9. Foundation 2D Design

Taught Twice
University of Cincinnati
Fall 2016 / Fall 2017

This course focused on the study and application of the principles of two-dimensional design. Students are introduced to the compositional field and compositional practice, figure/ground relationships, scalar and proportional shifts, pattern and texture, value, color theory, typography, spatial illusion, narrative sequence and visual complexity. The design program at DAAP requires that all first year design students experience the same foundational curriculum for their first semester. I was a part of collaboratively building a new 2D and 3D foundations curriculum that was launch in the Fall of 2016.

The Color Wheel Reimagined:
A core tenant of any 2D design curriculum is the study of color theory. This unit required the students to work in teams to conduct a research project on a formative color theorist from which they then designed a color wheel based on their theories. The format and presentation of the color wheel was not limited to the convetional representation of “the wheel”. Students were asked to think outside the box and to create an interesting visual experience with the color spectrum.

Design Squares:
The design squares project introduced the student to looking at an object for its aesthetic components and not its use value. Students took a palm sized object and created over 300 1”x1” drawings based on the design priniciples like symmetry or rhythm. From there the student went through a process of selecting, scaling up and evolving their drawings until they landed at 9 final designs that were bound into a final booklet. 

Pattern Development:
Students were put into groups where they reviewed their final 9 design squares collectively. As a group they selected their strongest designs and found ways to collage, manipulate and combine them to result in a final pattern. The patterns arranged onto a poster and printed on the school plotter which taught them digital formatting and print scaling. An extra divergence I created for this project was a trip to the thrift store where students selected objects which they would lino block print their pattern onto. The students then conducted a small scale photoshoot documenting their pattern at play in a 3D format.

Assessing Value:
The value project was designed to introduce the process of painting a scale from black to white consistently and accurately. Once they mastered their scale the student took a photograph from their photographic archive project and translated the photograph into 4 digital distortions and 4 painted distortions. The process of distorting a complex and detailed photograph taught the student the process of simplification in design. Students selected one of their four mini sketches from each process and evolved their image into a final large painting and a final large digital print. 
DIY Zine:
I developed the zine project in my 2D courses as a way to wrap up the semester long photographic archive project. Each week the students were asked to take a daily photograph based on a weekly theme. At the end of the semester I had the students select their favorite photographs from their archive and combine them with photographs and graphics from their various projects throughout the semester. They eventually were introduced to Adobe InDesign where they created a layout for an independent magaZINE. A final Zine show was organized at a local venue called the Mockbee where local artists and designers showcased their work alongisde the student work. 

Teaching Reflections: Teaching this course was cathartic as my own personal experience in design foundations felt more like hazing. Helping shift the curriculum to be more process oriented felt radical and future oriented. There was an emphasis on teaching students to learn how to think more than teaching them how to make. While making and craft are hugely important, students who have no critical thinking skills will contribute to the wasteful nature of the design industry. 

Foundation 2D Design Syllabus