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

GDS 120 Graphic Design I
Syllabus (Spring 2017)

Instructors: Liza Wynette and Paul Young

Course Description

Introduction to the creative process and image making with a focus on composition. Solve real world visual communication problems in a hands on studio environment using Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign). Prerequisites: ART 122, GDS 108 or ART 121 or approval of graphic design program director or department chair.


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


Using hands-on exercises, students will learn advanced software and production concepts relating to the three major software packages used by graphic designers today. Through problem-solving projects, students will work through the creative process and apply design principles to real-world visual communication problems.


The major topics we will cover this semester will include:

  • Using Photoshop for image editing and layout
  • Using Illustrator to create original vector art
  • Using InDesign to combine art elements and type
  • Applied design principles
  • Applied color theory
  • Creative process
  • Image making
  • Typography
  • Visual Literacy
Class Format

This course will consist of projects, exercises, demonstrations, lectures, critiques and open lab. There will also be three quizes. It is expected that additional time, on a weekly basis, will be spent on projects and homework assignments. 

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.

  • USB flash drive, portable hard drive, or access to a cloud service (i.e. Google Drive or OneDrive)
  • Sketchbook
  • Parkland Identification Card
  • Other supplies may be required for specific exercises and projects
  • The textbook Universal Principles of Design available at the Parkland College Bookstore
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 publish all the work you have done up to that time (including all reference materials, concept sketches, b&w proofs, color comps, 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 (40%)
  • Exercises (10%)
  • Homework (10%)
  • Lynda Tutorials (15%)
  • Open Book Quizzes (15%)
  • Process Book (5%)
  • Blog (5%)

Projects/Blog/Quiz 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 Exercises, Homework Assignments and Lynda Tutorials.

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 blogging assignment will be graded twice, once at midterm review and again at final review (therefore the late work policy does not apply).


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 two 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, I 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 (as posted in Cobra Learning). 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 will 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

Last updated: 2/6/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young