Matt Franks

Designer, Professor, Entrepreneur

Austin Center for Design : Studio Foundation


Rapid visual communication is fundamental to the design process. To convey the value of a product, system, or service, designers must be able to illustrate the context, behaviors, and emotional outcomes associated with its use.

Intro to design is the first studio course in the 1 year program at AC4D. This course focuses on the fundamentals of design: storytelling, rapid ideation, visual narratives, metaphor and presentation. Download Syllabus.

Course Materials

  • HoneyBadger Image 1
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  • HoneyBadger Image 1
Class 1: Sketching Basics

Most people know how to draw, they just lack the confidence to do it consistently or to a high degree of fidelity.

This class focuses on re-learning the basics of rapid illustration. By breaking down complex human forms and gestures into easily repeatable frameworks, students are able to build upon a scaffold for communicating their ideas.

Class 2: Critique, Metaphor & Vignettes

The emotional and behavioral outcomes associated with a product or service represents its true value; but capturing these outcomes can be difficult as they often exist as fleeting emotional states or the transfer of knowledge.

This class focuses on the use of metaphor and single page vignettes that illustrate a product, system, or service and its emotional and/or behavioral outcomes.

Class 3: Storyboarding

Many things are hard to describe in words, because words lack the precision and clarity required to describe a new idea.

This class focuses on storyboarding; a method of visualizing the embodiment of a product, system, or service through sequence and narrative.

Class 4: Fidelity

In addition to "high quality craft", understanding fidelity is about choosing when and how to illustrate a concept gesturally or with pain-staking detail.

This class focuses on methods of increasing fidelity and explores examples of when it's appropriate to include more detail.

Class 6: Products & Interfaces

The goal of our visualizations can change depending on what we are trying to communicate, but the tools and methods are the same. The iterative process used to illustrate physical products can also be used to describe digital interfaces.

This class explores the process of iteratively crafting digital interfaces and how these visualizations can change depending on the fidelity required to communicate the design intent.