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VCD Theory and SAT Design Process

Design Process.

Part 2.

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Caution

How to manage your design journey

How designers work

The following stages are in Design Process Part 1.

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Design thinking

Design thinking is a term given to kinds of thinking that are used to stimulate, consider and evaluate design  and decisions. This section will examine how design thinking is embedded in each stage of the design process.

The role of creative, critical and reflective thinking in the design process

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Introduction

Take a look at the animation at left. This is a short, visual look at what happens in the Design Process, from an initial idea through to the production of a final presentation.

The animation also contains some blue circles. These show how three kinds of design thinking called Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking and Reflective Thinking are used at each stage of the design process to drive creativity, evaluate design decisions and reflect on a designer's journey.

As practitioners working within the Design Process we are expected to understand the role of Design Thinking and incorporate it at each stage of our work.

Some examples of how Design Thinking is incorporated into each phase of the Design Process are shown below.

Branch out

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Click the image above to visit my page on Design Thinking and find out what kind of thinking is used in the Design Process.

Brief

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Critical and reflective

Critical and Reflective Thinking strategies are used to

  • Identify and describe a client and analyse the scope, breadth of and the nature of their business.
  • Clarify a design problem by identifying and describing one (or two) communication needs
  • Elaborate on the communication needs by identifying and describing
    • the target audience
    • the purpose
    • the context
    • relevant constraints that apply and content that is required for the communication need. Expectations for how the solution to the communication need should be formed
    • The proposed presentation format for submission

Research

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Creative, critical and reflective

Creative, Critical and Reflective Thinking strategies are used to

  • guide investigation around a expanding on a communication need
  • analyse and evaluate information
  • sort and classify information to direct the Design Process with relevance to the brief
  • synthesise ideas and key features of designs
  • reflect on how similar design problems may have been or have not been solved successfully by others
  • predict the challenges that might lie ahead of us and what might need to be done to solve them

Annotations

  • Identify the kinds of research being undertaken
  • Identify, describe, analyse and evaluate research including;
    • aesthetic and functional qualities and considerations
    • effectiveness in engaging and maintaining the interest of the target audience
    • effectiveness in their present role including purpose and context
    • relationships with environmental, technological, economic, social, historical, stylistic factors that shape design
    • how they may contribute to the development of ideas for the present communication need
  • Link areas of research
  • Structure, sort and categorise research
  • Suggest and direct further exploration
  • Explain synthesis made
  • Link observational drawing with research
  • Reference all content observing trademark, copyright and legal obligations.

Generation of ideas

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Critical

Critical Thinking helps synthesise research material by incorporating, combining, eliminating, changing and/ or adapting key features of existing designs.

Creative

Creative Thinking helps stimulate a wide range of approaches to visualising new ideas.

Creative thinking strategies are also used to re-invigorate or broaden the process of visualising divergently.

Reflective

Reflective Thinking enables the

  • identification of features
  • discussion of how they may/ may not contribute to the design journey
  • evaluation of ideas as potential for meeting the needs in the brief.

Annotations

  • Describe, analyse, evaluate and reflect on ideas in relation to the brief
  • Direct the Design Process by sign posting and road-mapping further exploration
  • Identify Design Thinking strategies used
  • Explain connections between ideas and concepts and research
  • Journal the Design Process

Development of concepts

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Creative

Creative Thinking is used to drive further innovation directed at satisfying a communication need at deeper levels than that required during Generation of Ideas.

Critical

Critical Thinking routines are used as mechanisms from which useful feed back can be gained to support the evaluation of designs made. It also supports synthesis between ideas and key features of concepts by sparking innovative hybrid ideas that may satisfy a communication need more efficiently.

Reflective

Reflective Thinking used to

  • consider the suitability of concepts from a variety of perspectives
  • as a framework to progressively record the analysis and justification of design decisions leading to the selection of preferred concepts for Refinement
  • to frame reflection on the use of the Design Process in a design journey and evaluate progress during various phases of development
  • to consider and expand on feedback leading to the improvement of design concepts.

