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

16,131 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


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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76 - 100 of 4,134 Reviews for Fundamentals of Graphic Design

By Heather K

Mar 15, 2022

I found that the instructor did not dive deep enough into the fundementals of design. The intro and his explanations often times took far too long over the same subject, when he could have been diving into different topics in the same amount of time. The peer review work was not very beneficial, some directions were unclear causing people to give out non-passing grades, and his teaching methods just weren't the best in my opinion.

By Xiaoqing J

Sep 3, 2021

The content of this course is very insightful and the assignements are very helpful to apply all the graphic design principles. However, the quality of peer reviews is extremely poor. I did not receive any useful or constructive feedback on my work whatsover. This also becomes apparent when reviewing the work of others. Most of the assignments ignore the instructions and it is challenging to provide feedback in that case.

By Olivia W

Aug 30, 2020

Like some other reviewers said this is more of an art course than graphic design, at least from my perspective. You wont be learning how to use photoshop or anything adobe for that matter. So, for your assignments I recommend using something free, such as Canva, if you don't already pay for adobe. I hope that they upload more courses on adobe and have assignments such as making a business card or a flyer.

By Emrys旦旦

Oct 3, 2020

pretty much useless.

I have a whole degree in animation and I'm confident to say I have some solid art background. I do some graphic design freelancing but I never had any proper graphic design training so I wanted to learn properly and get a certificate.

now I got the certificate but I didn't learn a thing from this. would want my money back but it seems to be not possible.

the teacher's voice alone is so boring and makes me want to sleep when I listen to him. there are only 2 mandatory assignments and they are so easy and pointless.

don't want to come across rude but this is a waste of time and money. have an art background or not, avoid this course. ( i imagine people who are new to design and art would still finish this and didn't get much art and design education from it)

By seth a

Jun 9, 2020

absolutely zero feedback and critique from experienced, professional graphic designer(s). an unreal number of "students" submitting files for assignments that are not even remotely close to what the course teaches.

By Mert T

Jul 21, 2020

I honestly did not learn much (almost nothing). And it was little bit boring to watch. I got disappointed.

By Thejan

Feb 27, 2023

I must say, it was an incredible experience. The course covers a wide range of topics from typography to color theory, and provides a solid foundation for anyone interested in pursuing a career in graphic design.

The course is well-structured and the video lectures are informative and engaging. The exercises and assignments are challenging but extremely helpful in putting what you've learned into practice. The feedback from the instructors is detailed and constructive, which helped me to improve my design skills significantly.

One of the things that I appreciated the most about this course was the emphasis on the importance of design principles and how they apply to real-world projects. It really helped me to understand the role of design in solving problems and communicating messages effectively.

Overall, I highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in graphic design or wants to enhance their design skills. It's a great investment in your career and personal development.

By Карханов Е В

Jul 16, 2020

This course definitely gave me more than I expected even though my expectations was high. Every aspect of the course is well designed and well implemented. Structure of the course is perfect for you to stay interested and learning fast. Video lessons provide very clear explanation of course's material, music and motion design in the videos create a great vibe. I learned in this course not only some specific design skills, but realized even more important things: first of all, I'm really sure about my ability to design; second of all, I understand general creative process much better. I can recommend this course for anyone in creative fields (and maybe not only in creative fields), cause it teaches you how to generate and iterate any kind of ideas and apply them to reach your creative goals. Personally, I'm a musician also and I never could make such a great music as I could now, after course's completion, because lessons it gave me is easy to transfer to other activities.

By Colleen C

Dec 25, 2022

I enjoyed Michael's class very much and gained a lot of helpful background and practical information. The assignments were interesting and fun to work on, I was surprised more of them weren't required but I did them all.

Just disappointed by the quality of peer reviews because most did not provide any feedback, and one person gave harsh feedback because they did not understand the assignment and so they judged me thinking I did the assignment wrongly when I did not. I read the instructions correctly; it's fine if I didn't do well, but I know I got followed instructions, the critique and score were flawed based on the reviewer's erroneous read of the directions.

I gave detailed reviews in all my peer assignments.

I am looking forward to continuing, however it does not appear obvious how to start the next course.

Thanks Mr. Worthington and Coursera for the financial assistance as I am disabled and on a fixed income. Greatly appreciated.

