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Foundations of Graphic Design

An individual designing on a laptop

An introduction to the graphic design profession

 In the world of graphic design, good looks are everything ... and so many websites, posters, greeting cards and more need your help ASAP. Fortunately, creating professional content—whether for your job, church, family, or yourself—is made easier by understanding the fundamental concepts of graphic design.

This course identifies multiple visual communications principles and elements within good design, including: color theory, composition, typography and more. We'll also demonstrate how these artistic decisions can create cohesive, expressive branding through the use of templates and style guides.

Come explore the graphic designer's role - as well as techniques for creative thinking and problem solving—as we study and discover effective visual communication strategies. Class discussions regarding variances between new digital media and traditional print design will also help budding designers eliminate anxieties about the unknown.

Through a series of lectures and project-based homework assignments, this course will demystify the graphic design profession for students who are:

  • new to working in design roles;
  • considering switching to a design career;
  • self-taught and struggle to find fundamental solutions; or
  • seasoned designers needing a refresher and introduction to emerging tools, techniques, and technologies.

ECE recommends completing this course as the first in the Fundamentals of Graphic Design Certificate, but it can be taken at any time during the program. Students will complete three assignments related to visual communication principles, creative briefs, and brand design. Experience with Adobe software is welcomed but not required for success.

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Course Outline

  • Lesson 1. Visual Communication

    • The eye and the brain - how visual communication works
    • Color theory - usage, perception, and emotion
    • Color modes - print vs. digital
    • File types - raster vs. vector
    • Typography - fonts and font types
    • Layout design - information hierarchy and composition

  • Lesson 2. The Artist

    • The role and duties of a graphic designer
    • Expertise - skills to master
    • Software - Adobe Creative Cloud
    • Hardware - equipment needed to complete the job

  • Lesson 3. Road mapping - The Creative Brief

    • Brainstorming
    • Research and development
    • Considering cost (project budget)
    • The creative process
    • Deadlines and time management
    • From concept to reality

  • Lesson 4. The Power and Effects of Branding

    • Story, identity, audience, tone/voice, and positioning
    • Style guides and rules for using a brand
    • Creating and using templates

  • Lesson 5. Asset Management - Order vs Chaos

    • Using Adobe Bridge - organizing assets and resources
    • Designing for revisions

  • Lesson 6. Delivery - Digital vs Print

    • Printing - choosing method and paper
    • Digital - choosing platform (social, internal, email, website)
    • Packaging files - considerations for file types
    • The PDF

  • Lesson 7. Future Tech - Staying Ahead

    • Motion graphics vs. static graphics
    • Resources (pros, cons, cost, and other considerations)
    • Continuing education

Learner Outcomes

After this class, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the role of color, composition, and typography in visual communication
  • Explain the various roles and duties of a graphic design professional
  • Develop a roadmap to guide design projects from conception to completion
  • Choose the right hardware, software, and file types for each project
  • Make informed decisions about their projected career path

Course Schedule






Foundations Section Information

Contact Hours
13 hours

Course Fee(s)
Tuition non-credit - $695.00


  • Christopher Brown