Introduction to Design Communications

DSGN. 100

Roger Williams University

Fall 2020

Room: GHH G13

Tues. – Thurs.


Fulfills a course requirement in the Graphic Design Core Concentration. Introduces students to fundamental design process and problem- solving skills through the use of graphic design principles & elements. Exposure to both the intellectual and technical challenges of graphic design communication results in a series of introductory level visual solutions. In conjunction with design problems, students are exposed to information about the current design industry including related design technology. Upon completion, all projects are developed to industry standard presentation level with an emphasis on basic craftsmanship skills.


  • Gain a baisc understanding of the many underlying principals of graphic design.
  • Become familar with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop & Indesign
  • Learn the principals of designing for screen & print based media
  • Gain an understanding of fundamental principals of Visual communication
  • Learn how to create prepare deliverable assets for print and screen bassed applications.



This is a studio course, we meet as a group twice a week. Instruction will be delivered in person & via Zoom. During the semester depending on the topic/issues being covered, the course will include elements of the following: lecture/demonstrations, group projects + discussions, individual work time, small group working and critique sessions, and final critiques.

The work load for this class includes 2-3 hours of outside work for each hour inside of class. This equals 8-12 hours of outside class work per week. This amount may increase based on the nature of the subject and the intense learning curve required to master the skills necessary. A large portion of project development including research, sketching, ideation, and final execution will take place outside of class. Class time may be used working on various aspects of project development but the emphasis will be on process and final analysis.  Each student is expected to work productively during in class work sessions.

Each student is expected to take each project to a highly innovative and conceptual solution.  This can be achieved by understanding and following the guidelines of good art and design process and spending the necessary time on each assignment. It is not reasonable to expect successful solutions to complex problems with one or two quickly executed ideas. It is important to generate many ideas for each visual solution to the assignment. Each stage of the visual solution must be thoroughly investigated.

You will be evaluated throughout the semester in three different areas, which will each have an effect on your grade: Attendance, Participation, Studio and Critique performance and Assignments. Please be aware that you are 100% responsible for your work and contribution in this class, or any other.  It’s up to YOU.


In keeping with the format of this studio course, students are expected to attend class and be prepared to work. Unlike a standard academic class, a participatory demand is placed on the student to engage in in-class studio development. Therefore it is mandatory that students attend, produce and discuss work in class. In addition, homework and/or outside of class work are required and project specific.

Three unexcused absences will result in the lowering of your grade, one letter grade. Six unexcused absences will result in automatic failure. There will be no excuse for missing class unless approved by the instructor. Students must directly speak to the instructor in advance of the absence or within 24 hours of a missed session to have it approved. In the event of illness, a doctor’s note is recommended. An email message or voice mail message does not necessarily constitute an approved absence. Chronic lateness or leaving early is disruptive to the class as a whole…thus, three tardies shall be considered one absence. You will be also be marked absent if you are over half an hour late, leave class early, not prepared for critique and/ or to work in class.



Complete the assignments given and participate fully during class sessions. It is essential that you ask questions and share opinions during critiques and discussions. Participation involves giving attention, looking, listening, preparing questions and sharing thoughts, ideas and questions. Participation helps you learn to be more articulate and prepares you for a career as a professional.



Deadlines are a major factor in the operation of any work environment. Therefore, all assignment deadlines are absolute. No work will be accepted beyond its due date. Turn in your work by the deadline even if you feel it is unfinished. It’s better to be present and participating during class discussions.  Assignments turned in on time can be revised during the last three weeks of the semester. If you are unable to turn an assignment in at it’s proper time for a legitimate reason, you must make arrangements with the instructor beforehand and must receive permission for a different due date.

Also never attempt to plagiarize; as the cliché goes: In the larger picture, it will only hurt you. Do not throw away any work completed during the semester.

All work for critiques is due at the beginning of class.


Each assignment will be graded according to the following criteria (when applicable): design principles, preliminary sketches (willingness to explore many directions at an early stage of a project and the ability to communicate and develop those ideas on paper), risk taking, research, writing, originality, visual aesthetics and craftsmanship, based on the criteria established in the assignment statement and project objectives. Projects will be weighted in importance based on the complexity of the concepts and the solutions required.

