Archive for the ‘DesignAssignments363’ Category


Greetings from the Overlook Hotel

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Inspired by the work of the Breakfast Club edition of ds106 on their design assignments today (more on that anon), I took a shot at the Postcards from Magical Places assignment—3 stars! I spent the afternoon showing them how to do one of these in Photoshop, and while I was showing them a few things I got the idea of a postcard from the Overlook Hotel, and while I didn’t have the time to do it during class, I promised myself I would write a postcard from Danny Torrance to Mr. Halloran. This was very fun!

Postcards–A Legoland/Minecraft Mashup

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

So, after nearly three weeks away for a conference (and panel comment), a new talk for a Civil War Round Table, and a family trip to California, I’ve finally returned to DS106 work.  These means that I’m woefully behind as the rest of the class has moved into audio assignments.  I’ll catch up as I can, first by doing some of the Design Assignments from Week 4.  This one is for Postcards from Magical Places.

The assignment reads (corrected for typos because I can’t help myself):

Design the front and back of a postcard that might be sent from the location of a movie or a work of fiction. Both sides of the cards must be created as graphics.

The front should use graphic design elements that provide a sense of place or use the classic motifs of old postcards (“Greetings from ______”), both pictures and text. The back of the post card should contain a stamp and postmark that fits with the theme of the movie, as well as an addressee and a message that fits the plot as well.

The modification that we had from Alan and Martha was that the image was supposed to come from the DS106 Minecraft server where there is some absolutely amazing stuff created by DS106 participants.  Unfortunately, the server was down when I went to it, so I ended up taking an image from a regular Minecraft instance.  But that was pretty boring, so I added an image I took on a recent trip to Legoland California.  [I took the Minecraft image as the background, and then, using the Quick Selection tool in Photoshop, removed the material in the upper right of the Lego version of Mount Rushmore, allowing the Minecraft background to show. This is all after some resizing of the two images so they matched.]

I then added some text, using a phrase that should be reminiscent on one commonly seen these days to those of us in Fredericksburg, and is an approved font from that institution.  The result was this:


Minecraft postcard--Side 1

For the second side, I created the stamp from the image of Lego Jefferson.* The expensive postcard price is an homage to the founding of UMW (as well as a tease to a relative who always scolds us when we spend more that the needed price on postcard postage).  The postmark is a stylized font in Photoshop and refers to the location of Legoland, as well as UMW.


Minecraft Postcard--Side 2

There are a few other nods, if not homages, in the letter and address.


* I think the thing next to his eye is supposed to be a Q-tip cleaning Washington’s ear, but given the past month at Mr. Jefferson’s University, I’m interpreting it as something wiping away TJ’s tears.




Did You Get My Postcard Mom?

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

I’m late with my ds106 design stuff, but you will not catch me saying I am sorry.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I did assemble this for the Postcards from Magical Places assignment, which we had our UMW students with a requirement that the image come from Minecraft.

Design the front and back of a postcard that might be sent from the location of a movie or a work of fiction. Both sides of the cards must be created as graphics.

The fornt should use graphic design elements that provide a sense of place or use the classic motifs of old postcards (“Greetings from ______”)_, both pictures and text. The back of the post card should contain a stamp and postmark that fits with the theme of the movie, as well as an addressee and a message that fits the plot as well.

The inspiration was a fanfiaction assignment created by a UMW student in Spring Semester 2011- see the excellent set of LOTR cards at

During our first camp fire hangout in Minecraft, I played with putting my new dog skin in the fire, and this seemed to work well as a camp prank of hot dogs. I started out in GIMP but got frustrated with the inability to do some effects on text, and with a loaned copy of PhotoShop, I did this image with rather simple edits, some text warp for the post mark.

Postcard from Camp Magic MacGuffin

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Wow. The design assignment opportunity this week at Camp Magic MacGuffin has offered a gazillion ideas — I have a major list I could chip away at — and making the time to get to get to them has been a fun challenge. The Postcards from Magical Places Design Assigment 363 was a blast!

