Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design - learn more

Advanced Graphic Design Course

Graphic Design II

Graphic design is the art of visual communication, the visual representation of ideas or concepts. In this advanced graphic design course, you'll study the movements that shaped today's design world. Working with a professional designer, you'll discover how to conceptualize projects, reinvent clichés, distill complex information, and motivate your audience. Class assignments include postage design, annual report layout, poster and book design, an art poster, and a direct mail piece.

Advanced graphic design course image 

Annual report design by student Joella Frahm.

Grow your portfolio with advanced graphic design projects

Instructor-Led Course

Feedback from design professionals

Creative Projects

Stretch your skills, grow your portfolio

Learn at Your Own Pace

Self-paced and scheduled programs available

Course Outline

1 - Movements in Design

What is this thing called graphic design? Lesson One explores the economic, cultural, and political context of today's graphic design styles. The lesson begins with an analysis of graphic design: its role in visual communication, cultural influence, political origins, role in business innovation, and governing aesthetic principles. Then you'll take a journey through some of the major 20th century movements that shaped today's visual landscape, including Expressionism, Art Nouveau, Avante Garde, Modernism, Bauhaus, Futurism, Surrealism, and Post-Modernism.

Project - Retro stamp design

2 - Thinking Design

At a fundamental level, design is about problem-solving: finding a solution to a client or employer's problem. Lesson Two examines concepts, principles, and working strategies for thinking through your designs to ensure that your projects start out on the right track. Global design principles and the role of consistency, constancy, and the exposure effect are discussed, as well as how the creative process fits into professional working practices.

Project - Annual report

3 - Constructing Creativity

Graphic designers as the blue-collar workers of the art world. Lesson Three looks at the building blocks of a design project: investigating the nature of creativity, mapping out stages in the design process, and looking at how cliches can be transformed to create something new. You will study some tried-and-true methods used—and reused—to orchestrate design elements into a distinctive and memorable message.

Project - Book cover design

4 - Color and Composition

Every graphic designer's skillset should include a mastery of color and composition. Lesson Four focuses on proportion, balance, and perspective, looking at examples of geometrical composition that have stood the test of time and are considered design classics. Architects and engineers utilize geometry throughout the planning and organization of projects, so you'll borrow a leaf from their book. Also discussed are some major concepts in effective color usage.

Project - Poster design

5 - Envisioning Design

The true test for any graphic designer is the ability to condense a mass of complex information and graphic content into a simple message. Maps, diagrams, posters, and advertisements all require designers to "envision information" by creating a clear, aesthetically balanced communication. Lesson Five examines techniques for effective information design: catching the eye, highlighting, type design, layering, closure, figure-ground relationships, and more.

Project - Map design

6 - The Context of Design

Graphic design derives meaning from its context. As a designer, you must apply everything you know about the physical, cognitive, social, and cultural world to create your communications. Lesson Six examines how to use social/political messages in your media environment—politics, satire, and wit—to shape your work. The course closes with a design veteran's thoughts on the core competencies for a career in graphic design.

Project - Direct mail design

Course Outcomes

Students in this course can expect to learn to:

  • Develop graphic design work and concepts based on professional creative approaches and techniques.
  • Apply traditional and digital design techniques to create polished graphic design pieces.
  • Select and set typography to communicate a specific message in logo designs and page layouts.
  • Use knowledge of the characteristics of type to create cohesive and expressive logo designs.
  • Use a layout grid and professional layout rules to design engaging magazine covers, article spreads, book covers, and book chapter pages.
  • Create magazine and book layout designs with a clear visual hierarchy of information.
  • Create a basic three-dimensional product packaging design working from a client brief.
  • Incorporate existing brand rules into product packaging designs and other graphic design projects.
  • Develop an understanding of how to manage the graphic designer/client/vendor relationship, including promotion and billing.
  • Organize work for use in physical and online design portfolios and produce a final portfolio piece that involves printing, labeling, package design, and photography.

Course Registration

Interested in this course? Scheduled and self-paced enrollment options are available. Ask Admissions about taking this course as part of a degree or certificate program.

Course LevelClasses startRegistration FeeTuition
Degree course
3 credits, 15 weeks
Jan, Apr, Aug$200$510/credit
Vocational course
60 clock hours, 3 months access
Enroll today, start tomorrow$50$949
* Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from enrollment. All tuition includes a digital materials fee for updates to course or program content.

Software and Supplies

To take this course you'll need:

  • Computer with Internet connection.
  • Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
  • Basic experience in the above software.

Who’s Teaching

Course developed by Thom McKenna

Getting Started

Enrolling online is easy and convenient.

Chat with our knowledgeable admissions staff to select course and program options.

Complete your registration entirely online.

Related Programs

Did you know? You can take this course as part of an award-winning certificate or degree program.