Unicorn In Training

How a programmer becomes a designer

Always be yourself unless you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn.
Coding is fantastic! I love it deeply. Typing up the behind-the-scenes magic that becomes the structure that an iOS app lives within is awesome! I love the challenges, the bug squashing, and those times when things just “work” right out of the door. There’s a piece missing for me however. A part of this process I am not fulfilling within myself…
I want to create the pretty things the user gets to see, touch, tap, swipe, and remember.

Brandon Passley, co-founder of Mobile Makers Academy spoke on the topic of unicorns while I attended their 8-week bootcamp. The ability to program and design; to understand how to integrate your unique creations in an aesthetic digital wonder world. It’s the whole package. When he spoke about understanding both sides of the process, I perked up. “That’s me! That’s my analytical side mixing with my artistic side.” I was missing the artistic side for several years of military deployments, FBI internships and ultimately defense contracting… contracts. I had all the computers and toys at my disposal and not 1 actual “fun” task to complete with them. I knew right then in Brandon’s discussion, “a unicorn I will become”.


Back to college & back to self-learning

29 years old and the newest enrolled student in the University of Colorado Denver’s Digital Design Bachelor’s program, I am beginning to learn the foundations of 2D design. How did I make it to nearly 30 and not know what colors complement each other? Visual weight, compositional triangles, contrast, texture, balance, and horizons. Terms that make sense and things to actually look for when I look at artwork. These principles carry over into the digital realm all the same. Look up a few of those basic terms and then open the Facebook app for instance. These principles are found throughout the majorly utilized apps out there in the world and in your phone. I began my journey in the correct place BUT there’s an issue with college in the beginning. It’s slow; DREADFULLY SLOW. I’m whipping out assignments, readings, reports, and extra credit ahead of schedule to the point where I am sometimes jumping ahead and missing smaller assignment due dates along the way.

What the heck? I was just beer bong’ing iOS development principles and code challenges, Stack Overflow questions and Ray Wenderlich tutorials at a speed that would rival that college senior chugging 3 feet of Natural Lite on a Wednesday night. The abrupt change to college pace is apparent and annoying.

“Desperation is a necessary ingredient to learning anything, or creating anything. Period. If you ain’t desperate at some point, you ain’t interesting.” -Jim Carrey

I need to feed my brain faster. Sure, I have oodles to learn about code still in my junior stages but I also want to know more about creating the digital art that will be coded into my masterpieces.


designcode.io found me

This Facebook page kept slipping around my feed; Design+Code. A gorgeous community full of people that want to do both, are working on both, and everyone is happy to share and answer questions about both.

DISCLAIMER: If you join, be happy, be helpful, be active, and BE Respectful

A man by the name of Meng To has put together a gorgeous resource for bringing the design-osphere and code-realms together in harmony. I have just began reading through the site and exploring his ePub’s that you can either read/watch/listen within iBooks or utilize it all within the website itself. This is going to be the knowledge stream I am going to chug for next couple weeks. One thing I have learned is that if you keep perusing over something to learn and never just DECIDE on 1, you are just spinning your wheels. This site and information is backed by an EXTREMELY vibrant community of people helping people. It has the feeling I get from my iOS Development school, Mobile Makers Academy. With that type of human positivity backing this product, I feel that I am in a good place to gain some powerful knowledge.


What software is being used?

This site teaches you how to utilize a program titled, Sketch3, a product produced by Bohemian Coding. Sure this is a pay for product with a price tag of $99 BUT there’s numerous discount codes available as well as a 50% off price for current students. I see Sketch as “the cure from Adobe-stress”. No offense to Adobe though; their products are industry standard for a reason. As a newbie however, I have stress and internal fear when trying them. I always feel like I am breaking something and that I am not even sure what it is I am clicking on. SKETCH is not that. I feel like I am using Apple’s Pages or Keynote BUT for drawing. The cockpit console is not nearly as intimidating as Adobe and that gives me a bit of peace of mind in these beginner stages. Now, don’t get me wrong… from the videos I’ve watched on YouTube and the products people have built utilizing Sketch3, it has everything you need to produce industry leading products.

The other side of the pie is Xcode which is Apple’s free development software that is used to build iOS apps as well as software apps for your OSX Mac’s. Xcode is a monster in its own right and even though I am comfortable using this now, I know I am going to pick up a couple more tricks as I move forward.


To Be Continued…

I will push posts out as I progress along to show you some neat things I learned as well as the delights I could conjure up through this.

I hope you enjoy the ride.

Disclaimer: No, I do not receive compensation from any of these companies or products that I have highlighted or linked to this posting. I just want to help others and have an outlet to talk about the things I have learned.
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