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Design Solutions
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Aims | Outline | Curriculum Relevance | Background | Activities | Links | Image and Link to Print Version

Design Solutions
Programme 1: Graphics


This programme aims to introduce students to the following:

To illustrate the process of gleaning what a client wants from the graphic design (initial specification) in order to generate initial ideas that might appeal
To show how concepts are arrived at and how ideas are conveyed to others
To set in context the importance of feedback, consultation and continual evaluation
To follow a design from the preliminary stage of winning the 'pitch' through to application in a variety of formats

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This programme follows a team of designers who are designing a new corporate image for a cutting edge 3D computer animation design company.

0:00 – The client, Glasgow based Digital Animations Group DA Group, is introduced. They specialise in innovative real time 3D animation software. Their wish to re-brand their corporate image is explained.

1:00 – Navy Blue, a graphic design specialist company, based in Edinburgh, is briefed by the client, Mike Antliff, Chief Executive of DA Group. The designers at Navy Blue are accustomed to traditional graphic design jobs, exhibitions, stationery, new media and advertising. The brief from DA Group is for a new logo for use on stationery, web pages and so on. It must be suitable for applying to a wide range of formats and materials, be simple and strong and capture the essence of the business.

2:00 – Navy Blue, prepares to win the 'pitch'. They need to find out as much as they can about the work of DA Group in order to generate concept ideas that meet the needs of the client. Following a team brainstorming session, sketching, asking further questions of the client and exploring a wide variety of ideas, the designers prepare four ideas to present to the client.

3:00 – The design director, Jonathan Evans, talks about the thinking behind each of the concepts and describes what other aspects have to be considered. The ideas are explained to the client, one by one, for comment and feedback. Opinions are given; likes and dislikes are stated plainly. The client gives reasons for his thoughts and arrives at one idea that has potential to be developed further.

6:00 – The approach taken to develop this specific concept from a rough idea to computer images is described. At subsequent discussions, the client states that he wants a stronger, simpler, more iconic design, which he feels confident will work on various formats. This means there is further design development work to be carried out.

8:00 – The designer describes how the use of CAD can develop the detail of such decisions as the relationship between logo and typeface, proportion and layout, make accurate alterations and experiment with sizes and weights of type and fonts. He uses resizing and rescaling to alter the design to suit the clients' wishes.

9:00 – The developed design is now produced in various formats. The new identity is applied to the DA Group webpage and it is evaluated in terms of how it looks as a house style throughout, in terms of colours, font / typeface and style.

10:00 – Judith Reid oversees the design work of a new DA Group brochure. She checks the quality of the photography, copy and layout of the system operators and art workers. This work is then downloaded on to CD and passed on to the printers. Judith checks the digital proofs that have been signed off by the client as approved to ensure what he saw is exactly what he gets back in printed format. She checks the quality and accuracy of colours, the performance of paper and for unwanted blemishes or marks.

12:00 – The design solution for the logo is seen in-situ in the DA Group offices; windows, website, videos and desktop. The result is evaluated against the initial specification of the client. He is pleased with the shape, which, he says has integrity, dynamism, creativity, confidence, and is a bold logo for 'a business that is going places'.

13:00 – End of programme.

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Curriculum Relevance

Scotland: National Qualifications: Graphic Communication Intermediate 2 and Higher

Technical Graphics 1 Technical Graphics 2 Computer Graphics Thematic Presentation
Application of manual techniques of pictorial representation, geometric construction and using illustration and presentation techniques The use of graphic communication within the context of industry The production of pictorial drawings using computer-aided design (CAD), for promotional purposes The role of preliminary, freehand sketching
The production of formal drawing using CAD
The promotional application of graphics

England: National Curriculum KS4

  1. developing, planning and communicating ideas: a,b,f,g
  1. evaluating processes and products; a,b,c,d

General Curriculum relevance

Serves as a good example of graphic design in the context of the world of commerce.
The programme demonstrates:

