COMD 1100 – Graphic Design Principles 1

Spring 2017 Tuesday, Friday 11:30-2:00 pm
Room N1122
Section D106-LEC
3 Credits, 6 hours (1 lecture, 5 lab)

Instructor Larisa Daiga
Office hrs by appointment only Tuesdays 2:00-3:00 am outside N1122
Course website:

Course Description

This basic design and color theory course explores graphic communication through the understanding of the elements and principles of design, as well as the design process, including idea development through final execution.

Students develop basic skills in two-dimensional design, color and content creation while employing the design process of research, sketching and experimentation. Communication designers use the concepts explored in this course in disciplines such as advertising, graphic design, web design, illustration, broadcast design, photography, and game design.

Class/Lab/Credit Hours: 1cl hr, 5 lab hrs, 3 cr

ENG 092R (ESOL 032R), ENG 092W (ESOL 031W), or CUNY certification in reading, writing and mathematics


Learning outcomes

Through hands-on experiments, collaborative learning and individual projects, students will learn the language and process for design thinking, gain a solid foundation in design principles and practices, and demonstrate:

  • visual literacy and understanding of design principles, such as Figure/Ground, Rhythm, Balance, Contrast, and Scale using appropriate design elements, such as Point, Line, Plane, Texture, Value, and Color.
  • appropriate use of vocabulary to articulate ideas and concepts in a critique setting.
  • tangible realizations of their ideas using appropriate tools, applications and techniques, such as drawing, painting, collage, photography, and digital imaging.
  • a personal creative process that leads to life-long learning and a successful, inspired practice.

 Teaching/Learning Methods

  • Lecture and presentation of new material
  • Design Journal
  • Use of visual and tactile examples and hands-on projects
  • In-class critique sessions
  • Individual assessment/documentation activities
  • Field trips / Museum visits
  • Learning Blog ePortfolio

 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:

  • 10% Participation & Dedication
  • 30% Research & Documentation
  • 60% Projects

Participation & Dedication is worth 10% of your total grade.

This will be based upon:

  • Class preparedness (completing projects and design experiments 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
  • Arriving on time and staying for the full time period
  • Not checking phone, email or surfing the internet during class
    Points may also be deducted


Each student will present his/her work in class for critique 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. No personal likes or dislikes are discussed without specific reference to design terminology.

Research & Documentation is worth 30% of your grade. This will be assessed by how well you utilize your Design Journal and ePortfolio.

Your ePortfolio will be used for documenting and sharing your creative process, as well as your final finished work, throughout the course. Your research, inspirations, experiments, thumbnails, field trips, final work, assessments, and peer critiques will make up the content and will serve as a record of the effort and dedication you demonstrate throughout the semester.

The purpose of the ePortfolio is to:

  • Help you to develop and sustain your own creative process through 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. 

Your Design Journal will help you develop working method that should help you discover a personal process and enhance the development of your visual language.

The Design Journal should include but not be limited to the following:

  1. Daily assignment: Will be announced online and in class.
  2. This will include visual term exploration where you will be given a design principle or element to explore. You will do this by writing the formal definition (including the source), an informal definition in your own words, and a visual example which you create or collect from an outside source.
  3. The assignment may also include a reflection question on areas of contemporary design and making.
  4. Visual and written materials: daily inspiration, thoughts, ideas, notes, handouts, etc.
  5. Personal observations: both written notes and drawn sketches
  6. Idea sketches: rough sketches to brainstorm and formulate ideas for class work
  7. Preparatory sketches for projects: drawing practice to support the development of finished compositions
  8. Studio course assignments, handouts, objectives, etc.: resources and materials to refer to in support of course work
  9. Research notes and reference images
  10. Notes from class lectures

The Design Journal will be used during class and there may be also occasions that the class will review your work in your Design Journal. The daily assignment will be reviewed during your individual mid-term evaluation meetings with your instructor.

Projects are worth 60% of your total grade.
There will be between 5-7 major projects. 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.

Each project’s creative process will be documented on your ePortfolio and should demonstrate:

  1. Research and Inspiration
  2. Experimentation and Iteration
  3. Development of Skill, Craft and Voice
  4. Expression of Form, Emotions or Concepts
  5. Thoughtful Assessment (verbal and written)

NOTE:  Students will be expected to work between 2-4 hours each week outside of the class (some weeks this may be more and others less). A lab time is available to meet the specifications of the projects and the technology, but you will not be able to finish your projects in class.


Attendance is required for all classes.  If a student misses a class session, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the professor or a peer and make up any work missed PRIOR to the next class meeting. Excuses are unnecessary and irrelevant.


If a student finds they will not be able to present or hand in a project on the scheduled day, it is their responsibility to notify the instructor PRIOR to the due date and request alternate arrangements. Points will be deducted for late projects and missed critiques.

Academic Integrity and Expectations

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

Online Resources

Course Website

Students will refer to this website for all course content and projects. It is the student’s responsibility to check the site before each class meeting for instructions. Changes may be made of the course of the semester, so please check and recheck the site before each class.

The OpenLab

We will be using the OpenLab [ ] for online discussions and your ePortfolio. 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!

Required readings

Lupton, Ellen. Graphic Design: the new basics. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008. Available through CUNY Electronic Resource online

Samara, Timothy. Design Elements Second Edition. Beverly: Rockport Press, 2014.

Projects List (subject to change)

  1. Black paper cut outs and inked patterns
    Concepts learned: Shape (Organic, Geometric), plane, frame, figure ground (Obvious, Ambiguous, Reversible), repetition, balance, unity, symmetry, asymmetry, visual resolution, contrast, scale, pattern, texture, screenshots, Illustrator as a brainstorming tool, craftsmanship, self assessment and using a variety of tools.
  1. Sound movement books
    Concepts: Movement, time, actual and implied motion, animation, line, rhythm, pattern, texture, and animated gif in Photoshop.
  1. Value scale compositions
    Concepts: Value, grayscale, layers, transparency, texture, tonal progression, simplicity, and composition in Illustrator, shade and tint.

4. Color studies – a series of experiments
Concepts: Color, hue, saturation, color wheel, color schemes, prismatic color, muted color, chromatic gray, achromatic gray, primary and secondary triad, tertiary colors, temperature, CMYK, RGB, RYB, Photoshop color tools, process and spot colors, hex triplets, and simultaneous contrast, and gouache.

  1. Color and spatial depth
    Hue, saturation, order, movement, emphasis, balance and visual hierarchy.
  1. Color – Proportional inventory with design studies
    Concepts: Proportion (scale, interval), color psychology, mood, and tone.

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