Future Designer Challenges & CU Blog Train

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Future Designer Challenges & CU Blog Train

Looking for some feedback on what designer challenges you like best. The new year is coming, so it's a good time to reflect on what's been working and what you'd like to see more of in the future.

Also, let me know any ideas you have for the CU blog train. Whether it's themes you'd like to do, or if there are any changes you think we should make to the process.

I love the challenges especially something I can do in one setting like mini kits (super small like 5 papers and 10-15 elements)
Mini theme or color theme kits
Word Art challenges
Mix up Elements like Take and Make (make us think outside the box)

In addition to Robin's suggestions (which are great), I like the idea of a "basics" theme - putting together just a few basic element templates to work with.

There was CU store, that I loved (closed now), they would put together a store grab bag with themes such as baby, birthday, Easter, ocean.. I was always excited to see all the goodies in those bags. I am definitely a theme person.

Designer challenges:
I'd love to see more challenges that focus on designer skill-building: extracting elements from photos, creating layered element templates, creating a themed pattern paper, creating color palettes that really work, creating add-ons with a mini/kit you've designed (stackers, clusters, journal cards, borders, etc.)...

I'd also like to see the kit building series make a reappearance, with say a 9-week timeline (2 months), and the Pass the Kit team collab challenge, though those take a bit more moderator involvement.

CU Blog Train Themes:
If we do seasonal/holiday themes, I'd like to get them scheduled about 3 months ahead of the holiday so that designers have a chance to use the blog train parts in their kits this year rather than next. Items for less-common holidays would be great.

I'd love to encourage universal themes, too--not every country has a Veteran's Day or celebrates Easter, but school, spring, fire department, vacation travel, kids, pets, dance, love, etc., are experienced all round the globe (with the exception of seasonal changes in the tropics).

Templates to make add-ons like clusters, borders, and stacked papers could go well, too.

So far I have not taken part in many Designer Challenges. I would enjoy the ones that do not take too much time.

I personally would not take part in a CU Blog Train as I struggle with creating my own elements because of my Trigger thumb causing too much pain with doing a lot of extracting.

Anne-Marie, did you know you can do extractions using a mouse and the Pen tool if you have access to it in your graphics program? It's lots easier on my hands than trying to do it via erasing little bits of background. Or you could create a series of layered vector shapes using Custom Shapes or the Pen tool (or a combination of both). The CU blog train focuses on quality over quantity, so you generally only make 1-3 pieces for it; it's less work than the regular blog train.

Thankyou Holly.... I do have a wacom and find even using the pen my thumb starts to ache. I use an ergonomic keyboard and mouse which help a lot.

If we only need to do a few items I possibly would consider taking part as I would like to improve on creating my own embellishments from scratch. Maybe I need to dust off my Adobe Illustrator and do some of my own artwork.

Illustrator's a great way to make elements from scratch, and nothing in my collection of programs beats it for typography/word art. But I wasn't talking about a graphics tablet pen when I said the Pen tool; I was talking about the tool in Photoshop that works just like the one in Illustrator. Hit the P button and you can draw vector shapes in Photoshop.


I love the idea of designer challenges that focus on designer skill-building that Holly mentioned. I could use a lot of practice!

Pulling thru these month long challenges, a mighty long kind of a haul for me... thinking of 2 months. Love the idea tho, Holly.
Color swatches is something that I would love, then develop a mini first and then take off from the mini, make small patterns, make more elements and so on. When I dl Marisa's The Good Life collections I look at the mini first.

Maybe we could do a few CU trains based on a tutorial for each month to help us newbie designers learn new skills? I would love that. smiley

Given the number of people who've mentioned having graphics tablets and never having learned to use them in another thread in this forum, I'd really love to see a skill-building challenge for that soon; it's not an absolutely critical skill to have to become a designer, but it IS very helpful and can give your hands and wrists a break from the keyboard/mouse use to avoid/limit carpal tunnel issues. I'm thinking a couple doodled strings/swirls/scribbles, write a word or two, doodle a flower and a photo corner, dodge/burn an element template to change it up...just a small set of things that are made easier with the tablet. Obviously, if you're using an iPad and a stylus, that's pretty similar, though it doesn't require developing the skill of looking ahead at the monitor while you're drawing on the graphics tablet...and that skill there is a doozy. I had my tablet for a couple years before I really started to use it effectively, mostly because I didn't push myself to use it regularly until about a month before I became effective with it. I think that's one of the things that almost everyone who first gets a graphics tablet goes through, and we could easily do a series of small challenges to help give that extra push to learn how to use it.

This is a great idea. I also fall under the category of people with a tablet who can't use it, and I'm considering upgrading my tablet as well, so I really need to get on the ball and figure a few things out. It may be a few months until I get around to this, but once I get going I'll post some prompts here in case anyone wants to join me. I know I'll be looking for some YouTube videos to watch in the beginning just to help me get my pen and software set up. I think a lot of the frustration comes from just not having things set up properly.

The software's pretty easy to set up with most of them; Wacom, especially, makes it very easy, as the defaults work well for most novice users. I'll post a new thread with the settings I use for my (several years old) Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch.

[ETA: Done and sticky. Hope it helps most of our designers who need a hand with getting set up!]

As far as the challenges go, I'm willing to post a series of starter ones if you and our other two moderators here don't mind.

Here is the advertising in my folder kit: All images used in my kits are under copyright and belong to their designers.
These images are not for resale individualy.They can be used in any project to suit your needs.

And I have some licences by designers.

I agree that I would love to see challenges that teach designers new skills. cant draw to save my life! hahaha

Thank you to Marisa and those who moderate here. Was looking back over past discussions, and wondering if we could maybe think about doing a designer series challenge this summer? just a thought. thanks

@Sarah Evans: Sorry, Sarah, just seeing.... smiley thank you for your suggestions!!

There are not any drawing tuts here that I know of but there are quite a few designer challenges that you could do. Other than the layout challenges that run a limited amount of time, the designer challenges are kept open. So you can do any challenge and post your result, the challenge thread will then pop up on top and I am sure you will get some feedback.

Enjoy your art journey, Sarah. smiley

thanks. i dont have a very steady hand because of my disability, but I seem to find cool stuff to make graphics. i am going try some of the older challenges that look cool. thanks