AP Studio Art: 3-Dimensional Design

On line for the 2012-2013 School Year


Teachers: Dianne Settino & Linus Meldrum


Email: spiderdance@pa.net


Tech Needs: High Speed Internet needed for fast transfer of large image files.  Digital camera (8+megapixels recommended) to photograph, format and send images online.


Textbooks: (buy used on Amazon.com) Required:  SHAPING SPACE by Paul Zelanski and Mary Pat Fisher. And, if you don’t already have one, any comprehensive college level Art History textbook for reference. Usually the oldest editions of both these books will be the cheapest and that’s fine.


Class Tuition Fee: $595.


Materials Cost: approximately $150. to $200. Students use materials in different ways.


Estimated Weekly Time Commitment: Average 12 – 15 hours.


Prerequisite: AP Drawing, and AP 2-Dimensional Art or their equivalent, including any course from a college, or an art association that has prepared you with college level drawing and design skills.


An AP Studio Art course is a very different animal from all the other AP courses and exams. These courses require the students to create their exam responses (two finished portfolios of 12 Three-Dimensional designs each) over the school year as they complete the course assignments. Our students will honestly tell you the necessary pace of the course is demanding; the number of pieces needed for the digital submission (24 finished pieces) is set in stone by the College Board.


Over the last two years we have been delighted to see immense growth in the young artists in our AP Drawing and Design courses. We are frequently amazed by the tremendously poignant and powerful images they compose. Each and every one of our students has created more than a few masterworks. The sculpture you develop in this course won’t be easily forgotten, throwaway pieces; the works will require substantial thought and thorough design in preparation for the completion of high-quality 3 Dimensional expression. For some students, this work will form the core of their art school and scholarship applications.  For others, these portfolios will be treasured collections the family will pass to the next generation.


Anyone who wants to stretch themselves as an artist will be challenged as they create the 24 3D works of art required for digital submission to the AP Readers in May of 2013.  The students in this class will expand their art and design skills into the world of three dimensions. This class focuses on both the classic foundations of sculpture as well as contemporary exploration of space. Most of the assignments will be table top size and completed with easily purchased, salvaged or free materials. No elaborate equipment or overly expensive materials will be required.


The students in AP 3D DESIGN will learn how to think like artists/designers and Fine Art Sculptors, use the tools of an artist/designer/sculptor, and communicate through strong, bold, visual narratives using physical shapes and forms.  This class focuses on using the classic foundational elements of sculpture to design images whose form can be sometimes both functional and beautiful, as well as purely fine art images.


Who Should Apply?


Mature homeschooled students who are entering grades 11-12 who enjoy the Arts, Art History and any type of creative work. If you are in 9th or 10th grade take our AP Drawing course this year, then take AP 2D Design in 10th or 11th grade. Seniors with a strong background in art that is equivalent to AP Drawing and AP 2D Design may be considered only if their senior year is not overloaded with other high level courses. I will talk individually with parents to determine if this course will fit into your senior year.


High school graduates taking a gap year can use this course to prepare for college portfolio submissions. And, this course would be an excellent way for a gap-year student to discern a career in the arts. If you have had lots of 2D experience but no 3D, this is the course for you to add additional content to your portfolio.


Important Considerations


Students must be able to photograph their artwork, and use camera software to format and upload their homework for weekly critiques. You will learn how to critique your own work, construct your own rubrics and analyze the work of your classmates. You will be reading and writing about visual ideas as you communicate with your fellow classmates and us.


If you are a freshman, or if this is your first year taking AP courses or college level work, you will not be able to take this course as an addition to any other college or AP course. An absolute weekly minimum of 12 hours is needed to finish the required 24 drawings. Taking this course and another AP course in your first year of college-level academics would be overwhelming.


We cannot overstate how rigorous this course is for students. The assignments are challenging; the standards are high.  It must be given the same weight and consideration as any academic course if students are to complete the amount of work necessary, at the level of quality needed, to successfully score in the College Board AP submission.


One issue of great concern to the College Board AP Readers, who score the portfolio submissions, is the issue of plagiarism.  In this course, we will be working from direct observation.  We will also guide you in the possible consideration of your own photographs to use as secondary reference in composition. The College Board will disqualify any artwork derived from any source other than your own.


How to Apply:


We will treat your initial contact with us as similar to a ‘portfolio day’ at a high school.  Send a group of digital images of any designs, drawings or paintings you have made.  Send 6 pieces minimum (at least 3 must be drawings from life), no more than 12, please. Original work done from direct observation is best.  We will then send 4 short assignments taking no more than 2-4 hours to complete. These will help us see your basic skills in drawing and general design.  We ask for drawings in the application because the path to 3D Design passes through Drawing.  Much of the work in this class starts with clearly drawn sketches that conceive of both form and space.  Experience in Drawing and/or 2D Design is a necessary prerequisite.


Our application asks for your PSAT or SAT scores. If your scores are on the low side but your artwork shows a good, basic understanding of the visual world, we will work with you. Conversely, if your scores are strong but your artwork has yet to develop, we will show you how to reinterpret your skills into the visual language.  You must be extremely self-motivated, and have an excellent work ethic to be successful in this online Studio class. (If you have not taken these tests yet we may ask you to describe your learning style.)


Course Definition: HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM AP Drawing or 2D Design?


