1.3 Creative design toolkit

This page is an ongoing reflection on my creative process. It reflects on my working practice so far and looks at how it can be made more effective in terms of creative and meaningful outcomes, and enable me to become more productive and avoid getting stuck.

Design Council Design Diamond

from DCD website : https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/news-opinion/design-process-what-double-diamond

In order to discover which ideas are best, the creative process is iterative. This means that ideas are developed, tested and refined a number of times, with weak ideas dropped in the process. This cycle is an essential part of good design.http://zemniimages.info/process/

Practical design methods – like user diaries, journey mapping and character profiles – move a project through the four phases of the Double Diamond.

Discover – The first quarter of the Double Diamond model covers the start of the project. Designers try to look at the world in a fresh way, notice new things and gather insights.

Define – The second quarter represents the definition stage, in which designers try to make sense of all the possibilities identified in the Discover phase. Which matters most? Which should we act on first? What is feasible? The goal here is to develop a clear creative brief that frames the fundamental design challenge.

Develop – The third quarter marks a period of development where solutions or concepts are created, prototyped, tested and iterated. This process of trial and error helps designers to improve and refine their ideas.

Delivery – The final quarter of the double diamond model is the delivery stage, where the resulting project (a product, service or environment, for example) is finalised, produced and launched.

My  working process depends very much on the task. My work on this module is in the form of self-generated projects where I am freer to change direction and re-define my brief if interesting things come up – and then see how to get an audience for my vision. Although different phases in the Design Council Diamond below can usefully be seen as a logical progression, in practice they are more like parallel processes that interlink and feed on/contribute to each other, rather than linear stages.

Phase 1: Discover: open brainstorming and first images

Depending on the project, I have a variety of inspiration starting points that either spark an idea for a potential project, or examining possible directions an identified project might take:

  • drawing, sketching and photographs from life
  • abstract and random processes from found images (patterns in woodgrain, marble etc) and/or media experimentation (blobs of glue, decalcomania left over print marks,  gouache/watercolour doodles).
  • brainstorming words, concept maps and spider diagrams I like to use large A3 to A1 sheets as moodboards and to brainstorm interlinked ideas that I then revisit throughout the project, adding points from my research.
  • initial thumbnails and doodles are then quickly laid down
  • iPad and Adobe Lightroom are very useful for quickly exploring compositional possibilities and manipulate images to look at different colours, tonal relationships and different styles. I find this much more useful than a lot of thumbnails, enabling very rapid generation of a large number of options.

Phase 2 Research

Research takes place throughout a project – it generally starts right at the beginning to inform my starting points and experiments, and guides the direction throughout. Depending on the project research covers many different areas:

  • concept/content – what am I trying to say? Much of my work, particularly documentary, requires in-depth understanding of the issues I am trying to communicate and establishment of my own ‘voice’. This may change as the project develops and my understanding develops and evolves.
  • visual context: who else has produced images on this or related topics, what visual styles, media and techniques are used? what is the competition? which do I think are most effective/relevant for what I want to say? how do these affect how my own images are likely to be read by different audiences? This is generally through Google Searches of images and videos, looking for relevant books on Amazon to add to my extensive book collection, looking back though my own earlier work and photographs.
  • more playful/purposeful testing of visual ideas and media through mock-ups, thumbnail drawings,roughs and prototypes e.g through the prompts below from 1.3 Creatively Exploring my Process . The aim here is still to experiment and broaden out the range of possibilities, but in a more systematic manner.
  • define it
  • make it bold
  • let’s look at the real thing
  • introduce time motion and sound
  • what is the key moment?
  • create a variation
  • connect play, fantasies and daydreams
  • combine seemingly arbitrary content
  • erase the distinctions between the original and the copy
  • consider again your motivation
  • make it obvious
  • make it ambiguous
  • remind yourself
  • bounce around at speed
  • ‘we’ve got a problem, Houston’

Challenge: I do tend to get a bit sidetracked though with research. Things can go off at too much of a tangent as I find a lot of new material. Sometimes research can become an excuse for sitting thinking rather than getting down to things hands-on.

Phase 3 Critique

  • What am I trying to say? Should I be clear? ambigious? why?
  • How do the visual dynamics work to support that? format? colour? style? line?
  • Audience reading?

I find that most work goes through a stage where I really do not like it. At that point I move onto something else. That usually sparks a new idea.

I also share things with my family to see what they think. I am starting to produce things I would feel happy sharing on forums and social networks – something I plan to do a lot more as I finish work on this course for assessment.

Finishing my work

What is the best format to reach my audience? on-line? slideshow? video? web gallery? printed? different papers, scanning and printing methods.

Most of my work is finished digitally on the computer and/or iPad. Using Lightroom as a catalogue and for basic editing and reformatting. iPad Apps like Procreate and Pixelmator and/or Photoshop for more complex compositing, adding text etc.

colour management and print output issues.