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

GDS 222 Graphic Design III
Project 3: Catalog

Instructor: Paul Young


To be introduced to the principles of publication design. To develop typography hierarchy systems. To utilize the grid system to organize information.   

Secondary Objective

To utilize the Adobe Creative Suite as layout and production tools.


Design a catalog for a client of your choice. Some suggested subjects:

  • products (books, movies, music, software, shoes, etc)
  • guides (gifts, theaters, schools, restaurants, etc)
  • art (galleries, museums)
  • event schedules (festivals, conferences, etc)
  • education (schools, classes, conferences)
  • fonts
  • other?

The catalog will be saddle-stitched and consist of a minimum of 16 pages and a maximum of 32 pages (including cover). The production specifications are as follows:

Parkland will pay for the printing of three copies of each student’s catalog at our print shop (additional copies can be purchased for $5 each).

Your project must communicate a creative concept and show an understanding of design principles (unity, emphasis, balance, color theory, etc.).

Per our syllabus, you may ONLY use the standard "core" fonts installed in D019 for your assignments unless you obtain prior approval from the instructor (see Parkland's Core Fonts Specimen Sheet). Please talk to your instructor if you need to use a non-standard font from the Adobe Font Folio collection.

Note: Legal high resolution stock photos and illustrations are available from Photospin (contact your instructor for access). Students may NOT use illegally download images (see FAQ).


1. Research for inspiration: Request catalogs to be mailed to you. Pick up printed retail catalogs from around town. Scan (instructions) and publish your research on your personal Process Page for critique (be sure to caption each image and cite the source). Be prepared to explain why these examples are successful. Although Internet sources are allowed to supplement your research, your inspiration should not be exclusively sourced from the Internet.

2. Marketing research: Research your client. What is the client's history? Are there any unique selling points for this business? Who is the competition? If appropriate, visit the business. Analyze your research and write a written statement of objectives in the form of a memo (see sample brief). Be sure to include descriptive adjectives in the "character" paragraph (see vocabulary wheel). Have your brief reviewed by the Writing Lab, then email your brief as an attached Word file or a shared Google Doc to (instructions).

3. Incubation: Absorb the information you have gathered and sleep on it. Allow your unconscious mind to make connections for you.

4. Develop the concept: In your sketchbook begin to conceptualize ideas for this project (see examples of sketches). Make at least 10 sketches of all possible directions you might take this project. Edit your concepts down to your best three ideas and redraw them on 8.5 x 11 white paper using a felt tip pen. Scan (scale/crop in Photoshop: no wider than 1000 pixels), increase the contrast (see tutorial) and publish your concepts on your personal Process Page for critique. Be prepared to discuss how your design fulfills the client's marketing objectives. Also print your sketches for your Process Book.

5. First proof: Based on the critique of the above, use the computer to execute sample covers and spreads (present at least one proof with an alternate font choice). Publish one multi-page low-res PDF (instructions) on your personal Process Page for critique. Be prepared to talk about what design principles are utilized in your design. Also print high-quality color proof(s) for your Process Book.

6. Second proof: Based on the critiques of the above, revise your design (if needed), then produce the entire book. Publish one multi-page low-res PDF (instructions) on your personal Process Page for critique. Also print a high-quality color proof to be proofread by your peers (use typography proofreaders' marks).

7. Final critique: Based on the critique of the above, fine-tune your designs (if needed). Submit high-quality color proof(s) for final critique (see printing tips). Prepare a presentation to justify your design decisions. Also publish one multi-page high-res PDF (instructions) on your personal Process Page.

8. Portfolio preparation: Based on the critique of the above, revise your design (if needed). Produce a high-res PDF (instructions) of the finished catalog (as discussed in class) and submit it via Cobra's Dropbox for printing. If you are happy with the results of this project, consider including it in your portfolio. If necessary, continue to make refinements until you are 100% satisfied with the project. Be sure to save all your files for future editing.

9. Grading: Submit one copy of your printed book for grading. File the other copies in your Process Book for individual review along with all the preliminary work you did for the project (research, brief, sketches, preliminary proofs, final proof). Review your Process Page and make sure you have an accurate record of your process. You will not receive full credit for this project if any of the above elements are missing.

10. Extra credit: Submit your project into the annual student show in an envelope (no mounting needed). Also prepare an archival quality JPEG (1000px wide, no larger than 200K, see example) and submit your project using the online entry form at Your project may win a cash prize and be published in a showcase of student work on Parkland's website.

Last updated: 4/11/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young