  • The importance of exploring a lot of ideas and coping with many diversions before achieving, and arriving at a final design, which pleases the client
  • The use of creative thinking techniques, such as brainstorming, sourcing of concepts from photos, key words as primary generators, making connections
  • Balance between sketching and CAD - using the appropriate tool for different stages
  • The use of scale, rescale and resize facilities of CAD packages
  • Use of colour, type and font for meaning and association
  • Layout and proportion
  • Stages in planning from preliminary through to production - roughs / scamps, rough layouts and developments for concept presentation, mock-ups
  • Use of video to capture images, create stills and adapt to suit purposes
  • Teamwork and expert input
  • Continual feedback and evaluation against specification and personal opinions

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This programme illustrates the importance of meeting the clients' requirements, and the need to explore lots of ideas, continually evaluate and review against the clients' specification and emotional response. It shows how designers should not be too precious about their concepts and must remember they are working for the client. It exemplifies that lots of concepts should be explored and that ideas can come from all sorts of places and thoughts. The words describing the concepts are very important to the designer making a 'pitch'. 'Knock-backs' and 'problems' are encountered and design development is needed to overcome them. Often simple ideas are the best.

It exemplifies the need to continually communicate with your client and the importance of listening to words and feedback given. It demonstrates the transition from rough concept idea through to final proposal, to print and application in a variety of uses. The need to consider the design in a range of formats is foremost. In other words, the way a design will look when in black and white only, or resized, or applied to a website as opposed to stationery. This provides opportunities to explore existing corporate image designs and evaluate their applications on a range of samples and encourage the students to give their opinions.

Design consultancies often have to win the contract, rather than assuming they will be approached as the sole designers. This means they may be competing against three or four other design consultancies. This is known as the 'pitch' where each of the design companies will present ideas to the client in the hope that the client likes their ideas and their company well enough to employ them on the design project, rather than another consultancy. Students could develop valuable communication skills by 'pitching' their ideas, presenting visually and orally, gaining feedback from others at preliminary stages, including the teacher.

To set the programme in context, general background information and samples of the work of the two companies in the programme can be found on their websites (see links section).

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Before viewing the programme

  1. Play 'Pictionary' for a quick-draw exploration of 'symbology'. The stimulus words to be communicated could be drawn from artefacts, feelings / emotions, etc.
  2. Collect and review a range of logos. Photocopy some and compare the colour version with the black and white. Students could record their opinions and analysis as annotations around a scamp / thumbnail sketch.
  3. Source a corporate identity and house style manual in order to discuss with the students the range of applications a designer must consider and the factors and variables that will influence the success of a logo and brand image.
  4. Ensure the students are familiar with the need for a design specification from the client, prior to embarking on any design and / or graphics project.
  5. Explain to the students the nature of a 'pitch'.

After viewing the programme

  • Elicit the reasons why the client liked Navy Blue and seemed happy that they had won the 'pitch'.
  • Recall the key concept behind each of the four ideas. Recall the likes and dislikes that the client voiced when the designers gave their pitch for the four ideas. Give the reasons for the client rejecting each of the ideas.
  • Ask the students to log on to and give their opinion on how the logo works on a website. Encourage them to read about the company and the type of business it is, before making their opinions known.
  • Conduct a visual brainstorming session: ask students, working in groups of five, against the clock, to sketch as many different logo concepts as they can, for example:

    1. to portray a travel company specialising in family holidays
    2. to convey a luxury taxi firm
    3. to promote an organic vegetarian restaurant.

  • Set the challenge to design a logo to update an old one. Pick a less well-known company and provide a set of samples of their house-style as it exists.
  • Provide a set of photographs for students to stylise and develop from preliminary sketches through CAD to final samples.
  • Encourage the students to prepare and provide a 'pitch' to explain to others where their inspiration / the source of their idea came from and why they thought it would serve the purpose effectively.

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This web page contains links to other websites that are neither controlled nor maintained by Channel 4 Television. Channel 4 Television is not responsible for the content of these sites and does not necessarily endorse the material on them.

For more information on the printing process, to exemplify the production stage not developed in the programme, visit:

For background on the two companies involved and to see the final design as applied to the website check out: Navy Blue:

DA Group:

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