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

16,118 ratings

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


Apr 17, 2016

very good introductory course. i enjoyed the assignments, they are not overwhelming, easy to start, and the optional ones offer great opportunity to dig little deeper into graphic design fundamentals.


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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26 - 50 of 4,132 Reviews for Fundamentals of Graphic Design

By Valerie N

May 24, 2020

Great overview of graphic design. It takes you into the basics of different aspects of graphic design, and lets you play around with the exercises. You have the option to go deeper with non-graded exercises. The hands on exercises were quite valuable.

One recommendation I would have for the course organizers, is to give people a course or section about graphic design tools and how to use them. At least an overview of what's available and how it's used. There were a lot of people new to this and it would have definitely helped them to know some tools.

By Oliver G

May 24, 2020

"Fundamentals of Graphic Design" this course is crucial if you want to learn graphic design. Each lecture is perfect, great job from instructor Michael Worthington, I had a great experience, for me, maybe week one can feel a bit light or slow but it's fine, it sets a mood and creates an atmosphere. Every lecture and assignment is worth it, in my opinion, what you will learn here you will use it trough out all your Graphic Design career.

By Hardik S

Oct 21, 2021

Absolutely great course for a beginner.

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 Liana B

Aug 24, 2021

Even though the course gave me some food for thought, I would call it overall a disappointment. I really loved the first week's assignment and the first week's content in general. CalArts team provided us with some interesting design techniques and some design theory. I expected the course to continue to be as thorough and demanding, but instead, the following three weeks were bland, banal and really shallow, not what you'd expect on an introductory course from such an institution.

The first week's assignment was really about creativity, but the fourth week's task was extremely boring and useless. The middle weeks' assignments were just tests! I don't exactly understand how you can qualify for a certificate in "Foundations of Graphic design by clicking on answers and not designing stuff.

Anyway, I expected the final task of the course to be something that would've combined all the previously learnt knowledge. Alas, it required 10 minute tops to complete and almost no creativity at all.

The last thing that I want to talk about is Peer Review. I realize that these courses are done purely for commercial purposes to promote an institution and to have more actual students enrolling. However, given that some people actually pay for the course, it is a shame that they don't have access to a professional review from the instructors. In my first peer-review assignment things went smoothly, however in the last assignment a person who clearly didn't understand the task gave me a low point, not providing any explanation for this mark. So I resubmitted the exactly same assignment and different people reviewed it and I passed.

I don't think it is a fair system to review design students, given that the course doesn't really give enough fundamentals. We only saw examples of good design during the first week and later only the theory.

I'd like to see the content of the rest of specialization, but I don't have high hopes for it.

By JiaChen Z

Feb 1, 2021

A fantastic course for me! I've been dreaming of learning design for years, but I didn't know how to approach it. After studying this course, I understand it is the process that is the most important in the design, which I think is rarely taught elsewhere. This course focuses on the basis and concept of graphic design. It almost didn't say anything about software, which make us think more about the principle but not technical things. However, I found I was struggling to do the assignments due to the lack of ability in software. It may be better if they provide some software instruction when needed. Although I can imagine that may make students' focus deviate from what's really important in this course. But I'll suggest learning Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign after completing this course. Then continue to learn this specialization.

By Michael H

Jul 3, 2020

Excellent course! I've taken other courses on Coursera, and this one really stood out in the way the information was structured and presented. It felt very professional, well thought out, and I really learned a lot. I highly recommend the optional assignments, I think without them you won't learn as much and the information won't stick. Iteration and generation really is key to learning a new skill.

I would recommend at least a little bit of prior knowledge with Adobe Illustrator/InDesign (or their free alternatives -- the course gives you links to these), because knowing a little bit about these tools helped me to be able to complete many of the assignments without the added headache of learning how to use the program itself. And, if you are serious about graphic design, you will end up using these tools as you move forward, anyway.

By alina s

Oct 18, 2021

It was a very valuable course and helped me learn a lot about the fundamentals of graphic design. It aided me in perfecting my skills with graphic designing and the teacher imparted his knowledge with not just lectures but also with pictures and graphics. The teacher also conveyed his message through painting and using techniques to help us with our assignments. And concerning the assignments which were equally helpful in learning graphic design ourselves by imparting whatever we learned from the lectures. I would recommend this course for every single individual who wants to know the fundamentals of designing let alone graphic designing. Thank you coursera for helping me find this invaluable treasure.

