Graphic communications courses are offered through undergraduate or graduate certificate programs or as part of associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs at many colleges and universities. Students can find stand-alone graphics communications courses offered for personal enrichment. Some programs require students to have access to specific design software as well as complete hands-on or real world projects prior to graduation. These programs prepare individuals for careers with design firms, advertising agencies, communications companies and more.
Here is an outline of common concepts explored in graphic communications courses:
- Basic design principles
- Image editing and manipulation
- Production process for print and digital media
- Visual communications technology
- Content creation strategies
List of Common Courses
Introduction to Macintosh Course
Graphic communication and design are often done on Macintosh computers instead of PCs. Before covering specific software programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, students gain experience and an understanding of the Mac operating system and hardware, key functions, shortcuts and more. Individuals participate in discussions about common uses for a Mac in the graphic communication field, along with how they differ from personal use.
Typography, or printed type, is a vital element in graphic communication and design because it can enhance a message through its visual appearance. During this introductory course, students learn the basics of typographical layout by studying the history and theories of typography, unique classifications and use of type in digital communication. Practice assignments provide hands-on experience selecting type with appropriate form and structure and utilizing creativity to create original fonts.
Digital Video Course
One area of graphic communication is digital video. Although most programs do not study video production in-depth, many still require a basic course as part of the core curriculum. During the course, participants learn the fundamentals of creating and producing digital video, including pre- and post-production. Specifically, focus is placed on developing ideas and storytelling while utilizing lighting, special effects and sound to create the final piece. Students gain practical experience using editing tools and camera techniques to create a final output in various formats.
Graphic Design Course
Graphic communication designs can be created through a variety of software programs, and this course covers several of the more popular programs used in the field. Students also learn about design theory and principles as well as common techniques and terminology used on the job. Focus is placed on designing pieces for a specific audience by incorporating typography and other visual elements.
Graphics are used to enhance publications, such as magazines, advertisements, websites and newsletters. During the course, students have the opportunity to work with the computer software programs most commonly used for print media. Specific focus is placed on design strategies, page layout and image manipulation, and hands-on practice prepares participants for an internship or career in the field.
Website Design and Development Course
Websites have become one of the most popular forms of digital communication, but they would not be as effective without quality graphics and designs to generate a message. Because many jobs require employees to be skilled in several areas, graphic communications students learn how to design sites and create graphics for the Web. The fundamentals of website design, including Web hosting, HTML principles, software programs and site maps, are touched upon throughout the course. Participants also learn best practices for creating a user-friendly website in terms of navigation.