Annotations

  • Describe, analyse, evaluate and reflect on the development of concepts in relation to the brief
  • Link areas of development and synthesis
  • Document thinking from different perspectives
  • Explain and justify design decisions using design elements and principles and other terminology
  • Gather evidence to support and reject concepts
  • Document and provide reasons for selection of preferred concepts in relation to the brief
  • Identify Design Thinking strategies used
  • Journal and evaluate the use of the Design Process
  • Reference all content observing trademark, copyright and legal obligations.

Refinement

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Creative and critical

Creative and Critical Thinking are used in similar ways to those used for Development of Concepts, however, the orientation of thinking is altered as the Refinement phase is one of convergent thinking.

Reflective

Reflective Thinking drives the process of describing, evaluating and justifying design decisions against the communication needs identified in the brief.

Annotations

  • Describe, analyse, evaluate and reflect on the refinement in relation to the brief
  • Link areas of refinement and synthesis
  • Document thinking from different perspectives
  • Explain and justify design decisions using design elements and principles and other terminology
  • Reflect on refinement of concepts in relation to the brief
  • Document and provide reasons for selection of preferred concepts in relation to the brief
  • Identify Design Thinking strategies used
  • Document methods of testing prototypes and mock-ups
  • Journal and evaluate the use of the Design Process
  • Reference all content observing trademark, copyright and legal obligations.

Resolution of presentations

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Reflective

Reflective Thinking is used to consider and evaluate feedback received during and after the presentation of mock ups to a client. Reflection is required to determine necessary changes that need to be made to refined concepts prior to the Resolution of Presentations.

These reflections will be identified and described in detailed written annotations.

Critical

When producing final presentations Critical Thinking is used to consider, evaluate and ensure the maintenance of

  • innovation
  • technical expertise
  • ways of gaining attention and maintaining engagement of the target audience
  • relevant technical, layout and/ or typographic conventions
  • the purpose
  • the context
  • constraints and expectations
  • the proposed presentation formats chosen for the visual communication
  • relationships between visual communications where more than one are being produced

Annotations

  • Reflect on and synthesise feedback received from testing prototypes and mock-ups
  • Describe, analyse, evaluate and reflect on prototypes and mock-ups in relation to the brief and presentation format
  • Document and expand on further development required to satisfy the communication need in relation to the brief
  • Describe and explain the design and construction of presentation formats
  • Explain and justify design decisions using design elements, principles and conventions
  • Explain links between presentation formats
  • Identify Design Thinking strategies used
  • Journal and evaluate the use of the Design Process
  • Reference all content observing trademark, copyright and legal obligations.
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Development of concepts.

Select at least two concepts from all your ideas. Develop each concept.

Improving ideas

The Development phase is where the thinking begins to narrow and converge towards a solution to the problem in the brief. However, don’t be in too much of a rush, for in Development, divergent and convergent thinking exist together. Divergent thinking is used as concepts are improved in more detail and at a greater resolution. However, convergent thinking is also called upon as your emphasis moves to finding more successful ideas, more suited to the purpose, context and presentation formats required.

Development of Concepts is where loose, broad and generic ideas are selected and translated into functioning concepts describing how a problem could be solved.

Development of selected concept

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Catriona Thompson, 2016.

Iterate again?

You may need further knowledge to push ideas beyond line drawings. How do I use a 3d printer? What kind of file does it take? How do I light a subject for a photo? How do I do a dry point etching? These may become relevant questions. Just as a designer will consult industry specialists like a printer, you may need to undertake further research. Development of Concepts is the phase for experimentation and learning skills and techniques in order to realise ideas.

How do I develop concepts?

Two ways to approach development of concepts are to trial and experiment with the elements and principles of design and to trail different materials, methods and media. The nature of these trials are specific to the field of design in which one is working.

Communication design

Develop elements and principles of design

Trials can be made so that individual elements and principles of design are emphasized. For example, line, shape, tone or texture can be used exclusively in an illustration. Add to that, variations in contrast, figure-ground, symmetrical and asymmetrical balance accordingly to best suit the purpose and context in the brief and you will have much that can be evaluated with critical thinking.

Variations in layout from the use of a symmetrical grid to a more dynamic counterbalanced layout will also provide opportunities to develop communication design.

Elements and principles

Game logo
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Navishka Fernando, 2016.
Poster design
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Navishka Fernando, 2016.

