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Mentorship Care Package: Sophomore Portfolio Review 2020

Posted on Jun 16th, 2020 by Sean Schumacher

The Summer Care Package: A summer gift for students from the Mentorship Team

As summer starts, the A+D Projects Mentorship team (Lily, Mel, Sparkman, and Harrison) have put together a ZIP file full of fun readings, activities, and more for you to work on. Whether you participated in the Review or are just looking for some activities, this is a great place to start!

Download the care package now! →

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Ebb & Flow

Posted on Jun 4th, 2020 by Sean Schumacher

Ebb & Flow: It's all part of the process

The Ebb & Flow Project from student Whitney Mokler is an exploration into the relationship designers have with their work flow and creativity. Here you will find interviews with 18 different designers outlining their experiences, giving advice on how to cope with stress, and insights into finding creative/personal inspiration.

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Detailing your type detail project PDF: Sophomore Portfolio Review 2020

Posted on Jun 4th, 2020 by Sean Schumacher

The type detail piece is the chance for your skill in handling type and layout to shine. For most, this will be a project you worked on in DES 200: perhaps it’s a COTA calendar, museum/exhibition catalog, annual report. It could be something else altogether, as long as there’s lots of body type, a mix of hierarchy, and a mix of both type and imagery to show how you handle layout.

How do you prepare your document, though? Most were originally designed to be printed, but in an all-digital environment, what’s the right setup? The upload form has the fundamentals:

Titled as 'FirstnameLastname_TypeDetail.pdf'. Exported as spreads. No crop marks, no bleed. No mockups or photos/scans.

Key to know: We want to see your document as close as it can be to the original format it was designed in (albeit, a PDF view of that), so there is no need to mock up or scan/photograph a booklet for this piece. Though they look pretty, they are far harder to get into the details of—which is pretty much the purpose of this example.

Check that it’s all correct!

Before you export, review your document to make sure you don’t have any missing/broken links in your Links or Preflight panels, and that all your images are set to have a high enough effective PPI. Our portfolio export article talks about resolution a bit more including how you can use the Preflight panel to help you check.

  • Make sure images are high enough resolution, that there aren’t broken links, and all pages and content is present and accounted for.
  • Look over your type! Check for typos (the dreaded accidental uppercase “W” especially), overset text (where copy is missing), and overrides (accidental shifts in type style, size leading, or potentially more). This is a great chance to ensure that this, as your type detail piece, has type detail that really shines.
  • Export with screen reading in mind

    Booklets should be delivered as reader spreads and NOT as printer spreads (in other words, they should make sense and be in the correct order on screen, since they don’t need to be assembled into a booklet after printing). After all, your reviewers not going to print imposed pages from your booklet at home. Exporting is the right choice; DON’T print as a booklet to make your PDF!

    Interactive PDFs can help

    How do you get there? We recommend exporting, just like with your portfolio itself, as an interactive PDF. Our portfolio export article can help you get started. That way, you won’t have to worry about turning off bleed and crop marks like you do when exporting a PDF for print—it does all the hard work for you.

    Choose File > Export…. After you’ve titled your new document in the and hit Save, you’ll see the “Export to Interactive PDF” window, where you can:

  • Export as: Spreads rather than as pages.
  • Make sure your PDF is set to export All pages rather than just a few.
  • The Export as Interactive PDF window.

    Keep resolution reasonable

    Resolution should be high but not too high. Much like the portfolio itself, we recommend files be set up at 144ppi—it’s a good balance on screen of clarity and file size.

    Interactive PDFs can keep resolution in check really easily: as we mentioned in the portfolio export article, the Compression tab has controls that will resize all of your images and let you adjust quality if the file size is still too high to upload.

    Check that it’s correct (again)!

    Before you submit, make sure to look over your PDF thoroughly to make sure everything is correct and nothing got lost in the conversion. There are a few things unique about how your booklet will export if you’ve done it right:

  • Your booklet’s first and last page should match your InDesign document’s page order, including how the first and last pages are indeed individual pages rather than spreads.
  • Make sure images look good, colors are approximately correct, (they’ll likely have shifted a little but should be closer than a Print PDF would be able to achieve), and all pages are present and accounted for.
  • Look over your type! Check for typos (the dreaded accidental uppercase “W” especially), overset text (where copy is missing), and overrides (accidental shifts in type style, size leading, or potentially more). This is a great chance to ensure that this, as your type detail piece, has type detail that really shines.

