Extract dominant colour

Image: Vaunt

It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to accessorise your latest outfit, decorate your home, create a stunning PowerPoint, an impressive visual presentation, rejig your website or create an appealing app, attention to colour is an essential skill in a visually oriented world where we are looking at everything all the time. Some people have always had a natural colour sense. The rest of us can now use tools to help create a finished product which is visually cohesive and has impact. You do that by extracting the dominant colours of an image and then matching the additional elements to that colour palette. It is easily coded and so there are apps and online sites which will help you keep your sense of colour together and aid you to create web pages, projects, posts and videos which have an intrinsic sense of colour balance. You can also use it to play with colour to get more interesting visual effects.

Vaunt is a free app which will give you plenty of dominant colour extraction options. It is as simple as dropping the image into the box and then trialling the options until you get what you prefer. There are two other quick and easy online sites for doing this as well but without the extractions options: Color Thief and Vibrant.


Assembly app

Techgen has created a pretty good review of the Assembly app and the video goes through the key points of using it. I have been using it on my iPad and haven’t, as yet, encountered the problems he had on his phone. I can manage the shape choices across the bottom bar of my iPad Air quite well . What I can’t do is find out how to put in my own backgrounds as he did . There doesn’t seem to be an option for that. Maybe it comes with the subscription to Assembly Pro.

assembly app

Yesterday’s image

I am running the free version and have plenty to be working with and the shape packages are now all free. You can easily download them as you want them. I run it with the snap to grid functionality because it creates very precise placement and image manipulation. It is easy to change the colours and add text and to bring pictures forward or put hem to the back. It is an app which fits in well with the ACARA Digital Technologies curriculum requirements because students can learn how to manipulate objects, how to apply graphic design ideas , how to collaborate and how digital systems work to create meaning. It’s a great app for creating logos, simple designs and not so simple designs when you get good at it. There are tutorials on You Tube and the Assembly app site itself points you in the right direction. Currently it’s an iOS app. There is a review of it on stuff.tv . It saves the created images  in HD and the size is about 4000 pixels square , so a good size for manipulating further and reducing them will not disturb image integrity.

Introduction to Graphic Design

Introduction to Graphic DesignI  have just completed the free Introduction to Graphic Design on Udemy course by Sean Berg. Amongst other things he works on custom templates for WordPress in Brazil. His course was different from the other ones I have done in that it was 100% focused on delivering the content. It was a lesson in methodology as much as anything else. This doesn’t mean the other courses did not concentrate on content. They did , but they did it differently. Sean Berg’s shining moment was the squares. The way he was manipulating the squares to illustrate the points he was talking about was very clever. His command of visual literacy to illustrate his spoken content is expert. As he is talking about graphic design he is showing you. There were no exercises as in the other courses but this course really was about concentrated focus on content. It is an excellent example of how to utilise teaching very effectively. Sometimes you just need to master delivering the message so that you are time efficient. I really enjoyed learning this way because there were no distractions at all. No swamping. Just the things he was trying to teach me. His course was a good practical use of using design elements to ensure learners were in control all of the way.

Get your digital presentation right

SlideModelSlideModel is typical of current sites where there is a lot of free content and then you pay for extra access or extra content. That is fair. The free version allows you to participate in the digital world and then if you like it you can purchase extras or subscriptions as you see fit. SlideModel has varying models and so you can use the site in a way that suits you. Not everyone has graphic arts skills. These Power Point templates can be used for presentations but you can also take a screen shot so that the individual slides present content in an aesthetically pleasing, clear way . It also prevents you from jamming a screen with far too much information. Keep it uncluttered and simple and use the design models to create the content relational links for you. I downloaded the free Circular Chevron template. I have filled in a French verb on the first screen. If you look at the image there are other slides where I can present content clearly and effectively according to what I am doing. The layout is there. You just customise the text but you can change the elements of the slide image too.

When it comes to fonts Google Fonts has lots of choices and they illustrate them really well. Then you also need symbol and graphic fonts so you can add icons. Icons help readers and viewers to navigate your information quickly. The graphic fonts allow you to enhance and support visual literacy.

We are presenting information more and more digitally. If you cannot do it yourself then the internet really is full of helpful resources and people.

UX in the classroom

good-ux-designImage: Flight Media

UX = User Experience and we need to pay attention to it in a classroom. John Knight’s article Can Anyone Do UX? raises so many pertinent issues with regard to UX in contemporary times but he has a level of awareness about what that means and the way forward for his industry. Adaptability is increasingly becoming essential as is cross disciplinary work and learning from each other. He is discussing how UX design can appear to have lost its way and its standards because technology is ubiquitous and people are growing up with an inherent knowledge of UX simply because they are always on their phones, tablets and laptops:

“Guess what? the new generation has imbibed the principles of good design and HCI from the products and services they use on a day to day basis so that its second nature. Today, we live in a world of democratized design that exists outside of the traditional education system and is seen in everything from the start up scene to some of today’s great entrepreneurs. We can either go with the flow or try to stop it by developing professional standards”

Our professional standards have to be there but they need to be fluid and flexible because we are at a point in classroom delivery where the walls are coming down, the opportunities for global and 24/7 interaction abound and our capacity to peer review, share and care has increased exponentially. We then have to look at whom we are teaching and consider their experience. It is not one experience for everyone . HCI (Human Computer Interaction) is something we need to consider as well, both from the point of view of an individual’s approach to a device, and from the point of view that we can interact with each other online. This is where professional standards need to be able to manage and bend to meet the growing need to connect but to keep school based personnel and students safe.Fortunately ACARA and aitsl seem to be on the ball with this and other key fundamentals with regard to UX.

John Knight makes some interesting recommendations as to how  the UX industry can address the pressing needs it has with the technology changes which are flowing fast into our lives. I’d like to take those recommendations and apply them to education (read education where he writes design):

“1.Back to basics on the empirical basis of design through research. Unlike our predecessors though, we have a broader set of inputs and tools that just design research.

2.Continuous evolution of professional standards including core competencies and role descriptions that link back to capability initiatives such as SFIA and drive excellence.

3.Repositioning of deliverables from manifestation of requirements to findings of ‘design experiments’ ranging from ‘Critical Design’ to prototypes at differing levels of fidelity.

4.Recognition of the craft element of our discipline; including building awareness of nuance, the craft of making and refining atomic level experience elements.

5.Support for the maturation of the domain, including ui elements that have reached the level of archetype, patterns and methods and that can be added to the body of knowledge and then used freely outside of the profession — so that we can focus on innovation.”

UI = User Interface – what you are looking at when you see a screen and how it operates with buttons/clicks/swipes etc. In that respect I think it’s a good idea to now create some tried and true ways of operating in a classroom with technology and looking at the sorts of interfaces which suit classroom use for tablets, IWB and laptops. We can also probably now come to some agreement, based on considerable experience as to which sites and apps are worthwhile and desirable in a classroom.

So, remember the tips from the Flight Media blog as you operate in your classroom:

1. Empower the user – and that means you and the students

2. Bring clarity through UX design – to your lessons, to your resources, to your plans

3. Ask for and listen to feedback

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