Develop materials, method, media, styles and conventions

Variations in the media used in drawings will also lead to myriad results. Whilst it is natural to fight against the roughness of a chalk pastel when trying to colour in a logo neatly, consider just going with it. What great textures it brings! Then start on lino-cut printing, scraper board, screen-printing and mono-printing for example.

Borrow conventions from other fields of design. Research signs, vintage posters or chemical labels. Apply them to your designs for further development where relevant.

Scanned manual work

Manual to digital methods
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Navishka Fernando, 2016.
Manual rubbings, collage
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Monique Pretto, 2008.

Industrial and Environmental Design

Develop elements and principles of design

Trials in the elements and principles of design is made in real and depicted three-dimensions. In illustrations, designs can be developed with the application of tone, texture, pattern, line, shape, contrast as well as variation of weight through balance, scale and proportion. In actual three-dimensional models, similar developments are possible with the variation in scale, balance and proportions of actual form, transparency, opacity, shape and void. Again, this yields much for evaluation and reflection.

Elements, principles, materials, methods

Sketch isometric
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Tori Salvaggio, 2014.
Rough model making
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Kieran Roberts, 2010.

Develop materials, method, media, styles and conventions

Whilst model making is shaped by the materials used, development in three-dimensional illustrations is effective through trialing in various methods. From casual freehand sketching, one and two-point perspective, through isometric and planometric to simple CAD constructions in TinkerCAD or SketchUp, each of these methods lends specific modes of communication that can be applied according to the purpose and audience in the brief.

Industrial and Environmental Design will invariably require two-dimensional depictions of form in Third-Angle Orthogonal or Plans and Elevations at scale. Further research will be required to determine relevant page sizes, formats, scale and conventions relevant to the field.

The objective of Development of Concepts

The end point of this phase is for students to have arrived at a preferred concept. However, this is not to be seen as a completed design.

The final stage of the Development of Concepts use of considered Critical and Reflective thinking to analyse and evaluate the student’s developed concepts against the requirements of the brief. There are a range of formal critical thinking tools such as POOCH, SWOT and DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats, where judgements from different perspectives are made (see my page on Design Thinking for further explanations). These are frameworks for evaluation of designs that provide structure and take the load of personal criticism of ones’ work. Annotations are written that describe the process of selection of preferred concepts, rejection of those that may not meet the requirements of the brief, how concepts could be enhanced further and with what modification may be required.

Annotating development of concepts

Press the image link at right to jump back up to annotations for this stage of the Design Process.

tasks

Development of concepts
Try it out

Use any of the processes described above as guides to develop your concepts.

Use Creative Thinking strategies
There are also many cool strategies to use for Development of Concepts shown on my page on Creative Thinking. Visit the page, Google strategies for further information then try them out.
Create rules of for creativity
In the end, in a similar way to Generation of Ideas, rules regarding time and approach to design need to be applied. Use them diligently as strict frameworks control design well.
Critical and reflective thinking
Refer to the guidelines above on Critical and Reflective thinking tasks to arrive at and document a preferred concept before heading into the Refinement stage of the Design Process.
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Refinement.

Polish one preferred concept ready for evaluation by your client.

Continual improvement

Refinement means to distill and remove impurities. This means students will make their preferred concept more sophisticated, hone the use of techniques and materials, and fine tune the use of selected elements and principles of design. The purpose of Refinement is for a student to have created a real size and/ or displayable mock-up of the presentation for consideration of the client (or designers’ peer group). The process of refinement varies markedly depending on the kind of presentation format required and the field of design the communication need is within.

Refinement of selected concept

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Catriona Thompson, 2016.

Communication design

Refinement of two-dimensional presentations involves an ongoing circular process beginning with on screen composition, making adjustments, printing, display in simulated context, evaluation and making further adjustments. Although the text, image, colour and motif content is set following evaluation at the conclusion of the Development of Concepts, Refinement will involve countless adjustments to the size and positions of visual elements when printed mock ups are tested in realistic locations. Print trial versions of large designs scaled to fit available printer sheet size to evaluate visual composition, hierarchy, balance, proportion, etc., but also print cropped areas of large format works at full scale on smaller sheets to pin them on a wall and evaluate type sizes for readability at a range of distances.