I’ve had this shot of the camp centre for a while now, and liked the idea of riffing on the ds106 “Make Some Art!” battle-cry by substituting the word “Craft” — both as a nod to the creativity evoked by Minecraft, and also the care that the word “craft” seems to embody. So as an invitation to non-campers who might receive the postcard from CMM, that seemed to be a good caption for the card.

"Postcard from Camp Magic MacGuffin (Front)" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“Postcard from Camp Magic MacGuffin (Front)” by aforgrave, on Flickr

Having spent all that time returning transparency (pixel by pixel) to the two block images so that I could use them to “build a tree” for the Monkey Social invitation, I repurposed them to create the two main words in the postcard title. The 3D nature of the lettering suits the Minecraft theme. While I’m not as happy with the text for “some” as I might be, in some ways it is reminiscent of some post card text I’ve seen that really doesn’t mesh with the image beneath. So on that note, it’s staying.  All the bits on the front were assembled in Fireworks in a .PNG, and then flattened to .JPG to post to the web.

"Postcard from Camp Magic Maguffin (Back)" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“Postcard from Camp Magic Maguffin (Back)” by aforgrave, on Flickr

I had a lot of fun working on the back of the card, which had me editing the CMM logo in Photoshop to remove the colours to produce the postmark outline, creating the border of the stamp, and editing the scanned handwriting (again, more removing pixels to get a nice transparency over the existing postcard back). It seems like every time I need to make something transparent, I need to google how to do it. There must be better ways.

The stamp was especially fun to do. I’m going to do a series of stamps — I have a good number of screen captures of CMM in Minecraft, and a stamp series seems like a nice way to collect them. Given the designation bestowed to the “camp pet” in the week four assignment video, I figured it was best to start the series with that image. Gotta keep him happy.

"CMM Stamp#1 'Nobody Bava Head' "by aforgrave, on Flickr

“CMM Stamp#1 ‘Nobody Bava Head’ “by aforgrave, on Flickr

Were there more space on the postcard, it would be nice for a weekly letter home. As it was, so much has happened this past week, there really isn’t room to even begin.

Postcard from the Edge

Friday, June 15th, 2012

I always liked the idea of someone being at the very edge of things and sending back a postcard. I’m never sure if it is because they want others to join them, wish they were back home, or just excited to see how the world barrels over the edge into a pool of oblivion.

None the less, one of the design challenges this week was to create a postcard from a magical place. Specific to Camp Magic MacGuffin style, it needed to be from our Minecraft camp. So, I ventured over to Bunk House X. BH X is the fabled, mysterious and cantankerous island of veteran DS106er’s. Not unlike the Island of Misfit Toys and certainly with more curmudgeony goodness.

So, I find this dragon which is probably the coolest little piece of Minecraft art going (no dig on the others) and grab a screenshot. The hardest part was trying to find the dang screenshot from Minecraft. The instructions from class were spot on but the navigation needed to be entered into a browser window. Then BLAMMO!

So, here is 2 stars of this week’s 10-star design assignment challenge.

Aloha, Aloha

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Aloha fellow campers,

I’ve sent my family a postcard from Camp Magic MacGuffin this evening as part of the Postcards from Magical Places assignment as designated by our esteemed directors.


I had a rough time with this using GIMP. I can’t seem to get my bearings straight while using it. I’ve looked up tutorials and such, but I’m getting very disoriented and frustrated. I think I”ll have to steal my dad’s computer so I can keep using his Photoshop…

I thought this was a classic postcard-esque photo, showing the beautiful sunset and the height allowed me to get a greater panoramic shot. I think this postcard appropriately illustrates all of my past camping experiences. With years of camping experience with 4-H under my belt, I rarely wrote postcards home, but when I did, they were half-hearted and I typically showed more concern for the pets than I did for my own blood relatives. I chose a tie-dye stamp because I knew my hippie family would love it.

