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Curriculum strands

Specialist strands

AOs/LOs by level

Technological practice (TP)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3

7-1 | 7-2 | 7-3

8-1 | 8-2 | 8-3

Technological knowledge (TK)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3

7-1 | 7-2 | 7-3

8-1 | 8-2 | 8-3

Nature of technology (NT)

6-1 | 6-2

7-1 | 7-2

8-1 | 8-2

Design in technology (DET)

6-1 | 6-2

7-1 | 7-2


Manufacturing (MFG)

6-1 | 6-2

7-1 | 7-2


Technical areas (TCA)


Construction and mechanical technologies (CMT)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3 | 6-4

6-5 | 6-6 | 6-7

7-1 |  7-2 |  7-3 |  7-4

7-5 |  7-6 |  7-7

8-1 | 8-2 | 8-3 | 8-4

8-5 | 8-6 | 8-7

Design and visual communication (DVC)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3

7-1 | 7-2 | 7-3

8-1 | 8-2 | 8-3

Digital technologies (DTG)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3 | 6-4

6-5 | 6-6 | 6-7 | 6-8

6-9 | 6-10 | 6-11 | 6-12

7-1 |  7-2 |  7-3 |  7-4

7-5 |  7-6 |  7-7 |  7-8

7-9 |  7-10 |  7-11 |  7-12

8-1 | 8-2 | 8-3 | 8-4

8-5 |  8-6/7 | 8-8 | 8-9

8-10 |  8-11 | 8-12

Processing technologies (PRT)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3

7-1 | 7-2 | 7-3

8-1/2 | 8-3

Graphics practice DVC 7-2

Achievement standard 2.34, 2.35, and 2.36, AS91341, 91342, 91343

Graphics practice refers to the creative application of drawing and design knowledge and techniques to develop conceptual outcomes that address a brief, or a technological outcome of a graphical nature.

The brief used may be provided to the students or developed by the students as part of their practice. Quality outcomes resulting from graphics practice rely on the selection of appropriate and well-executed drawing techniques, and presentation methods that allow conceptual designs to be communicated effectively.

Learning objective: DVC 7-2

Students will:

  • demonstrate ability to explore and develop design ideas by applying specialist visual communication and design knowledge and techniques in response to a brief.


Students can:

  • explore and refine design ideas that draw on spatial design knowledge 
  • explore and refine design ideas that draw on product design knowledge 
  • make design judgments on the positive and/or negative aspects of aesthetic and functional features of the design in response to the brief 
  • review and refine well-considered design ideas that incorporate specialist spatial design knowledge progressing towards an outcome 
  • review and refine well-considered design ideas that incorporate specialist product design knowledge progressing towards an outcome 
  • use presentation techniques, and the application of compositional principles, modes and media, to effectively present visual information.


At level 7, students have progressed from:

  • generating, exploring and communicating design ideas to generating and evolving design ideas
  • applying visual literacy and design thinking in a generic sense to applying specialist spatial and/or product design visual literacy and design thinking specifically in response to a brief context.

Teacher guidance

To support students to explore and develop design ideas by applying specialist visual communication and design knowledge and techniques in response to a brief at level 7, teachers could provide opportunity for students to:

  • generate, develop and communicate design ideas informed by appropriate research (for example, relevant testing, existing design examples, and identified design characteristics of a design movement or era) 
  • use presentation techniques that draw on compositional principles (such as proximity, alignment, and hierarchy, use of positive and negative space), graphic modes (such as digital, photography, animation, conventional sketching and drawing methods), and media (such as pastels, collage, card and digital media, and marker pens) to present design ideas and conceptual outcomes 
  • review and refine design ideas that incorporate specialist spatial design knowledge (for example, materials, processes, sustainability, environmental considerations such as climate, aspect, light) and graphic techniques (for example, architectural drawings, renderings, modelling) for inside and outside spaces in response to a brief 
  • review and refine design ideas that incorporate specialist product design knowledge (for example, materials, processes, sustainability, joining, fitting, fasteners, ergonomics, anthropometric data) and graphic techniques (for example, component drawings, sectioning, animation, renderings, modelling) in response to a brief 
  • incorporate design judgments in the development and ongoing evaluation of design ideas into a conceptual outcome 
  • explore a range of communication techniques to determine suitability for presenting design outcomes to different audiences (should include opportunity to understand and use a variety of compositional principles, graphical modes, and media).

