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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Fundamentals of Graphic Design by California Institute of the Arts

11,819 ratings
3,022 reviews

About the Course

Graphic Design is all around us! Words and pictures—the building blocks of graphic design—are the elements that carry the majority of the content in both the digital world and the printed world. As graphic design becomes more visible and prevalent in our lives, graphic design as a practice becomes more important in our culture. Through visual examples, this course will teach you the fundamental principles of graphic design: imagemaking, typography, composition, working with color and shape... foundational skills that are common in all areas of graphic design practice. I don't just want you to watch a video of someone talking about design, I want you to MAKE design! If you want to be a designer you have to be a maker and a communicator, so this course will offer you lots of opportunities to get your hands dirty with exercises and with more practical projects. At the end of this course you will have learned how to explore and investigate visual representation through a range of image-making techniques; understand basic principles of working with shape, color and pattern; been exposed to the language and skills of typography; and understand and have applied the principles of composition and visual contrast. If you complete the course, along with its optional (but highly recommended) briefs, you will have a core set of graphic design skills that you can apply to your own projects, or to more deeply investigate a specialized area of graphic design. To succeed in this course you will need access to a computer. You can complete this course without one but it will be tougher. Access to, and a beginner's level knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite programs, such as Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign will help you, especially if you want to complete the optional briefs....

Top reviews

Jul 13, 2020

Excellent course to learn and refresh about fundamentals of design....It applies to all spheres of MULTIMEDIA..Highly recommended... As a suggestion course and notes should be available in PDF format.

May 9, 2018

An ok course for beginners. A bit too basic for someone who has already had experience in design, but is great anyway cause it breaks things back down to the simplest parts to help you remember roots.

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2876 - 2900 of 2,975 Reviews for Fundamentals of Graphic Design

By Amir B

Feb 14, 2019


By Manuela S

Mar 5, 2020

It feels a bit too simple, i wish it would've had more information about composition of images and texts in something like poster making. The color part is also very basic, it doesn't even cover other types of color combinations like triads or more complex palettes. The best part is definitely the beginning with its explanations of connotative and denotative images. Regardless, its a good course for people with absolutely no knowledge of graphic design, but intermediate designers who are looking to expand on theory should avoid this course since it will not fulfill your expectations. Also, the peer review system really sucks as most peers will not even write a constructive review, its too automated and there is very little effort being made into the reviews. Would much rather have teachers or at least experts looking over the work.

By Elena P

Apr 19, 2016

Overall I think this is a great course and really helpful. However, I had an unpleasant experience on the last week. There is an assignment that asks you to create a single contrast composition of 2 shapes. It says "shapes" and still people are not sure if they can use more count of those shapes. I chose to use 2 shapes, but multiple counts and some people that thought this is not only 2 shapes, but 2 counts as well, chose to grade my work with the lowest rating due to unfulfilled assignment. I think this is Coursera`s fault to begin with. They should word their requirements properly so it does not create confusion. Now, we are left to the good will of a classmate to judge our work and people are not even sure what the assignment asks of us exactly.

By 翠花

Oct 5, 2016

The last assignment caused me CONFUSION. I mean, due to the unclear assignment requirements, we cannot review composition for composition's sake. For example, I did use two squares as the assignment asked, but I changed the transparency of them, so they form a new square when overlapping. And people think I used three squares and thus not following the instructions. And many people used a small circle and a large circle putting at the center vertically to form a scale composition, and you have to give them 3 points because they followed the instructions, but they actually did not do much in terms of composition. Though I got 3.5 scores by two people ( not very bad), I'm still frustrated, and I hope the assignment requirements could be clearer.

By Annie H

Aug 31, 2020

I really enjoyed this course. I learned a lot and there were plenty of opportunities to use my new skills immediately in projects.

My only complaint is that I would have liked to get real feedback from an instructor on at least one of the assignments. I understand why the system is peer-graded and that it would be an immense commitment to actually grade the assignments, but maybe it's not the right system for a design course.

I felt the class was valuable for dipping my toes into graphic design, but could never replace a real class with an active instructor. For this reason, I don't think I'll be continuing with the specialization as originally planned.

By Fatma M Z

Dec 10, 2019

The content of the course is good, but the real problem is the assignments that must be evaluated by others, It disables me a lot now I finished the videos and passed the exam, & submitted my assignments. Now taking my certificate that I will put in my CV depends on reviewing my work, now I can not apply for the job only after If I get the certificate of this course and this thing hurt me a lot.

Why have I been late getting the certificate because there are no people registered with me for this course at the same time? Or that no one has evaluated my work?

Please find a solution to this problem and keep this in mind.

By Dany B

Feb 22, 2017


By Susan F

Jan 3, 2016

For what it was, it was a decent course. For some reason I thought it would be a little more advanced. This was a very basic class. Wording of the last assignment limited creativity as it was hard to tell if you had to limit your pictures to 2 shapes,(as in one circle and one square), or 2 shapes(as in as many circles as needed and as many triangles as you needed, but don't add any squares). Reviewing these assignments, because they were so basic, made it hard to offer much in the way of constructive criticism.

