About this Specialization

Graphic design is all around us, in a myriad of forms, both on screen and in print, yet it is always made up of images and words to create a communication goal. This four-course sequence exposes students to the fundamental skills required to make sophisticated graphic design: process, historical context, and communication through image-making and typography. The sequence is completed by a capstone project that applies the skills of each course and peer feedback in a finished branding project suitable for a professional portfolio.

The goal of this specialization is to equip learners with a set of transferable formal and conceptual tools for “making and communicating” in the field of graphic design. This core skill set will equip learners for formal studies in graphic design, and a starting point for further work in interface design, motion graphics, and editorial design.

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SvgLevelBeginner

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 6 months to complete

Suggested 2 hours/week
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English

Subtitles: English, Serbian

What you will learn

  • Check
    Communicate through image-making and typography
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    Complete a capstone project to add to your professional portfolio
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    Gain the fundamental skills needed to be a graphic designer
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    Learn everything you need to know to work in interface design, motion graphics, and editorial design.

Skills you will gain

Graphic DesignArt HistoryAdobe IndesignCreativity
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
SvgLevelBeginner

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 6 months to complete

Suggested 2 hours/week
CommentDots

English

Subtitles: English, Serbian

How the Specialization Works

Take Courses

A Coursera Specialization is a series of courses that helps you master a skill. To begin, enroll in the Specialization directly, or review its courses and choose the one you'd like to start with. When you subscribe to a course that is part of a Specialization, you’re automatically subscribed to the full Specialization. It’s okay to complete just one course — you can pause your learning or end your subscription at any time. Visit your learner dashboard to track your course enrollments and your progress.

Hands-on Project

Every Specialization includes a hands-on project. You'll need to successfully finish the project(s) to complete the Specialization and earn your certificate. If the Specialization includes a separate course for the hands-on project, you'll need to finish each of the other courses before you can start it.

Earn a Certificate

When you finish every course and complete the hands-on project, you'll earn a Certificate that you can share with prospective employers and your professional network.

how it works

There are 5 Courses in this Specialization

1Course

Fundamentals of Graphic Design

4.7
4,110 ratings
1,072 reviews
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....
2Course

Introduction to Typography

4.8
1,753 ratings
382 reviews
Typography is the art of manipulating the visual form of language to enrich and control its meaning. It’s an essential area of skill and knowledge for graphic designers. Typography predates modern graphic design by around 500 years; it is rich in rules, conventions, and esoteric terminology—but it remains an exciting space for invention and expression. In this rigorous introductory course, we will study, name, and measure the characteristics of letterforms. We’ll consider the pragmatic concerns involved in selecting and combining type. We’ll peek into the 
rich historical, cultural, and aesthetic histories of familiar typefaces. We’ll discuss time-tested conventions and best practices in setting type, as governed by principles of hierarchy and spatial organization. And we’ll explore the expressive, meaning-making potential of type. Informative lectures will be complemented by a series of three peer-assessed assignments, culminating 
in an opportunity to design a full-scale typographic poster. Please note that this is not a software course; a basic working knowledge of Adobe InDesign or other 
page layout software will be assumed. You will need access to a computer and page layout software, such as InDesign, to complete the assignments....
3Course

Introduction to Imagemaking

4.4
905 ratings
202 reviews
During this course, we’ll be making exploratory images to expand your visual vocabulary. We'll create pieces that are expressive, meditative, or 'design-y' to instigate, evoke, experiment, record, explain, or to try out a media. The first two weeks are experimental and exploratory; we won’t be concerned with meaning or communication (although, to be honest, every image does exist in a context, and therefore communicates—or can convey—meaning, connotation, associations, and expressiveness). In the second two weeks, we’ll invite the images to deliberately and intentionally carry meaning and communication through relational moves like juxtaposition, composition, and context. Everyone has a natural, intuitive way of putting things together. We’ll look at developing and expanding the range of approaches for putting things together, composing page spreads with your images. Since nothing exists without context, we look at how to intentionally drive the image’s connotations, meanings and associations generated through elements of composition and “visual contrasts.” through style, juxtaposition, closure and figures of speech. Ultimately, we will take the images that you create and make a book from them....
4Course

Ideas from the History of Graphic Design

4.6
721 ratings
162 reviews
This condensed survey course focuses on four key periods or themes from the history of design. Together we’ll trace the emergence of design as a recognized practice, why things look the way they do, and how designers approached specific design problems in their work. Each week, a short quiz will test your knowledge of concepts, and a short reflective assignment will give you the opportunity to analyze the questions designers ask themselves today. This is an essential course for emerging designers entering the field, or for students interested in learning more about visual culture and analysis. No previous experience is required....
5Course

Brand New Brand

4.9
211 ratings
74 reviews
This course is the culmination of the Graphic Design Specialization and gives you an opportunity to tie together your knowledge and skills into a single project: a brand development guide for a company you will invent. This course takes you through the entire design process, from ideation to creation to presentation. Through the guide, you will be creating and giving a visual identity to an imaginary start-up company, and applying that visual identity to a number of forms. You will also develop a logotype and accompanying graphic palette to visually represent your company, as well as apply that design to a number of different applications to see it at work. Note: Only learners who have earned a certificate in the four previous courses in the Specialization are eligible to take the Capstone....

Instructors

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Michael Worthington

Faculty, Program in Graphic Design
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Louise Sandhaus

Faculty, Program in Graphic Design
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Anther Kiley

Faculty, Program in Graphic Design
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Gail Swanlund

Faculty in Graphic Design
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Lorraine Wild

Faculty, Program in Graphic Design

About California Institute of the Arts

CalArts has earned an international reputation as the leading college of the visual and performing arts in the United States. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. ...

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes! To get started, click the course card that interests you and enroll. You can enroll and complete the course to earn a shareable certificate, or you can audit it to view the course materials for free. When you subscribe to a course that is part of a Specialization, you’re automatically subscribed to the full Specialization. Visit your learner dashboard to track your progress.

  • This course is completely online, so there’s no need to show up to a classroom in person. You can access your lectures, readings and assignments anytime and anywhere via the web or your mobile device.

  • This Specialization doesn't carry university credit, but some universities may choose to accept Specialization Certificates for credit. Check with your institution to learn more.

  • To complete the assignments in most of the courses in this Specialization you will need access to a computer. It's the tool where most graphic design ends up in one way or another. Access to, and a beginner's level knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite programs, such as In Design, Illustrator or Photoshop will be needed to complete some assignments. For some courses you will also need some art materials as well.

    Specific information on tools and materials are outlined in the first week of each course.

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center