2D Nature Study: Presentation Formats

Art 200 / Greg Clayton

Optional formats that may be used to present your Nature Study

Book — handmade or digitally designed (DTP)

Web — Flash, HTML, etc.

Lesson Plans — class plans, handouts and presentation aids

Exhibition or Space Design — Interior Designers


The format or medium determines what you actually make — the format through which you communicate your analysis of your subject.
There are several format options: book, digital, lesson plans or exhibition.

Each format requires similar content, analysis, and graphic communication challenges. Each option offers possibilities that the others do not.

Keep in mind your current skills and interests—this may not be the best time to learn a new technology while also working out the other problems involved in completing this study. Select the option that is appropriate to your current skills and your professional goals.

The book is traditionally 9x12 spiral bound and hand-crafted. For digital presentations, HTML web sites or Flash stand-alone presentations are preferred. Exhibitions are presented on Interior-Design Portfolio-sized boards.

Get approval for any other medium/format before proceeding.

Which Format Do I Choose?

There are several formats for the Nature Study. You will pick one format appropriate to your major.
Interior Design students will create an exhibition design.
Most of you will design and create a book.
The rest of you have some options, depending on your particular skills and interests.

What is your major area of study?

Interior Design:

You will create an exhibition design or a chapel design.
Consider a gallery space - such as one of the two galleries here in the Art building. How might you demonstrate and explain qualities of formal beauty and order using that space? Wall displays? 3D models? Mobiles or other suspended graphics/forms?
The challenge is to communicate effectively using the possibilities that a space offers.

Theatre Tech/Set Design:

You might consider and explore a set designed in response to a nature subject. You would create presentation boards with adequate plans/elevations and/or renderings. Develop at least three scenes/sets. Include one board that is focused solely on the design traits/features that you are attempting to harness in your set design. This is the "conceptual development and design analysis" content.

Theatre/Costume Design:

You might explore a set of costumes informed by nature forms. No one has tried this, so explore how a close study of nature could inform distinctive costume concepts and designs. Surprise us!

Web design, Interactive Media, Computer Programming:

You are encouraged, but not required, to create a digitally-delivered presentation. Typically a web site, or a Flash presentation (standalone or web-delivered.)

Art Education

You are encouraged, but not required, to create a series of lesson plans and teaching resources for introducing students to visual design principles present within natural forms. (K-12 Art Lesson plans at Artsonia )

Graphic Design

Consider the book design or web design formats — depending on your existing skills. If you are already familiar with Illustrator, Photoshop and/or InDesign, consider preparing a digitally designed book. If you already have web or Flash programming skills, consider that option.

Fine Art, Art Therapy...and the creative rest of you

Traditionally the hand-made book option offers the most creative flexibility and the the most open-ended craft-media options.

What technical skills do you already have?

This is a fairly complicated project due to the many aspects of content, design, graphic communication and implementation that must be addressed. Consequently, this is usually not a good time to try a medium that is entirely new to you. In particular, if you've never used Adobe Illustrator, It's probably not wise to plan your project around Illustrator techniques that you've heard might be really cool to try out. So, the main advise is — assess the skills you have right now. Use them, rather than learning new implementation techniques. Even though digital design tools offer some terrific versatility and the promise of fast, sharp production, some of the best Nature Studies in recent years have used entirely traditional skills — creatively.

What interests you?

Take some time to sketch and brainstorm your project — explore various concepts. Think about how you might present and render the ideas you'd like to convey. How might you best engage the viewer — what medium might make that possible?




You can design your book using your computer-design skills, or you can design your book with absolutly no computer skills at all ... or any combination of traditional and digital tools.

There are two general ways to prepare a book-format nature study:
either use a spiral-bound sketchpad,
or design each page and then bind the pages yourself.
Today, most students will bind the book themselves because we now have so many binding options.

Binding Options:
Previous students have used a plastic comb binding (or similar) available at Coleman's Office Supply (Race Street. Self serve binding. About $1), at Curriculum lab in the School of Education, and at the Media Center in the HU Library.

Some designers have created their own custom bindings with wire, twine, ribbon or whatever else they conceived as appropriate to their book design.

As long as the binding
a) visually complements the book design,
b) keeps the pages bound securely, and
c) allows pages to open/close/turn easily
d) without tearing pages or "shifting" and sliding,
...then its a good binding

Staples (office-supplay store) also offers a type of metal/wire binding.

Plastic comb bindings offer you the opportunity to select varied paper colors, textures and weights of paper. You can change or rearrange pages at any time.

Do NOT use rings to bind your pages — pages usually flop and shift unacceptably. A more secure spine is necessary.


Minimum size is 8.5x11 -- 9x12 is preferred.