By Deep S

May 24, 2020

First of all I will like you to thank you to Coursera Team for accepting my Financial Aid request for this course and letting me complete it without paying anything. Now coming to the course I have learned many things about graphics designing like what is Denotation image, different kind of image-making technique, color management, and in the last week of the course about the contrast was very interesting. I liked the way they have taken all the exams throughout the course. In the end, I will suggest everyone who is willing to learn deeply about Graphics Designing to take this course and get an extra skillset in your CV. Thank you very much, Coursera Team for all the support.

By Anna M D

Mar 25, 2021

This is the best Graphic Design Fundamentals course I have taken so far. The projects are super helpful to developing perception of the principles of GD. Note : it is preferable to have basic knowledge of the tools of Graphic Design (Photoshop, Illustrator) in order to make the projects.

The only aspect I don't like in general is the peer reviews : please have a professional review our work and give us proper feedback. I don't want to spend hours on a project and have a fellow student not even open the file to check my work and just write "she did good".

By Saad B W U

Jul 7, 2021

Best course I've ever done for Graphic Design! The outcome of this course is unbelievable. I always thought designing things or creating an artwork is not my cup of tea although I always wanted to do that and took so many courses but this course really pull my own creativity out of me. Weather a beginner/intermediate or advance designer, I recommend this course to all. And also Thank you so much for making this course.

By Sephtania P A

Jul 5, 2021

Absolutely loving it. I don't know what to say but this course really helping me into getting more understanding about graphic design. It's really good for someone who is new to the field. The tutor explain everything perfectly and i understand every videos easily, there is no rush so i can do it in my own pace. so thank you so much for the course.

By Phoebe C

May 16, 2020

Comprehensive and informative; a good balance of breadth and depth. Instructor uses a "show, not tell" approach in his videos, which greatly aided my understanding of design principles & how to apply them. The tasks were challenging yet manageable, and effective in consolidating my skills learnt during the week.

By Emily G R

May 25, 2022

This course helped me to develop some of the fundamental skills to introduce myself to the graphic design's world with excellence in perspective, in observation - and that's priceless, that's what makes the point and brings hummanity to science, to knolowege. I'll be always thankfull for what I've learned here.

By Tripti S

Oct 9, 2018

Amazing Course, such great insight and yet so simple. When I took this course I knew only the words Graphic Design and that I have to know a few creative suite softwares to learn graphic design. But this course has cleared my thoughs on the subject.

A must taka course for any one wanting to learn graphic design

By Akshaya R

Jul 7, 2020

I had a lot of fun learning basic Design Thinking, how to approach Design, Typography, Basics of Image Making and how to ideate and visualise different shapes and forms. I would recommend this course to anyone who is looking to unlearn what they know about design or art and learn a brand new way of thinking.

By Marta H H

Mar 20, 2022

Fundamentals of Graphic Design is really an amazing course! It motivated me so much to keep going in this journey towards the Specialization! I would just say it is a bit of a shame that there is content after the last compulsory exercise, since motivation to continue is lost once you receive your diploma!

By Ushakiran S

Dec 17, 2021

It was my first course in graphic design. I was quite unsure of how much I could learn from an online course but I am really happy and satisfied now that I have completed the course. I love the assignments and the peer review thing here which helped me learn so much. Finally thanks a lot to our instructor.

By Je _

Feb 23, 2021

Very interesting! Informs in a very detailed way the ABC of Graphic Design. The interesting thing about the course is the feedback sent by the students themselves, the exchange of information and references. Like any course, it also depends on the student's dedication, but I would definitely do it again.

By Ruthwik

Oct 4, 2020

Learned a lot from this course about Graphic Design. Never really thought about the diversity of this course but now I'm glad to know what Graphic Design is!. Enrol this course to get a clear understanding of how Designing is to be done to please the audience. I absolutely loved learning this course.

By Vanita K

Oct 6, 2021

This is a great course! The teacher conveys knowledge so concise yet captivating and inspiring. I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed this course. Making all the assignments (optional & required), really improved my skills as a starting Designer. Highly recommended!

By Chloe S

Jan 8, 2021

This was an amazing intro ! I feel that I learned a lot, and every week we got to play with the new tools we were taught ! The complementary notes at the end of the last week are also very useful career wise. All and all, very satisfied with this class !

By somya s

May 11, 2022

It was a great learnng experience! The professor very well taught the basics and do's and dont's of graphic design. Thanl you!

By Besufekad T

May 7, 2022

It was a heck of a journy for every thing was expressed in an excellent way i recomed every body to take this course.

By Diana A A A

Oct 20, 2021

Very nice and easy course and I enjoyed it very much think you so much