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Fundamentals of Visual Communication





Credit Hours


Examines the principles and methods of visual representations and communication.

Design, being an extremely expansive field, includes experts with highly specialized skills. While excelling in their respective areas, many lack the basics of good visual communication design, relying on commonplace or trendy graphic design expressions. Yet being able to communicate ideas that don’t yet exist is a key part of bringing them to life. This course intends to address this gap and develop this essential skill of any advanced designer. In addition to the basics of visual communication, this course also introduces the idea of balancing the needs of the communicators and the qualities of the topic/offering to guide appropriate choices for visual representation.

Learning Objectives

Giving students with minimal-2D visual skills the ability to clearly represent their ideas based on integrating:

  • Content categories
  • Offering attributes
  • Communication goals and audience situations

…while simultaneously learning:

  • Basic visual communication design methods and principles
  • Different sign systems—text, pictures, diagrams—for effective and clear communication

Learning Outcomes

After completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • An improved understanding of information related to describing a designed offering and the various ways in which it can be represented via sign systems
  • The ability to create visual representations through applying basic visual communication principles in layout and typography to better organize and visually structure the information

Format & Grading

A 3 hour class for 7 weeks. Combination of lecture and critique. Weekly assignments to demonstrate modeling skill acquisition and final project (individual-based)

  • Weekly assignments: 30%
  • Class participation: 30%
  • Final, Version context 1: 20%
  • Final, Version context 2: 20%

Assessment Criteria

  • Timelines
  • Demonstration of concept understanding
  • Effort
  • Work quality
  • Improvement
  • Contribution

Enrollment Restrictions

No prerequisites. This course is open to all Institute of Design students. Students should have a working knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop) or equivalent