The Week That Went By

A week has passed since I started school again. It’s refreshing to be in classes and around people that are learning that I want to learn. The classes are fun. The professors and students are great. I have to change the final projects that I want to do. My Java programming course doesn’t have a final project.

Each class has an assortment of exams, quizzes, and assignments. My PHP and Swift courses also have final projects. My WordPress course has 2. The blog piece I wrote in the summer about my plan for projects has to be changed.

swiftIn my Swift course, our final project is building a simple app. I wrote about wanting to build a game in an earlier blog post. I still do, but the brick game I want to build will have to wait. With this class, I’m going to build a small game that revolves around a clown throwing a ball up in the air. The user’s goal is to prevent it from dropping. I’ll be writing more about this project in future posts.

My WordPress design course is stricter with the projects that we are doing this semester. First, we’re doing a redesign of a literary journal from North Island College. The second project in the course is creating a portfolio project site, like this one. Both will be great projects to do, and I’m really excited about working on the lit journal because it’s something that I really want to do moving into the next year with publishing WordPress magazines for my business.

There are a lot of good projects to do this semester and they’re making me excited.

Learning Before School

Ever since I decided to go back to school in February I have been learning about programming and graphic design. Most day I would work for five to eight hours a day, then go home and study for five to six hours a night. Back in February, I was almost scared to be going back to school. Now, after studying I feel as though I’m prepared to go back. There are a lot of cool websites out there that can help those who want to start learning coding and graphic design. Here are some that I want to share:

Lynda.Com

In my first year of Graphic Design at North Island College, I was introduced to Lynda.com as a site to supplement learning. For anyone that wants to learn programming, coding, audio, and visual design Lynda.Com is an amazing tool. While it costs a monthly fee, if you’re lucky enough like we are on Vancouver Island, your library might have purchased a membership for you to get in for free.

I have used Lynda.com to learn about Adobe’s Creative Cloud products, coding languages, and graphic design and will continue to use it through school for iOS and Java app design as well as learning game design with Unity and the Unreal engine.

Udemy.Com

This is a site that my friend Remy said to try. It similar to Lynda.Com, however, it is a strictly paid site and has more programs and classes that you can take. The breadth of courses are well worth looking over, I’m using it to learn drawing, unity and the unreal engine.

Humble Bundle

Every month there seems to be a new set of coding books or software on sale on Humble Bundle. This month it’s a tiered set of books on Linux. For studying web design the past series have been great when you can get the full set of O’Reilly Web Design books for $20US when one book in Canada costs $40 and up in Canada it’s well worth it.

These are a few of the great sites out there. They have helped me out and I know they’ll help out those that want to learn programming and design too.

Changes

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote a piece for the blog. Injuries at work led to my hours going up. That left few hours to read coding books and get ready for the new academic year. I’m back now though and I have been reading over some of the past pieces that I have written.

I really want to change this blog into something that I can use to share my experiences while going back to school, something that I can create a portfolio around as well. That said I really feel that there are too many pieces on programming, and not enough design talk (even though the majority of my classes this academic year are deal with Java, JavaScript, PHP, and Swift).

I feel like there’s so much more than this blog can showcase, especially around my ideas and design, what I think of major designs (like getting mad at the current gen iPhones and they’re thunderbird cable). I also decided to change the posting schedule on the blog as well, with Thursday and Saturday throughout the summer till September, it’ll help with work and keeping my mind sane.

Here’s some good news though, people always talk about that “Eureka!” moment when a topic becomes clear. It’s taken me three months of reading on coding and programming and I can finally say I understand it and it’s becoming clearer. I think practice and pushing myself has finally paid off (especially on JavaScript).

Meet My Nemesis: JavaScript

The single biggest reason why I’m studying before going back to school is JavaScript. In my last semester before I took a break I was in a class on it for 3 weeks. An assignment that I had to finish caused me to drop the class. It was the most frustrating project where I thought I knew what I was doing. After 6 hours of attempting to implement an HTML table through writing JavaScript code, caused me to pull my hair out.

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I’m Starting small with JavaScript and becoming comfortable.

Okay, so maybe JavaScript isn’t that bad. Maybe I just haven’t given myself a chance to learn the language. I was frustrated that in class we dove into the deep end first. I’m now reading about the JavaScript coding language. I’m determined to conquer the language and not let it beat me. Having spent the last two months learning other coding languages, I can say that JavaScript is incredibly similar in syntax, style, and writing.

This fact is very cool, it makes learning easier. Still, I’m lining up books to read about JavaScript before my class in January. These books include JavaScript for Kids, which is an intro to JavaScript aimed at kids. I’m reading it as an opener before I move onto to books that are in depth. Three other books I’m using this summer are, JavaScript & JQuery The Missing Manual, JavaScript: Visual QuickStart Guide, and JavaScript and JQuery: Interactive Front-End Development (which will be the class’ textbook).

 

Word Press Headers Incoming

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 🙂

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One of the My Favourite Class Projects

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.

Peter_SelfPortrait Good

Lego for Design

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.

 

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The start of a new Lego collection

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.

 

Thumbnailing Logos

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-

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Working on Thumbnails helps to create ideas for the finished design

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. Cola Creative-01Looking 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 Cola Creative 2_Cola Creative Logo Prototype 2 Black and Whitebrainstorming 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.