AVT AVT 311: Graphic Design Methods and Principles

Syllabus | Schedule | Assignments | Portfolio | Contact | Links | AVT Home | Mason Home


Design Process

You shall follow the recommended design process as outlined in the Project Statement. In many cases, you shall follow specific methodologies, as they are known to increase ideation and to enhance production efficiency. Evaluation of your design process will always factor heavily in the final project grade. This evaluation includes your ability to meet interim deadlines, to present the required quantity of sketches and to participate in critiques. The process of design is critical. The best final solutions come from practicing a methodology that can be repeated for a variety of design problems. You will be examining and cataloging your process for all of the projects during the semester.

The process includes library research, word lists, thumbnail sketches, collected imagery, and objects. The final comprehensive will be the last step. You are required to present many ideas for the critique and develop a final solution based on these ideas and their revision and refinement.

Process Notebooks

Students shall submit process notebook with the final design on the due date of each project. The notebook shall include all documentations of the research, ideation, and refinement. Please keep the notebook in the good order, comprehensive but not redundant. Take your design process seriously. Use your process notebook to help you advance from one idea to another; not only use the notebook to record what you are doing, but to maintain a dialogue with yourself, identify why you are making the design decisions you are making. Keep your process notebook current as you progress through each project. Students have often mistakenly believed that they could finish their project first, and organize and assemble their process notebook later. This is a daunting task to do shortly before a deadline. Your work will suffer if you do not follow the design process.

Designing with Thumbnails or Marker Comps

Thumbnail sketches are rough drawings, sometimes only comprehensible to the designer, used to explore layout options. These quick pen or pencil sketches allow the designer to try out several ideas and zero in on the most likely layouts before beginning a project. Marker comps are the approximate size to the final layout, using broad markers to indicate color, type positioning, image placement, etc.

Creating thumbnails & marker comps is a crucial part of the brainstorming aspect of your design work.
Don't discount the value of this step in the design process.

  • Don't fret over details. Use thumbnails to establish approximate locations for major elements. Don't worry about making "pretty" pictures.
  • Try for an approximate proportional page size for a marker comp layout but don't get out the ruler. You're aiming for a general idea of how the piece might look.
  • Make lots of rough sketches. Repeat: lots of sketches. You'll rule out many design ideas quickly this way before wasting time in your page layout program.
  • Don't try doing these initial rough designs in your software, even if using dummy text and placeholder graphics. You're apt to get caught up in things like changing the fonts or doing perfectly aligned graphics. Save that step till after you've done the initial brainstorming for ideas with thumbnails or comps.