Graphic Design Specialization

Starts Apr 03

Try for Free

Enroll to start your 7-day full access free trial.

Graphic Design Specialization

Make Compelling Design. Learn and apply the principles of graphic design towards a comprehensive branding project.

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.

Created by:

courses
5 courses

Follow the suggested order or choose your own.

projects
Projects

Designed to help you practice and apply the skills you learn.

certificates
Certificates

Highlight your new skills on your resume or LinkedIn.

Try for Free
Enroll and get full access to every course in the Specialization for 7 days. Cancel any time.
Courses
Beginner Specialization.
No prior experience required.
  1. COURSE 1

    Fundamentals of Graphic Design

    Upcoming session: Apr 3 — May 8.
    Commitment
    4 weeks of study, 5-8 hours/week
    Subtitles
    English

    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, 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; have 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.
  2. COURSE 2

    Introduction to Typography

    Upcoming session: Apr 3 — May 8.
    Commitment
    4 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week
    Subtitles
    English

    About the Course

    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.
  3. COURSE 3

    Introduction to Imagemaking

    Current session: Mar 27 — May 1.
    Commitment
    4 weeks of study, 2-4 hours/week
    Subtitles
    English

    About the Course

    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.
  4. COURSE 4

    Ideas from the History of Graphic Design

    Current session: Mar 27 — May 1.
    Commitment
    4 weeks of study, 2-3 hours/week
    Subtitles
    English

    About the Course

    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.
  5. COURSE 5

    Brand New Brand

    Upcoming session: Apr 3 — May 29.
    Commitment
    6 weeks of study, 3-5 hours per week
    Subtitles
    English

    About the Capstone Project

    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.

Creators

  • California Institute of the Arts

    CalArts' Graphic Design program is one of the premier programs for the study of graphic and print arts in the U.S.

    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.

  • Anther Kiley

    Anther Kiley

    Faculty, Program in Graphic Design
  • Michael Worthington

    Michael Worthington

    Faculty, Program in Graphic Design
  • Gail Swanlund

    Gail Swanlund

    Faculty in Graphic Design
  • Lorraine Wild

    Lorraine Wild

    Faculty, Program in Graphic Design
  • Louise Sandhaus

    Louise Sandhaus

    Faculty, Program in Graphic Design

FAQs

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center.