How Digital Design Foundations can help in building your career

Student work | Krystal Fung

The wonderful thing about design is it’s everywhere – from the digital world to daily life. Which means designers are flooded with opportunities to apply their work almost anywhere.

Often, they’re required to work with a group of assets across a range of applications. For example, a designer may be asked to apply the branding for a restaurant across its signage, menus and interiors, or to adapt a layout for a suite of brochures to showcase different products within a range.

An advertising campaign is another common example where design elements and assets are adapted across a variety of collateral. In advertising, this often means both print and screen. Print applications may include magazine ads, Adshels and billboards, while screen applications can include website banners, sponsored posts on social media and imagery for EDMs.

To master these skills, students of Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University Australia take on Digital Design Foundations, a core subject part of the Bachelor of Communication Design. What’s exciting about this subject is the level of creative exploration students are afforded. Learning the fundamentals of Adobe software, students are given the opportunity to experiment with a diverse range of mediums, encouraging creativity at an early stage of their course. It builds on their ability to think visually and create work using both analogue and digital forms.

How does this play out in class exactly? Students progress through the following steps:

Research: They begin by undertaking visual research on existing Instagram layouts. They then create mood boards displaying their research.

Concept planning: Once students have completed their research, they spend time sketching and planning out their Instagram feed and what each tile will include.

Design: InDesign is commonly used for creating print layouts, but it also has the capability to design and export files for digital applications. Students use their newly acquired knowledge of InDesign to set up a new document. Important areas of learning are composition and visual hierarchy principles.

Meet Krystal Fung

Krystal arrived at Billy Blue to “test the waters” with a Diploma of Design. She’d always been interested in graphic design and was looking to upskill and get in touch with one of her passions. Exploring her creativity as she experimented with industry-standard software, Krystal felt compelled to keep learning and is now undertaking our Bachelor of Communication Design.

Here, we talk to Krystal about her studies at Billy Blue – and how Digital Design Foundations has changed the trajectory of her career.

How did Billy Blue’s Digital Design Foundations subject build your skills and boost your confidence?

During this subject, I took the liberty of exploring and experimenting with Illustrator as I knew this class was a safe space that I could develop my skills while also receiving constructive criticism/feedback that would help me grow as a designer. I honestly feel that you learn and remember a lot more just by experimenting in the software than you do from passively watching tutorials, so I tend to jump straight into software and play around with the tools. I detailed most of my process for creating each design element in my process journal, but the idea behind each of them was to really try and highlight the handmade aspect in a playful way.

You were given a brief to create an Instagram campaign that showcased a company’s products and brand mission in a playful way. Can you tell us about your campaign – and what inspired you?

I was drawn to Instagram campaign layouts that have a through-line in design elements and feel. In particular, I found layouts that had a heavy emphasis on handmade and illustrated/vector graphics extremely appealing as they look fun and fresh, and related well to the client brief. Earthy colour palettes were also nice, however a brighter, more upbeat palette that is in line with the client’s style sheet was more ideal.

Student work | Krystal Fung

Can you describe your design process, from concept through to completion?

My idea was to create an illustration-heavy tile compilation using brand colours. I wanted to create a fun and fresh vibe that is in line with my promotional magazine advertisement from an earlier assessment I had completed. This concept would appeal to a slightly younger female market, but would allow me to continue to refine my skills in Illustrator as this is the area I feel I need the most improvement.

Student work | Krystal Fung

Student work | Krystal Fung

Most of my handmade graphics were hand-drawn digital illustrations. I experimented with different brushes, the pen tool and the image trace function to create the final elements, gathering inspiration from images I saw on Google and Pinterest.

Student work | Krystal Fung

I wanted to create a bunny graphic as an additional visual element that would also support the “no animal testing” panel, so I sketched up a loppy bunny and turned it into a vector artwork. After I used the pen tool to turn my sketch into line art, I experimented with artistic brushes to find one I liked for the outline. I adjusted the weight, then changed the colour to orange and added a yellow watercolour splash in the background.

Student work | Krystal Fung

I also wanted to create a bunny footprint pattern that would link the tiles together and highlight the fact that the company doesn’t test on or harm any animals in their processes. I started by creating a base shape for a bunny foot in Illustrator using the ellipse shape, then used the pathfinder tool to merge the centre pad to create a cute shape for the paw.

Then I tested out the different brushes for the outline and increased the stroke width. I chose the brush that I felt fit the rest of my design the best and then applied colour and adjusted the opacity level for the fill colour, to create a more watercolour feel to the footprint. Then I duplicated and rotated the footprint to create a string of footprints to finish off my pattern.

Student work | Krystal Fung 

You study online with Billy Blue. How has your experience been?

I’ve been studying completely online and I’m loving it. It makes time management much easier for me, but I’m also a lot more on top of my workload. The lecturers I’ve had so far have been very helpful and not too difficult to get in contact with online. It’s made the online learning much easier and more convenient, especially for people juggling other things like family and work.

Now that you’re exploring your passion for design, what are your career aspirations?

I’d love to get into some sort of typographic work after graduating as I really enjoy layout work, so have been considering going into publishing design. Other than that, I don’t really have a solid career goal as there are so many options open to you when you do a Bachelor of Communication Design. Many of the Billy Blue Design courses are multidisciplinary, so I feel like I’d be pretty ready for any role I decide to take on in the future.

What has been the highlight of your course so far?

One of the most notable experiences I’ve had so far has been the peer communication in my Typography classes. Everyone is always so friendly and providing great comments and feedback – it really helps to improve.

I also think that Torrens University are doing a great job with keeping the student community alive and in contact while most of us are studying online. There’s a university gaming channel on Discord, as well as channels for various media and design classes that really help tie together the whole discipline as a community.

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