This course is based on introduction topics that consist of reading and comprehension, assignments with studio time, and critique which places the topics into context and practice. Separate projects, readings, and homework will also be assigned based on various design techniques and print-related works.

Section 1

Establishing Context

Before building technical skill, one must first explore history and context to truly define roles, responsibilities, functions, and resources that assist in the creation and composition of art and design. This section serves as background for student exploration into the context of graphic design: what graphic design truly is, does, defines and serves as an industry field.

  1. A Brief History of Graphic Design
    Related lessons explore connections between definitions, historical context, and graphic depictions. Graphic design, also known as communication design, is the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content. The topic introductions begin with the first known examples of art as communication, and focus later on specific designers and their contributions to the field.
  2. The Designer’s Toolkit
    Related lessons explain the uses of and resources for design professionals, ranging from software and
    applications to supplies and materials. To be effective visual problem solvers, graphic designers rely on certain tools of the trade which are recommended for students as well as seasoned professionals (as well as alternatives to help when outside of the lab).
  3. Visual Language: A Glossary
    Related lessons are dedicated to the language of Graphic Design. Visual communication is only effective if
    the language that conveys terms, concepts, ideas, and messages is used appropriately. The Design Dictionary has been created in order to assist with the verbal communication of visual elements and terms, and includes the Elements & Principles of Design (used in both fine art as well as graphic design.)
  4. Cross-Application of Fine Art & Commercial Design
    Related lessons draw on inspiration from illustration, fine art, and traditional forms of communication while providing the opportunity to successfully incorporate them while integrating digital media like text and typography, digital illustration, recoloring, and overlaying; traditional media can include – but is not
    limited to – your own personal work such as drawings/sketches, illustrations, photographs, and paintings, as well as the traditional work of others.
  5. Practical Typography
    Related lessons examine typefaces and fonts, along with classifications, rules, and examples in which we define them. Critique and discussion of typography are a primary focus with a close analysis on the emotional perception (meaning, feeling), versatility, endurance, distinction, and relevance of the selected fonts and their appropriate use.

Midterm Project

Section 2

Foundational Approach

This section focuses on the foundations necessary to create effective and appropriate design: from concept creation to final composition. Selecting the appropriate color palette (with regard to color space and model), font choices, overall messaging, and media vehicles used defines the role that design plays in success.

  1. Color Spaces, Models & Systems
    Related lessons cover the various color spaces and purposes for use in print (CMYK) and web (RGB), as well as an introduction to the Pantone system and hex values. Technical specifications on conversion, selection, and file formats are discussed, while design skills like color theory, palette, and meaning are explored.
  2. Visual Problem Solving: Process & Approach
    Related lessons discuss the ability to find inspiration, select the method of approach, use best practices, and exploration of how mood, vision, and story boards help to define project goals and inspiration; skill-building with these methods allows the creation of appropriate, effective, appealing design compositions that combine multiple design elements.
  3. Aesthetic & Informational Criteria
    Related lessons cover the various technical specifications & tangible uses of design files for print, web, and social media as well as preparing, exporting & pre-flighting these files for submission. Specifications, which may be provided in future endeavors in the field such as design briefings or case studies, requirements for branding guidelines, etc., will also be covered so students understand how hierarchies can be utilized and visual/technical problem solving is involved.
  4. Print vs. Web: Difference in Design & Methodology
    Related lessons discuss the specifications involved with all facets of design. Print and web design both require a cohesive, consistent look but methods vary on how to achieve these. Practice includes designing a business card, website advertisement, and social media cover image for a specific brand – with a particular focus on size, file type, export method, and color spectrum are included.
  5. Visual Identity
    Related lessons introduce how and why we create visual identity for personal, business, and organizational brands. A single designer or firm may not create all work going forward for brands, and specific steps must be taken in order to maintain the integrity, look, feel, style, and messaging of the identity and brand. This includes – but is not limited to – color palettes, font listings, logos, graphics, iconography, and their specific uses, which are all part of a branded visual identity.

Final Project