You can find the assignment I chose here.

Up next I think I’ll be combining my Creative Commons research with the design assignment poster. After that, only three stars left and it’s only Tuesday. #winning



Mission: DS106 – Design assignment sprint

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

It’s great to be at camp during summer vacation.

This week I found another block of time through which to sprint after a number of ds106 design assignments. I had some trouble narrowing down which assignments to tackle until I began them; clearly, I do not yet have the patience or chops for some of the work, so it’s great that the ds106 community has shared so many different ideas for assignments. I hope to contribute some ideas this summer and fall as I try to implement a more ds106/MOOC feel in my middle school classroom.

Here are my basic hardware and software specs for the week: MacBook, OSX 10.6.8, 2.26 GHz Intel Core Duo 2, 2 GB of memory, Chrome, Wacom Bamboo tablet, SketchBook Pro (for drawing), Acorn (for fills and copy).

This week the work is not in any particular order. I made an animated comic book cover that looks pretty crummy next to all the awesome examples out there. I don’t yet have the animator’s patience to pull off a decent attempt, so I’ll pass on sharing for now. It was a simple snikt effect.

I’m becoming interested in how the community categorizes tasks. At times today, I definitely felt like a designer; at other times, I felt more like I was tweaking a pre-existing design for my own education (which seems more like a visual task to me), or mashing-up a number of designs. Some of the visual assignments feel like design tasks, too – like the album cover. I’d love to hear more about how contributors and organizers think of course- and task-design.

By week’s end I’d like to contribute a CC poster, as well.

Before I forget, everyone should watch Nishant Shah’s DML Ignite talk on remixes.

And away we go.

Postcards from Magical Places – 2 stars

I take a ton of screenshots in Minecraft. I love discovering new sights in Minecraft, as well as new perspectives on familiar places. I ask students to take a ton of screenshots, too, so I can share their work easily through blogging. (Teaching in a multi-age classroom in a middle school, I haven’t yet solved the riddle of whole-class social media use, so I try to collect and share as many digital photos and artifacts as possible.)

For this assignment, I looked through my ds106-server screenshots, found a picture I liked, cropped it some, and then appended a snappy postcard/bumper-sticker-ready punchline in Acorn. Lastly, I mocked up a simple back for the card and let it be.

Greetings from @chadsansing's

Greetings from @chadsansing's

Alternative Book Covers – 3 stars

Since I wrote about how much The Road terrified me when I posted my Liminal States story-shape, and since The Road showed up as the exemplar for this assignment, I went back to Liminal States and riffed on my fake album cover assignment; with Liminal States you really can’t go wrong with a boy and his dog.

However, I wanted to use a different image this time around, so I found
“>a picture of a boy dressed as a cowboy riding a dog
in The Commons on Flickr.

I brought the photo into Acorn and composed the rest of the cover there, darkening the bottom band to offer better contrast for the tagline.

The boy dressed up as a cowboy reminds me of my [privileged, white male] love for archetypes, even though many of those archetypes make horrible, horrifying decisions, like the genre-riffing characters of Liminal States. Moreover, in the book, youth – the eternal kind – is not all its cracked up to be. Considering the source material, it’s also significant that the boy and the dog clearly have different ideas about what’s going on and are, in fact, headed – or at least looking – in separate directions. The presence of grass is germane to the novel, as well.

I picked Trajan Pro for the font because it has that somber, elegiac, official feel like the title of a Tom Brokaw book.

The tag line is neither entirely true nor entirely false in its description of the book.

Alt Liminal States

Alt Liminal States

Cartoon You – 2 stars

I’ve cartooned myself many times – some examples can be found here, here, and here. There’s even a short comic I drew about the first year of our school out there in a filing cabinet somewhere.

