Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

GDS 108 Design Media and Principles
Syllabus (Fall 2017)

Instructor: Liza Wynette & Paul Young

Course Description

Introduction to composition and visual literacy for digital media artists and designers. Surveys a broad range of digital tools including the Adobe Creative Suite. Proficiency with personal computers and Internet browsing is required.


This course is designed specifically for the digital artist/designer whose objective is to function effectively in today's commercial art field.


In this class, we will be introduced to the elements of "visual grammar" and establish a solid foundation for visual literacy based on design principles. We will also be introduced to the professional digital tools graphic designers use to create commercial art.


The major topics we will cover this semester will include:

  • Design principles
  • Design elements
  • Color theory
  • Composition
  • Creative process
  • Effective use of digital tools
General Education Objectives

The following general education objectives are embedded in this course:

  • Demonstrate their creative and analytical potential and their ability to appraise the quality, value, and significance of cultural components and artifacts, such as literature, sculpture, painting, music, performing arts, media arts, and spoken rhetoric.
  • Demonstrate their ability to use technology, especially computer technology, to access, retrieve, process, and communicate information.
  • Demonstrate information literacy and their ability to think critically, which includes identifying biases and selecting and evaluating sources from varying as well as conflicting positions.
Class Format

This course will consist of lectures, projects, exercises, demonstrations and critiques. Each student will maintain a blog and add a new post once a week. There will also be two quizzes. It is expected that additional time, on a weekly basis, will be spent on projects and homework assignments. Parkland provides three Macintosh computer labs with ample open lab hours for students to use to complete their assignments (also see lab policies).

It is important that the entire class work together in a collaborative environment, learning from each other as well as the instructor. Therefore, everyone should be working on the same assignments at the same time. Understanding that there might be technical expertise differences, it is expected that more experienced users will be willing to help beginners users with software issues. Conversely, less experienced designers should elicit feedback from more experienced designers during their working process.


Our communication preference with students is email ( or Many Parkland instructors require that students use their Parkland student email account, but we will reply to whatever email account you prefer to use (see email etiquette). You will receive a faster reply via email than by phone (we usually reply to email within 24 hours, weekends excepted). We will always provide instant feedback on current projects in person (see office hours Liza Wynette or Paul Young). We will also give feedback via email if refinements are required, but extensive revisions will often require a face-to-face meeting.

Tip: You also have the option of forwarding your student email to your personal email account (see instructions).

  • Required textbook: Launching the Imagination by Mary Stewart
    (available at Parkland's bookstore)
  • USB flash drive, portable hard drive, or access to a cloud service (i.e. Google Drive)
  • 3-ring binder & dividers (Process Book)
  • Parkland Identification Card
  • Other supplies may be required for specific exercises and projects
Grading System

In this class, your grade will be based on the quality of the work you do, software proficiency, class participation and attendance.

  • A = 100-91 (exceptional work beyond the class requirements)
  • B = 90-81 (excellent technical and creative abilities exhibited)
  • C = 80-71 (all work accomplished on time and minimum goals achieved)
  • D = 70-61 (minimum goals not achieved, late assignments)
  • F = 60 or less (failure to finish assignments or doing "D" work late)

Your grade will be discussed during your individual reviews at midterm and at the end of the semester. You must bring all the work you have done up to that time (including all research/reference materials, preliminary proofs, revised proofs, final proofs, digital files, etc.). Do NOT delete any work-in-progress from this class. Your grade will depend on it. At any time during the semester, you may request individual reviews to check your progress. You may revise and re-submit projects and exercises as many times as you like up until the final review.

Earning Points

Points can be earned in each of the following categories:

  • Projects (30%)
  • Exercises (20%)
  • Homework Assignments (15%)
  • Lynda Tutorials (15%)
  • Open Book Quizzes (10%)
  • Process Book (5%)
  • Blogging Assignment (5%)

All assignments will be graded based on creativity, problem-solving ability, effective use of design principles, craftsmanship, typography and adherence to assignment specifications. Numerical grades will be awarded for all assignments except for the following:

Exercises will be graded based on accuracy and craftsmanship. Exercises are due at midterm/final review and will be graded pass/fail.

Homework Assignments will be graded based weekly online discussion board participation and adherence to assignment specifications. Homework Assignments must be posted on time and will be graded pass/fail.

Lynda Tutorials will be graded based on the quality of your weekly Cobra Dropbox submissions. The results of your Lynda tutorials must be submitted on time and will be graded pass/fail.

At the end of the semester, all the points earned in each category will be averaged and weighted to determine your final grade.

Extra credit points may be awarded for submitting excellent work into the annual Graphic Design Student Exhibition.

Bonus points may be awarded for active participation in class.

Late Work Policy

Projects have multiple critique deadlines. If you miss a critique, I will deduct 10% off your project grade for each critique missed. Students have the option of continuing to work on and improve each project after the due date and class critique for (possibly) a better grade. Grades for re-worked assignments will be no more than one full letter grade higher than the original grade at final critique (re-worked project grades will never drop in grade). All re-worked assignments are due by the final review date.

Exercises have no deadlines, but must be completed by final review (therefore the late work policy does not apply).

Homework assignments and Lynda tutorials must be posted on time in order for you to receive credit (therefore the late work policy does not apply).

The following assignments will be graded twice, once at midterm review and again at final review (therefore the late work policy does not apply):

  • Process Book
  • Blog

Attendance is mandatory. Attendance will be taken promptly at the beginning of each class. Being late counts as an absence, but you should come to class even if you are late because it is not possible to make up in-class critiques, exercises or tutorials that you missed.

Your semester grade will drop by one letter grade for every four classes missed. "Excused" absences will only be discussed under extenuating circumstances and only if you have missed more than three classes. If you know you are going to be absent, you have the option of emailing me assignments before they are due to avoid any penalties for late work.

If you stop attending, we may drop you from the class with no refund of tuition or fees. After midterm, you should not plan on an instructor withdrawal. You are responsible for your own withdrawal by the official withdrawal date (see Calendar). Non-attendance after midterm will result in a failing grade if you don't withdraw from the course.

Note: Attendance is required for the entire scheduled class period. If you have an issue that requires you to leave early, please inform the instructor beforehand. Leaving class early will count as an absence.

Online Gradebook

All students have an account in Cobra Learning (an online course management system). In this class, we will be using Cobra for:

  • Grading
  • Attendance records
  • Online discussions
  • Dropboxes (digital assignment submissions)
  • Communication
  • Quizzes

Cobra can be accessed via or

Note: Cobra's calendar only lists events inside Cobra. Please consult the class calendar for a complete list of events and deadlines.

Last updated: 9/7/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young