Assessment Report

Level 3 Design and Visual Communication 2020

Standards 91627  91631


Part A: Commentary

Part B: Report on standards

91627:  Initiate design ideas through exploration

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • used visual communication techniques to explore shapes, forms, and other aesthetic elements to visually analyse a starting experience
  • showed a connection between their ideation explorations that linked to their design ideas as a form or pattern generator that remained largely derivative and lacked any further exploration or reinterpretation
  • selected promising foundation points from their explorations to regenerate into design ideas that had aesthetic and functional qualities
  • visually articulated aesthetic and functional qualities in the design idea. In a Spatial Design context, this might be demonstrated through some appropriate floor plans, or elevations, or interiors and exteriors, or some construction details and / or site contextualisation; In a Product Design context, this might be demonstrated through some appropriate external and internal details and parts / components, or exploded drawings, or cross sections, and / or construction details. In both cases, showing the human figure (or part of) was beneficial in showing the functional aspect of the design idea
  • did not constrain their idea initiation to a brief and experimented with and explored potential shapes and forms without a pre-determined design idea
  • often had a train of thought, but this was not being used to inform the design ideas or context
  • did not provide evidence of further analysis and re-interpretation in context beyond initial regeneration.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • did not use a starting experience, just began to generate design ideas, e.g. a house, a bike
  • did not use the starting experience alternatives and variations to explore and regenerate into design ideas
  • did not link idea initiation to their own design ideas. Instead it was used to explore shape in an independent manner and was treated as a separate assignment exercise with no connection to anything
  • submitted only teacher driven ‘ideation’ exercises on shape and form
  • derived shapes from a source and repeated these shapes to generate surface patterns of the same shapes. This was common in a Fashion context, where patterns were used as an appliqué or print, but were not then regenerated or used to inform ideas in structural design lines or the silhouette
  • did not generate any original ideas, only copies of pre-existing ideas from well-known designers
  • used starting experiences and forms too literally. For example, a crystal was a crystal lampshade, or a seashell was a seashell house and had no visual interrogation
  • submitted only design refinement and research - not preceded by idea generation
  • submitted evidence for a different standard
  • did not produce evidence of Level 3 visual communication skills
  • included extensive research pages that were unnecessary and had little or no starting experience explored, with little or no regenerated design ideas connected to the earlier explorations
  • included parts of multiple projects that had no connections or regeneration of design ideas
  • presented design ideas that had no recognisable functional or aesthetic features making it unclear what the design was
  • used Logo Design in a Visual Art Design manner, which is not suitable evidence for this standard.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • showed further analysis and re-interpretation of ideas within context that was meaningful and purposeful
  • continued to look at different ways to implement the ideation theme in a coherent manner for different aspects of the design idea
  • re-worked design ideas with a train of thought connected to context and viewpoint that had intention in either a functional, aesthetic or thematic way
  • used thoughtful and carefully chosen visual communication strategies to extend and grow the design thinking
  • showed elements of risk taking by continually adapting ideas through further interrogation and purposeful exploration
  • undertook and applied purposeful research. While the research was not included, it was evident that it had occurred though in-depth visual communication of design details
  • reinterpreted the design idea by using analytical visual thinking. This included iteration, reworking design elements, depth of thinking through experimentation, and level of creative play. The train of thought was often evident and embedded
  • showed connection and consideration to the environment and human use.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • communicated their thinking with clarity and a strong narrative
  • used sophisticated and varied visual communication techniques and strategies
  • showed purposeful exploration to challenge thinking through extended and transformed alternatives by continually exploring and investigating alternatives of their design idea
  • integrated the ideation throughout their design thinking, which took their design ideas to a level that would not necessarily be immediately obvious or predictable at the outset
  • questioned / stimulated new thought
  • showed an ability to extend and transform both aesthetic and functional elements of the design idea. This extension and transformation was usually symbiotic and complementary
  • reinterpreted and combined dissimilar ideas and identified connections between them that challenged predictable outcomes leading to solutions and ideas that had unexpected / new evolved outcomes
  • continued to redevelop and reflect on their design ideas after substantial development. This meant that candidates would seemingly "complete" or resolve their project, but then show they had reflected further on aspects, and then re-ideated in a perceptive / improved way to continue to push a previous idea into a new form or level of resolution
  • showed clear consideration of human and environment interaction / use.

Standard specific comments

Candidates need the opportunity to re-interpret, analyze, or extend their thinking any further and gain higher grades. It is important that the experience and starting point be developed into spatial or product thinking to enable connection for design outcomes to occur.

Ideation that is too close to the design idea can limit the exploration and regeneration of ideas. For example, looking at existing architecture and then deriving architectural ideas directly from this source.

An appropriate design brief is a crucial part to candidate’s success. The brief can be introduced after design experience and initiation has commenced. Successful submissions had briefs that had an understandable context, allowing for candidates to understand function, purpose, and aesthetics, and to have a narrative and personal viewpoint within their design exploration. While ideation can happen early, this can be re-introduced after the brief on a secondary level to encourage creative thinking and expansion of the design idea to fully extend and transform and take advantage of the brief context.

Extensive written research is not required.

As noted last year, some candidates unnecessarily used all the possible visual communication strategies (explanatory note 4), to interrogate and regenerate new shapes and forms, when a limited range (two or three) would have been more suitable

Some submissions used logo design in a visual art design manner. Logo design ideas do not meet the aesthetic and functional qualities and intent of this standard.

The use of transparent and multi layered drawing paper has benefits when it is used with purpose and a meaningful visual communication strategy. If only used for beautification it does not add anything to the submission.

Work needs to be presented in order as this shows the informed train of thought and reinterpretation of design ideas. Being able to read the design thinking occurring on the page is particularly important for merit and excellence.

