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Option Bar Basics…REALLY Basic

The option bar is directly related to the object you have selected. It gives you…wait for it…options for the object.


For example, if you have a text box selected, you would expect to be able to change the font, text size, text orientation, color, etc:

Option bar with text selected


option bar

5 Tools to Get Started in Illustrator

The tools panel is what controls everything you do in Illustrator.


Just like you wouldn’t be able to use a hammer to screw in a screw, if you don’t have the right tool or don’t know how to use the right tool in Illustrator, you will be unable to do achieve the effect that you are looking for.


When looking at the tools in the toolbox, I like to start with the most simple of tools. No matter what version of Illustrator you have (mine is CS6), your version will have these simple tools:


3 Reasons Why Illustrator is the Best Tool for Budding Graphic Designers

For someone who has never used it, diving into Adobe Illustrator can seem like diving into the middle of the ocean without a life vest. Eventually, you just get tired of treading water and find yourself sinking.


I vividly remember this feeling when I first began teaching design. I just didn’t want to do it anymore. Of course, quitting wasn’t really an option for me. I couldn’t just quit teaching in my 3rd week.


So, I trudged through it and after making many, many mistakes, I found some good solutions to the problems that I came up with.


Adobe Illustrator...scary or fun?

One of the more challenging aspects of my job has been introducing new digital art programs. When I started teaching 4 years ago, I was literally one day ahead of the students.

Not only that, but I would also be teaching the Adobe Illustrator (or Photoshop) program and constantly have to stop to help students with technical difficulties.  I felt like a chicken with my head cut off for the better part of an hour whenever I had to introduce the Adobe programs to students. I found myself dreading teaching new techniques in any digital platform.


Bridge the Gap Between Sketchbook and Digital Media

A few weeks back, I wrote a post on "Using Sketchbook to Balance Digital and Physical Art”. Mostly I wrote about how to use the sketchbook as a spring board to creating art or publications in computer graphic design classes.

In the coming weeks I will be discussing the use Adobe Illustrator to help students learn the elements of design. As students travel through the Adobe Illustrator journey, I want them to find visual examples of the terms we discuss in class.


5 Tips to Keep the Sketchbook Alive

In a perfect world. I would have no problem getting kids to do their sketchbook assignments done and every assignment would relate to what I am teaching in the class and it would all be perfect…


However, being that I teach at a public high school, I know that will never be the case. So as per my experience over the last four years I have come up with some tips to using the sketchbook as a tool, but also having assignments that the kids are, for the most part, willing to do and some even enjoy doing.


Plan to Live

I have been toying with the idea of making a planner to help my organize my life. There are so many things that scream for my attention everyday (both at school and at home) that sometimes I feel like a gerbal in an exercise ball. Going fast, but going nowhere!

I have looked at dozens of planners and have not yet found what I am looking for. So I thought, "Why not make my own?"

So I am wondering, if you had the perfect planner, what would be in it? The sky is the limit. Lists, calendars, sketchbook pages, anything you can think of!


Elements of Art and the Sketchbook

The first thing that I do in my classes every year is introduce the elements of art. I used to have the students take notes on the elements and then do projects based on each element. However, I have found that students seem to grasp the concepts better if they are introduced to most if not all of the elements first, then be expected to use them in a project that I set out for them.

Binder Ring Spine Sketchbook

This is the one I am going to try this year. I think that it combines the pros of each of the previous designs. Give me a few months and I will tell you what I think after the kids have had a chance to try them out.

(And by that I mean shove them into lockers, kick them across the floor, forget them on the school bus, or whatever else happens to anything that has touched a high schooler’s hands.)



Plastic Comb Binding Sketchbook

This method is also very simple, but it requires the use of a binding machine. If you have access to one, this one looks a bit more professional than the previous Rubber Band Spine Cardboard one. Plus, you can get several fun colors for the spine!

Again, you can do any size you like. I just like to do it larger so that students can add paper without difficulty.