Print and construct full scale versions of packaging nets to test and evaluate the function of tabs and cut outs. Print mockups of logos and labels and apply to a variety of virtual and/ or real articles for evaluation in realistic contexts. Photograph your work to record the process of evaluation.

A variety of approaches

Drink coaster

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Monique Pretto, 2008.

Game logo design

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Navishka Fernando, 2016.

Industrial and Environmental Design

Designs within the fields of Industrial or Environmental design may be presented via two or three-dimensional presentations. Examples of two-dimensional presentation formats are technical drawings and pictorial representations like rendered isometric, planometric and perspective projections. Examples of three-dimensional presentation formats include models of buildings and full-scale prototypes of household appliances and hand-held tools and devices.

Refinement of three-dimensional design work is a two-stage process. First of all, real and genuine refinement should be effected on the form and surface of the object, the building, landscape or piece of industrial design. Students must be prepared to look critically at form, even when it has passed the Development of Concepts stage and subject it to rigorous refinement as one might expect do to two-dimensional designs like a ticket or poster. Refinement of industrial and environmental designs can be made in three-dimensional, two-dimensional or virtual workspaces.

Secondly the proposed presentation format requires development, refinement and evaluation. Where a student has elected three-dimensional presentation formats including models, refinement means making and adjusting physical models and/ or 3d prototype prints at full or reduced scales. A material like form-core is great for building models that explore form and volume quickly.

Where two-dimensional presentation formats are chosen as deliverables, development and refinement of technical drawings and illustrations take place. Given that the form of the industrial or environmental design is complete, refinement of technical drawings include adherence to standards and conventions. Refinement of illustrations include the manipulation of methods, materials and media and the elements of design including tone, form, light and shade.

A variety of approaches

Skateboard deck

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Lisa Peric, 2012.

Cafe interior

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Kate Gaylor, 2014.

The objective of Refinement

The objective of the Refinement stage is for students to have mockups emulating the proposed presentation formats that can be shown to the client and/ or anticipated target audience. These mockups form the basis for critical and reflective evaluation on a personal level, in a group tutorial format and/ or focus group form like the pitch required for the SAT in Visual Communication Design. When shown in a group evaluation the designer will usually be required to accompany their designs with a pro-forma or online survey where real or simulated members of the target audience and/ or the client can enter evaluations and rate them quantitively against criteria derived from components of the brief.

Annotating refinement

Press the image link at right to jump back up to annotations for this stage of the Design Process.

tasks

Refinement
Make it real
Get to work bringing presentation formats to life. Follow the steps shown above, noting the differences in expectations for refinement of Communication and Industrial and Environmental design.
Critical and reflective thinking

Refer to my page on Design Thinking for approaches to reflection and evaluation of design work. Ensure that the testing and evaluation of presentation formats post-refinement is fully documented showing;

  • the results of audience or focus group feedback
  • your reflection on opinions and advice
  • a justification of how the feedback can be incorporated into the resolution of final presentations.

Furthermore, if your brief included options for proposed presentation formats for consideration as the design process evolved, a final determination of the actual presentation format chosen for submission to the client (and for assessment) is made and documented during the evaluation of the Refinement or Pitch stage of the Design Process.

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Resolution of presentations.

The last stage of the Design Process is the construction and display of your completed concept.

At long last

The Resolutions of Presentation formats is when the deliverables promised in the brief are created for real. The first component of this phase is to ensure that feedback regarding the suitability of refined design concepts received as a result of focus groups and personal reflection, are fully analysed, documented and actioned. This may take considerable time, depending on the kind of changes required.

The second phase it to construct your final presentations. Similarly to the advice given for the Refinement stage above, guidelines for this stage will be approached separately for two and three-dimensional design.

Client presentation board

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Deborah Nguyen, 2019.

Two-dimensional presentation formats

Two-dimensional presentation formats such as a corporate identity package presented on a client presentation board, technical drawings, renderings and illustrations require some kind of ‘in-house studio’ presentation style to be created. This refers to the design of an effective layout, often with informative yet unobtrusive captions placed beside the components of the group of designs, to identify and explain their function within the suite of designs.

