TOKEN: MICE Expo Workshop Attendance Oct. 19-20

Next weekend, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo is happening in Cambridge, MA. It’s a free weekend event showcasing independent and local comics. You can earn a Token by attending a workshop and blogging about it (see below).

Time estimate: 1 hour 15 minutes (1 hour workshop + 15 minute post) not including travel time to Cambridge

Event Attendance TOKEN

  • Attend the event – take notes.
    • Take a selfie at the event (showing your swag).
    • Add a photo of the speaker and scene gist to document your presence.
    • Add at least one photo of notes, doodles, or drawings you made at the event.
    Post these 3 or more photos and a 300+ word essay answering the following questions:
    1. What did you learn?
    2. What was your AHA moment?
    3. Did you talk to anyone there, and if so, what was your reaction?
    You can be awarded ONE (1) TOKEN per event. Spelling, grammar and word count are required. There is a limit of 10 submissions (possible 10 tokens.) for Event Attendance Tokens.

TOKEN: Bott’s Lawncare Revision

This token is available to two people on a first come, first served basis.

Create a visual for the Bott’s Lawncare problem (slide 22 on the Perception models presentation ) using one of the following underlying structures:

  • concentric circle shape
  • concentric square shape

Remember — The only words that should be on this visual are in the Title and the Product Labels. Everything should be coded in sensory symbols.

Please submit two high quality image of your design solution. The first image should be a rough draft in your sketchbook, while the second is a neat, presentable digitally edited mock-up image ready for professional printers to translate to the back of product packaging.

Make sure the design is readable and looks neat enough to use as commercial product packaging.  To make it look professional, please use rulers or even digitize the final image.  In your blog reflection, please answer the following questions in a 500+ word blog post.

Post your solution in a blog post with a 500+ word reflection about your design considerations. 
Compare how your design is different from those we did in class ( see the galleries from Section 1 and Section 2). Discuss the design choices did you made. How does the final image save cognitive load orInclude details about how this visual differs .  Please consider and reflect on how the structure and symbols you used reduced the viewer’s cognitive load and employ the Principle of Parsimony.

Acceptable Visual w/reflection counts for two tokens… the equivalent of an assignment Blog post.

Botts Lawncare TOKEN

  • Section 1 is 3:30-4:50 pm Section 2 is 5-6:20 pm

TOKEN: Convert a scene into shapes

Shapes are in everything you see. Using lines, you can describe recognizable shapes. Look around to find ovals, rectangles, squares, polygons, etc. The goal is to become aware that our visual perception system processes the world as a collage of lines, shape, and form.

  1. Find a suitable scene. Choose a scene that shows the ground and the ceiling or sky. Hint: It’s easiest to scout out places with architectural regularity or simple shapes first. Avoid skewing the camera. A head-on camera view is recommended.
  2. Take a picture of the scene. This could be an interior (floor to ceiling) or exterior (ground to sky) space.
  3. Look carefully. Decompose the scene into simple shapes (squares, circles, lines, etc). Try the squint hack (see Lecture 2-0, slide 19) to grab generalized contours and regions.
  4. Sketch out those shapes in your notebook. Use the pencil and thumb method (see Lecture 2-0, slide 5) to help you with drawing proportions and angles.
  5. Draw a second version using even fewer shapes than you used before.
  6. Show your work to someone who is not in this class. What was their reaction? Could they see the shapes in your scene?
  7. Post in your blog the original photo and your converted sketch iterations. Upload a post containing the 3 photos:
    • Original photo of your scene
    • The first translation of your scene into shapes
    • A second iteration with the most reduced number of shapes
  8. Write a 500+ words blog post accompanying your photos. Where is this scene? Why did you choose this scene? What shapes dominate? In translating to shapes, which features did you struggle with? What was the easiest thing about this translation?

Convert a Scene into Shape Token Specification

Specifications for the Shape Token
  • Please answer the following:

TOKEN: Taking it to ’11’

When your final visuals truly look professional, going well beyond the minimum specifications, I call that “Going to 11!” — à la Spinal Tap.

Work that exceeds the minimal specification for the assignment gets a token.  Think about it this way, consider the work you do as work specified for a client. If the client receives work that not only meets all the required specifications but is “so good they have to tell others to look at it”– then it is truly exceeding standards. The submitted piece should not just look professional, but demonstrate skill and thoughtfulness that could be mistaken for the work of a professoinal.   People cold see this work on a major news outlet, Instagram, or a public forum as something unique and worthy of their attention.

About Tokens

There is redemption!

  • Oh NO! You forgot to do the quiz! The deadline has passed and you cannot do it now and you’re going to get a NP!
  • Oh NO! You were sick and missed a class where we did an activity and now you have a Participation NP!
  • Oh NO! You didn’t write 500+ words for that blog post and you left out those Reflection Questions! Got a NP!!

These things happen. Breathe — there is a way to recover from these calamities — although there is a limit to what you can reclaim.

In my classes, students can replace a NP (No Pass) in a graded activity by earning TOKENS. Think of them as a “Get out of Jail Free” card you might find in Monopoly. You earn a TOKEN by doing something outside of class that I deem of academic value.

The various graded activities we have for this class have different levels of difficulty and so, also, have different academic value. Participation grades and Quizzes do not carry the same value as a Blog Assignment that requires research and reflection. Therefore, each activity requires a certain number of tokens to replace a NP. (See the grid in Grading Policy).

Maximum number of TOKENS you can attempt FROM ANY SOURCE is 10 — that’s about one event per week during the semester. You probably cannot “Token Yourself” into an “A” so… don’t get careless. My basic philosophy is that getting a token should never be as easy as doing the thing you were supposed to do in the first place.

At the end of the semester I post a spreadsheet where you get to indicate, by the last class of the semester, how your tokens are to be used.

Standard Token Activity

Attend a designated (ExtraROC) event or talk and post a 300 word comment on the Events @ RWU blog. Each comment (executed to specifications) is worth 1 TOKEN. Be aware that there are very few allowable events happening during the final two weeks of the semester. So plan ahead.

COMM 165 has a few TOKEN opportunities that might not be available to other courses I teach:

Extra Visual Solutions

Occasionally, there is a visual problem we tackle in class as an activity that could be done differently or with more depth. At the end of class I will announce if doing an alternative solution is TOKEN worthy and will give you the parameters. These tend to evolve out of what we are doing so be alert to it. You will have to have been in class for the originating activity. You post your solution as a blog post with a 500 word reflection on it and it counts for TWO TOKENS… the equivalent of an assignment Blog post.


In the Spring Semester ONLY: Sometime in April, RWU holds the Student Academic Showcase (SASH). Two Tokens can be earned by viewing three student poster sessions and actively asking questions and writing a 500-word critique about how well these posters worked as Visual Communication. An assignment will be posted to the website when this event comes around.