If you have an concept for a smaller format, present it graphically to the instructor and get approval before proceeding. Smaller formats are possible, though additional pages or full-page spreads may be needed to complete project requirements. Propose your layout and size before proceeding.

Non-Standard Page Sizes: Note that you can create quite varied page sizes by working on a large sheet, then trimming pages to final size (as is standard practie in the printing industry). That is, if you are designing your document in Adobe Illustrator, you could work on 12"x8" pages, print on tabloid (11x17) sheets, then trim to 12x18 with color bleeding all the way to the edge.

Small Page Sizes: You may propose a book with pages smaller than 8.5x11, however, you may need to design the full spread (facing pages...left and right pages used for each topic), or you may need to add additional pages to your study. In either case, you'll need to present your concept via rough sketches so that we're both clear on what you are proposing.

Introduce Interactivity wherever possible. Interactive features engage the viewer's attention, often involving multi-sensory experiences and individual choice.
You are expected to take advantage of the benefits of working with a 'hands-on' format. Consider diverse materials that are varied to the touch (different papers, fabrics, foils, materials, etc.).
Consider interactive devices that get the viewer involved (fold-outs, overlays, etc.)

Paper selection, Cover and Backing:
The back page must be heavy, stiff cardboard in order to give the book a substantial physical quality, as well as to better protect the handmade pages from bending and bowing.

The front page should be at least cover weight, card stock, or better.

Cover should be usually be protected with a sheet of clear acetate/plastic — available at the HUB, the Educational Resource Center or the Media Center (HU Library).

Pages must be of good quality paper ---use a good quality drawing paper or better. Note that standard bond paper is NOT heavy enough -- nor is it adequate for most drawing/marking techniques.
Paper is the physical foundation of your presentation--use good stock to support your designs.
The reader actually handles and turns these pages — there is tactile feedback at work. Cheap, flimsy paper conveys a connotation of cheapness about the presentatin as a whole.

Digital — Web or Other


Two options:
Web site.
[any interactive, digitally presented format may be proposed]

Digital presentations must be viewable on BOTH Mac or Windows PCs.
Do NOT use
Powerpoint —you are expected to use your multimedia skills to create a highly interactive experience for your viewer. Powerpoint is not designed for user-interactivity or varied navigation.

You will turn in your presentation in via a CD with a ReadMe text file that includes any instructions regarding viewing. Be sure and TEST your presentation on several computers (both Windows & MacOS) before turning it in. Include a separate folder with your source image files and with a folder of screen-dumps of each page (see notes on digital documentation, later).

You are expected to take advantage of the broad range of color, animation, and interactivity that your medium offers. Create ways to engage the viewer — leverage the potential of multi-media tools to impact your viewer.


Art Education Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans
If you are an Art Education major, you may present your design study as a set of lesson plans for presenting design concepts to a particular age group (which you may propose).
Prepare lesson content, goals and activities along with graphics (mounted images or panels).

Format: prepare your content in a way that would be most useful to a teacher who is preparing to teach a class using your content. A book or workbook format might be used. Consider including handouts for students, posters and/or a Powerpoint file for presenting content, outlines of tasks or projects that students could complete. Be creative exploring ways to help a teacher introduce students to the formal beauty of nature. Include at least 3 projects or activites that students could participate in -- activities that would make them more aware of form and beauty in nature.

[this is a new/proposed option — the details are not well specified. If you have ideas, feel free to propose them to the professor.]

Exhibition Design or Themed Space Design

Note: A Space design concept is the required Nature Study format for Interior Design students.


There are two suggested approaches to create a Nature Study as a space design:
— Create a design concept presentation for an exhibition.
— Create a desgin concept presentation for a themed space.

Present a concept for an EXHIBITION.
Imagine, for instance, that your job is to work with a Children's museum to plan an engaging, interactive and informative exhibit that inspires children to learn about the living world.
You can show visitors the beauty of living things, you can show them how various species interact (eco-system, "circle of life"), you can show them how creatures and plants grow (life-cycle).
Design the layout and displays of a space in which graphics, text and/or hands-on exhibits are used to introduce viewers to concepts of visual form and design present within a natural form.
As with other Nature Study formats, you will select a subject from nature and present the formal traits of that subject.

Present a concept for a THEMED SPACE.
Imagine a restaurant with peacock theme — the decorations, wall and floor and celings can be designed using forms and features of the peacock. You might have a table that has decorations highlighting the palette of colors that peacocks display. You might have another area that highlights the organization of feathers and "eyes".
You might also imagine a children's clothing store with a panda bear theme. The layout, spatial arangement, decorations and signage can be derived from formal traits of the panda bear.
Instead of "pages" in a Nature Study book design, you might have "areas" that emphasize shape, or repetition or color. You can enlightend visitors to the forms in nature, without making them feel like they are being taught.