By Maha E Z

Sep 10, 2019

I really enjoyed this course, it really sparked my creativity and enhanced my knowledge about graphic design and it's core fundamentals, I had fun doing the assignments, especially the ones in the 1st week. The instructor is very thorough and breaks down every aspect of graphic design fundamentals in a simple, understandable and also applicable way. I may have had a bit of hiccups due to some difficulties in comprehending the requirements in some assignments, whether if I was allowed to do certain things or not, and more specifically if what I understood was right, I wished there were more elaborations in a kind (Maybe a sample of how the end results should look like : arrangements of pages & such, so students would know if they got it right and also simulate it if they weren't sure) but I managed to understand & get it done. Overall this is an amazing intro into the world of graphic design.

By Sherif M

Feb 9, 2020

This is one of the best courses you can take if you want to get started as a graphic designer. I've been working as a graphic designer for many years but I had only learned the technicalities and software, never the principles or foundations and only worked with my sense and feeling for them. This course basically solved my problem as it's focus is exactly that: the foundations and principles of graphic design. The main components of image, design terminology, approaching design, experimenting and exploring the different aspects of design. I honestly though this course would be too simple but despite being about the fundamentals it provides some of the most essential knowledge you can have as a designer and it does it in a clear, non-complicated way (Thanks to Mr. Worthington's calm and clear approach). I am glad I signed up for it!

By Nikki S

Feb 9, 2021

This was a helpful course for breaking graphic design down to the basic building blocks of the art. It will give you some simple concepts and principles to keep in mind as you create graphic design. You will get a high-level overview of basic image-making, typography, and contrast/hierarchy within your design elements. I was looking for a true 101 graphic design program that would cover the most basic concepts, and this delivered. I feel prepared to move on and take a deeper dive into each of the topics covered so that I can grow my skill set. The only suggestion I would offer is to make the final optional project a required one. That project requires you to take everything you've learned and use it in a final design project. It seems odd that this isn't the final required project.

By Evgeniya S

Jul 21, 2017

The course is basically the reason I decided to sign up to Coursera in the first place. It gives a good introduction into graphic design. Instead of focusing on projects and tutorials on how to use design programs like inDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop - the course gives a good theoretical background into graphic design than no other courses offer online. You will be encouraged to use various media to create your artwork, instead of going through a boring video which expects you to copy whatever the person on the screen is doing while learning nothing about the process. I really enjoyed this and recommend it to anyone who can handle the applications on their own, and needs a good theory and background into design, creation process and similar ideas.

By Michele

Jun 26, 2016

Very rewarding, with easy to understand but comprehensive lectures and optional exercises that can be done with each sub-section of the lecture. These exercises were interesting, relevant and challenging. It was also educational to do the peer reviews and see how other students approached the assignments.

The instructions for assignments perhaps could be broken into bullet points, as sometimes they were perhaps not fully understood on the optional exercises. Some guidelines to help give more substantial or constructive feedback (beyond "This met the assignment criteria" or "I liked #3") could be helpful.

I'm very glad I did this course, and I was thoroughly engrossed in the exercises. It was sad when the course ended. :-)

By Alessandra O

Dec 1, 2016

The course responded very well to my expectations. It outlines and analyze all the elements and strongly prompts you to think about design making and to ponder each component of it. And it makes you work!! I learned a lot, technically, by myself, having to submit assignments. Looking at the materials I made, I almost cannot believe I did it by myself. The only thing: I wish I had more time to work on it and, perhaps, if the students knew since the very beginning they will finally make use of each assignment to create a very final one, they would probably consider this when choosing objects, styles, techniques. But maybe this is stated since the beginning and I did not realize that. Anyway, absolutely worthy.

By Brahim O

Feb 1, 2023

This online course provided me with essential knowledge about Graphic Design And Design Theory in general, Also On the practical side, it qualified me to start experimenting and coming up with creative By creating a series of images using different image-making techniques, Implementing the fundamentals of color: visual, rhythm, and pattern in a piece of design, Typesetting text and experimenting with letter forms And Using form, scale, weight, direction, texture, and space in a composition.

Big Thanks to the course instructor Michael Worthington and Calarts, for curating and providing such helpful and priceless resources, and Coursera for providing the best environment for effective learning.

By 許芸禎

Nov 10, 2021

This course really helped me a lot and changed my thinking about graphic design. In the past, my studies focused more on the principles of design and the beauty of the public, but this course is more inclined to guide you in the creation of graphic design, research your own methods, and how to express it flexibly and creatively. Graphic design finally returns to what kind of message I want to convey, and what I feel is that graphic design can be very interesting. It seems to have taken me out of a certain framework and have more imagination! I am honored to participate in this course. I am grateful for the teacher's teaching and the students' mutual evaluation, which made me think about it.

