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Graphic Design Specialization

Graphic design is all around us, in a myriad of forms, both on screen and in print, yet it is always made up of images and words to create a communication goal. This four-course specialization exposes you to the fundamental skills required to make sophisticated graphic design: process, historical context, and communication through image-making and typography. The sequence is completed by a capstone project that applies the skills of each course and peer feedback in a finished branding project suitable for a professional portfolio.

The goal of this specialization is to equip learners with a set of transferable formal and conceptual tools for “making and communicating” in the field of graphic design. This core skill set will equip learners for formal studies in graphic design, and a starting point for further work in interface design, motion graphics, and editorial design.

Course Duration

Approx. 6 months to complete (3 hours per week), flexible schedule.

Course Content

Offered by California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), there are four courses in this Specialization:

Course 1: Fundamentals of Graphic Design
Through visual examples, this course will teach you the fundamental principles of graphic design: imagemaking, typography, composition, working with color and shape… foundational skills that are common in all areas of graphic design practice.

Typography

Course 2: Introduction to Typography
Typography is the art of manipulating the visual form of language to enrich and control its meaning. It’s an essential area of skill and knowledge for graphic designers. In this rigorous introductory course, we will study, name, and measure the characteristics of letterforms. We’ll consider the pragmatic concerns involved in selecting and combining type. Please note that this is not a software course; a basic working knowledge of Adobe InDesign or other 
page layout software will be assumed. You will need access to a computer and page layout software, such as InDesign, to complete the assignments.

Course 3: Introduction to Imagemaking
This course for serious makers, and for students new to imagemaking. Imagemaking is a fluid and exciting area of graphic design that comes out of practice and process: experimenting fearlessly, showing and sharing ideas, and giving and receiving knowledgeable and constructive input. The results of your assignments (and experiments) may generate something completely unknowable now or in the future—and that's the goal.

Course 4: Ideas from the History of Graphic Design
This condensed survey course focuses on four key periods or themes from the history of design. Together we’ll trace the emergence of design as a recognized practice, why things look the way they do, and how designers approached specific design problems in their work.

Each week, a short quiz will test your knowledge of concepts, and a short reflective assignment will give you the opportunity to analyze the questions designers ask themselves today. This is an essential course for emerging designers entering the field, or for students interested in learning more about visual culture and analysis. No previous experience is required.

Tools Required

Access to, and a beginner's level knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite programs, such as In Design, Illustrator or Photoshop will be needed to complete some assignments. For some courses you will also need some art materials as well.

Course Outcome

What you will learn:

  • Gain the fundamental skills needed to be a graphic designer
  • Complete a capstone project to add to your professional portfolio
  • Communicate through image-making and typography
  • Learn everything you need to know to work in interface design, motion graphics, and editorial design

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