Chevron Left
Back to Fundamentals of Graphic Design

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

14,067 ratings
3,649 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

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.

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.

Filter by:

26 - 50 of 3,622 Reviews for Fundamentals of Graphic Design

By Ted J

Sep 6, 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!

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 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 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 Alexia W

Oct 5, 2021

Great course! Broken up into manageable pieces. Very fun to learn :)

By Aditya I W

Oct 4, 2021

Really nice course, I have learn so much in here!!

By Johnnatan L

Jul 18, 2020

Exceptional course

By Marwa Y

Jun 4, 2020

It was really good! It was fun, simple and easy. To be honest I was a little bit disappointed because it was too simple and because I have an artistic background I was pretty excited to dive in graphic design straight forward, but I think it's fair to start slow for the people who don't have a background.

If you're someone who just want basic ideas about design and how to put things together in a nice way considering the meaning behind anything, this course is definitely for you. But if you're someone who is like me, actually wants to learn everything possible about graphic design, then you probably know most of the info provided here, and you should take the whole specialization like what I'm doing.

But it was quite beneficial in the theory aspect, because now I know the technologies and terms for a lot of things!

The assignments are too easy that they were boring, there are multiple optional assignments but again, they are also boring and basic.

In conclusion, as a course about graphic design fundamentals, yes it's absolutely amazing, but as an introduction to graphic design as a specialization, it's so basic and I wish it had more work.

By Alastair T

Sep 7, 2020

My first-ever online course. Has some rocky parts where the assignments are not 100% crystal clear, but I think the break-everything-down approach will get you started on being able to think critically about how a surface works. Is the kind of class where it does the most good if you're already interested in the topic & have some skill, but want to figure out how you know what you know & what sorts of decisions a graphic can make. It's not a technical class, it's a conceptual class. The peer-review system is not really optimal when a lot of your classmates don't really get the assignment. I think you'll get out of this course whatever you put into it.

By Curtis H

Apr 9, 2020

Excellent course. Would definitely recommend for anyone like myself who is either already in a creative profession or is looking to get into one. I don't think it's just for those interested in being a graphic designer, but the principles and perspectives learned from this course are applicable in many creative fields and endeavors. I only took the one star off because while it's great to get the opinion of your fellow learners, it would be good to have some professional/experienced input on the additional exercises, but that would probably mean the course would cost more. All around excellent intro, highly recommended.

By bhavana k

Jan 8, 2018

This course is very good for a beginner. It starts from very basic and the language is very simple and clear.I loved the assignments and I learned a lot during it. My personal advice do as many assignments as many time as you can, assignments are gonna teach you more than theory.

The reason I am giving it a 4 star and not 5 because I really felt that at some points I needed some clarifications and feedback from the instructor. I started few threads for discussing my subject related questions but no reply. If coursera team is able to fill this gap between teacher and student, I guess then this course is beyond 5 stars :)

By Akash S

May 4, 2020

This course has given me deep insight about graphic design. with help of this course my fundamentals regarding various pillar of graphic design are very clear . My knowledge has definitely increased regarding Imagemaking ,Typography, colour theory, contrasts and its factors and how all these affects the composition.

I was very new to this field but now i am confident to understand the terminology of this field of graphic design.

All the fundamental have been taught in depth and have given a very clear understanding of the topic.

I am very thankfull to the team for prepairing such a wonderful course structure

By Kathie B

Mar 14, 2016

It has been 40 years since I took my last art course (and that was in elementary school). While I enjoyed making posters in high school and college, those were done by hand. I had ZERO experience with computer graphics, and was quite nervous starting this course. I liked the way the instructor eased into it - bringing less experienced artists along slowly, and constantly encouraging us to practice and experiment. By the 4th week, I figured out my computer's basic graphic design program, and was really enjoying playing with designs. I look forward to taking the other classes in this specialization.

By Jaime J

Jul 1, 2020

I'm a writer/communications specialist who has been working with and learning from visual designers for 20 years. This course was great for me to get structured, high-level information about the fundamentals of their work, plus some hands-on practice in exploring how to work with basic design principles. If you are looking for instruction in how to use design software, do not look to this course (try YouTube). If you're instead looking for an introduction to ideas and exploration, go fo =r it.

By Laura M C M

Nov 8, 2020

Some of the feedbacks of my companions were not useful because they were not interested in giving me a good feedback, it would be nice if the professor also give a feedback

By Satwik V

May 16, 2020

Course is all good but I was expectiongmore of application , and an insight into graphic design softwares like photoshop and illustrators.

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 Júlia U

Oct 29, 2018

El curso está bien, aprendes aspectos básicos del diseño gráfico y te permiten experimentar con ellos. Su mayor problema es que el nivel de exigencia es muy bajo, los proyectos más interesantes son optativos y en ningún momento te corrige un profesor, sino otros alumnos del curso (que muchas veces ponen 0 esfuerzo en dicha corrección).

A pesar de ello he aprendido y lo recomiendo a gente que esté empezando en el mundo del diseño gráfico, aunque es mejor tomárselo como un auto-aprendizaje que como un curso tutelado.

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.