“A Bézier curve is a parametric curve frequently used in computer graphics, animation, modeling, CAD, CAGD, and many other related fields.”Abedallah M Rababah
The curricular content of Digital Media Development 12 features, “2D, 3D, audio, and video digital media editing tools.” Every single program that I am aware of that involves digital media editing also features Bézier curves – usually referred to in these software packages as the ‘pen’ or ‘path’ tool – and in the case of video and audio editing, may just be an intrinsic part of the UI and may not draw attention to itself as such. In this sense this WebQuest could be thought of as a fantastic introduction to a tool which could prove integral to such a course – I don’t think of it in those terms however.
The pen tool is a tool which has become dear to my heart, and is regularly brought to bear in my university and professional career. I think everyone should be introduced to the pen tool – it’s just that useful!
Although I have suggested a direct connection to Digital Media Development 12, I have tried to make this WebQuest cross-curricular. I believe that for those who don’t find something to interest them, they can easily work with their instructor to find a way to make it so.
Students begin with playing a game (or two) that help them learn how to use the pen tool. The games themselves do a good job of explaining what is needed. If students are playing the Bézier Game (really the better of the two), you can challenge the class – if the activity is being done as a class – to complete the car drawing with the fewest number of strokes possible. You can track what the students are able to attain.
Students have a choice of (Photoshop, Illustrator, GIMP, Inkscape). If all things are equal my preferred software would be Illustrator. In conjunction with Photoshop it is what I used to make most of the illustrations on this WebQuest. GIMP and Inkscape are freeware software. Some students may already be familiar with the pen tool – don’t worry if these students are using 3d-modelling or sketching software, these programs may be fine in terms of completing the WebQuest.
Once they have chosen their software and familiarized themselves with the pen/path tool, they create their logo. Maybe they already created it when they were fiddling… The logo should be at least partially abstract, and they can choose to add text to the logo or not. Don’t worry if it looks mostly like a scribble – but it should look like it was made from Bézier curves and not, for example, the pencil tool in Paint.
Once the logo is made, the WebQuest calls for a persuasive paragraph – this could easily be adapted to a persuasive essay – on why their logo will work for a fictional energy company Earthotage Energy. Provided a student was well prepared, I would offer the opportunity to have them persuade me through a presentation, a conversation or other means as well. These alternatives are not offered in the body of the WebQuest however. A sample rubric is available in the student pages.
It is also worth mentioning that in the world of this WebQuest the students are unpaid interns for design company Arbitrary Design.
Although this WebQuest can be interpreted as touching on other subjects (some of which I have indicated below, and some of which arise from cross-curricular potential), Digital Media Development 12 is a perfect fit in terms of the curricular content and competencies which are meant to be developed as part of that course. Work with the persuasive paragraph and logo interpretation develop marketing skills, while students’ exploration of an ‘existing tool’ in the form of the pen/path tool helps introduce students to Bézier curves – a ubiquitous facet of the stated curricular content of Digital Media Development 12.
This WebQuest has been designed specifically to be cross-curricular. Because Bézier curves are an integral part of our digital reality (even the fonts we use are built and printed on the screen using Bézier curves) they are applicable in so many different ways!
Students from different course contexts can collaborate on this WebQuest. One student may create the logo, the other may tackle the persuasive essay for example.
This is where I feel there is the most potential for a cross-curricular approach. Java, for example, has a Bézier function, so programming an animated logo is a possibility. Similarly, a logo can be sculpted with 3d modelling software and then can be 3d-printed or machined. A design student can collaborate with a math or computer science student – even just the act of writing a persuasive essay combines the talents we work towards in communications or English, and technical or problem-solving skills we develop in media, math and com-sci courses.