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

6,894 ratings
1,676 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 10, 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.


Aug 21, 2018

Very interesting, I liked the format. Easy to follow, nice excercises. It's actually good to cover the basics of design, even if you are not an absolute beginner, and especially if you are self taught

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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 01, 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.