Welcome to DSP

Hello students of DSP. It is very nice to be teaching ART201 again, the course I initially designed for the Visual Communications (Design) program. Since that time, DSP has been added to the foundation skill-sets in which all Art majors are expected to be proficient. We will be covering a ton of information about design (elements and principles), software (the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of software, html and possibly tickling some initial 2D animation) and a range of creative process that will help designers and artists to find and pin down that creative muse.

It will seem overwhelming and daunting, but don’t freak out. We will get over the learning curve and you will soon be producing art and design work using your newly acquired super-powers.  Use them only for good.

Read the next few posts (both from January 2018 – don’t worry about any of the posts from last spring 2017). See you in a couple of weeks.


Hardware and software

As you are subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud… here are some things to be aware of. The Adobe software is memory, processor, and storage intensive. If your computer only has 4GB of Random Access Memory (RAM), you are going to have problems. 8GB is minimum and 16 – 32 GB is better. For storage (Hard Drive space), you will need at least 500GB if not 1TB.

Backing is a major issue you need to address from the start. Are you going to back up your computer/files to an external hard drive or to a Cloud drive. If you are backing up to an external drive you will need a 1TB or bigger drive. Backing up to the Cloud is a matter of how much space you buy with whatever supplier (Google, Amazon, iCloud, etc…). Do something to protect the files you create.

Working with the Adobe software on under-equipped hardware is very slow and frustrating. So, upgrade existing hardware or buy new hardware, souped up to run this design-based, memory, storage and processor hungry software.

Make a blog

Here is a little project you can do over the holiday break… make a blog to use in this class. You can use any blogging platform you want – wordpress.com, blogger.com, wix.com, typepad.com, etc… Just send me the link to your blog when you get it built, so I can add it to the class blog.

First assignment

OK, Get subscribed to lynda.com. You can do the monthly subscription (not the annual – unless you really like Lynda and plan to use it beyond this class). I just checked, You get 30 day free trial to Lynda.com, I don’t see any discounts for students on the site.

You are going to begin watching the essential training videos for Adobe CC Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. I want you to get into each video far enough to familiarize yourself with the three different (yet very similar) work space interfaces. I find having the software open and doing the things going on in the video while it plays is useful. I stop and rewind quite a bit too. But, everybody works/learns differently.

There are only five computers in the lab, so get subscribed to Adobe CC too and get it installed on your computers and bring them to class to work on (or you can also after the demos, go into OP1210 Beta Computer lab and work there – if/when I cut you loose).

If you are getting frustrated and/or overwhelmed at any point during the semester, please feel free to stop by and talk. My door is always open and there is a ton of information to cram into our noggins and the potential for getting frustrated is high. I know, I’ve been there and done that.

New Assignment: Putting it all together

So you new assignment, and probably the one you will work on until the end of the semester is…

You are going to tell a story. Make one up or re-imagine an old story. Something simple though. Maybe a fairy tale, or a nursery rhyme. Pick your poison.


  • 12 page “booklet” design, four-color, full-bleed, saddle-stitched. The story happens in 8 to 10 pages
  • 12 page storybook website: retask your print design into a website – 12 pages (hyperlinks, yeah)
  • 30 second animation (Adobe Animate or Photoshop Cell-frame)

You can use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to create the assets to correspond with your text in the story. You must include a photograph of yourself as the designer, illustrator and/or author.


  • April 19: Story determined with rough storyboard or a rough “dummy” of the booklet (roughly sketched out ideas of the imagery needed in the story)
  • April 28: Mid-assignment critique: all components
  • May 5: Booklet and Website due
  • May 8 (Final): Animation due – we’ll watch them in class.

This is a big assignment, but you have developed the skills this semester to pull it off… if you keep it simple, focus on the story and if you utilize design (Big D design and little d Design) to solve the problems. We have roughly four weeks to accomplish these three devices (print, web and animation).

You should have questions tomorrow about this assignment.

Adobe Animate

Here is the post about getting up to speed with Adobe Animate. Watch the essential training videos on Lynda.com or there are plenty of beginner videos on Youtube. To recap what I was talking about this morning… Animate used to be called Flash, in fact, it still saves the animations using the native file format of .fla and still does the .swf files to upload/use/embed in your websites.

Animate is a vector-based, frame-based animation/motion software. This is different than the raster-based, time-based software like Adobe AfterEffects. Animate produces nicely sized web-friendly motion graphics and animations as long as it isn’t loaded down with a lot of raster images/video. It is also capable of integrating sound (which I haven’t talked about yet).  You already have vector skills in creating objects/graphics from the assignments in Adobe Illustrator, so those skills are transferable to Animate.

So, your assignment after you get up to speed watching the training videos, learning how to make a key frames and how to tween, is to animate 30 seconds (using an audio clip – music or narration – this means you also need to watch some training video of how to integrate audio files into an animation) of motion using two contrasting words/concept… ie: Black/White, Up/Down, In/Out, Hot/Cold, etc… pick your poison. The key to this assignment is to be creative using fundamental features of the software. Animate will be capable of doing much more than you have the knowledge to do, but the trick for you is to do something very basic in a creative manner.

I’m thinking of a tentative deadline for your animation being completed by Friday, April 14th. I’ll check with you on Weds. to see if you have any questions. Get started.