To design is to plan. This course is about the organization of visual information -- what that means and how to do it. The course was designed to help you learn how to control what takes place in a composition.
Designing requires a climate that allows for creativity while consciously directing your efforts to effectively solve a visual problem and/or express and communicate your ideas with art. When you know all of the concepts you explored this semester, and where and when to use them, you will have come a long way toward being a designer.
These concepts are many (but not all) of the fundamental basics for organizing visual information. This is a beginning, an introduction. It will take years of experience to fully comprehend and use all of the ideas you have been exposed to.
Here is a rundown on what I think are the important things you should have learned from this course.
If you continue to investigate art you will have many opportunities to use and improve your understanding of the ideas taught in this course. Even if you do not pursue art you will need to make aesthetic judgments about art, or at least about consumer goods, throughout your life.
While the information covered is basic it is not always simple. You may need more exposure to some of these ideas to fully understand them and be able to use them effectively. This will come easier if you enter every creative opportunity with an open mind and take the time and effort to recall what pertinent information you learned about what you are doing.
Art requires skill, knowledge of aesthetics and the ability to communicate.
Remember that skill refers to using technique appropriately. Some art requires great precision and some is more effective when done "down and dirty."
All art communicates. Every choice, about color, shape, placement, etc., makes a difference in the meaning of the finished product. Always keep your goal in mind.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
The long form was taught so you would understand all of the possible steps. It is rarely necessary to use all of the steps (although sometimes even more are needed) but you do need to know the most productive route to take you from start to finish. The better you learn this lesson the quicker and easier all of your designing and creating will be in the future.
Research to learn as much as necessary about the project is fundamental.
It is impossible to over estimate the value of thumb nail sketches. This is where the visual parts of the design are invented.
Roughs can take many forms but they are where the details of the composition are worked out. Experience will help make you more efficient at using the design process.
PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN
While it is not necessary to fill all of the space you should use all of the space. Try to make everything that takes place in the format potentially interesting.
It is not always desirable to achieve perfect balance. You can use balance concepts to direct attention.
The concepts involved are extensions of the gestalt principles: contrast (similarity, placement (proximity) and isolation (proximity and continuance).
The gestalt concepts are the basis for grouping (achieving unity). The same concepts can be used to ungroup or separate items (the basis for variety). Variety is the spice of life. But variety out of control is chaos.
Color/value is the easiest and most productive kind of similarity in many cases.
Understanding close edge relationships will help you place items effectively.
Combining is the most powerful tool for both grouping and setting off information.
Center (vertical) alignment is related to symmetry. Because of that it has great appeal.
Color is a very complicated design element. Many facets of color were studied but the most important to understand were:
You should be able to mix any color you want by combining what you learned about color. There was less (not enough) about where and how to use color. That will come with experience or in later art classes.
The illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface using overlap, shading, linear perspective and atmospheric perspective were studied. It is possible to create and control spatial illusions ranging from flat space to deep space.
Pattern was also studied in the texture lesson.
There was probably more content to this course than you could absorb (or thought possible). In the future you will possibly be exposed to these and similar ideas and find then easier to understand on second hearing.
What you did learn can not help but apply every time you think about art or make an aesthetic judgment.
The concepts you studied are, after all, the basics for all visual art.
Your Design Book is a valuable reference and record of the ideas you have explored and the skills you have learned -- treasure it.
Thank you for your interest and commitment.