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

15,003 ratings
3,892 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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51 - 75 of 3,868 Reviews for Fundamentals of Graphic Design

By Johnnatan L

Jul 18, 2020

Exceptional course

By Keyder J A

Oct 20, 2021


By Amena N

Jan 28, 2022

4.5 stars

The course itself is great. I love the short informative videos, that are right on point. I love how the course introduced me to core principles while encouraging me to explore and try new techniques.

The only set back there is the method of evaluation which is peers review.

I was lucky at the beginning with people who were really detailed with sharp eyes who gave me useful feedback. And then you have the "nice" and "okay" luckily those I came across in only in the optional assignment.

That is until I submitted the last required assignment that has 100% objective goals and pretty straightforward exercise to test your grasp of the concept. Then I got people who are telling me "You need a square" and even giving me 0 points saying that I didn't submit the correct number of pages, when I clearly did. It took me 3 trials to get a decent feedback and a passing grade on this simple task that was explained in specific detail in a video by the instructor.

I think may be the rubric for this assignment specifically or in general needs to be more straightforward, through a yes or no set of questions. But in my opinion it would be better if you could hire a person who checks the reviews and assignment and whether or not a student is either doing the assignments and the review wholeheartedly.

Over all this was a great course and I am grateful for Coursera for giving me the financial aid to take it. It really made a difference for me and I learned essential skills and concept that I will need and make use of as a graphic designer.

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 Mary C

Jan 2, 2022

The information in this course was useful and a great jumping off point. However one star has been deducted because of the ridiculous peer review that took up my time and in return got useless comments like good job and nothing else as well as peers removing half a point to things just because they couldn't decide what image they liked best and gave no explanations, comments good or bad and was absolutely useless to helping the designer improve there work.

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 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 Jacqueline

May 5, 2021

The videos nicely layout information and the course is easy to follow. The reason for two stars is that you never learn from a professional. Every project is peer-reviewed, which can be beneficial when done right. When you are in a beginner class and only getting peer reviews, you don't learn as much as you could. Many of the reviews I have seen are just "ok", "cool", or "N/A". It's a shame. The information is good and the assignments are great, just missing the professional advice.

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 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 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 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.