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COURSE NAME: "Foundation in 3D Art and Design"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Catherine Biocca
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: W 6:30PM 9:15PM
PREREQUISITES: This class requires a materials fee of €75/$85 to cover all basic art supplies.

This foundational course provides students with the knowledge and skills to explore and demonstrate a range of fundamental Art and Design principles, production processes as well as materials and visualization skills appropriate to introductory study in 3D art and design. The course encompasses a diverse range of practices from designer-makers (such as fashion designers, jewelers and product designers) to conceptual sculptors and installation artists. Through practical projects, this course will engage with a variety of media and encourage students to think ‘spatially’. Principles such as balance, form, function, ergonomics, scale, and repetition and their relationship to 3D will be explored alongside strategies of making. Students will also explore the relationships between Artist / Audience and Designer / Consumer, allowing this course to be equally relevant to students from studio and non-studio arts backgrounds.

Students will tackle a variety of briefs ranging in complexity and time scales. Initial projects will be heavily directed and structured in order to provide a clear framework for researching, developing and presenting creative work within 3D disciplines. An emphasis is placed on the relationship between 2D Drawing and the creation of 3D forms.

Following an initial diagnostic series of projects, which introduce students to practical skills and techniques across a variety of media, students will explore a self-motivated enquiry and determine their own brief within one of the 3D design areas. Example of areas might include lifestyle products, from accessories, tableware, lighting, furniture, fashion products to wearables as well as sculptural fine art and public art outcomes. Students will execute in-depth primary, secondary and market / contextual research in order to create individual and innovative responses within their chosen area, which convey a visual and conceptual continuity demonstrating a sophisticated use of materials.


Demonstrate a range of both primary and secondary research strategies and effectively apply them in response to a specific brief or problem.

Demonstrate the ability to engage with a variety of development processes and strategies of making, which enable the logical progression through the interlinked stages of the creative process; research, idea generation, development and resolution.

Demonstrate technical proficiency in the knowledge of techniques and material and evidence an ability to use them creatively.

Demonstrate an ability to analyze and evaluate both the individual creative process and importantly the work and practice of other professional artists and designers.


class attendance and participation (10 %) 10%
Midterm ReviewA Midterm tutorial will take the place of a midterm exam. Students will present their work to date which will encompass their drawing and photographic research and material developments.20
Final PortfolioA professionally presented portfolio of work, which visually communicates a series of projects. Particular attention will be given to ability to create and present a sustained methodical creative enquiry of ideas, which shows an awareness of research methods and the practical application of Art and Design principles. In addition, evidence of annotation, analysis, and evaluation of both personal work and the professional practices of historical and contemporary Artists and Designers.70

AWork of this quality shows excellent mastery of the course content along with exceptional levels of technical skill, artistic awareness, originality, resourcefulness, commitment, quantity of work and improvement. There has been excellent collaboration and leadership in group projects, and there have been no attendance problems.
BA highly competent level of performance with work that directly addresses the content of the course, with a good quantity of work produced.
CAn acceptable level of performance: the work shows awareness of the course content, but is very limited in quantity, quality, commitment and skill.
DThe student lacks a coherent grasp of the course material and has failed to produce much work.
FNegligent in attendance, academic honesty, engagement with the course content, or production of work.


Students are required to regularly attend this course.

Learners are expected to attend every class periodIf they are ill or have obtained an excused absence (in accordance with JCUs official attendance policies), learners are required to notify the instructor in a prompt and timely manner.  Furthermore, if learners must miss a class, they are responsible for acquiring the missed information and completing assignments before the next classMedical excuses without documentation from a physician are invalidUnexcused absences will affect your participation grade: 


2 unexcused absences = forfeit of one letter grade*.  

3 unexcused absences = forfeit of additional letter grade. 

4 unexcused absences = forfeit of additional letter grade and mandatory student meeting with instructor and department chair. 

5 unexcused absences = Five unexcused absences (one third of the course experience) will prevent you from passing the course.  


*Refers to learners’ participation letter grade. 

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Week 1 

Introduction to course and overview of learning intentions and their relationship to wider Art and Design practices.  

Symmetrical / Asymmetrical. 

Using straws students will create a symmetrical structure which can support a single flower. (60 mins).

Using a styrofoam cup, students will rate an asymmetrical structure which holds a single flower (30 minutes). 


Students should, purchasing of finding cheap material create an alternative structure to support a single flower.


Week 2  

3D Drawing & Visualization  

Part 1 (20 Textures)

This session is to allow students to consider and develop strategies for critically looking and selecting visual research materials that can help ‘inform’ and ‘drive’ their 3D process. Students must initially, using any camera (including smart phone) photograph 20 textures. Consider scale - Micro and Macro.  

Part 2 (30 in 60)

“30 in 60” - makes reference to a design method of collecting visual information through improvisational drawing, responding to specific location[s] and/or experience[s]. The restricted timescale (60mins) and the specific stimuli (natural form) imposes on students constraints in the way you record information: Time-limited - asks you to work at a different pace, Space-limited - asks you to use a more critical eye in finding/selecting details. With both resulting in you having to start adopting a more personal visual short-hand or more improvised drawing and visualization method or approach. 

Within a sketchbook or loose sheets of paper create 30 improvised drawing statements (pen, pencil, objects, rubbings, or actions) utilizing a variety of media. You can also use text to annotate these studies.  


Week 3 

Transformational Drawings and Experimentation with Paper.  


