MOOCy Monday: Introduction to Graphic Design on OpenLearning

1What does she want with graphic design? You ask after having seen my list of courses about space, and writing. The short answer is: I can’t give up dabbling in artsy stuff even though I lack practice and knowledge. I like good design, pretty fonts, colours, shapes– and wish I knew the secret of what makes design good, bad, or mediocre–which is not the same as taste. And so I’ve signed up for this self-paced course on Open Learning: Introduction to Graphic Design.

The course features the free online software Canva. You find a multitude of layouts, stock images, fonts, shapes, lines there, and much of it is free. The course–I’ve only taken the first two sessions so far, features the program and shows what you can do with it. You are also invited to share your designs and discuss with your peers. There are exercises, but there is no peer-reviewed assignment, at least I didn’t find one. And this is something I already miss.

2If I want to learn what good design is… I need to have my mistakes pointed out, too. This is a course that would benefit from peer reviews, I think. I’ve browsed the discussion, but there is no criticism, and no suggestions for improvement.   Maybe that’s just me.

It is a very informative course, though. If you have no idea about things like colour wheels, serifs and non-serif fonts, contrast, filters and so on, there is a lot to learn. Canva is a nice, free tool that allows quick and pretty results when you stick to the pre-made layouts and shapes. The difficulty for me is: what fits, what is a good match for my blog, and its overall style. I’ve been experimenting with it already, and intend to do more of it. Look at my quotes, for instance. The layout I’m using has somewhat large and in-your-face quotes which I don’t like to use. The idea to break up a long text section with quotes appeals to me, though. So I think that making templates in a shape that fits and just insert the quotes text later might be an option.

Or maybe not, after all, you need to make the image, insert the text (that means write the post first), upload the shapes or link to them… and this needs to be done for each post where I want to use this feature.

This was the quote that comes with the layout. Huge, isn’t it? I’ll have to think about this some more. I’m having far too much fun playing with layouts and design… I should focus on writing. I’m a lazy student at the moment, too. I just can’t get myself to sit down and study in earnest, that’s why I’m afraid I’ll have to give the coursera course ‘Think again’ another try later this year. Or maybe I simply need a break. I’m really in the mood for writing, I should take advantage of this, it’s not always the case.

So, before I bore you to death, here are my first efforts at Canva design:

"Heliconius hewitsoni qtl1" by Quartl - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

I quite like the Woofy Weekend, especially after learning more about fonts, but I’m not certain: should I have centered the text? Made it larger, smaller? Should I have given it a shadow? Used a different colour? Does the black and white work? It’s suggested that you blur images you use as text background, but I’m always having a hard time blurring pretty pictures. Is the text still popping out? Is the happy doggie distracting from the text?

The Flighty Friday was my first experiment with Canva, it needs more work, too. I’m not fond of the fonts, everything is just a bit too busy, not harmonious. Or is that just right for Flighty Friday?

Canva is easy, but if you’re used to Photoshop, it’s a bit awkward, because the options are a bit limited. It is still a great tool, especially since you can use it for free and really do nice things with it. And the tool helps, so does the course, but so far, I haven’t found the recipe for good design. I’m still as helpless as always: should I center, which font, is the colour good? Sigh… enough of this. Check out the course if you’re interested. And Canva has a lot of tutorial material as well.

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