Bath Spa Uni student design showcase

As the UK’s top Adobe reseller, we’re no stranger to helping universities, colleges and schools stock up on the latest design software. However, we don’t often get to see what students get up to once everything’s installed. So when Bath Spa University invited us to their design showcase, we jumped at the chance.

As it turns out, students at the School of Art and Design have been using Adobe Creative Suite to develop designs for everything from fabric to iPad content. Here’s a quick guide to our favourite projects…

Mobilising Design Projects: Exporting student design projects to iPads

The design showcase at Bath Spa aims to give visitors to the University an insight into the work produced by students at the School of Art and Design. After working with the University for a number of years, senior graphics and 3D design lecturer, Neil Glen, was kind enough to give us a tour and show us the standard of the work being produced.

One of the University’s aims is to get students exploring different ways of presenting projects, and a good example of this is their use of the Apple iPad. As the creative industries increasingly use iPads to show clients work, creating mobile content is now becoming an essential skill to learn, and that’s something Neil is keen to promote to his students. He explains: “The iPad is a great platform for taking work out to show people, so we publish to iPad as well as doing print-based work.”

The iPad Publishing Project: Going beyond print

The brief: Create an interactive digital publication that takes advantage of the iPad’s multitouch gestures.

The process: As students would be using Creative Suite 4, designs would need to be created in InDesign, then exported to Dreamweaver where they would be coded.

The results: Second year BA Graphic Communication (Hons) student Claire Caswell created an interactive glasses prescription timeline (below). The resulting design could be viewed on an iPad and included the ability to swipe between pages and to pinch zoom in and out. It also made full use of the iPad’s ability to change between a horizontal and vertical layout when the device was rotated.

From File to Fabric: Photoshop’s hidden skills provide precision textile prints

One of the key stops on the School of Art and Design tour is the digital textile lab, where students experiment with different software applications and physical media to find new ways to get designs into their final fabric form. “There are lots of different ways of working with the software,” explains Maggie Powell, Technical Demonstrator for the Textile Design for Fashion and Interiors BA (Hons) course, “so we try to encourage students to be resourceful and look beyond the immediate.”

That resourcefulness has led to graduates finding work with leading fashion houses like Issey Mayake, Laura Ashley and Net-a-Porter, and companies including Disney Pixar and Damien Hirst’s publishers. “When students leave here and go to work in the industry, the chances are they are going to be working with Creative Suite,” says Maggie. Having experience on an industry-standard platform “smoothes the process from education to industry,” and makes it easier for students to develop practical, professionally valuable skills.

One such skill is digital textile printing. Combining classic design principles with cutting edge textile technology, this discipline sees students create original images and guides in Photoshop, then print them onto fabric to make drapes, scarves, cushion covers, bags or whatever the brief demands. They then sync patterns with a digital embroidery machine to add machine-sewn details to each project. Because Illustrator uses vector path-based tools rather than bitmaps, each line of the design stays smooth and sharp when it’s blown up, making for more accurate cuts.

Graduate Profile: Anna Glasbrook graduated from the course in 2010, and is now working as a self-employed designer on commissions, exhibitions and trade shows. Her work has been commissioned by garden designer Thomas Hoblyn for his award-winning Homebase garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2011 and her pieces featured on US primetime drama ‘Blue Bloods’. You can see Anna’s work at her website, or up close as part of Tent London and Cardiff’s Craft in the Bay exhibitions.

The course prepared me very well for my career and the steep learning curve I’m on at the moment! My ideas always begin with a photograph and I find Photoshop an invaluable tool for manipulating my source images, as well as creating contextualisations of my work,”explained Anna.

Bringing Designs to Life: Transforming software layouts into physical objects

Bath Spa’s new 3D Design course, BA (Hons) 3D Design: Ideal Material Object, encourages students to integrate hand drawing with software design. Students use software to grapple with resistant materials like wood, plastic and metal. One recent project involved coming up with a product that could be used at home and in the garden, then producing a prototype. We take a look at how they did it…

‘Inside/Outside': A first year project

The brief: Design and produce a cost-effective, reusable item suitable for outdoor and indoor use.

The process: First the students drew out their designs the old-fashioned way: by hand. Then they scanned them into Photoshop and combined them with original sketches in Illustrator to create a fully-fledged product design that has enough detail to satisfy the brief but can still be understood by the university’s cutters and printers.

The finished designs are exported straight from Illustrator to Bath Spa’s cutting and etching tools, as this ensures the graphics remain sharp when  blown up to be mechanically cut: “We also take the vector output and bring those files through other packages like Rhino,  which allows us to do things with laser cutting, CNC machining and 3D printing,” said Neil Glen, senior graphics and 3D design lecturer. This means students can experiment with different techniques to produce a wider variety of work, and realise more complex designs than would otherwise be possible.

The results: Students came up with a huge array of intriguing (and pretty attractive) new products. Our favourites (below) included Ros Bryan’s laser-etched apple tray and Daniel Clements’s combination drinks holder/tealight (the threatening-looking spike is to help it stay upright in the ground).

To find out how Adobe Creative Suite can fit into your design courses, call us on 03332 409 333 or email We can help with everything from deploying software and arranging Adobe Volume Licensing deals to networking and organising staff training.

Call us: 03332 409 306

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