By Fernando H

May 11, 2018

Excelente course! I graduated in Advertising and Audiovisual, but I'm algo a motion graphics designer freelancer. This course was an inspitation for me. And due to my schedule, it was very accessible and convinient at this point in my life. I've tried other courses online, but in this one I felt I could actually put the exercises in practice and learn by doing as the design area suggests. Another thing I found interesting was the variety of people, skills, tecniques, knowledge I got in touch. This plattaform is very democratic and for this area this is very very interesting. I'm satisfied and I plan to continue on the next modules. The course deliver everything it says. Thanks you, CalArts.

By Tarang S

Apr 25, 2016

The course is simply amazing. Prepare to do a lot of hands on work, and use your creativity. The instructor gives hands on work that is really fun to do, and you end up with the knowledge and the skills to actually make a good poster, especially if you do the bonus assignments, which are really nice.

I must note, though, that it is very useful to know how to use computer programs to arrange files and text. I used Adobe Illustrator (like the instructor) and Pages, but basic knowledge of Microsoft Powerpoint or similar is enough, as you will scan hand-drawn pictures and put them in, arrange them, then export them as PDFs. Considering you are on this website, I'd say you are ready! Start ASAP!

By Natalia P

Dec 12, 2022

Wonderfully crafted course. Really gets you to get a grip of what Graphic Design is. The peer review assignments allow you to astronomically expand your sense of criticism. Now I can't look at the world the same as I did - everything I see decomposes itself into forms and shapes, and the Typography chapter really gets you into understanding what type is and makes you look differently at posters, signs, etc.

The only aspect that put me a bit off is that you don't get professional feedback on your works, so you have to rely on your peers to really understand what exactly is right/wrong with your designs.

Overall, however, great course. Definitely taking the next step in the specialisation!

By Kadri A

Feb 8, 2016

Loving this course! It has a really nice pace. I always prefer shorter videos cause then I can divide the week up and not have to find hours to do it all at the same time. Also it is easier to think along (I am doing it as an after work extra activity). Probably a lot of things are basics but this was exactly what I was looking for. Also the system of mandatory and optional tasks is really nice cause people can choose how deep they want to go. I have skipped optional things cause I do not want to design myself, more work better together with the designers but I might change my mind during the next course cause I am definitely taking the hole spezialisation!

By Sakshi Y

Aug 20, 2020

Really loved the course and learned a lot. I am a beginner and after enrolling into this course, I gained so much knowledge about graphic designing. The course content is easy to understand and it prompt us to complete the assignments which I think is really helpful. We can apply and implement our ideas and knowledge on these assignments and make design in our own way. The best way to learn graphic design is to make graphic design. Reviewing peers work and getting peers feedback in return was also an amazing thing in this course. I enjoyed learning and really excited about the other courses in graphic design specialization I am enrolled in.

By Marli M

Mar 3, 2017

Very well organized course, with interesting topics and assignments. I took it as a free course and was very grateful for all the good information and practice was available. Many of the other students were very talented and it was fun to see their work during Peer Review. The 2 only criticisms are that (1) I wish they had recommended good, free software for completing the assignments. I ended up doing the 2 required assignments in an outdated version of MSWord, but managed to make that work, though it was time consuming. And (2), I never figured out how to request reviews of my work except as a "reply" to another post.

By Joe W

Jan 7, 2016

I really liked this short course. Having not been exposed to any kind of arts classes before (not since elementary school anyway), I felt this instructor explained things in a way (and used examples as he explained) that I could understand. It got me to appreciate just how much you can do just by changing simple things like typeface and size. This class got me doing stuff that I hadn't done in a long time, like painting with water colors. It was not a complicated or challenging class, but it was a very good introduction, which is what I think it was intended to be. It was approachable and it inspires further exploration.

By stacy a

Feb 9, 2022

This course was excellent. The instructor not only has a grasp on what he is teaching, but he is also able to put the concepts into small digestible bits of extremely helpful information. The practice exercises were challenging and enjoyable. I would love to see more course offerings from this instructor. I plan to take the rest of the courses in this track but feel like I need more experience with Adobe suite to really get the most out of the courses. I would have like to have known in advance that experience with programs such as Illustrator or In-design would have been recommended. Thank you for a great beginning.