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

14,304 ratings
3,707 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

Sep 5, 2021

I had a lot of fun in this course. I learnt some extra bits of information related to graphic design and I think it's a great start for beginners as well as good practice for intermediate and experts!

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.

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By Lizz I

Apr 23, 2020

It could improve in the use of questionnaires within and during the videos. There are not, and they would be useful. Questionnaires at the end and after many videos is not as effective.

It would be good to ask the students to ask to be aware of making polite and polite corrections when grading and giving opinions about works. Aware that English is not the native language of all participants.

There are no more Spanish subtitles in the rest of the specialized course, for those of us who do not speak English, we can no longer continue. We cannot take the rest of the courses, there are no more Spanish subtitles. It's a shame.

Podría mejorar en el uso de cuestionarios dentro y durante de los videos. No los hay, y serian útiles. Cuestionarios al final y después de muchos videos no es tan efectivo.

Seria bueno pedir a los alumnos que al calificar y dar opiniones sobre trabajos, se pida ser conscientes de hacer correcciones educadas y amables. Conscientes de que el inglés no es el idioma nativo de todos los participantes.

Ya no hay subtítulos en español en el resto del curso especializado, para los que no hablamos inglés, ya no podemos seguir. No podemos tomar el resto de cursos, ya no hay subtítulos en español. Es una pena.

By Petra P

Feb 22, 2016

The course was very interesting, hands on orientated and it offered me a lot of useful information. I have really enjoyed it! It was also a good motivation to practice graphic design more often, explore the realms of shapes, colours, typography etc.

I was really grateful for the peer reviews, but I missed a bit more professional approach sometimes, for instance comments like "I like it" or "It is not that bad" does not tell me much about my work. So in these cases some feedback from someone who already is a graphic designer and knows much more about it than us, students, starting with the graphic design, would be more than welcome.

I also missed advices on where to find out more on a particular topic.

Overall, taking this course was a very positive experience and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in graphic design.

By Marilyn L

Jan 30, 2016


The information is good. This class is good for learning the vocabulary in graphic design. I already understood more general terms like scale and form. I learned new terms like figure/ground and visual contrast (or how graphic design defines it).


The teacher's pace for some of the videos is slow for the amount of information. On week 4, the pace slightly quickens. But overall, it's really slow.


I would recommend this course for learning the terms of graphic design or getting a basic understanding of design principles. I also found the assignments fun. If you have some understanding of the basics of design and art, you do not need to watch every video. Feel free to skip on videos covering terms you have a general idea about.

By Bob C

Mar 1, 2016

An excellent introduction to graphic design. The videos were useful to clearly show the concepts. There were a number of assignments, many of them optional, which allowed you to practice and integrate the learnings. All material was taught at a level that made it accessible to a true novice.

My only hesitation on giving this course 5 stars was the lack of any presence of teachers/tutors in the course discussions. There was a lot of questions about the final marked assignment, with many posts on the discussion boards. There was no response from anyone other than the participants in the course. The issue was not clarified and students were left to interpret (and peer review based on that intrepretation) the instructions on their own.

By Susan B T

May 27, 2021

I enjoyed the class very much. Even though I teach design for theatre at a university, I found it inspiring to look at these fundamental concepts through a different lens, and to learn more about typography, about which I had only an instinctual response before.

I wish there was some way to get feedback beyond the peer variety. Of course, we are all still learning and responses are going to be somewhat subjective no matter what, but I was often disappointed to find that the "feedback" I was offered amounted to one word, sometimes just "Hi," so that the learner could check that box and get on with their course.

Still, I got a lot out of this course and I plan to take the others in the Graphic Design specialization right away!

By Georgia C

Jun 29, 2020

Learnt lots throughout this course which was great, thank you! However, sometimes assignments didn't quite make sense, even though there was the forum to help I found myself scrolling through lots of messages trying figure out exactly what was required from the assignments. Also I know it would be impossible with the amount of people enrolled in the course, but I would be nice to have an opinions from qualified designer/someone in charge of the course. Getting expert opinions on how to improve your work would be nice as a lot of the peer review reviews were a couple word answers or I know for me personally I don't know too much about design to tell someone else how they could enhance their work.

By Joseph W

May 8, 2021

This course is designed well with the novice in mind. Michael Worthington does a good job of teaching it in a distance learning format. I like when the two students made art in the first week intro section--it would be ideal to see a bit more of them or other students.

The only detractor from the course for me was the work of a number other students. It felt like for every legitimate assignment I tried to review, there were two or three assignments that were absolute nonsense. The worst offenders were those who just posted whatever--some unrelated picture or photo. In one case, the student's final poster was a simple red dot. (?!) Why are these people paying to waste their time and mine?