Introduction to Design Communications


Roger Williams University

Fall 2023

Room: GHH G13

Tuesday – Thursday

 9:30 AM – 11:20 AM

This class fulfills a course requirement in the Graphic Design Core Concentration. It 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 that meets twice a week as a group. Instruction will be delivered in person and, if necessary, via Zoom. Over the course of the semester, the course format will vary based on the topic or issues being covered. Elements may include lectures and demonstrations, group projects and discussions, individual work time, small group work and critique sessions, and final critiques.

The workload for this class entails 2-3 hours of outside work for each hour spent in class, totaling 8-12 hours of work outside of class per week. This amount may increase depending on the subject matter and the steep learning curve required for mastering the necessary skills. A substantial portion of project development—including research, sketching, ideation, and final execution—will occur outside of class. While class time can be used for various aspects of project development, the emphasis will be on the process and final analysis. Each student is expected to work productively during in-class work sessions.

Students are expected to develop highly innovative and conceptual solutions for each project. This can be achieved by understanding and adhering to the principles of good art and design processes, as well as dedicating the necessary time to each assignment. Quick fixes and hastily executed ideas will not yield successful solutions for complex problems. It is crucial to generate multiple ideas for each visual solution and to thoroughly investigate each stage of the visual problem-solving process.

Your performance will be evaluated in three different areas throughout the semester, each affecting your final grade: Attendance, Participation, and Studio and Critique Performance, as well as Assignments. Please be aware that you are 100% responsible for your work and contributions in this class, as well as in any other class. The onus for success is on YOU.


In accordance with the format of this studio course, students are expected to attend class and be prepared to work. Unlike standard academic classes, this course places a participatory demand on students, requiring them to engage in in-class studio development. Therefore, attendance is mandatory, as is the production and discussion of work during class. Additionally, homework and/or work outside of class are both required and project-specific.

Three unexcused absences will result in the lowering of your grade by one letter. Six unexcused absences will lead to automatic failure. Absences will not be excused unless approved by the instructor. To secure approval for an absence, students must speak directly with the instructor either in advance or within 24 hours of the missed session. In cases of illness, a doctor’s note is recommended. An email or voicemail message does not necessarily constitute an approved absence.

Chronic lateness or leaving early disrupts the class as a whole. Consequently, three instances of tardiness will be counted as one absence. You will also be marked absent if you are more than half an hour late, leave class early, or are unprepared for critique and/or classwork.


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. 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.


The University has a continuing commitment to providing reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.  Students with disabilities who need accommodations in order to fully participate in this class are urged to contact Student Accessibility Services, as soon as possible, to explore the arrangements needed to be made to assure access.  Student Accessibility Services is located on the first floor of the University Library and is open Monday through Friday from 8:00AM to 5:00PM. They can be reached at and 401-254-3841. For more information about SAS, visit

Information on The Tutoring Center: 

The Tutoring Center, which is comprised of the Math, Science, Writing and Modern Languages Centers, is located on the second floor of the Library on the Bristol campus. The Center provides walk-in peer and faculty tutoring at no charge. You are encouraged to visit the Center to ask questions, whether it’s about course-specific in-person tutoring or to make an appointment for Zoom tutoring. 

In addition, the Writing Center also offers an email tutoring system at this website: The WritingHelp email system is not in-person tutoring (for in-person help, please come into the Writing Center); it provides an email address to send your paper to a tutor for help. 

The Tutoring Center offers assistance Monday – Thursday 9 am – 8 pm; Friday 9 am – 3 pm; Sunday 2 pm – 8 pm. For more information, including schedules, please use this site.


We, the 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.

Title IX at RWU 

Roger Williams University fosters a campus free of power-based personal violence including sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship/domestic violence, stalking, and/or any form of sex or gender-based discrimination. If you disclose a personal experience as described above, either verbally or in writing, the course instructor is required to notify the Title IX Coordinator. To disclose any such violence confidentially, contact one of the resources listed below: 

  • Τhe RWU Counseling Center – 401-254-3124 
  •  Health Services – 401-254-3156 
  • Additional information regarding your rights and resources are available at: RWU Title IX 

Emergency Situation Contacts/Notifications

RWU utilizes an RWU Alert system, which serves as the university’s primary communications tool for alerting campus community members to urgent situations.  When activated, the system sends phone, email, and text messages regarding incident that could affect their safety.  The university also hosts an emergency siren warning system that broadcasts alarms and voice instructions when activated.  In the case of a fire alarm, individuals should proceed outside of the building.  All buildings include instructions on what to do in the event of each type of emergency.

Additional information regarding what to do in the event of a campus emergency can be found here:

Campus emergency contact information is located on the website here:

The numbers for campus emergency contacts are as follows:

Emergency:           401-254-HELP (4357)

Public Safety:       401-254-3611

Health Services:    401-254-3156

Environmental Health

& Safety:               401-254-3611 or 401-254-4357

Facilities:              401-254-3136

Counseling Center:  401-254-3124

Statement on masking

Mask wearing (high quality N95 or KN95) in indoor settings is considered an effective and recommended practice by the Centers for Disease Control and the American College Health Association and has been proven effective at RWU. The University reserves the right to require mask wearing in any indoor setting when deemed necessary, and we support any individual who chooses to wear a mask to protect themselves or others.

University Statement on Academic Integrity

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.

Inclement weather / cancellations

In case of inclement weather, there may be a cancellation of our session in the lab with expectations that all students should via text message from the RWU alert system. 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.


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).

WARNING!! Saving to the lab computers is not reliable you may loose work.

Sketchbook with removable pages

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 ( optional )

Large sheets of black construction paper

Various paper as needed

13×19 Epson Matte papper

8×11 Epson Matte papper

EMERGENCIES CALL 911 or Roger Williams Public Safety 401-254-3333 

Campus Notifications: If you hear a fire alarm inside, proceed outside. If you hear a siren outside, proceed inside.