Syllabus- Basic Design


In this course, we will study semiotics and the elements and principles of design.  We will utilize them to create conceptually rich visual materials.  The course is intended to develop a visual vocabulary and an imaginative approach to design.  This course will provide a broad view of Visual Culture and the projection of meaning from images and how to craft visuals in this context.

The student will:

  1. Understand and apply a basic visual vocabulary
  2. Demonstrate a rational as well as an imaginative approach to design organization
  3. Demonstrate skills in the manipulation, control, and structuring of pictorial space
  4. Demonstrate technical skills in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
  5. Describe historical and contemporary design styles
  6. Demonstrate skills for effective presentation and a sense of good craftsmanship.

Work will consist of:
• in-class studio: short and long-term projects
• out-of-class completion of tutorials and reading assignments
• discussion and critique
• presentations
• viewing of works in various media, in and out of class
• reading of relevant theories and histories
• research of relevant artists and artifacts for source materials or inspiration

This course is a required introductory-level course for Art majors at Hope College. The BA in Art prepares students for work in art-related careers where functions and audiences are in constant flux. Art and Design Majors work in a variety of contexts and for a variety of clients (including themselves).

This course will include lecture style instruction but a majority of the class will use a collaborative student centered approach to obtaining the learning objectives.  We will work to develop a strong ‘creative community’ in this class.  I am responsible for leading the development of this community and you are responsible for attending all classes and vocally participating the community.   I am very invested in your progress towards the learning objectives as I take on the various roles of a teacher: instructor, facilitator, and coach. I am continually developing my courses and instructional strategies for the benefit of all; your feedback will be asked for throughout the duration of this class.

Digital Image Acquisition, Composition, Synthesis and Output.
Vector and raster-based image editing (Illustrator and Photoshop)
Using a scanner and digital camera
Output for screen formats (online and offline) and print formats 

Research techniques and processes
Work-flow for ideation and editing
Presentation strategies

Collage and Compositing
Information Visualization, Illustration, and Instructional Imagery
Documentary and Narrative images

Thematic: (Issues and trends from contemporary media studies)
Handmade vs. Digital
Mobility, Speed, and Network

This course assumes a basic familiarity with Apple’s Macintosh hardware and operating system, including basic file management and navigation. Ideally you have had some educational experience with composing images in physical or digital media. For at least two assignments you will be asked to draw. You are expected to have some experience taking digital images and transferring them to a computer or posting them to places like Facebook.

Your primary responsibilities in this class will involve the research, creation and successful realization of images for print and screen presentation. You should expect to spend as much as 4 hours a week outside of class on work for our assignments. Homework will involve some reading, writing and research, including realization of short-term benchmarks along the way to finished projects. All work, including process and research assignments, should be completed on time. Some collaborative work will be involved. We will also be conducting in-class critiques and discussions, for which participation is mandatory. You are expected to be in class every day – even lab days – and on time. Your full participation in all class-work is expected; working in class on non-class projects, email or web applications will result in a lower grade. Each assignment will require demonstration of technical mastery in specific aspects of our software. You may go beyond demonstrated methods to use other facets of the software or even other media, as long as you fulfill assignments and adhere to project parameters. If you don’t already, start keeping an online scrapbook of interests through storing links, commenting and tagging them.

Please purchase or obtain the following:

  • Digital storage device 1TB or larger (if you are an art/design major, if not a flash drive of 100gb will work fine for this class)
  • Textbooks: Visible Signs 2nd edition and Thinking with Type 2nd Edition
  • Notebook: Gridded pages, 7″ x 9″ or larger
  • Metal ruler, cutting mat, illustration board 20×30, paper cement, and

    #1 Xacto knive

  • Headphones for personal music while working

NO FOOD IN THE LABS, Drinks with strong lids are OK

Your grade in this course is based on:

Regular attendance is a necessity, as is classroom participation. Both will have a crucial bearing on your final grade. Excessive absences [3 or more] will lower a grade by one step per absence over 2. Three late arrivals to class will constitute an absence. If you show up without work required to participate in classroom activities, you will be considered absent.

Timeliness Projects not delivered on time will receive one letter grade deduction for every weekday not delivered.  We are cultivating professionalism in this class and deadlines are essential to the field of Multimedia Design

Projects (6) evaluated by: Fulfillment of Project Criteria, Skill Development, Creativity, Craftsmanship, Composition & Design, and Studio Practice

Participation includes: In-Class Exercises, Work in Progress Critiques and, Critique Participation

Projects and assignments are evaluated based on the standard 4.0 grading scale:

0 – no evidence
1 – Some evidence
2 – Evidence
3 – Quality evidence
4 – High quality evidence

Your final grade in the class will be a standard letter grade:

A outstanding; thoughtful and intelligent ideas presented in a clear, organized, and engaging manner; both concept and execution illustrate critical thinking and engagement with course material. Brings new examples to discussion, extends the course material through discovery and sharing of new relevant material. Goes above and beyond for homework assignments, in quantity, complexity, and competence.
B good; the ideas are interesting and successfully presented; shows potential, but not necessarily distinctive.  talks often in class discussions, shares material with others, spends more time than required for projects, completes them with competence and great time spent.
C mediocre; achieves minimum requirements of the assignment, but not particularly clear, successful, or ambitious.
D poor; does not satisfy the minimum requirements of the assignment; generally unsatisfactory in terms of quality and clarity.
F Total lack of engagement in class-time, meager efforts on incomplete projects.

Your final grade will be calculated based on: numeric evaluations (using standard 4 point grade scale), showing signs of improvement, proper completion of all assignments, participation in class discussion and critiques, and attendance.

Be aware of the College’s Policy on Academic Integrity + Nondiscrimination as they apply to this class