Graphic Design Course

Course Description, Overview, & UBD Framework

Course Description

The Graphic Design course explores the fundamentals of design, typography, color theory, and composition. Students learn about the history and current use of Graphic Design to create projects to delve into the principles of conveying information through visual communication.

Students explore such questions as:

  • What is Graphic Design?

  • How can I apply these principles to what I create?

  • How does Design impact and change the content we are viewing?

  • How has Design been used to manipulate the meaning of what we view?

Understanding By Design Framework

Essential Questions

  • What makes good design?

  • How can we use graphic design to create meaning?

Enduring Understandings

  • Students will know the basic principles of graphic design.

  • Students will know that color, form, & typography create meaning.

  • The students will understand how to create and develop visual response to communication problems including typography, aesthetics, composition, and construction of meaningful images.


  • Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign

  • Thumbnail sketching

Transfer Goals

  • Students will develop the ability to discuss and critique graphic design.

  • Students will be able to create work that utilizes the principles of graphic design to express meaning.


  • Students will learn the principles of Graphic Design

  • Students will understand basic color theory

  • Students will learn the workflow of a design project

  • Students will understand the fundamentals of typography

Syllabus (Three Trimesters)

Unit 1: Photography & Photoshop

Students learn about the foundations of photography. Understanding camera basics: aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, focal points and exposure. An review of composition fundamentals from design and how this relates to photography; balance, point of view, lines, shapes, repetition, rules of threes, perspective, and symmetry. Students explore post-production techniques in Photoshop.

Unit 2: Fundamentals of Graphic Design

What is Graphic Design? An introduction to visual communication concepts and tools. Students are introduced to the concept of purposeful design and learn the fundamentals of graphic design. Students develop design skills through project-based assignments, research through visible thinking, and idea boards using Pinterest. Students learn the basics of using the programs Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign.

Unit 3: Typography

This section of the courses covers a basic introduction to the history, theory and practice of letterforms and typography as they apply to graphics, advertising and other areas of design and visual communication. Projects cover principles of typography and layout.

Unit 4: Color Theory

The basics of color and color composition. The fundamentals of color theory and exploring purposeful usage of color.

Unit 5: Branding & Creating a Concept

In this section students will learn how to break down the brand development process step-by-step. Students will continue to develop the visual vocabulary to communicate their message through the process of creating a unified brand and concept that utilizes all the previously learned concepts and skills.

Unit 6: Exploring Digital Illustration

In the Illustration unit students explore how to interpret concepts visually and create visual pieces using the computer. Digital skills are developed through the creative processes with project-based projects. Students gain an in-depth knowledge of Illustrator as an illustration device.

Unit 7: Graphic Design History

Students are introduced to the history of visual communications by focussing on a few particular design movements. This unit provides a foundation for understanding and being exposed to the history of graphic design. The emphasis is on exposing the relationship between that period’s societal trends and how that was expressed visually through design, color, imagery, & typography.

Unit 8: Independent Project

Thinking about all that has been covered throughout the course, students will be proposing a large project to concentrate on. They will be creating a substantial body of work and a related artist statement. The course will conclude with a critique where students will present their work, discuss their project & process, and receive feedback.

Sample High School Digital Art Class taught by Meira