Art & Design

Assessment Objective 2

Assessment Objective 2: Using resources, media and materials

Assessment Objective 2 is about refining your ideas through selecting and experimenting with appropriate resources, media, materials, techniques and processes. There are various ways of using these to develop ideas and create a personal response.

Experiments, practical samples and studies in different media demonstrate that you have developed and communicated your ideas through practical investigation. This will equip you with a working vocabulary of resources, practical knowledge and technical skills and enable you to make an informed choice when selecting materials and approaches for your theme.

Approaches to making a personal, informed and meaningful response

  • Making a personal response and developing a personal visual language.
  • Making an informed response and demonstrating critical understanding.
  • Realising your intentions and making a meaningful response.
  • Making connections between different elements in your work and presenting a personal response.

Selecting appropriate resources and media

Your choice of resources should be linked to your understanding of the media and materials used by artists and designers.

Practical experience and experimentation will help you understand the possibilities of various media and develop your technical skills. Many artists and designers refine their ideas through techniques that have been developed over long periods of time.

How do you select what to use to develop your work?

It's worth trying a range of different approaches in your development studies, but take care not to do something completely new or untried for the Externally Set Task.

Looking at the work of other artists and designers can give you a direction for your project. You might be inspired by a painter to use brush strokes and colour in a particular way, or you could use mixed media

You should be prepared to experiment with media and images. Try recording, transcribing or translating images in different media:

  • a photograph could be interpreted in watercolour to see the possibilities of softer more fluid tones or colours
  • an image could be reproduced using collage to explore textures and broader sweeps of colour areas


When selecting and using appropriate resources and media have you:

  • considered how other artists and designers have used media and processes?
  • experimented and practised with your chosen materials and techniques?
  • worked with familiar as well as new media and techniques?
  • used contextual references in your development work?

Experimenting with materials, techniques and processes

Your ideas will be influenced by the characteristics of the materials which you use. You can explore the ideas and meanings created by different materials.

The media with which you work can determine the final form of your work. For example, if you work in clay your ideas will take form in real space. If you use photography your images will be a 2D recording of tones, shapes and colours.

Before making a final choice of process or media you should experiment to:

  • discover what techniques different media lend themselves to
  • explore what effects you can achieve
  • explore the way in which an image, design motif or form can be changed or adapted

You can use a study in one medium to inspire work in another. For example:

  • An illustration in pencil could be transformed by working in ink and wash on a larger or smaller scale. The linear qualities of the initial study would be added to by one in which tonal values or a sense of form and space are expressed.
  • Architectural or packaging details could be interpreted in different media and used as inspiration for designs for surface pattern, dress or other item of clothing.
  • When developing a graphic design you could work in a broad range of media, including watercolour and acrylics, to explore how texture, paint effects and colour may be manipulated, scanned and incorporated into a final illustration or poster design.
  • You could also experiment with oil-based and acrylic paints of different thicknesses and fluidity, characteristics which significantly affect the final appearance of your work.


When experimenting with materials, techniques and processes have you:

  • tried out a range of different media?
  • tried out different combinations of media?
  • experimented with different scales and forms - large/small or close-ups, 2D or 3D?
  • tested different glaze combinations on samples of fired clay?
  • experimented with combining different images, layers, filters and brush effects in image manipulation software?
  • tried out different combinations of colours when surface printing?
  • experimented combining different textiles techniques into samples?

Developing practical skills and techniques

The key to developing your skills is practice, and taking your use of materials beyond the quality and control you have already achieved. Your work on a theme should reflect the 'journey' towards the final idea, as well as your increasing confidence and competence using your chosen media.