Essential Reading:

HANNAH, G.G., 2002. Elements of Design. Princeton Architectural Press. (Page 77- 85)

JACKSON, P., 2011 Folding Techniques for Designers. London: Lawrence King Publishing. (Page 15-27)


Using research materials: drawings from 30 in 60 Improvisational Drawing/Visualization& 20 Textures photographic research, students will work towards developing a number of ‘Transformational’ drawings from these materials. Considering and analyzing this information and visual data will further inform and help progress their developmental investigations into textures, locations, and emotive responses to these places and forms. 

The Main focus here will be on developing a specific set of visuals and techniques related to their original research. Key concepts of simplification, multiplication and repeat. Students will make use of photocopiers to duplicate ‘stylized drawings’ and begin to learn basic construction techniques related to paper, such as cut, score and fold. 




Students will continue to develop one sample at home which combined elements of two samples made within class. Understanding the concept of juxtaposition as a developmental technique is the focus of this assignment and students should produce one highly refined sample which displays a strong command of technical skill. Consider a variety of construction joining techniques beyond glue, such as slotting, folding, stitching etc. The turn-around time for this assignment is two weeks. 



Week 4 

Form and Cast

Making reference to the previous exercises students will develop a single textured relief ‘tile’ using clay and plaster. This textured ‘tile’ should visually connect with the drawing & visualization tasks that students have undertaken over the previous weeks. The emphasis will be to analyze, record, and develop textures found within natural forms. The result, a plaster cast of a clay relief sculpture, will allow students to understand techniques of casting and 3D modelling based upon the visual elements of texture and volume. 

NOTE - If participating in the course remotely, you you should use alternative found materials to generate a raised surface texture. 

Week 5 

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Students will present their developmental sample (homework assignment) for class critique. Feedback, as well as introduction of further construction techniques focusing on the concepts of ‘piercing, perforating and puncturing’ students will develop a single element, which will be developed into structured item which can be ‘worn’. Via practical making and critique, students will develop an awareness of ergonomics and the relationship between ‘form’ and ‘wearer/user’.  



Students will create either additional developmental samples or 2D visualization drawings, which depicts design development and alterations to the work carried out in class. The drawings should convey Design Drawing as a visual communication tool - which evidences logical thinking and progression based upon work in class.  


Week 6  

Mid Term Review

A Mid Term review will allow students to discuss one to one with the professor areas of strength and development. Presentation of research and material mockups will be reviewed. The grade assigned will contribute 20% to the final grade. 


Week 7  

Drawing in the Air


Essential Reading:

HANNAH, G.G., 2002. Elements of Design. Princeton Architectural Press. (Page 87- 95)

Building on the construction techniques used within earlier lessons, this project aims to force students to work directly in three-dimensional space. This project allows a freedom of construction, creating a free-standing sculpture that develops from their initial drawings at Orto Botanico. Using wood and wire students will need to consider stance, strength, poise, weight and lightness. Depending on students’ interests, they may choose to be ‘analytical’ or ‘expressive’ in their approach to the materials. The open-ended approach to this project will allow students to begin to formulate an individual framework to their work within 3D Art and Design.  


Week 8  

Drawing in the Air - Continued

Depending on students’ approach to the previous weeks task, students may choose to continue to add complexity to their forms. In contrast, they may create an additional structure, which combines elements from previous works. Particular attention will be placed upon ‘positive and negative space' and ‘translucent and opaque’



Students must collect a minimum of 5 small or large samples of materials which have varying properties. For example, transparent, rigid, soft, crinkled, smooth.  These samples can be as small as 2 cm and students do not have to spend money. Our daily existence is surrounded by a variety of packaging materials, fabrics, papers which have interesting textures and qualities. Students should also pay attention to sourcing materials in a variety of colors.  


Week 9 

Development of techniques - combining, justaposing and developing previous ideas. 



Students will create an individual proposal for the remaining weeks of the semester. Students at this point may choose to research another area of interest, which is not natural forms. If so, they must create a body of quality research from which to develop. Students, within their final proposal should clearly consider the ‘purpose’ of their projects. Areas of interest may be jewelry, furniture, lighting design or Fine Art. This list is not exhaustive and in discussion with the tutor ideas and concepts will be formulated.  


Week 10 

Project - Research

Student will research their area of interest via drawing and ‘material sampling’. Individual discussion and feedback from the professor and peers will help facilitate a discursive and constructive environment for ‘purposeful’ development of ideas. The initial session will focus on ‘idea generation,’. The use of mind maps, visual connectors and knowledge of processes will inform the session and students resulting body of work.  


Week 11 


Students will develop ideas in a self-motivated manner, making use of earlier techniques and individual research interests. From the initial body of research, students will select one area to develop. For example, focusing on the innovative application of a single (or contrasting) techniques, evoking an atmosphere within their work or the relationship between ‘Form and Function.’ As always within the course, emphasis is placed upon the visual and conceptual continuity within the development work. A sustained, methodical ‘enquiry’ is essential for the successful completion of this project.  


Week 12 


With a growing technical competence, students will begin to resolve their ideas. Working through problems of construction, by making miniature moquette and producing developmental samples. Documenting developments via photography and annotated drawings is imperative to evidence the evolution of ideas and students creative and critical thinking.   


Week 13

Continued Development 

Week 14

Resolving Ideas

Editing / Selecting work for final portfolio.

Weel 15

Final Critique