#BUCPUA Students up their Marketability at Digital Design Skills Workshop

Brian Creamer provides digital design instruction to #BUCPUA students
Brian Creamer (MET ’15) instructs #BUCPUA students on digital design fundamentals

Alumnus Brian Creamer (MET’15) clicked forward in his presentation, pointing to a plain Cape Cod street image. He advanced to the next slide, pointing again to the same street, but enhanced: the image now included both a wide sidewalk and bright bike lane. Creamer explained how software applications like Photoshop and InDesign can transform existing images into visions desired by citizens and policymakers.

On October 7, students from the BU City Planning and Urban Affairs (BUPCUA) Program attended the free #BUCPUA Digital Design Skills Workshop to acquire sought-after competencies in the Adobe Creative Suite.  Degree-seeking students in the #BUCPUA Program have myriad opportunities to practice digital design and develop striking presentation materials.  Courses that emphasize these skills include UA 613 Designing Urban Spaces, UA 654 Geographic Information Systems for Planners, and UA 805 Boston Urban Symposium.

An easy-going speaker, Creamer led students through the fundamentals of Photoshop and InDesign.  Creamer earned his Master of City Planning in 2015 and is a teaching assistant in UA 515 History, Theory and Planning Practice. Using examples from his own work as project designer in the planning department at Nitsch Engineering, Creamer stressed the broad functionality and applicability of these programs in planning-related fields. His presentation began with basic tips and best practices, explaining why planning agencies and private companies alike rely on Photoshop and InDesign.

“Why do we bother using these things?” Creamer asked. “You could do it in Word, or PowerPoint or Excel, but these applications are the industry standard.”

Creamer dove into the nitty-gritty features, explaining how the many tools offered, including layering capabilities, page spreads, and smaller file sizes, are extremely reliable for generating an array of planning-related products.  He incorporated humor into his presentation, stating, “Photoshop is also really good for Photoshopping cats, wherever,” after flicking through pictures of cats shooting lasers from their eyes.

#BUCPUA Students Elmo Wiratama and Peter Kimball develop renderings through InDesign
#BUCPUA Students (L to R) Elmo Wiratama (MET ’18) and Peter Kimball (MET ’18) develop renderings through InDesign

Creamer addressed more than Adobe tools in his presentation – he also gave students advice, explaining that projects should be rooted in real-world planning scenarios, and students must always consider their audience when designing a project.

“It’s important to have culturally diverse people in your rendering,” he said. “So when you’re standing in front of it, you can be proud of it.  It shows you were thinking of the bigger picture.”

The second part of his presentation was interactive, leading students through the creation of a “complete street” rendering in Photoshop. Students then used InDesign to develop flyers that demonstrate this new town policy; the flyers both explained and visually depicted how complete streets provide safe and accessible options for all travel, including walking, biking, public transit and single occupancy vehicles. Using InDesign and Photoshop, students practiced inserting text and images, making edits, layers, and different textures, and finally bringing it all together to produce an impressive visualization.

This free workshop was a unique opportunity for students to better familiarize themselves with Adobe applications. “I want to get a better eye for layout and design, and get basic Photoshop skills,” said Victoria Chaney (CAS ’18) “I want to build my portfolio for grad school, specifically architecture school.”


– Ines Boussebaa (CAS ’16) and Courtney Thraen (MET ’17)