Debbie Williams, Computer Science, IT and Creative iMedia Subject Advisor
For our Cambridge National in Creative iMedia students need to complete two mandatory and one optional unit. R093 is the mandatory exam unit and R094 is the mandatory non-examined assessment (NEA).
In a series of blogs on this qualification, I hope to give you a flavour of each unit. Blogs for all the optional units are already available, but I have produced this similar one for R094 following a number of requests from teachers.
For unit R094, students must design, create, save and export a visual identity and digital graphic product to meet a client brief. Students will learn to create pre-production documentation as well as develop the tools and techniques to create an effective visual identity and digital graphic product.
This mandatory unit is the smallest of all the units and worth 25% of the final grade so it could be a good foundation unit to do first with students.
Students need to know the purpose and the components/elements of visual identity and how it is used to communicate the nature of the organisation’s brand.
It is important to note that a visual identity is more than a logo. On page 26 of the specification it states:
“A visual identity communicates values and core principles to the consumer, user or customer. It makes a brand recognisable and helps sell a product or idea to a target audience. Logos, shapes, typography, colour theory and composition are all used to generate visual identities”.
Students should consider all of these elements when designing, producing and justifying their visual identity.
Students need to be taught the concepts of graphic design, including visual identity, alignment, typography, use of colour and white space. They need to be able to apply this to their own designs and justify their choices later when completing the NEA. Time should be spent investigating existing organisations and their visual identity and considering the design concepts they used within their brand.
Students also need to know about layout conventions for different graphic products such as advertisements, leaflets, magazine covers and packaging (the full list is on page 27 of the specification). Again, students need time to deconstruct existing products to understand how the designer has made use of conventions such as mastheads, image content and copy.
It is important that students know the technical properties of both raster and vector graphics to enable them to choose the correct format for their own products. They also need to be aware of licences and permissions for using assets. Students may source assets from the client, the internet or they may create them. They must be able to explain the licence or copyright information for each asset they wish to use in their visual identity and graphic product.
Some of the content of the mandatory examined unit R093 will need to be applied in this unit. For example, the teaching content for topic area 3.2 in R093 covers mind maps and mood boards. Students will need to have the understanding and skills to create a mind map, for example to identify ideas that meet the client brief for the graphic product, or a mood board to show their theme for the visual identity in the NEA. Therefore, it would be good practice to teach these techniques during the learning phase./p
When it comes to the pre-production planning for their visual identity, students will be expected to produce concept sketches. They should be encouraged to draw these by hand. Alternatively, they could use a graphics tablet and a basic app to digitally sketch their ideas. In my experience, students struggle to differentiate between their design and the actual visual identity if they use the same software to design and create their visual identity so this should be avoided.
It is important for the higher mark bands that students can justify their design choices including the graphics, typography, colour palette and layout in line with what they learnt in topic area 1. This is something that some students find challenging, so the opportunity for you to model and them to practice these skills in the learning phase is vital. You could set tasks for students to design a visual identity for a fictional organisation and then pitch it to you, as the client, using annotations or written paragraphs to justify their design choices.
Students will also need to produce visualisation diagrams for their digital graphics product to show their design ideas and layout. Again, in my experience it’s easier for students to sketch these, but they could use concept art digitally. If producing on screen, I would encourage the use of different software from the one they are using for their actual digital graphics product so discourage them from going straight to creating the product rather than designing it first.
Students are not marked for their drawing ability, but for creativity and use of conventions. They should be encouraged to annotate their visualisation diagrams and taught that they should be good enough for a third party to produce independently. To introduce this concept, I often gave students a poor visualisation diagram and asked them to produce the product for me. This enabled students to develop their software skills but also taught them first-hand about the importance of annotation as they became frustrated when they didn’t know a colour scheme, font choice or which image went where because the visualisation wasn’t sufficient.
Topic area 3 for this unit has two products that students will need to create: a visual identity and a digital graphic product such as advertisements, leaflets, magazine covers or packaging.
As with all the other units, it is important – and reflected in the mark criteria in strand 2(b) – that students create and/or edit all the assets they are going to use in the digital graphics product and visual identity before importing them into the software. Their marks may be limited if they edit or create assets within the products that they haven’t prepared beforehand.
Students should also be taught to source assets correctly and provide details in an assets table. We provide a template for students and they are strongly encouraged to use it in their NEA task.
We recommend using image editing software to create the visual identify, edit visual assets and combine them into the digital graphic product. There are several options you could consider using when it comes to which software to use:
Lots of other software applications are available. If you aren’t sure whether the one you want to use is suitable, you could check the specification for the skills and tools listed and see if the software has the tools needed. If you are still unsure you could contact our support centre.
For this unit, students should not be using desktop publishing software (DTP) such as Publisher as it does not let them demonstrate the technical tools and techniques listed in the specification.
The specification (page 29) lists the tools and technical skills that students could use to create their visual identity and digital graphics product. You would need to give students time to learn and practice these in the teaching and learning phase before issuing the NEA tasks. Good practice would be to provide students with a copy of the specification during the NEA so they know which skills they need to evidence through screenshots to get higher mark bands. They don’t need to use them all, but we would expect them to demonstrate a wide range within the creation of their visual identity and digital graphic product.
It is not always clear what tools and techniques students have used during the creation of the product. If a student only provides their finished visual identity and graphic product, it would be really difficult to award marks above MB1 in strand 2a and 2b. Moderators don’t expect a step-by-step guide but as before, during and after screenshots (annotated with what tool used and why) would be good evidence for students to be awarded marks in these strands.
Students will also be required to save and export their visual identity and graphic product in suitable formats. This again links back to R093 and topic area 2.2 (properties of digital graphics), so it would be worthwhile to teaching this early in the course.
I hope this has given you a good idea of what R094 is all about and the evidence needed for the NEA. We also have a scheme of work that could provide further guidance on planning this unit.
If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_ICT. You can also sign up to receive subject updates information about resources and support.
Debbie joined the Computing team in September 2022, bringing her knowledge as a teacher and subject leader for IT, Computing and Creative Media. She has over 20 years’ experience of education working in various settings including state schools, private specialist provision, local authority, and as a marker and moderator for exam boards. She has a degree in Technology Management, a PGCE and a Masters in Teaching and Learning.