I find using a cartoon alter ego to be very helpful in breaking up the monopoly that text holds over my blogging, and I like to use drawings in class materials, as well. Cartooning is a good way to and bring some humor to the engrimmening proceedings of American public education.

For this assignment I wanted to draw myself differently than I normally do, so I went online and searched after
“>an image of Savoy from the comic
Chew as drawn by series-artist Rob Guillory. (I have no idea why I’ve never cosplayed Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing Chris Farley playing Savoy, but I know I could rock it.) I like Guillory’s style – it’s cartoony, dynamic, busy; as with Jeffery Brown’s completely different work, it makes me think I could draw a comic. It gives me hope.

I tried to capture Guillory’s sense of Savoy’s form, but left much of the interior clean, as I tend to do in larger work; paradoxically (maybe)I detail little doodles like crazy. I also colored myself for a change since I usually work in black and white.

I drew myself in SketchBook Pro using a 2.5-sized brush rather than a 4.0-sized one so that I my line would look more like Guillory’s and less like mine. I began with a blue-line drawing and then added a layer for a black-line drawing to bring into Acorn. Then I deleted the blue-line layer, switched to Acorn, and colored myself.

Thumbs up, Tiger.

Cartoon Chad

Cartoon Chad

I Can Read Movies – 3 stars

What a cool assignment. I love spacesick’s book covers.

To make my own, I went for a popular, yet nerdy, property – The Lord of the Rings. In looking at spacesick’s use of patterns, I decided to use a ring motif to build Mount Doom and to perch Suaron’s eye atop it. I used a different color/material for each level of rings: silver for the Elves, bronze for the Dwarves, and iron for the humans. While that progression isn’t canonical, I used it to bring more color to the page and to communicate of how Middle Earth rank-orders its species. I could have made the other rings all white and left the one ring golden, but I am not at all unhappy with this design. I wonder also about linking the rings to show their interconnectedness in a chain-mail kind of way.

I used Acorn to compose the cover. I read up on spacesick’s fonts
. The projector is the only element I lifted directly from any of spacesick’s covers.

Finally, I opened the image in SketchBook Pro for some final touches with textured brushes to worry the cover.

I’m really eager to see more of these designs from the ds106 community.

spacesick-inspired LotR cover

spacesick-inspired LotR cover

Chilren’s Book Cover – 0 stars

I’m not sure why this assignment is worth zero stars; I think it should get two.

For this task, I decided to make a children’s book cover for a hard science fiction novel – House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds. I love that book. It gives me hope.

My cover, however, gives me the giggles. It’s so profanely incongruous – and yet so weirdly apt – that it delights me.

House Of Suns for kids

House Of Suns for kids

I drew the cover in SketchBook Pro and then colored and lettered it in Acorn.

As I hunted down stray pixels in Acorn, I discovered that it’s much easier to draw and paint in that program while zoomed in a level or two (this is both an a-ha and a duh moment). I still prefer SketchBook Pro for drawing, but it was satisfying to find a way to draw and color productively in Acorn, as well. At the default zoom, even a medium-sized brush can disappear on-screen in Acorn because its reticle isn’t persistent. That means if you’re trying to paint stray pixels in Acorn without zooming in, you lose the tip of your brush if your brush color is the same color as your background. That frustrated me greatly, but now I know that it’s easier to keep track of your brush tip while zoomed.

I hope others will jam on the idea of making children’s book covers for novels meant for adults.

Minimalize Your Philosophy – 2 stars

Aude aliquid dignum: dare something worthy. I try to approach teaching and learning as if they were the most worthy things I could do and help others do. I think it’s important to ask kids to do worthy work. I think it’s important that teachers dare to resist the standardization of education. I think it’s important and worthy that we talk about how to subvert the status quo in our primary and secondary schools so that learning matters to kids, their families, and their communities. So here it is:

Aude aliquid dignum

Aude aliquid dignum

I made the image in Acorn. I tried to minimalize the sans-serif text’s presence on the page without making it illegible (I probably cut too much of the “g”). Then, while trying to stay away from the Dr. Manhattan symbol, I made a little hydrogen atom to frame the words, with the “e” inside the electron. Hydrogen is a pretty minimalist element, but the proton and electron are also the building blocks of everything else. Hydrogen can exist by itself, but atoms do great and terrible things together. We humans can do the same, inside and outside Minecraft, a game about building – and/or destroying – alone and/or in a community!