Contexts for teaching and learning

  • Show students a range of designers' portfolio sheets to explore how designers present their work to help them consider this aspect of their practice.
  • Show students a range of designers' work from initial sketches through to more detailed sketches as their ideas progress to appreciate the importance of those initial rapid sketches to record divergent ideas.
  • Show students previous student evidence for the similar/same brief context.
  • Consider and discuss with students how they will show evidence/document their exploration/divergent thinking and refinement process (convergent thinking).
  • Unpack the aspects of the brief context and strategic approaches that encourage moving from the whole to the detail (sometimes this could be quite universal, for example, moving from the exploration of form and overall aesthetics to key details, materials and colour, to construction, measurement and ergonomics/human occupation).
  • Teach students how to justify their design thinking, especially the crucial decision-making, through visual communication techniques and annotating. Provide students with sentence starters/appropriate vocabulary to do this.
  • Continue to develop and extend students' understanding and use of design language/terms to enable them to effectively communicate their design intent, reviews, decisions and their reasoning.
  • Provide students with literacy support (sentence starters, defining academic language) so their annotations are specific to the context and their design thinking.
  • Encourage students to appreciate that decisions are continually fluid and changeable based on other decisions made (for example, you don’t develop a floor plan first then the exterior of a building – these two facets should be in constant interplay and flux, responsive to each other as necessary).
  • Develop exploration and interrogation strategies where students are continually re-evaluating and seeking different/better alternatives to all aspects of a design situation.
  • Through discussions, develop an understanding that everyone judges designs from their own perspectives, values, tastes and views; encourage students to justify these views.
  • Conference with individual students to discuss how they are going to refine their design ideas.
  • Allow opportunities for students to critique their own and each other’s work by developing a culture of trust in seeking and listening to advice from others – use strategies such as peer to peer critiques, small and large group critiques, pin-ups, viewer feedback.
  • Engage professional spatial and product designers to talk to students about their design journeys.
  • Facilitate and encourage access to spatial and product design books and access to appropriate websites.
  • Facilitate and encourage access to computers with CAD and design software such as SolidWorks, ArchiCAD, Vectorworks, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk.
  • Show how designers use animations to support and communicate their design thinking.
  • Provide a student brief with a design context that will engage students’ interests. Design contexts can be personal to the student, such things as an aspect of family life, a communal space like a school library or sailing club, retail spaces that relate to student hobbies/interests, gardens, urban spaces, buildings for a specific purpose – interior and/or exterior. The design context for product design can be personal to the student, a need of a family member or friend in the context of: furniture, hand held devices, kitchen product, user-friendly products.
  • Discuss with students that it is not the brief that makes for good design, but the manner in which they are able to creatively engage with the context.
  • Debate with students form versus function – that successful product design reveals useful functionality beyond its appealing form. No matter how excellent a design looks, most customers aren’t likely to spend money on something they won’t be able to use. On the other hand, most people are likely to buy something useful despite the design it has! As the counter argument, often architects are employed on the body of their work if the client is after a statement piece, and there are numerous projects that are marketed on their image, which has more to do with fashion than purpose.
  • Provide research opportunities on a required basis, dependent on students’ individual design approach and practices.
  • Products designs – discuss the visual communication techniques, the materials used, new materials, the ergonomic considerations, sustainable issues, aesthetics, manufacture.
  • Allow students to disassemble a product to investigate the exterior form and workings. This is great for product design, especially small products such as mobile phones, digital cameras. It enables students to gain an idea of what needs to be housed inside the casing and how things work to build up their knowledge. Get students to investigate joints, fastenings in other products, to develop their product knowledge.
  • Exemplars of existing spatial designs – discuss with students the aesthetic and functional aspects of the design; explore human factors within both spatial and product design contexts where the outcome is going to be for people to use; discuss how and why designers designing for humans need to consider the human during the design process. For more information on human factors in design, refer to DET 7-2 of this guide.