  • This is part of a series of posts about the 2020 Sophomore Portfolio Review
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    What even is a DARS Report?: Sophomore Portfolio Review 2020

    Posted on Jun 3rd, 2020 by Sean Schumacher

    You’ve probably heard the word whispered in advising meetings, perhaps glanced over it in an official document or two. Maybe, though, you’ve never actually seen one: a DARS (short for Degree Audit Report System) Report. It’s actually super helpful to make sure you’re both ready for the review and keeping on track with your degree.

    If you’re a PSU student, you can run a DARS report by logging into Banweb and choosing the Student Services tab. The registrar has a super helpful guide for getting to the right place and submitting an audit request (which is what we mean when we ask for a DARS).

    What catalog year and major do I choose?

    To generate a DARS, you’ll need to know your degree program. We have a few: BA, BS, or BFA, and there are separate options for post-baccalaureate students and students taking design as a second major in these degree program list, too. It can seem like a lot.

    Talking to an advisor about which path is best for you is always a good idea if you’re unsure. Most new students starting after Fall 2017 choose the BFA, but those with credits from Summer 2017 or earlier can choose the BA or BS degree programs instead.

    These degree programs can vary from year-to-year. Your advisor can also help you choose one that fits you best. In general, a good place to start is with the catalog year that matches the term you started at PSU.

    How do I get a PDF of my DARS?

    In the upper right corner of the report, you’ll find a Print/Download button. Press that, and you’ll be taken to a simpler, easier to print form. Mac users can then choose File > Print from their browser and click the “PDF” button in the lower right to generate a PDF. Windows users can use Print too, from Chrome: just choose PDF as the “printer” you’re sending your document to.

    How do I check that everything is right?

    It can be a bit tricky! The best thing to do is refer to the Sophomore Portfolio Review handbook’s “Required Coursework” section and compare it with the section of your DARS about your 100- and 200-level graphic design major coursework. If you are missing a course listed there, an advisor might be able to help.


    This is part of a series of posts about the 2020 Sophomore Portfolio Review
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    Exporting your portfolio easily: Sophomore Portfolio Review 2020

    Posted on Jun 3rd, 2020 by Sean Schumacher

    Exporting a PDF—easy, right? Even if you’ve done it a million times, it can feel daunting for an important project, especially one that you want to use to present your skills in the best light. That’s why we’ve compiled some helpful tips for you to make sure you can do it right!

    Updated: added Adobe Illustrator PDF export information to the end

    Use the right units, right from the start!

    Since your portfolio only needs to be digital, you can set it up that way! Choose pixels as your units when making a new document and you can guarantee you’ll have a 1920x1080px document (In some versions of InDesign, you may have to choose “Web” from the “Intent” drop-down menu on the New Document window to let you use pixels properly).

    Adobe InDesign's Links panel.

    Check your images!

    You can use InDesign’s Links panel to check images easily—make sure the Effective PPI of your images is at least 144 PPI to make sure they’ll export at the highest quality possible. (Pro tip: you can even define a Preflight panel profile to have InDesign check this for you!) Be on the lookout for any broken/missing image links, too.

    Skip print, go interactive!

    Export as an Interactive PDF! They’re made for screens and it’s way easier to set a specific resolution! After choosing File > Export, choose “Adobe PDF (Interactive)” from the Format drop-down menu. Then, under “Compression,” you can set Resolution (ppi) at exactly 144. You can also alter the JPEG quality here if your file is too big on the first try—just be careful it still looks good when you export it.
    Adobe InDesign Interactive PDF Export window, showing a 144PPI resolution

    Get things even smaller

    Is your PDF still too big or forgot to output as an interactive PDF? There’s lots of tools that can help. Acrobat has a PDF Optimizer built in that you get for free with your Creative Cloud account. It can take a bit of getting used to. If you’re more pressed for time, Smallpdf can compress your files down and is super easy to use.

    Working from Illustrator? There’s still options!

    Illustrator isn’t the best tool for working with raster image-heavy layouts or type by any means—but if you’ve already started working there, you can still push forward. Illustrator can make PDFs too, but rather than exporting, Adobe PDF is one of the options in the File > Save As… window.

    Once you’ve titled your file and clicked Save, you’ll need to toggle over to Compression. Change all the values on this screen to 144 ppi. The image below can give you a sense of what this looks like:

    The Save As PDF window in Illustrator showing the Compression tab. All fields are set to 144 ppi.


    This is part of a series of posts about the 2020 Sophomore Portfolio Review
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