This course is required for all Art and Design majors and is the prerequisite for all Graphic Design and Interactive Multimedia major and minor courses. Students are introduced to some of the basic design principles and technical processes used by print and interactive designers, illustrators, and photographers. As such, it is critical to not simply cover software skills, but impart a design thinking mindset.
I received some valuable advice from the chair when approaching this course: students cannot learn all of the tools before yet another “upgrade” becomes available, so the goal should be to understand how the software can aid in solving a communications challenge, rather than mastering a particular technique.
Therefore the focus throughout the course is on solving problems and communicating through design. While each assignment is structured to make students familiar with key software used in design, the goal is not to learn a particular program. Instead, the aim is to understand how the software can aid the student in achieving their vision. It is easy enough to learn a particular skill in a program, but far harder to gain the discernment to know which technique best serves their goals.
Of course, it is still important to introduce students to each of the core design application in the Adobe Creative Suite. Design is both art and craft, equal parts creative vision and application of theory. The assignments balance learning basic principles such as composition, color, typography, and grid based organization with applications for vector and bitmap image editing, page layout and screen based media. Exercises, lectures, and projects focus on understanding the purpose of specific file formats, resolution, color mode selection, and digital image rendering techniques.
Students learn to analyze a brief, and follow the design process of concept development, visualization, feedback and revision. During this course, one of the skills we focus on is the students’ ability to articulate their concepts, defend their design choices, and incorporate outside input. As a graphic designer, or communications professional, students will need to balance their vision with client requirements and recommendations. Learning from the outset how to communicate about design is as valuable a skill as communicating with design.