Encourage students to:

  • apply graphics practice to produce a portfolio of design work that shows the exploration, refinement, and communication of design ideas in a spatial design solution
  • use spatial design knowledge (researched throughout) to develop and refine design ideas in an iterative, logical and organised way 
    • this knowledge could come from research throughout the design process on others practice, the user’s needs, possible construction methods and the materials available, and consideration of human factors such as ergonomics and anthropometrics; use knowledge to inform their design thinking and then visually communicate or annotate ideas throughout
  • analyse and understand the spatial context: such as the light, sun paths, topography, position to north, wind patterns, urban factors, access, how people will interact with the building inside and outdoors, investigate existing features such as (trees, proximity of neighbours, stylistic features) views, shadows from trees, neighbours property; consider the wider context, for example, legal, ethical, cultural, historical, economic, sustainability, technological factors as specific to the brief
  • use product design knowledge to develop and refine design ideas in an iterative, logical and organised way
    • this knowledge could come from research throughout the design process on others practice, the users’ needs, possible construction methods and the materials available, and consideration of human factors such as ergonomics and anthropometrics; use knowledge to inform design thinking and visually communicated and annotated throughout 
  • consider different product design approaches, technical knowledge, and visual communication techniques that are relevant to the context – these may include but are not limited to: design tools used for the development of product design ideas (for example, market research, anthropometrics, ergonomes mockups, models)
  • explore design ideas in response to the brief in a way that interrogates the positives and negatives of the situation and/or environment
  • explore what makes a product design successful – such as its look, how it functions, how easy it to use, sustainability in the context of the brief
  • use photographs, notes, sketches, brainstorming or any other technique to demonstrate their design thinking concerning the context
  • refine ideas: thumbnails, explorative sketches, thinking sketches, technical details, that all work towards developing a design outcome (these are clearly evidenced in their portfolios in either 2D or 3D and are informed by research)
  • relate their designs to human dimensions/factors and data on anthropometrics and ergonomics
  • use visual communication techniques to explore and present their design ideas such as freehand sketches, sketch models, drawings, models, photographs, digital media, display boards and installations, refined rendering techniques (Bubble spatial diagrams, floor plans, elevations (measured), perspective views, proportion of spaces, position of doors, windows, flow of areas, orientation of layout)
  • encourage the use of working in 3D, either physical models or digital models, to test and refine ideas
  • show through visuals how they have evolved the exterior form, style, inside mechanisms, jointing, fastenings, materials and its intended use
  • add annotations to their visuals to explain design thinking, crucial decision-making throughout their design development, considering both aesthetic and functional considerations, possibilities and constraints. 
    • think about how they can improve ideas, how they can apply knowledge they have gained from research, showing how they have consider the wider environment, how people will interact with the space or product
  • use design language resources and sentence starters provided by the teacher
  • include people, human elements into their sketches to show human interaction/proportion/scale/function
  • show how their designs have been reviewed, considering the positives and negatives of the ideas, and then refined to develop well considered design ideas.