EndorsementActivityMedia and methods
Fine art
  • Recording tone
  • Conveying form
  • Analysing structure
  • Expressing mood
  • Different grades of pencils and charcoal
  • Pen and wash
  • Broad brush strokes
  • Different colour schemes, eg monochrome or vibrant colours
Graphic design
  • Experimenting with layouts, images and text
  • Exploring colour
  • Image manipulation
  • Collage, tracings and ICT
  • Different paints to explore depth of colour and surface texture
  • Digital media to explore image combinations
  • Quick studies in pencil or marker pens
  • Exploring colour, texture and pattern
  • Experimenting with joining and combining materials
  • Using different designing and construction methods
  • Producing small samples or mock-ups
  • Using different stitches, weaving, knitting or embroidery techniques
  • Stitching, gluing, tying and knotting
  • Pattern drafting, bias binding, wire and card inserts
3D design
  • Using different construction and joining methods
  • Bringing different media together
  • Experimenting with different scales
  • Experimenting with different 3D elements
  • Gluing, soldering; slab or coil pot (ceramics)
  • 'Junk' or recycled sculpture
  • Organic and man-made materials
  • Producing maquettes or models
  • Exploring viewpoints and compositions
  • Experimenting with different exposures and timings
  • Different digital and darkroom processes
  • Combining images
  • Different lenses, focus range and depth of field
  • Aperture and shutter speeds
  • Digital manipulation, graded papers and filters, chemical developers and photograms
  • Montage and collage

Find out more about different materials in the Media and techniques section.

Making mistakes

As you experiment, you become more confident to 'push' a medium to see what can be achieved with it in new or unusual ways. You need to be prepared to make mistakes, but always keep a record even when things go wrong. Trial and error, listening to advice and looking at the work of other artists and designers is invaluable. You should also be prepared to revisit and re-work some of your studies to improve them.


When developing skills in handling media and techniques have you:

  • used a range of different media, processes and techniques?
  • practised and refined your control of your chosen media?
  • made links to relevant artists and designers?
  • kept a record, log or examples of your different approaches and experiments?

Refining your ideas

The visual impact and form of any work is affected by the characteristics of the chosen medium or media. For example, a large scale painting will look very different from a small watercolour or black and white photograph of the same subject matter.

Ideas can be developed by reworking them using a different medium, method or technique. Each study should provide evidence that you are refining your ideas, so it is a good idea to adapt or change your images rather than simply repeating them in different colours or copying them in a different medium.

As well as developing your ideas, you should also refine your handling and control of the medium.

When refining your ideas you could:

  • alter the size or scale of your studies
  • review and refine composition, layout or design
  • experiment with the relationship between shapes or forms, the framing edge or surrounding space
  • change the technique from a precise, cleanly outlined drawing or cutting method to a looser or torn technique
  • experiment with different shapes and sizes of brushes, different thickness of paint, fabric or wire
  • shift the tonal contrast from hard to soft or vice versa
  • alter the balance between positive and negative shapes
  • change colour hues or saturation by scanning your image and manipulating it on a computer
  • make a small 3D maquette and then draw or photograph it


When refining your ideas have you:

  • used a range of different media, processes and techniques?
  • produced a series of studies showing your developing ideas?
  • produced work on different scales?
  • practised and refined your control of your chosen media over a period of time?
  • made links to relevant artists and designers?
  • kept a record, log or examples of your different approaches and experiments?

Using media, materials, techniques and processes in your final piece

You don't have to use all the different ideas and methods that you have explored, but your final work should be developed from or link with your studies in different media. It is important to show that you have experimented with processes and techniques, so you should present your samples and studies carefully in your workbook, journal or on mounted sheets.

How to show you have experimented with processes and techniques

Fiona studied patterns found naturally in vegetables and flowers. Her annotations show what she thought about her experiments with the medium.

How to show you have experimented with processes and techniques

She experimented with pattern inspired by her research. She tried out different materials and layouts.

How to show you have experimented with processes and techniques

Her final piece shows the development from her research and experiments with pattern, colour and her chosen medium.

You should make it clear how and why you have selected and used particular materials and working methods. For example, you could present examples of artists' work alongside your own studies. You could explain the connection in written annotations.


When using your discoveries in media, materials, techniques and processes have you:

  • selected and presented your studies carefully?
  • made use of your discoveries?
  • made clear links between your work and that of other artists, designers and craftspeople?

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