By Ben M

Aug 19, 2020

In general I enjoyed this course and thought the information provided was useful. I liked doing the exercises and they definitely introduced me to some design thinking that I wouldn't have a chance to engage in on a normal basis. The peer feedback, however, was basically useless, and unfortunately the whole class is built around it. A lot of time is required just to prepare submissions and then review others, but what you get in response as reviews for your submissions is rarely constructive.

By Abhishek V M

Apr 15, 2020

The course was interesting and the manner of teaching was good for someone beginning into this field. The assignments were well thought out, but I felt it lacked rigour since they were all reviewed by peers. I wish all the assignments were mandatory and graded by industry experts or teachers. The idea of optional assignments that are peer-reviewed takes a bit of the edge from the course.

Overall a good course that helped me think of design and its fundamentals.

By Matthew S

May 12, 2020

The overall setup and information in the course is helpful and builds a foundational knowledge of working with shapes and color. There is not a very strong concept of what makes a pleasing image, and the example images and designs are relatively cheap and childish. This leads to students doing quick, unpolished work. So I'd say there is nothing particularly special about this course, but it does the trick in many ways.

By Jennifer C

Nov 1, 2020

I really don't feel like I got any valuable information out of this course. I know this is a fundamentals course, but the lessons were all very basic and didn't touch on anything that wasn't very easily searchable. The assignments felt like busywork. Also, most of the assignments are peer-reviewed feedback only (the ones that aren't are computer-graded quizzes), so there was no real professional input at all.

By Oliver T

Nov 11, 2015

I totally liked the hands-on approach and the nice presentation of the material. On the other hand, I felt a little left alone since there was no didactically planned interaction beyond the peer reviews. Furthermore, a forum for discussion is nice, but it's a little sad if no one can answer course related formal questions, you misinterpret the instructions, and therefore receive a low grade.

By Blake F

Jul 6, 2018

This is a very basic course. The assignments are interesting and help make you think about design in new and different ways. The peer review was lacking and the quizzes were kind of silly. That being said, I think this helped me understand that I need to delve deeper into the individual aspects of design to really become a good designer. It is a good place to start for a complete beginner.

By Guinivere P

Feb 26, 2017

I really enjoyed the content and learned a lot but, there were far too many videos that were not functional. In some the video froze, in some the sound went off, in others there were a problem with bot visual and sound. It became increasingly hard to follow the ideas as I had no visuals to support the text.

By Chandler F

Aug 20, 2020

The assignments given were great. However, if you do not know how to use Illustrator do not anticipate specific lessons here. This is more for someone who knows how to use Adobe programs but needs help exercising their creative muscle. You will work fundamental artistic concepts here. I really enjoyed it.

By Laura M

Feb 8, 2019

Very interesting but basic - definitely need to continue with the specialisations afterwards. Recommendations of online software courses / tools to learn from would be useful as some people (myself included) may not have the skills to progress onto the specialisations without this knowledge. Overall happy!

By Leilani A

Jul 28, 2020

Good instruction with projects that can inspire new creativity. However, the assignments are a bit to easy for anyone with previous knowledge of art or design, while the assignments also must be completed with software which most people would not know how to use without previous classes in graphic design.

By Natalie W

Sep 7, 2018

Having a background in Art & Graphic Design already I felt the Fundamentals course didn't really push me or help me learn anything incredibly helpful. However, it did push me to start using Illustrator (Which I had never used before) and I am enjoying the process of learning about a new digital programme.

By Salomé P

Nov 24, 2020

It is truly the fundamentals, a base to start or explore graphic design. I feel the peer review should not be there so much, it could have reviews from real designers, which would be more helpful and give students confidence to continue and work on those constructive criticisms.

By Deanna M

Apr 25, 2020

The course itself is interesting. I'm finding it hard to get anything out of these classes, as there is no feedback from instructors, and all assignments are graded by peers, with very little in the way of guidance. (criteria is basically "did you do the assignment" "ok, pass")

By Helie M

Mar 19, 2020

lessons are good and sufficient although the website is not user friendly and easy to follow. the reviewing process is not fare and helpful I rather a professional person review my works than some one who may have same knowledge as me and can provide better comments.

By Aydin A

Jun 28, 2016

Interesting and exploratory but not much was really explained; he just kinda showed examples and said see what I mean. That's great but you're not really learning why and thus in my opinion I don't feel like I learned much about graphic design

By Mahek S

Aug 14, 2016

Instead of reading blogs and books on graphic design and then following that up with consequent practice I decided to take up this course which would help me do both more efficiently and so far I'm not regretting my decision.

By Khalid G M

Apr 15, 2020

this course is kinda useful but I think it needs to go deeper in some details about those fundamentals of graphic design to give a complete imagination about how this world works, glad to be here and thanks a lot!