Consideration needs to be given to how ‘flaps and add on afterthoughts’ are done. It should add value to the submission. Pixelated computer-generated printed pages may not show clarity of design thinking.

The use of CAD programs is a suitable visual communication method; however, these programs can constrain design ideas and interrupt the exploration process when candidate’s knowledge of the program is limited.



91631:  Produce working drawings to communicate production details for a complex design

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • selected a design of adequate complexity
  • included views and modes that would conventionally be used as a set of working drawings, including site plans, floor plans, elevations, cross-sectional views, assembly views, detail views, material information
  • included exterior and interior detail related to their construction and / or assembly
  • showed some proficiency in drawing conventions such as labelling, section planes, details and views, dimensioning, use of appropriate scales, line weights and types.
  • indicated the relationship of one drawing to another using recognised conventions for cross-referencing of drawings (e.g. north point symbol, elevations, section and detail reference symbols)
  • identified materials using appropriate hatching, colouring or symbolic reference of material types or use of labels
  • produced elevations, which were drawn neatly using conventions, and a sectional view to show some detail of either materials that would be used or how it would be assembled.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • selected a design of inadequate complexity such as simple furniture, letterboxes, decks or simple rectangular buildings
  • produced working drawings of the exterior or interior and not both
  • did not communicate construction or assembly of their designs using appropriate detailed drawings
  • did not communicate materials or components / parts adequately
  • produced only generic design working drawings, generally from a pre-published source
  • produced class exercises
  • lacked understanding in the use of drawing conventions such as titling, dimensioning, use of appropriate scales, detailed drawings, line quality and accuracy
  • produced drawings that were not linked to each other, or showed no relationship to each other
  • included drawings with contradictory information, e.g. different measurements for the same item
  • submitted an incomplete set of working drawings.  

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • showed precise measurement and dimensioning, accurate line-work and good application of drawing conventions. The use of CAD helped candidates to produce precise drawings but still requires knowledge and application of conventions used in New Zealand
  • produced a complete set of linked drawings with the exterior and interior detailing helping to explain the construction and assembly of the design with accuracy
  • showed that this was the outcome of considered design thinking and represented a solution to a design problem.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • showed excellent and consistent use of drawing conventions and standards
  • included all relevant drawings to clearly communicate detailed construction and assembly information, using carefully selected series of plans, elevations, section views, assembly views and enlarged detail views
  • included three dimensional drawings, pictorial views and/or CAD models or animations to clearly communicate assembly and construction. The animations offered sequential information that clearly communicated assembly and rotational views that explained 3D design details.

Standard specific comments

This standard is ideally suited to candidates with strengths in CAD and / or those with strong 2D manual drawing skills

Spatial design has now become the most common type of submission, with only a small number of product designs being entered. Similarly, CAD has now become the most common graphic mode being used. This growing media choice is enabling candidates to produce complex designs that are directly related and accurately executed. However, candidates must also have an understanding of projection, conventions and standard drawing practices used in New Zealand.

The standard clearly states:

Explanatory Note 6

Conventions associated with drawing define such things as: line types (eg construction lines, outlines, and section lines), drawing and text layout, and dimensioning. Conventions include those which are commonly applied within a community of practice eg engineering (eg SAA/SNZ HB1:1994), or architecture – building and landscaping (eg NZS/AS 1100.101:1992 Technical drawing – General principles; NZS/AS 1100.301:1985 Technical drawing – Architectural drawing).

A number of submissions failed to use conventions correctly. For example, sectional planes were facing the wrong way in relation to sectional view (1st angle); all cross hatching was running in the same direction and at the same angle for every component. There were also many submissions that used non-recognised scales or using “fit to page” which then changes the scale of that sheets to an unusable scale like 1:1.765. The CAD submissions also frequently showed details of parts not related to their design. Many details didn’t show anything more than the view they came from. Some candidates used incorrect component symbols for drawing details.

Candidates must use accepted scales that help show detail or information. For large complex designs it may be necessary to show PART sections at a readable scale rather than slicing through an entire building.

CAD software enables greater presentation capabilities, but this was not always used to show exterior cladding or textures on elevations, with many showing a plain blank wall for exteriors.

It was pleasing to see a number of schools still producing submissions using conventional drawing methods and gaining very good results. Once again scale selection is crucial to showing detail and this standard does not require proof of projection, i.e. plans and elevations can be on different sheets but should still be referenced by labelling or north point orientation.

This year there were many CAD submissions with North points on every page including elevations, i.e. north pointing up. This may have been pre-set on the title block but should have been removed when not required.

Even though it is not usually the intention to scale off a printed drawing (because of printing anomalies) it is important to show a range of dimensions on working drawings to make them useable. There were many submissions this year with plans that had no dimensions at all, or because of the scale being used, they were too small to read. This made it impossible to check scale and only enabled a visual representation of what had been designed. Candidates need to understand and use scales correctly. Many candidates failed to advance beyond achieved level due to scale issues.

Similarly, the purpose of a site plan is to show the position and orientation of a building in relation to boundaries and to a North point. Without at least some dimensions and an indication of North (especially if then used to label elevations) this view becomes useless.

Candidates must understand the importance of referencing drawings especially when detailing. A well-produced detail drawing will not gain higher grades if it is not referenced back to the area it is explaining or relates to. It is important that details relate to the area they are explaining (detailing), i.e. the same materials and orientation as the cross section or area they are explaining. It is acceptable to use detail drawings acquired from the internet. However, they must relate to the design (there were groups of submissions that used the same two detail drawings for every candidate regardless of the design they had produced).


Design and Visual Communication subject page


Previous years' reports

2019 (PDF, 117KB)

2018 (PDF, 107KB)

2017 (PDF, 66KB)

2016 (PDF, 224KB)

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