Graphic Design involves two main areas of learning. The first is technical and involves learning three applications: Adobe Photoshop (an image editing program), Adobe Illustrator (a design program), and Adobe InDesign (a page layout program). These applications are used across a wide field of disciplines and interests, and knowledge of them will help you with just about anything you want to do. Think of these applications as a word processor in which you can precisely design the way your creation looks (just try to design using Microsoft Word— it is like having ten thumbs). Even if you only use InDesign for laying out your resume, the time learning it will be well spent.

In Graphic Design you will learn some of the technical necessities connected to these applications. How to deal with fonts and the ever-confusing image sizing are examples of these. This is all general information that you need to avoid embarrassing mistakes and classify yourself as NOT one of the computer-needy.

The second area of this course involves learning some basic principles of design. At the present time the list includes the concepts outlined in Robin William's book "Non-Designer's Design and Type Books". Look at it this way—it gets you nowhere to learn InDesign if you don't know how to arrange the content—you would be better off using Microsoft Word. Seriously.

Although there are many different types of class activities in this course, the most important by far are the project and assignments components. Doing it, thinking, and redoing it are the real ways to learn this information, be it the technical or the design aspects.

Advanced students with a thorough knowledge of the applications and/or the design component have two options. The first is trying to get the course requirement waived. See Thomas Payne about this. The second is to work above your capacity in the course. True, you will have to sit through some dull stuff (this is how you draw a line...), but much of the course can be utilized to review some basics you might have missed and to stretch your knowledge farther (I have yet to meet anyone who knows everything about Photoshop). And design skills can always be improved—if you don't think yours can then you can improve mine. The one thing I would advise an advanced student to not do is glide on previous knowledge in this course—sure you can get an 'A' with just a little bit of work, but is that what you really want from college?

Student Projects from Past Terms
These should give you an idea of what good projects might look like. Some projects have been used many terms, while others might have been used only a few terms and not have many samples included.

Weekly Assignments
These change frequently, but should give you an idea of how your weekly assignments should be done.

Illustrator LINES
menu & Business Card
Illustrator PATHS & SHAPES (fruit)
New Letter (Illustrator TYPOGRAPHY)
newpaper advertisement
Photoshop layers
movie poster

Larger Projects
There are generally three larger projects in the course in which you can use the techniques you learn. These do change. These are good projects. That means the student printed them out and then made many more changes. The screen will only give you an approximate idea of how things will look.

This is a fairly new one to this course and takes the place of the Poster Project. A way to hone your Illustrator skills while making a good design.

This project takes the place of several CD case projects (ask your parents what a CD case is). The point is to combine the techniques of Illustrator and Photoshop with design decisions that incorporate type and image. Design also usually involves some use of 'knife skills', and this project reflects that fact.


Big and small, bound well or falling apart. This project presents many possibilities as well as more than a few potential problems.

Make it as big as you want - Posters are supposed to be big. And bold. And graphic. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. This one hasn't been given in a while.

Some projects no longer used in this course....


Class Forms (pdf format in a new window)
PHOTOSHOP SIZING INSTRUCTIONS (you can either fully understand photo sizing or follow this sheet to the word. And keep it in your pocket until you retire)

Help Material (pdf format in new window)
adobe CC design basics
art lab printer instructions
Graphics lab printer instructions
Fonts on lab computers
InDesign Assignment Text
Muse Sample Site