Graphic Design Classes and Courses Overview

The technology for graphic design has evolved rapidly, but powerful visual communications are still based on aesthetic fundamentals and principles; both sides of the equation are covered in graphic design classes and courses.

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Essential Information

Courses in graphic design are usually offered as part of associate's degree, bachelor's degree or graduate degree programs in graphic design. Students complete hands-on projects and labs, as well as internships. Within the program, students create a portfolio of work to demonstrate their abilities to job applicants. Graphic designers may find employment in the computer and software design, publishing or advertising sectors.

Here is an outline of common concepts taught in graphic design courses:

  • Principles of design
  • Color theory
  • Illustration
  • Web design
  • Image editing

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  • Advertising and Commercial Design
  • Commercial Photography
  • Fashion Design
  • General Visual Communications Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration and Drawing
  • Industrial Design
  • Interior Design and Decorating

List of Common Courses

Introduction to Graphic Design Course

Often one of the first courses students take in associate- and bachelor-level graphic design programs, this class introduces students to the hardware and software required to work in the digital design field. Assignments will require students to apply visual design techniques, such as page layout, digital image processing and illustration, while incorporating design vocabulary and applying design theory in their work. More advanced courses often focus on specific skills such as desktop publishing, digital imaging and computer illustration.

Visual Arts Course

Usually offered early in any postsecondary graphic design program, this course discusses the design process by examining the history of visual design as well as the relationship between message and craft. Topics include color and aesthetics in both 2- and 3-dimensional design. Most programs also use this course to encourage students to explore principles of aesthetic theory in relation to practical issues of execution in digital design.

Digital Design Course

Courses with an emphasis on technology are sprinkled throughout the curricula, progressing to develop proficiencies with various hardware and software programs. Students learn to use digital tools along with their artistic skills to work with page layouts, photographs, illustrations, web page design, animations, illustrations and other outputs. A digital portfolio can be developed as a result of computer graphic technology classes.

Typography Course

Typography courses are central to graphic design training. They can be offered in both introductory and advanced levels and usually examine the history, development and application of type in the design process. Discussions of design tools and techniques are often included in introductory classes. Advanced typography courses usually offer detailed explorations of the use of typography in conveying both message and visual image.

Business Management in Graphic Design Course

Working in graphic design often requires skills in business management, including how to deal with printers and typographers, how to handle customer demands and accounts and how to handle the logistical aspects of project management. It often teaches database, spreadsheet and graphic presentation programs as well as principles of sales and marketing. Some courses also include instruction in practical business matters such as customer service techniques, time and stress management, staff training and task delegation.

Graphic Design for Corporate Clients Course

Many graphic designers create media that is meant to convey a corporate message. As a result, students must learn to consider issues that are relevant to working with a company's unique identity. In this course, students are instructed in the use of color, symbol and space in designing for corporate clients. Specific instruction on both the undergraduate and graduate level often includes designing company logos that can be applied to product, packaging and company advertising.

Applied Design Course

Applied design courses can be offered on several levels and is often offered as a capstone course. These courses can include internships for students and usually include portfolio reviews. They often require students to demonstrate various levels of creativity, design theory and technique as well as computer design skills. Some programs also address job market elements such as resume and cover letter preparation and interviewing skills.

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