The City University of New York

Department of Media Arts and Technology

Course Title: MMA 100 – Foundations of Digital Graphic Design

Semester: Spring 2020

Day/Time: Wednesdays – 5:30pm – 9:10pm – Classroom: Remote using Zoom –

Join the Zoom Meeting via URL here: the Zoom Meeting via Meeting ID: 321 612 199

Professor Ryan Seslow  – or

Office Hours: Wednesdays – 4:30pm – 5:30pm, via ZOOM by appointment

3 Credit Hours (2 Hours Lecture, 2 Hours Lab) – Prerequisite: ACR 094, ENG 088, and ESL 062



Course Description:

This image-based course will introduce graphic design as the foundation upon which effective visual communication is built. Investigation of the elements and principles of graphic design will lead to specific design problems and their solution. The development of ideas and the ability to communicate them effectively will be covered. Discussion of both vector and bitmap-based digital graphic platforms will begin progress toward industry-standard computer proficiency.

Class Resources:

 **Class Website:

We will be using a class website via the CUNY BMCC OpenLab platform to learn, support, discover, share, experiment, present and archive our course work. Our class website is a growing resource and repository of information.

Students will be expected to refer to the course website each week to obtain assignments, re-cap demonstration videos, participate in discussions, share resources and experiences on a regular basis.

*Recommended Text Book & Resources: (not mandatory)

Text book – Introduction to Graphic Design: A Guide to Thinking, Process and Style  – Author: Aaris Sherin, Publisher: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, ISBN: 978-1472589293

Text Book – Graphic Design: The New Basics PaperbackAuthor: Ellen Lupton, Jennifer Cole PhillipsPublisher: Princeton Architectural Press, 1st Edition, ISBN# 1568987021; 978-1568987026

* Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign Visual Quickstart Guides (Peachpit Press)

* & Adobe Tutorials (

Use of Technology: Software used: Adobe Creative Suite 6 with Photoshop & Illustrator. (as well as other free and experimental apps found on the web and mobile)

Students will need a portable media system for storing and backing up their work (a flash drive or external drive works well) Students should also consider creating an account on Dropbox. Students are 100% responsible for their files and maintaining them.

*Students will bring a sketchbook, pencils and an eraser to each class.

Evaluations and Requirements:

Class and homework assignments: ———-  60%

Final Project:      ———————————-   25%

Class performance and attendance: ———-  10%

Final Assessment blog post   ——————–   5%

Assignments will be posted to our class website. There will be some in-class assignments as well as homework to be done outside of class. Assignments can always be revised and re-submitted for a better grade.

Grading Scale: (this class uses the CUNY grading scale)


  • The grade of A is awarded for excellence. An A student turns in all work consistently with very high standards of quality, creativity, and original thinking. This student also performs exceptionally in presentations and critiques.
  • The grade of B is awarded to students who have turned in all work consistently with high quality standards. The work shows creative thinking, extra effort, and care in presentation. B students have demonstrated knowledge that surpasses the basic material and skills of the course.
  • The grade of C is earned when all class work is turned in and the student has mastered the basic material and skills of the course.

This student participated in class and demonstrated knowledge of the basic material and skills.

  • The grade of D or F is given for work that is incomplete, late, and/or does not demonstrate mastery of the basic material and skills of the course.


Course Student Learning Outcomes

(Students will be able to…)

Measurements (means of assessment for student learning outcomes listed in first column
1. Demonstrate software proficiency in industry standard bitmap and vector graphics.


1. Homework assignments
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles and elements of design and color theory.


2. Assignments and critiques
3. Create an effective page layout that incorporates principles of graphic design.


3. Final project
4. Demonstrate an ability to use text as a visual vehicle of communication design.


4. Homework assignments
5. Solve relevant issues of logo design and identity branding.


5. Identity branding assignments


Outline of Topics:


  1. Design – Elements of design, principles of design and color theory
  2. Digital Graphics – Raster vs. Vector, sampling files
  3. Design Process – the creative brief, working with clients, brainstorming, consideration of your audience, promotion and ethics
  4. Software Proficiency – Vector graphics (Illustrator), raster graphics (Photoshop), page layout (Illustrator)
  5. Typography – type, fonts, letter forms and designing with type
  6. Developing and Applying Brand Identity – Logos, creating consistent look across media
  7. Design Formats – Posters, spreads & layouts



COURSE OUTLINE: (Schedule is subject to change as needed)

Weeks 1 – 6 – What is Graphic Design?

Class introductions and our learning potentials. Design Solutions: Strategy, Concept, Design, Execution & Production

  • What does a graphic designer do?
  • How is design different from art?
  • Areas of graphic design

Exploring the Design Process: Thumbnails, Roughs & Comps

Assignment #1 – Postcard Design

Elements of Design: Brainstorming, process, variations & avoiding cliche’

Line, Shape, Value, Color, Texture & Visual Flow. Portfolio Basics, examples & considerations

Principles of Design: Positive and Negative Space, Composition / Figure ground

Balance, Emphasis, Rhythm, Unity – Working with Raster software – Photoshop / scanning

Framing: cropping, bleeds, borders and margins

Assignment #2 – Elements & Principles (2 parts) Layout and Poster

Layouts and Visual Relationships – Using a Grid Format / Other Layout Formats – Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity.