Literacy considerations

  • Graphics practice: refers to the application and integration of visual communication techniques, design thinking, and specialist design knowledge to develop well considered designs. 
  • Design context: refers to the environment in which the spatial or product design is to be situated and/or utilised.
  • The refinement process: is the process by which designers evolve design ideas to improve the aesthetic and/or functional qualities of the product design. This can be informed by such things as research, analysis, making design judgments, reflection, and critique.
  • Anthropometrics: the study of the human body and its movement, often involving research into measurements relating to people. It also involves collecting statistics or measurements relevant to the human body. Students may need to consider both static and/or dynamic data depending on the design context. Where possible, physical modelling can aid testing the data to see if it translates into real life as intended.
  • Ergonomics: the study of people and their relationship with the environment around them. When anthropometric data (measurements/statistics) is applied to a product, for example, measurements of the hand are used to design the shape and size of a handle, this is ergonomics.
  • Qualitative data: information about qualities; information that can't actually be measured, for example, the softness of skin. Deals with descriptions. Data can be observed but not measured. Colors, textures, smells, tastes, appearance, beauty.
  • Quantitative data: information about quantities; that is, information that can be measured and written down with numbers. Such as: length, height, area, volume, weight, speed, time, temperature, humidity, sound levels, cost, members, ages.
  • Visual literacy: the ability to derive meaning from images of everything that we see – reading images through the process of vision. Refers to the visual modes (for example, drawing, model-making, digital modelling) used as tools for aiding design thinking.
  • Positive and negative effects: looking at the good and bad aspects of a design.
  • Aesthetic features: such as qualities of appearance, design elements like colour, texture, shape, form, proportion, contrast, pattern, which are pleasing to the eye.
  • Functional features: physical features that have a specific responsibility in performance such as ergonomics, stability, durability.
  • Design judgments: can be both positive and negative; decisions on a design decision. Often these judgments can reflect one’s own values, taste, views and perspective.
  • Design language: to describe aesthetic and functional design features; analyse, critique, evaluate, reason, justify, explain.
  • Reviewing and refining design ideas: to look at and evaluate design ideas then to make changes.
  • Designer's perspective: the way a designer sees something, which is often influenced by their values, tastes, or views.
  • Product design: the design of objects and artefacts, which can relate to consumer products, engineering products, media products, fashion, packaging.
  • Spatial design: the design of inside and outside spaces, and may include but not limited to: architectural, interior design and landscape architecture.

Resources to support student achievement

Books for spatial design thinking

  • Human Dimension and Interior Space  Julius Panero & Martin Zelnik
  • The Measure of Man and Woman  Henry Dreyfuss Associates
  • Architecture Models Publisher: Page One
  • Presenting Architecture, Essential Techniques  Rikuo Nishimori, Pub: Page One
  • University publications: Auckland Architectural School – Modos (final year work)
  • Massey – Exposure
  • Going Public: Public Architecture, Urbanism and Interventions – publisher: Gestalten)
  • Foundations of Landscape Architecture: Integrating Form and Space Using the Language of Site Design – Norman K. Booth
  • Made Of … New Materials Sourcebook for Architecture and Design – Christiane Sauer
  • Materials in Architecture – publisher: Gingko Press
  • Creating Shade: Design, Construction, Technology – Chris van Uffelen
  • The Architecture Reference + Specification Book: Everything Architects Need to Know Every Day – Julia McMorrough
  • Basics Architecture 03: Architectural Design – Jane Anderson
  • Reading Architecture: A Visual Lexicon – Owen Hopkins
  • The Interior Design Reference + Specification Book: Everything Interior Designers Need to Know Every Day – Chris Grimley & Mimi Love
  • What is Interior Design? Essential Design Handbooks – Graeme Brooker and Sally Stone
  • Architecture Form, Space, and Order – Francis D.K. Ching
  • Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design – William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler
  • Geometry of Design: Studies in Proportion and Composition – Kimberly Elam

Books for product design thinking

  • The Design Of Everyday Things  Don Norman
  • Universal Principles of Design  William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler 
  • 1,000 Product Designs: Form, Function, and Technology from Around the World (1000 Series)  Eric Chan

Website resources

Assessment for qualifications

  • AS91341 Design & visual communication 2.34: Develop a spatial design through graphics practice
  • AS91342 Design & visual communication 2.35: Develop a product design through graphics practice
  • AS91343 Design and visual communication 2.36: Use visual communication techniques to compose a presentation of a design

Key messages for DVC standards

Key messages for individual DVC standards can be found on the following pages.

Last updated June 8, 2018