A Note about Technology in my Course

This semester, I’ll be asking you to learn to use technologies that may be new to you. This course is obviously not taught entirely in Blackboard. There is a specific reason for that: I believe in helping my students build “interface literacy” which is a skill that you will need in the professional world, regardless of your major. If you find this uncomfortable, you may need to chat with me about other courses you can take that are not as technologically demanding.  


This week is largely about getting to know the digital spaces where this course will be taking place. You’ll notice that you only have access to this week’s lesson…I will open up each week as we go along. Each week will look similar to this one. Pay attention to the assignments at the bottom. They are due on the deadline  at midnight.

Learning Objectives

  1. Set up a Pinterest account (if you don’t already have one)  and  
  2. Get an Adobe Creative Cloud account (use the “free trial” first and then the total cost for the semester should only be around $40).
  3. Practice submitting assignments in Google Classroom.
  4. Introduce yourself in Slack  in the #common-area channel and get to know the other students in this course. We will be using this chat space to do most of our talking this semester, so get comfortable with it.  Please use your @alaska.edu account when signing up for Slack!

 Some  Advice:

  • Download the Adobe Creative Cloud mobile apps if you have a mobile device. These apps are pretty easy to use and can make homework a little easier if you’re not always at your computer.
  • Get yourself a Wacom Intuous drawing and graphics tablet if you’re serious about art (this is not required). The students who were able to purchase this had a much easier time than those who were working solely with a mouse. They’re relatively cheap ($80) and you’ll be glad you have it. Personally, I invested in an iPad Pro a few years ago and have loved every minute of it, but I know that’s out of the price range of most students.
  • Ask me questions. I’m a real artist and a real person who lives in Fairbanks and works on the UAF campus. It’s easy to contact me and I’m happy to meet with you on campus if you need one-on-one assistance with any of the Adobe products. I’m happy to meet with you via Google Hangouts or other video-chat if you don’t live here or can’t get to campus.
*Note: I’ve done my best to update things for this semester, but if you notice anything odd that seems to refer to last semester, please let me know.

A photo of me at a solo exhibit at Well Street Art Co. in Fairbanks, AK. August, 2017.


Each week, I’ll provide instructional videos. WATCH THEM.

Watch the Adobe  Creative Cloud channel’s videos on getting started in Photoshop if you’ve never worked with it before. Other resources for learning how to use Photoshop are below.

KQED Arts’ “Elements of Art”

These videos are pretty amazing. Watch all 7 in the series to really get a jump start of fundamental design principles.


Each week I’ll provide a number of things for you to read that will help you understand certain fundamentals in 2D design. But we’re starting off easy this week, so I’ve provided a series of infographics that will help you understand the different kinds of filetypes we’ll be working with. I’ve also included a PDF that covers basic concepts in 2D design.

Click on the “+” icon for each of the titles below to see the large infographic. Make sure you understand what the differences are between, for example, an .svg file and a .png. You also need to know the difference between vector and raster graphics.

Principles of Design

Via the J. Paul Getty Museum. This is a downloadable PDF. I’ve included the content below as well.


Principles of Design

“The principles of design describe the ways that artists use the elements of art in a work of art.

Balance is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, texture, and space.  If the design was a scale, these elements should be balanced to make a design feel  stable. In symmetrical balance, the elements used on one side of the design are  similar to those on the other side; in asymmetrical balance, the sides are different  but still look balanced. In radial balance, the elements are arranged around a central  point and may be similar.

Emphasis is the part of the design that catches the viewer’s attention. Usually the  artist will make one area stand out by contrasting it with other areas. The area could  be different in size, color, texture, shape, etc.

Movement is the path the viewer’s eye takes through the work of art, often to focal  areas. Such movement can be directed along lines, edges, shape, and color within the  work of art.

Pattern is the repeating of an object or symbol all over the work of art.

Repetition works with pattern to make the work of art seem active. The repetition  of elements of design creates unity within the work of art.

Proportion is the feeling of unity created when all parts (sizes, amounts, or number)  relate well with each other. When drawing the human figure, proportion can refer  to the size of the head compared to the rest of the body.

Rhythm is created when one or more elements of design are used repeatedly to  create a feeling of organized movement. Rhythm creates a mood like music or  dancing. To keep rhythm exciting and active, variety is essential.

Variety is the use of several elements of design to hold the viewer’s attention and  to guide the viewer’s eye through and around the work of art.

Unity is the feeling of harmony between all parts of the work of art, which creates  a sense of completeness.”

via The J. Paul Getty Museum  at the Getty Center

Filetypes via Designmantic
Filetypes via Igniting Business
filetype infographic
Filetypes via Buttercup Ink
Filetypes via Design Contest
Two Slideshows on Design Principles

These slideshows cover the basic principles of design using images to illustrate concepts.


Each week, there are three kinds of assignments you should turn in: 1) A Pinterest Board, 2) An Emulate & Create Submission, and 3) Slack Contributions.

1: Submit Your Pinterest Link

Each week you’ll create a Pinterest Board and identify at least 20 images that exemplify the concept being covered that week. It’s important that you’re able to find images that exemplify certain 2D design concepts. You must link to the original source (as original as you can find) for each pin and you should provide context and an explanation of why you think each image is illustrative of that week’s concept. Put this explanation in the notes field of each pin. 1-2 sentences will suffice. The original artist must be identified.

⊕ For this week, create a Pinterest account and then a Board called “Inspiration” and add 20 images to that board using the guidelines above. Add your link to the submission form below.

See my Pinterest board on “Figure and Ground” for an example:  https://www.pinterest.com/madaramason/figure-and-ground/.

2: Emulate and Create

A: Emulate

Each week you’ll be copying (emulating) other artists. It’s important that you begin to develop both an understanding of other artists’ processes as well as your own and how to distinguish between the two. Copying other artists is a time-honored tradition. These exercises will be referred to as  “Emulations” and you should  always  credit the original artist.

For this week, find an artist whose work  you enjoy and do a quick sketch of the work either in Photoshop, Illustrator (if you know how to use them already) or on paper and then photograph the sketch. This sketch doesn’t have to be “good” I’m really just testing your ability to upload the images.


B. Create

Create your own artwork as a digital piece or on traditional paper media and upload the image  using the form below.

To the right  is a digital drawing I did as an example of the Emulate assignment using the iPad Pro and an app called Procreate. The bull is taken directly from a drawing by Picasso that I traced in order to better understand how he does what he does.

3: Share and Discuss in Slack

Head to Slack and make sure you’ve engaged in meaningful discussion. This week, you should add a personal introduction to the channel called #common-area.

Expectations: Just get into Slack and talk about art! Share images, links, and anything else you find interesting! Talk to your fellow students.  


An "Emulate" Example

Picasso’s original drawing.
My version of the drawing.