A mini design process is essential, including some Research of the presentation of identity packages sometimes called ‘flat lays’, Generation of Ideas considering a variety of grid layouts and the Development of typography and captions suitable for the presentation at a large format page size. Ensure that components of client presentations are aligned carefully. Drop shadows may also be used to enhance elements making them appear to float above the ground. In keeping with the advice given in the Refinement stage above, students should print both scaled versions of their final presentations to evaluate hierarchy and balance and cropped sections at  full scale, to ensure that type sizes, weights and colours are appropriate for the purposes in each section of the presentation.

A helpful tip for the selection of type on client presentations is to refrain from using decorative type forms or the same kind of type as used on the presentations themselves. Captions and descriptions should be restricted to a relatively neutral type form that allows the type used in presentations to stand forward, as it is these components that should be noticed. Similarly backgrounds, bands and logos that identify the designer will also be placed, sized and coloured so as to support, not dominate the presentation. Remember, an in-house studio presentation style does is not reflective of the style of the actual presentation, as a studio uses their in-house style from job to job, client to client. It is a generic, supportive style that can be used on any work.

Presentations including posters, pamphlets, books, record covers and packaging can be mocked-up for real. Just as the design of presentations applies in this stage, as described above, the choice of paper stock, colour and its surface need careful consideration. Papers need to be trialed, presentations need to be exported to PDF, often with printer’s and cut marks in place so papers can be trimmed to reveal a bleed where necessary, prior to assembly or binding. Methods of display stands and labelling are designed and constructed with an eye for both physically supporting brochures and similar presentations and visually accenting presentations.

Digital presentations like websites, motion graphics and animated logos need consideration for how they will be presented. Appropriate computer applications and displays need to be obtained and set up exclusively so as to enhance the presentations.

Annotating resolution of presentations

Press the image link at right to jump back up to annotations for this stage of the Design Process.

Communication design presentation formats

Corporate identity presentation
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Catriona Thompson, 2016.
Cosmetic promotion poster
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Catriona Thompson, 2016.
Game design cover and poster
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Navishka Fernando, 2016.
Game vehicle design
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Navishka Fernando, 2016.
Music covers
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Alana Lacy, 2019.
App design
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Deborah Nguyen, 2019.

Three-dimensional presentation formats

Students should have a firm hand on the materials and methods of construction that will be used for resolved three-dimensional presentations well before they enter this phase of the Design Process. In most cases Resolution of Presentations for Industrial and Environmental design essentially involve the construction of the model or prototype. However, consideration needs to be given to the method of display and labelling of a three-dimensional presentation. Sensitivity is required for the surface and colour of supporting materials and type forms for labels. Some testing may be required to ensure the strength of supports for models.

At present, images below show two dimensional presentations from these design fields.

Industrial design presentation formats

Make up container and dispenser
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Alyssa Chau, 2019.
Hospital Bed concept presentation
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Tori Salvaggio, 2014.

Environmental design presentation formats

Image coming
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Credit coming.
 

Authentication

One word of caution for students working in this phase of the design process is that they must be mindful that when they are using support from others like commercial printing, binding, 3D printing, web design, CAD or any other specialists in their process it is the student that must be able to demonstrate creative control and direction over the process. Therefore the consideration of the selection of stock, printing and binding methods for example need to be documented and evidence placed within the folio prior to submission of work for assessment.

tasks

Resolution of presentations
Critical and reflective thinking

Using Critical and Reflective thinking, consider feedback received in focus groups and personal reflection about the refined presentations you presented for evaluation. Re-check the brief to ensure that evaluation is to target.

Update documentation
Document adjustments that should be made to designs as they are resolved for presentation.
Design client presentations
Design final presentations, setting out and recording and additional research, planning and development in photos, sketches and written annotations.

Seek specialist help where needed

Test materials, construction and print methods, obtain assistance from specialists where necessary recording the role of people assisting. Ensure that you also document evidence to show that design decisions were made by you.
Final resolution

Construct presentations.

Construct display supports for presentations.

Test presentations in real or simulated contexts.

Label presentations appropriately for assessment.