For several years, IDAA students have concieved and created concepts for a student chapel on Harding's campus. These chapels are generally designed to meet an existing need. What sort of space would contribute to the campus culture? Space fo small group devotionals? For group worship? For one or two person prayer and meditation spaces?
What is the need within the student body that such a space could help with?

A sample project -

2000s.f. max, uniess approved.
Design for a specific location on campus.

Develop presentation boards that communicate

your written design concept/program,
the influence of your nature subject,
your space design concept (plans, elevations, renderings, models... adequate to communicate your design), and
analysis of your nature subject.


Select a particular audience for your presentation. (e.g. inner city grades school children, rural high school students, senior citizens, (non-art and design) university students…) The more you clarify who you are communicating with, the more obvious are your design choices.

Your final design will include small-scale elevations/designs of each wall or area in your space, and a floor plan or isometric of the entire space. Be sure to represent color in your designs/elevations. Consider using SketchUp to quickly block out forms and perspectives.

The Space:
You may select one of the assigned spaces (below) and plan information panels/displays, kiosks and/or space dividers as needed in order to create an engaging visitor experience introducing formal principles found in natural forms.
You may also design and propose the space for which you will design the interior.

Option 1: a gallery in the art building — assume that you have any two walls of either one of the galleries. [ *** I have floor plans of the gallery available. *** ]

Option 2: the lobby of the art building, the (main, southwest) lobby of the Prior Science Building. Assume that paintings/photos may be removed and space dividers may be introduced. [ *** I have floor plans of the lobby available. *** ]

Option 3: Select or design a free-standing display structure that can be set into the middle of a public space for viewing. Consider, for instance, a structure that could support a display in the center of a retail mall, in an airport lobby or in a gradeschool library lobby, and then disassembled and moved to another site.

Each designer should explore ways to take advantage of the unique potential of their chosen medium and format —thus the exhibition designer might consider integrating the 'panels' into some sort of extended mural-like display or panorama...or an ongoing flowing composition of interconnected designs. In short, explore how a space can be used to impact a viewer in ways that a book or a web site cannot.


Your space should create a distinctive viewing experience to inform and engage the viewer. Address traffic flow and accessibility issues (esp. width of passageways, height of content, size of type/imagery…) Address issues of scale — plan the size and height of exhibit presentations to suit your viewer and your expressive concept.

Presentation of design :

Present your exhibit concept on ID-portfolio-sized boards: 18” x 24” (11"x17" boards are also acceptable, though roughly twice as many boards will be needed. Whichever size board you choose, be consistent throughout your presentation).
Note that you are presenting a concept for an interior, not finished construction drawings for an interior project. The boards you create must "sell" your design concept to the viewer — so make it vivid and impressive; help us imagine being in your space.
You will also verbally present your concept— 3-5 min.

— Include a written project concept description introducing your exhibit;
— Include a floor plan or isometric with color and a key/legend or other description of where each panel/elevation is located;
— Include elevations of all displays/areas instead of the "pages" described in the Nature Study project description. (most instructions describing this project will refer to "pages" of content. You will likely design walls or panels on which your content will be displayed. For presentation, you'll make elevations or renderings of those walls or panels.

Note that several "pages" of content may be combined on a single wall or on a single presentation board. Be sure to explore ways to integrate your design into the space, in contrast to dividing content into discrete panels. Your job is to conceive of how to best use your space to inspire and inform the viewer/occupant — so explore all of the space -- including ceilings, floor, and the open space itself. All of that is available to you -- don't limit your ideas to "posters on the wall" solutions; conceive a spatial design, a space-filling or space-activating solution.

No cover page or table of contents is required. Otherwise, your exhbit is to present all required content for the Nature Study project. Instead of a table of contents, you may want to provide a floorplan that acts as a key to other elevations or views — that plan explains how each of the others are related — how they all fit together.

If helpful/needed: swatch/materials board, rendering/diagram of specific displays.
Note that a model might be proposed as an alternative to one or more of your boards.
Be sure to include representations of human figures in your elevations or isometrics in order to graphically communicate scale (an outline/symbol of figures is often adequate.)

Note that detailed, dimensioned elevations and plans are NOT required. The goal here is to conceive and convey a distinctive concept for an exhbition. Renderings, plans and elevations need not be accurate for construction purposes — imagine that these boards will be used to present and "sell" your exhibit concept to a client.

Note that the project descriptions, elsewhere on this site, refer to required “pages” of content. For your exhibition design, assume that each of your display boards might present 2-to-4 “pages” (panels) of content as elevations. That is, you do not have to create one 18”x24” panel for each “page” of your project's content. You might be able to complete your presentation with as few as 4 — 18"x24" boards, and you should normally not need more than 6 boards.

Project specs may be refined further. Feel free to ask questions or propose suggestions.


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