languages that I will be learning including:
Learning programming languages is like learning the world’s cultural languages. There’s a lot of syntaxes, similarities, and they all fall along similar lines of variables, objects, loops, statements. There are few differences too. It’s fun writing and then seeing the process it takes to make apps and web pages. I can’t wait until September when I focus on this in school.
For those wondering about the books, some may be basic but they’re perfect starting off points, I’m learning from here’s a list:
I feel the same way I did when I finished my Degree in Creative Writing, overburdened and creative. The classes I took at Vancouver Island University helped me grow as a person. Screenwriting and film courses gave me a passion that I had since I was a child. Those classes introduced me to new forms of digital media. When I took courses on Interactive Media at North Island College that passion transformed into a love for digital
art and design.
The projects I worked on and learning coding was challenging. I knew it was something that I wanted to. I want to combine my writing degree from VIU with the Advanced Communications and Interactive Design diploma from North Island College to create a new media company. Still, there’s a fear that I’m too old. Too old to start my own company or for a job inside this field.
Still, the passion I found drives me. I took a year off from the program to refocus. I was emotionally and physically drained. I spent two years as a Board of Governor. Two years of doing leadership for the school that didn’t want me. I had no focus. That created problems with mental health. You can read about on my other blog.
Now I have goals. I will build a new media company. Something that I have wanted to do for a decade. I will finish the diploma, then go to Simon Fraser University for their Masters in Digital Media. While I build towards these goals I want to write about my passion for digital media and design as well.
This blog is about my journey in design and interactive media. It’s about what I’m learning, and how I’m learning it. I’ll be placing some school work and portfolio pieces on this site. There is a link to my other blog, on how I deal with depression and anxiety in the about section as well.