I finished my card designs in Illustrator yesterday and I finished these a lot quicker than I initially expected to. Because of this I am ahead of where I wanted to be and so I am in a very good position given the amount of time until submission and the tasks I have remaining. Given this fact I will redraft my time plans to help assess what I have left to do and this will allow me to break down my time and plan well.
Referring to my previous time planning (link above) I can see that I allocated 77 hours to complete this task broken up over 4 weeks (Figure 1). It actually took me 1 week and about 20 hours which is a very good turnaround given my initial predictions. I gave a large amount of time because of my inexperience in this area and so I wanted to ensure I had enough time for the quality of the outcome to be high.
I gave myself 10 days to complete the designs in Illustrator (Figure 2). Admittedly during those days I was also blogging and doing tasks orientated with the presentation but even for argument sake if I said 5 full days of Illustrator designing. I actually managed to achieve that task in 1 (very long but still) day. Obviously I did over compensate with the time I allocated myself but it is certainly better to do that than to under plan and now I am in a very good position time wise.
Also it was because I was very organised with every aspect of the work and I will use the rest of this post to discuss this. I feel that there were 3 main reasons that allowed me to start and finish the cards in a very quick time scale.
Research and understanding.
I was able to come up with ideas very quickly for the content of the cards and this was largely down to my understanding of my subject. I had collated a lot of research during the first half of the project and I produced very in depth analysis of the work and ideas I was working with. Some of this research has not had a direct influence with my work and I have previously mentioned this. However I have no doubt that it has had a big influence throughout the project and especially when brainstorming for ideas.
I have spent a lot of time researching and put a lot of effort in with the whole of this project. As a result of this I have a very good understanding of the topic which allowed me to constantly develop idea after idea based off of both the research and going through my paper to highlight key parts. This aspect was very important as I have been able to take a part from the paper and rework it into a different form, but still trying to ensure it puts forward the same message.
I also looked at a lot of material to do with playing cards, graphic visualisations and probes as well thinking about the logistics of the medium. This has saved time now and given me the understanding to be able to go straight into designing as I was very aware of what I wanted to create and I was confident that my ideas were strong. I can really appreciate that this research has benefited me hugely now in regards to time.
I looked back through my blog and over all of the material I had collected and then read through my paper and highlighted key points, names, arguments etc.. I then scribbled down ideas and also gathered lots of images that were associated with my project and put them on a mood board. This process took about an hour and from this I was able to come up with a lot of ideas. So, I think this was very effective.
Also, I ensured that before I started I had finalised the drawings of each and every card. This meant that I didn’t have to think about any aspects when designing. I just needed to implement the designs. Therefore the only thing I had to worry about was using the program. This was extremely useful as I am not very proficient using Illustrator and so this meant I could focus all of my energy on actually using the program. This was one aspect that really allowed me to complete the tasks in Illustrator in very good time.
Before I began implementing the design in Illustartor I made sure I had gathered all of the vector files that I needed. This ensured that I didn’t have to stop in the middle of a card to either find one or make one. This in some instances took a bit of time and so it meant that I was able to make the designs very fluently which was a big help.
I also made sure that I named all files in the same manner and put them in folders that were in the right categories. Figure 3 shows the folders I had to make the cards and it made it very easy to switch between each to find what I needed. Obviously this is not a huge factor but it ensures I don’t misplace things and waste time by saving in the wrong place and trying to look for things I can’t find.
Figure 4 shows the Image I quickly made to compile together every design. This made it easier to choose which design should go where and how I should split them up into their respective suits. Figure 5 shows the same image with each card that has been used crossed out. This helped me see which images I had used and what I had left. I won’t explain the differing shades and colours as it is not relevant. Although this is very rough, it was extremely quick to do and easy to keep on top of and it was very effective.
Figure 6 shows a screen grab from my working in Illustrator whilst creating the cards. Take note of the layers panel. I found that creating new layers for each card design, separate to the card template was the best way to organise the document. I ensured each one not being used was locked and this made it easy to find the graphics when I needed to move, edit or resize them. I am far more familiar with Photoshop and I find that Illustrator’s layering system is more complex and so my method really helped. Although it is standard practise and very simple, I found it to be something which helped me keep on top of things. When I have previously used Illustrator I have got stuck in situations because I couldn’t find where something had been layered as it was messy. Whereas this time I had few instances where I came across problems but when I did I was able to locate and resolve the problem far easier and this was because of effective planning and organising.
I think I have shown very clearly in this post my approach to self and project management including how I have handled time, worked in an autonomous way and shown an initiative in my personal direction. I have also highlighted the extent to which I manage my work and the production processes of my project. Furthermore I have demonstrated my ability to be able to address my current situation and plan my time accordingly based on what has changed in the project in terms of both time and completion.