I put another atomic particle in the upper right-hand corner so that the eye would be drawn there in an attempt to connect the two white spaces with one another over distance, which made me think that maybe the electron (which wants to create a bond) is also little person or organism looking to the stars and wondering how to connect with another being over a vast distance. I think connecting is worth daring.

Minimalist TV/Movie Poster – 3 stars

I didn’t want to burn out on minimalism early this the week, so I picked this assignment and shelved the minimalist movie travel poster for now.

Richard Ayoade plays the character Moss on the British sitcom The IT Crowd. Moss’s hair is absolutely iconic.

I found a CC-licensed picture of a glorious, insanely detailed, embroidered Moss, brought it into SketchBook Pro, and traced over Moss’s hair and glasses. I used green in homage to the show’s pixelated, primitive CGI credit sequence. Then I went into Acorn to fill it in and clean-up white speckles left over in Moss’s hair and glasses.

Minimal Moss

Minimal Moss

DS106 Propaganda Posters – 3 stars

For this piece, I searched The Commons on Flickr for propaganda. I went into my search looking for an ad or poster about building a shelter. I wanted to make a visual pun on our Minecraft work. However, when I found this picture, I switched gears. I hate Creepers. I’m playing the ds106 server on survival mode right now, and the Creepers have not been kind. If you look at my stretch of the beach on the server (behind camp), you can see how much Creeper damage I’ve had to patch. Finding a way to rally against the Creepers was just what I needed to lift my spirits.

I grabbed a CC-licensed picture of some Creeper cosplay. I took a screen shot of the head and cut out the background in Acorn. Then I brought in the propaganda poster. I used the scale and perspective transformations to size, angle, and position the Creeper heads. Then I made the heads monochromatic and color-matched them to their bodies.

Beat the Creeper

Beat the Creeper

Now I’m ready to go back on the sever. I hope someone will put this poster into a ds106 texture pack for Minecraft!

DS106, The Movie – 3 stars

#DontBlogNow starring Martha Burtis and Alan Levine. Somehow featuring the Bava, Timmmyboy, and Slaughterhouse 4. I did a lot of cutting, filling, and smudging in Acorn. I grabbed the movie poster here. I found Martha here and I found Alan here. I sepia-toned their faces, shrunk their heads, and then altered their saturation and brightness to help their faces better fit the gestalt of the photo in the poster.



I love how different their expressions are, as if Martha has caught on to something that Alan is asking about again. “A serial killer in a red raincoat? Really? Was that a deliberate design decision? Where?” “Over-ay ere-thay, Alan-ay! Et’s-lay o-gay!”. Why someone snapped a photo of them at this moment I will never know.

I picked Don’t Look Now to avoid making a quick and easy visual pun about a movie I loved. I despise Don’t Look Now. I loathe that movie. I will never go to Venice. I refuse to look at myself passing on a boat. Forget it.

I will, however, spend hours remixing the film’s poster.

I just wish I was better at digital production – I really like the way the poster turned out, but I wanted it to be perfect, like my utter, unutterable, intangible, illogical contempt for this Don’t Look Now.

That’s it for today’s products. As I go further into the ds106 experience, I’m trying to stick with at least a few assignments per week that push me out of my comfort zone. I also want to balance the camp nature of camp with the profundity of the learning experience available to me here. I need to socialize more with my fellow campers, too.

I try to teach to what kids are doing in my classroom; in the same way, I’m learning to design what I discover instead of trying to design what I plan. It feels good.