Color Theory – The color wheel, making color choices – Primary color systems: RGB (additive) and CMYK (subtractive)


Week 7 –12 – Assignment #3 – Designing Posters – Vector Portraits & Type

Integrating Concept with Visual Elements – Poster Design & Poster Design History

Layout and Arrangement

  • Emphasis
  • Scale and placement
  • Software: InDesign overview – the interface and tools + what it is used for in the industry
  • Managing Photoshop files in InDesign
  • Basics of the type tool in InDesign

Color & Type Continued – Additive, Subtractive (RGB, CMYK) – Mood & Perception

  • Type and color / scale & weight

Typography – Assignment #4 – Letterforms / Designing with Type –

  • Terminals and decoration
  • Typographic hierarchy
  • Spacing and alignment
  • Kerning and leading
  • Choosing type

Week 13 & 14 – Final Project work sessions

Week 15 –  FINAL PROJECT PRESENTATIONS / Full Class Critique

Below are the college’s general education learning outcomes, the outcomes that checked in the left-hand column indicate goals that will be covered and assessed in this course.


General Education Learning Outcomes Measurements (means of assessment for student learning outcomes listed in first column
Communication Skills- Students will be able to write, read, listen and speak critically and effectively  
Quantitative Reasoning: Students will be able to use quantitative skill and the concepts and methods of mathematic to solve problems.  
Scientific Reasoning- Students will be able to apply the concepts and methods of the natural sciences  
Social and Behavioral Science- Students will be apply the concepts and methods of the social sciences  
Arts & Humanities- Students will be able to develop knowledge and understanding of the arts and literature through critiques of works of art, music, theatre and literature. Brief essay or design project completed on the first and last day of class to show progress on material covered during the semester.
Information & Technology Literacy- Students will be able to collect, evaluate and interpret information and effectively use information technologies.  
Values- Students will be able to make informed choices based on an understating of personal values, human diversity, multicultural awareness and social responsibility.  

Class Participation:

Participation in the academic activity of each course is a significant component of the learning process and plays a major role in determining overall student academic achievement. Academic activities may include, but are not limited to, attending class, submitting assignments, engaging in in-class or online activities, taking exams, and/or participating in group work. Each instructor has the right to establish their own class participation policy, and it is each student’s responsibility to be familiar with and follow the participation policies for each course.

BMCC is committed to the health and well‐being of all students. It is common for everyone to seek assistance at some point in their life, and there are free and confidential services on campus that can help.

Single Stop, room S230, 212‐220‐8195. If you are having problems with food or housing insecurity, finances, health insurance or anything else that might get in the way of your studies at BMCC, come by the Single Stop Office for advice and assistance. Assistance is also available through the Office of Student Affairs, S350, 212‐220‐ 8130.

Counseling Center, room S343, 212‐220‐8140. Counselors assist students in addressing psychological and adjustment issues (i.e., depression, anxiety, and relationships) and can help with stress, time management and more. Counselors are available for walk‐in visits.

Office of Compliance and Diversity www.bmcc, room S701, 212-220-1236. BMCC is committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive learning environment free of unlawful discrimination/harassment, including sexual harassment, where all students are treated fairly. For information about BMCC’s policies and resources, or to request additional assistance in this area, please visit or call the office, or email, or If you need immediate assistance, please contact BMCC Public safety at 212-220-8080.

Office of Accessibility, room N360 (accessible entrance: 77 Harrison Street), 212-220-8180. This office collaborates with students who have documented disabilities, to coordinate support services, reasonable accommodations, and programs that enable equal access to education and college life. To request an accommodation due to a documented disability, please visit or call the office.

College Attendance Policy

At BMCC, the maximum number of absences is limited to one more hour than the number of hours a class meets in one week. For example, you may be enrolled in a three-hour class. In that class, you would be allowed 4 hours of absence (not 4 days). In the case of excessive absences, the instructor has the option to lower the grade or assign an F or WU grade.

BMCC Policy on Plagiarism and Academic Integrity Statement

Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s ideas, words or artistic, scientific, or technical work as one’s own creation. Using the idea or work of another is permissible only when the original author is identified. Paraphrasing and summarizing, as well as direct quotations, require citations to the original source. Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. Lack of dishonest intent does not necessarily absolve a student of responsibility for plagiarism. Students who are unsure how and when to provide documentation are advised to consult with their instructors. The library has guides designed to help students to appropriately identify a cited work. The full policy can be found on BMCC’s Web site, For further information on integrity and behavior, please consult the college bulletin (also available online).