multimedia @ VU
visual design -- guidelines
The goal of the course visual design
is to get you familiar with various aspects of design,
as detailed in the original proposal
You may well understand that the Faculty of Exact Sciences
is not the natural habitat of such a course, and these guidelines
and regulations are provided, not only to give you an idea
of what the course will offer but also to counter-act
against the potential risks involved.
In general the course aims at establishing aesthetic awareness,
by providing suitable exercises and assignments.
In addition, you are supposed to become familiar with the craft of design,
which necessarily involves the use of tools and techniques.
track(s) -- perspective:
To accomodate for the various interests and backgrounds of the students
following this course, we distinguish between several tracks
as summarized below.
track(s) -- perspective
- styling -- concept and presentation
- digital content -- material, animation
- tech track -- special effects
The process of design is very complex, ranging from
conceptual explorations and
sketching up to the stage of finalizing delivery.
- spectrum -- sketch ... finalize
- ignore/exploit -- the rethorics of the material
As a rule, try to master the material, and do not let the material master you.
It is generally recognized that there are different
cognitive modes at work when working in different phases of
- reflect -- sketch
- experience -- finalize
Clearly, you need to choose the tools appropriate for
the problem you work on.
- sketch -- paper & pencil, text editor, simple drawing program
- finalize -- photoshop, maya, rendering engine, etcetera
To assist you in finding your creative path, we will
have a number of guest speakers, experts from a variety of disciplines,
that will tell about their work from a personal perspective.
These experts will also take part in judging your portfolio.
- game(s) -- concept(s) & realization(s)
- art -- to provide (a change of) perspective
- concept(s) -- to establish an alternat(iv)e (approach) to reality
- visual design -- styling, design, aesthetics, management
Design results in a number of products.
This may, but need not necessarily, include the final product.
It must, however, include the earlier stages of concept formation
For the final assignment you must, dependent on the track chosen,
deliver any one of the following products.
As indicated between brackets, each of the products
favors a particular mode of interaction.
- web site -- e.g. conference, campain (browse)
- 2D/3D animation -- promotion/ad (temporal sequence)
- virtual space -- game/infotainment (navigate)
- ebook -- story (sequential experience)
portfolio -- design as a product:
Regardless of which specific assignment you have chosen,
the results of the process of design must be collected in
portfolio -- design as a product
Note, that the portfolio itself must be regarded as a product
- sketches & explorations
- finalized products
- evaluation & reflection
themes and variations:
For the assignments and exercises you should select a theme,
which may also determine the range of possible end-products.
As themes, we suggest:
themes and variations
- design a house style for ...
- non-linear visual storytelling
- game design -- style, content and effects
But even within one theme, such as game design,
there are several options, dependent on the track your
are most comfortable with.
- style -- develop concept, plot and visual assets for a game of choice
- content -- develop environments, models and animations for a game of choice
- effects -- develop models, textures and special effects (shaders) for a game of choice
To learn any craft, you must generally acquire some basic skills.
assignments -- basic exercises
Although more detailed assignments will be given later,
as basic exercises you may think of the following:
assignments -- basic exercises
- text-only logo -- 3D text
- story plot -- with sketches
- visual workshop -- experiment with graphic features
To assist you in developing a portfolio, you
some templates, that serve as a model
when creating your portfolio.
- portfolio page -- content & layout
- visual labs -- text, images, movies
- tech lab -- shaders, models, ...
The first requirement when working in an area such as visual design
is that you acquire sufficient self-discipline to find
the challenge in the assignments and to complete the tasks involved.
To ensure that the course runs in an acceptable way,
we have to impose some strict rules.
At the risk of stating the obvious, please show respect
to the guest-speakers.
They are experts in their own field, although they may not be
as computer-wise as some of you.
- be present -- 2 omissions max.
- be in time -- hard deadlines
- be online -- have your portfolio available
- be creative -- don't steal without a reason/mentioning
- be smart -- there is no 2nd chance
Design is an interesting field, full of implicit
(not always so obvious) wisdom
and apparent paradoxes.
- if you cannot make it, fake it
- you may (have to) reverse engineer your design
- deliver -- silence is lethal
- be authentic -- but only if possible
And of course, in a time in which so much information is availbale
as in ours, a statement like the following cannot be omitted.
... postmodern design is of a highly reflective
nature ... appropriating design of the past ...
in other words, sampling is allowed but no plagianarism
When working on your favorite theme, within the track of you choice,
it is well worth reflecting on what you are doing,
and perhaps ask yourselves why ....
So, do some additional reading and write an essay (up to 5 pages)
addressing on of the topics suggested below.
Or, if you think of a better topic, try to get it
approved by your supervisor.
- 2D vs 3D aesthetics
- animation -- stills, sequences and stories
- elements of style -- diversity and confluence
You also need to acquire and exercise some critical skills.
So you will be invited to perform a peer review,
that is a critical assessment
of your collegues' work.
You will also be asked for a self-assessment!
- creativity, productivity, quality
- David Dabner, Design and Layout: Understanding and Using Graphics, Quarto Publishing Inc.
- Simon Danaher, Digital 3D Design, Thomson 2004
- David Santiago Creating 3D Effects for Film, TV and Games, Thomson 2005
A. Eliëns (nov 2004)