This course will cover what is taught in a basic college-level freshman 3-Dimensional Design course. The emphasis will be on the development of a free standing object or objects in a designed space that have both commercial and fine art applications. Interaction with space within and around an object are the emphasis of AP 3D Design. This course provides a foundation for continued studies in, but not limited to, Product Design, Toy Design, 3 D Illustration, Set Design, Architecture, Sculpture and the Fine Arts.


In AP 3D Design the emphasis is on actual shape and form moving through light and space. However, surface mark-making and 2D Design elements, could be included as some of the elements of design to be used, if it is necessary to the success of the work.


The BREADTH Portfolio projects will include: Both Additive  and Subtractive  sculptural techniques for creating form. The Elements of 3- D design will be used to create images that can be used commercially and in fine art. One example of a Fine Art application would be a Head and bust portrait. An example of a possible commercial application would be a 3D Illustration for a book or poster. We will act as the student’s art director - some of our assignments will come from imaginary clients from various fields.  Our assignments will be shaped in an ongoing week-to-week ‘tweaking’ process to address the strengths and weaknesses of the students’ work. We will find ways to highlight the students’ best art abilities. We will also challenge them with assignments that require them to push their skills to a higher level. It is probable that the Breadth portfolios will be very different student to student. The student is aiming for variety and depth.


The CONCENTRATION Portfolio will be absolutely very different from student to student. The student’s vision is only limited by their technical abilities. They could choose to create: Portrait Busts, Pottery, Sculptural Art to Wear, Jewelry, Movie Set Designs, Architectural Models, Site Specific Earth Sculpture, or a multitude of other unique proposals. We will help the student evaluate their strengths and choose a concentration that is a good fit for them. Anything that is 3 Dimensional is appropriate.




Students will learn a weekly three-step process to art composition as they complete the two portfolios for the digital application.


IDEATION : The student needs to mentally clarify the needs and desires of the imaginary client.

Then the creation of a concept and plan of action to guide the designer’s thinking. At least one hour is needed for this.


PREPARATORY WORK: Approximately three hours of short works that sketch out the proposed work, sampling and testing visual ideas. Some students might use sketches, but others may use quick 3D expressions.


FINAL WORK:  Approximately 8 hours of creating the finished Design, focusing concept and technique to achieve an image that clearly conveys the ideation.


Students will be required to photograph their artwork, format it for viewing, and upload it to the AP Homeschoolers website.




The BREADTH PORTFOLIO: Consists of 12 pieces that demonstrate the student’s ability to work successfully in different media using assigned Ideations.  These designs should show a competency in both technique and communicating subject matter. We assign projects that will reinforce the understanding of the elements of art, design and composition. 


The CONCENTRATION PORTFOLIO:  The artist/designers develop their own theme and ideation then explore it in depth through 12 individual pieces.  The student must also create a written statement of intent and a description of their Concentration portfolio pieces in their digital exam submission.


The Breadth and Concentration Portfolios are arranged in digital format in late April or early May. The College Board provides an online template for you to fill with your digital images.  When complete, you submit it to the College Board by the May 2013 deadline.




3D Design does not require the sending of actual artwork as do the other AP Studio Art Exams


Beginning Monday August 27, 2012 we will assign short design projects that will introduce the basic elements of 3D Design. These initial projects will prepare the students to begin the 12 design assignments of the Breadth portfolio.


Once the Portfolio work begins, students will have one major design due each week. They will work in steps.


By following the web board posts, students will have a chance to learn by viewing/commenting on each other’s work.  


While we provide subject-specific assignments for the Breadth Portfolio, in the second semester we will guide you in the process of creating your own assignments for the Concentration portfolio.  We will also be a bit like editors to help students create the required writing component of the Final AP Portfolio; this “working statement” will show Portfolio reviewers that the student can analyze and understand designs. 


Research, idea-building and planning for the Concentration portfolio will begin late in the Fall semester. By the Spring semester students will begin the artwork for this second portfolio.


Some of the teacher-to-student and student-to-student interaction will be individual; some will be forum-style on the AP Homeschoolers WWWBoard. Critique interaction between students is a necessary part of this course.


Instructor Qualifications:


We are a husband and wife team. Our children have participated in many PA Homeschoolers AP courses.


Dianne Settino 


1988 - Present, Homeschooling mom, Port Royal, PA


MFA 1984, Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT


BFA 1981, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. MD


Fine Arts Technical Degree 1979, York Academy of Art, York, PA


I’ve taught drawing, color, painting, printmaking and many types of crafts to children as young as 18 months in a Montessori school and adults as old as 98 in Baltimore’s inner city Arts for the Aging program. I’ve also taught in public schools, private colleges, state universities, art associations, libraries and at our local homeschool co-op. My last child at home is helping me to expand my art horizons into areas that didn’t even exist when I was a teenager!


Linus Meldrum 


1988 – Present, Homeschooling Dad, Port Royal, PA 


MFA 1983, Yale University School of Art, Yale New Haven, CT


BFA 1981, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN


I currently teach Painting, Drawing, Graphic Narrative and Art History at Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH.   Previously, I taught at The Yale School of Art, Central Connecticut State University and The Pennsylvania School of Art & Design.  For the last 15 years, I have owned and operated Spiderdance Ranch, an Art and Craft manufacturing business.

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