Serif in Education

Grangemouth High

We joined Twitter almost five years ago, and we now have more than 800 followers. We love the way that Twitter allows us to interact with the schools that use Serif in their classrooms. We spend a lot of time building, tweaking and testing our different software programs for our audiences but it’s nice to see examples of schools using it in real time. This gives us valuable feedback to even further develop our programs – and of course, we are also very curious to see what creative ideas students are coming up with in the real world!

One brilliant example of how Twitter connects us to schools is the relationship that we have built up with Grangemouth High School. Nick Tait runs the Twitter feed for the Design, Engineering & Technology Department for the school in Scotland. He often tweets pictures of various pieces of student work, all created using Serif software.

One that really caught our attention though was a project by Hayley, an S6 student. She started by drawing little animal and Seaworld characters from scratch in DrawPlus.

She then inserted these creatures into a game interface / moodboard design for her Job / Apprenticeship / College Portfolio.

We were so impressed with Hayley’s drawings, we thought they had been traced from pictures!

This is actually a really good idea for students who aren’t as comfortable with designing their own drawings from scratch – they can instead import a photograph and then draw a freehand outline.

In DrawPlus, students should start a new drawing and then insert a photograph that they have saved. To make the image more transparent, so that it is easier to trace, select it, and on the Colour tab drag the Opacity slider down to about 50%. Then zoom in for greater accuracy.

A good tip is to add a new layer. This will keep all your drawing elements separate from the source image. For a complex drawing make a new layer for each element.

Trace around the object/person/character in the photo by clicking so as to set nodes. Before you release the mouse button, drag slightly left or right, up or down to adjust the control handles that determine the curve of the line. This takes a lot of practice, but mistakes can easily be fixed with the Undo button. Save your work.

The Pencil Tool is designed to sketch curved lines and shapes. The Paintbrush Tool lets you paint with a selection of preset brushes. The Pen Tool creates connected line segments using a series of “connect the dots” mouse clicks.

DrawPlus also has a range of Brush Effects - expressive mark-making vector tools that create the appearance of pastel, charcoal, paint and watercolour on screen.

In this way, students can build up their confidence before they attempt some freehand drawings like Hayley’s!