Credits: 3, 6 hours (1 lecture, 5 lab)

Section: D010

Days/Time/Location: Tuesdays P-123 and Fridays P-125 – 2.30-5pm

Office Hours: Tuesdays 5-5.30pm & Fridays 2-2.30pm Room P125


About Professor Paula Rennis

Argentinean by nature, New Yorker by heart, Paula came to the US on a Fulbright Scholarship for her Masters at Pratt Institute. Paula has been a Graphic and Packaging Designer for more than 25 years and a painter for 15. She had lived in New York, Seoul and Buenos Aires where she had achieved some Art Merits from various places along the way.

Course Description 

This basic design and color theory course explores graphic communication through the understanding of the elements, principles of design, as well as the design process, from idea development through final execution. Students develop basic skills in two-dimensional design, color and content creation while employing the design process for research, sketching and experimentation. Communication designers use the concepts explored in this course in such disciplines as advertising, graphic design, packaging, editorial and web design, illustration, photography and game design.

Course Goals

Through hands-on experiments, collaborative learning and individual projects, students will learn the language and processes for design thinking and gain a solid foundation in design principles and elements, such as point, line, shape, plane, texture, pattern, grid, value and color.

  • Learn visual literacy and understanding of design principles and elements, such as figure/ground, rhythm, balance, dominance/emphasis, and scale/proportion, using appropriate design elements such as point, line, shape, plane, texture, pattern, grid, value and color.
  • Learn appropriate use of vocabulary to articulate ideas and concepts in a critique setting.

Students will learn tangible realizations of their ideas using appropriate tools, applications and techniques such as drawing, painting, collage, photography and digital imaging.

Teaching/Learning Methods

  • Lecture and presentation of new material.
  • Use of visual and tactile examples and hands-on projects.
  • In-class critique sessions where students collaborate in teams and critically discuss the work of their peers.
  • Individual assessments/documentation activities.
  • Museum visit.
  • Writing.
  • OpenLab writing and blogging.

Grading Policy and Procedure: Grades will be awarded using the standard grading scale, but will be judged based upon a rubric that takes into consideration effort applied, technical understanding & creative use of resources for the completion of various projects.

Grades will be based upon:

  • 15% Participation & dedication.
  • 85% Projects – Research, Documentation, Experimentation, Presentation.

Participation & Dedication is worth 15% worth of total grade. Students are asked to consider this class like an audition, interview or internship. Assume that your professor and especially your peers will be in a position to offer you a job or recommend you for an internship in the not too distant future.

How you present yourself in class and your dedication to your work will help your career goal.

Respect for your education, fellow students and professor is demonstrated by:

  • Class preparedness (Completing projects on time, bringing materials to class, checking class site for instructions)
  • Volunteering answers, asking questions and helping other students.
  • Paying attention during class demonstrations.
  • Following project instructions and taking notes.
  • Participating in critiques, presentations and discussions -both in class and online.
  • If during class your are repeatedly observed taking phone calls, texting, checking email, social media, working on other projects or talking, the full 15% will be deducted from your grade.


Each student will present his/her work for critique for weekly review using design vocabulary. The critique is a neutral dialog. Students will present their work and discuss the strengths and weaknesses expressing what works and what doesn’t work in relation to the assignment guidelines. Peer responses will be given. Personalizes or dislikes should be discussed with specific reference to design terminology.

Presentations: Students in groups or by themselves will be presenting the assigned and researched projects.

Projects & Experiments are worth 85% of the total grade There will be between 5-6 major projects and several weekly in-class and take-home experiments. Only projects that strictly adhere to documented instructions and are presented in a clean, professional manner will be accepted  for credit. Projects will be collected or critiqued at the beginning of each class.

The Design process:

  • Step 1 > Discover: Research and experimentation.
  • Step 2 > Define: Iteration and feedback.
  • Step 3 > Develop: Refinement and execution.
  • Step 4 > Deliver: Professional verbal, written and visual presentation; critical reflection.

Blog posts will be used for documenting and sharing your design process throughout the course. Posts documenting your research, inspirations, experiments, thumbnails, final work, assessments, museum visit and peer critiques will serve as a record of the effort and dedication you demonstrate throughout the semester.

The blog post will:

  • Help you to develop and sustain your own creative process though careful observation, documentation, presentation and assessment of each project.
  • Organize all the information from the class.
  • Display your individual projects in a clear, appropriate manner.
  • Serve as a record of your learning achievements from which to expand and develop in future courses.
  • Interact with your peers in a relaxed, but professional manner.
  • Gain experience using standard design vocabulary terms to express your ideas.
  • Develop online communication and information literacy skills using WordPress and OpenLab.


Research & documentation is worth 10% of your grade.


Attendance is taken and is important to your success in this class. Both absences and arrival more than 15 minutes after the start of the class will be marked. If excessive, the instructor will alert the student that he or she may be in danger of not meeting the course objectives and participation expectations, which could lead to a lower or failing grade.


If a student finds they will not be able to present or hand in a project on the schedules day, it is their responsibility to notify the instructor PRIOR to the due date.

Academic integrity and expectations (Cheating/Plagiarism)

All students are responsible for reading, understanding and abiding by the NYC College of Technology Student Handbook, “Student rights & responsibilities”, section “Academic Integrity standard”. Academic dishonesty of any type, including cheating and plagiarism is unacceptable. “Cheating” is a misrepresenting another student’s efforts/work as your own. “Plagiarism” is the representation of another person’s work, words or concepts as your own.

Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonestly is prohibited in The University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades.


Learning is a group activity. The behavior of each person in class affects the learning outcomes of others. You are a college student and are expected to act in a mature manner, to be respectful of the learning process, your instructor and your fellow students.

“To maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning and the free exchange of ideas, it is important that students and faculty treat one another with courtesy and mutual respect. Behaviors that interfere with the classroom academic atmosphere will not be tolerated. Such behaviors include, but are not limited to, the following: talking or otherwise making excessive noise or showing disrespect when a teacher or another student is speaking, repeatedly interrupting other students other students or the professor, refusing to interact with the members of the class when group work is required, coming to class under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs” -based on Grouchier College guidelines.

Course website

All course content and projects. While is the students responsibility to check the site before each class meeting for instructions.

The OpenLab: We will be using OpenLab course online discussions and design process documentation. If you have not used the OpenLab before, please make sure you create an account and sign on at least once during  the first week of class to familiarize yourself.

If you have questions, please ask!

Computer Labs:

Check the City Tech website for details and updated information.

G608 lab

V217 lab

COMD Labs (check posted schedule)

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