Each project will be given a letter grade. You will receive a written grading sheet/evaluation for each assignment, in addition to verbal evaluations during critiques. Any time a student does not understand the nature of the grades given or comments that were made concerning their work, they should see the instructor during office hours or make an appointment for an individual assessment of those comments.

You should be aware that I have high expectations that each of my students follow the guidelines we’ve just laid.  This syllabus is our own little contract with one another.

A: Excellent This is  work done by a highly motivated student meeting all of the performance criteria as set forth by the assignment. Work shows through exploration and growth beyond set/expected perimeters. Work is finely crafted, conceptually strong and visually interesting.

B: Good This work is above average but lacks the qualities that give it the stamp of excellence. It shows better than average design sensitivity and meets all of the performance criteria as set forth by the assignment.

C: Satisfactory This work is average. Work is handed in on time and has fulfilled all or most of requirements of the project, but it lacks strong conceptual and/or visual interest and thoughtful and imaginative resolution. This work may also have significant problems with basic design principles and craftsmanship.

D: Poor Below Average This work is handed in on time, but lacks many or most areas that show understanding of design principals, craftsmanship and/or does not meet the criteria for the assignment.

F: Unacceptable Work that is not handed in on time or at all and has not met any of the guidelines and standards of design set for the assignment.



If you are a student with a disability for which you wish to receive academic accommodations, you must first register with Student Accessibility Services on the first floor of the University Library. After receiving an Academic Accommodation Authorization form, I will set up a private meeting with you to discuss any special circumstances related to your situation. This must occur within the first 2 weeks of the course. Accommodations will not be provided, “on demand” or “after the fact.”



We, the undergraduate students of Roger Williams University, commit ourselves to academic integrity. We Promise to pursue the highest ideals of academic life, to challenge ourselves with the most rigorous standards, to be honest in any academic endeavor, to conduct ourselves responsibly and honorably, and to assist one another as we live and work together in mutual support.



Plagiarism is best defined as incorporating the words or ideas of another person into a paper or presentation without properly crediting the source from which they came. Plagiarism is a violation of ethical practices. The author who commits plagiarism attempts to claim another person’s work as his or her own. Thus, plagiarism is both a form of intellectual theft and intellectual fraud.

In its worst form, plagiarism may consist of directly copying large or small portions of either printed works or, as frequently happens in schools, written papers of another student. There are, however, more subtle forms of plagiarism as well. Paraphrasing, or changing an author’s ideas or words, is also a form of plagiarism if the source of the idea being paraphrased is not acknowledged, and this form of plagiarism is equal to direct copying.

No matter what the cause, universities consider plagiarism to be a serious offense—the most serious academic crime there is. Faculty members react against plagiarism because they consider it an attack on one of the values that universities hold sacred –honesty in the pursuit of knowledge.

Because universities consider plagiarism a serious offense, they treat violations seriously. Roger Williams University is no exception. A first offense may result in failure of the course involved, plus an entry on the student’s permanent record. A second offense is punishable by expulsion from the University.



In case of inclement weather, there may be a cancellation of our session in the lab with expectations that all students should check in via email or blackboard. You will be given ample notice of such cancellations as best possible. If you have not been notified that class is cancelled, and I’m not present at the beginning of class it should be assumed that class will be held (that I’m just late for some reason). Notifications of cancellation will occur via an email from me or someone from the office will post a notice.


Please refrain from phone usage in class room.


Please no texting in class.


Textbook:   Graphic Design the New Basics

by: Ellen Lupton

Thinking with Type

by:Ellen Lupton

Computer storage device of your choice:

External hard drive (recommended) , Cloud based storage such as; iCloud, dropbox, google drive ( also recommended).

flashdrives (beware that these are not always reliable, and are very easy to loose)

WARNING!! Saving to the lab computers is not reliable

you may loose work.

Sketchbook with removable pages

Folders to submit process work (at least 2)

Cutting Mat – self healing (12 x 18 inches)


Ruler/Scale (metal)

X- Acto knife and blades

Rubber cement

Rubber cement pickup square

Double stick tape

Assorted sizes of permanent black markers

Paper portfolio (medium size – not giant)

Various paper as needed

13×19 Epson Matte papper

8×10 Epson Matte papper