ADV1100_7102 Design & Color
3 Credits, 6 hours (1 lecture, 5 lab)
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Tuesdays 8:30am – 11am | N1119
Fridays 2:30pm-5pm | N1104

Jenna Spevack

Course Description
This is a basic design and color theory course, which explores connections between visual design elements and principles. Students will develop a sensitivity to the nature of graphic relationships and their control within a given framework.

Solutions to problems of an abstract, conceptual, and expressive character, integrated with explorations in color, its characteristics, physical properties and psychological effects will be realized through hands-on experiments and practical graphic applications.

The importance of the creative process, visual thinking, idea development and communication will be stressed, as well as the development of technical craft used in art, design and digital media projects.

Course Goal
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, demonstrating:

  • 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, Plane, Texture, Pattern, Grid, Value, and Color.
  • appropriate use of vocabulary to articulate ideas and concepts in a critique setting.
  • tangible realizations 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.
  • Use of visual and tactile examples and hands-on assignments
  • In-class critique sessions where students collaborate in teams and critically discuss the work of their peers.
  • Individual assessment/documentation activities
  • Field trips / Museum visits
  • Creative Process Book (Sketch book)

(highlighted items required immediately, additional supplies required per project)


  • pad of plate Bristol board (9”x12” 2-ply smooth plate finish)
  • pad of plate Bristol board (14”x17” 2-ply smooth plate finish)
  • sketch book (9”x12”, spiral bind)
  • black drawing paper (1 sheet approx. 18″x24” or larger)
  • basic portfolio to hold and protect your work

General Supplies:

  • small box or travel container for your supplies
  • 1 self-healing cutting mat 9×12”
  • 1 roll white drafting tape
  • cotton rags (old white t-shirts)
  • small craft scissors (pointed end)
  • Exacto knife and blades (#11)
  • ruler (metal, 12”)
  • t-square ruler (metal, 15”)
  • triangles (12”, combo set)
  • mod podge and several glue sticks
  • old magazines

Painting Supplies:

  • gouache paints (Windsor & Newton tubes: black, permanent white, alizarin crimson, scarlet, lemon yellow, golden yellow, ultramarine blue deep, sky blue, burnt sienna, yellow ocher, Payne’s gray, raw umber, or COLOR THEORY SET and two additional tubes of white)
  • paint brushes (sable-type watercolor brushes— FLAT:  ½ ”, #2, #3, #5 and soft ROUND: ½” for mixing paint)
  • small jars with tops (set of 4)
  • palette (round 10-well)
  • water container + paper towels

Drawing Supplies:

  • graphite pencils (Venus or similar 6B, 2B, HB, 2H, 4H)
  • pencil sharpener (basic metal)
  • eraser (magic rub, mars or gum)
  • inking pens (Pigma Micron .02, .05, and Pigma brush – or similar)

Digital Supplies:

  • Hard drive, flash drive, or CD’s to backup
  • Digital camera or phone with camera and cable

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 assignments.

Grades will be based upon:

  • 20% Participation & Dedication
  • 50% Assignments & Experiments
  • 30% Creative Process Book

Participation & Dedication is worth 20% of total grade.
Respect for your fellow students and the professor is demonstrated by:

  • Class preparedness (completing assignments on time, bringing materials to class)
  • 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

If during class you are observed taking a phone call, checking email, IM, texting, on facebook, myspace, or the like, or working on other projects, the full 20% will be deducted from your grade and you will be asked to leave. No warnings or second chances will be given.

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. No personal likes or dislikes are discussed without specific reference to design terminology.

Peer Presentations:
Students in groups of three may present an assigned and researched principle or element. For example: one group may research and present Balance. In preparation, students will use library resources, books, magazines, online references such as ArtStor and write and present a formal lecture on the topic to the class.

Assignments & Experiments are worth 50% of the total grade.
There will be between 5-8 major Assignments and several weekly in-class and take-home Experiments totaling 50% of your grade. Only assignments that strictly adhere to documented instructions and are presented in a clean, professional manner will be accepted for credit. Assignments will be collected or critiqued at the beginning of each class (when attendance is taken).

Every assignment’s creative process will be documented in your Creative Process Book (sketch book) and should demonstrate:

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


Creative Process Book is worth 30% of  your grade.

The Creative Process of an artist or designer involves 1) experiencing the world (ideas, objects, people, nature), 2) interpreting this experience, 3) expressing/sharing it with others, and then… 4) sustaining the process.

All of the preparatory project work completed in this class will be put into a sketchbook, called a Creative Process Book. The Book itself (in its final form) will be worth 30% of your grade and will be a record of the effort and dedication you demonstrated throughout the semester. The preparatory artwork you create each week, along with research, experiments, thumbnails, written assessments and ideas, and documented hours will make up the content of the book. It will help you to develop and sustain your own creative process after you finish the course.

The Book is ONLY to be used for the Design & Color coursework. Bring the book with you each week. It will be presented to the group each class during critique.

The purpose of the Creative Process Book is to:

  • Help students develop their own creative process through careful observation, documentation, and presentation of each project.
  • Organize all the information from the class.
  • Display your individual assignments in an appropriate manner
  • Serve as a record of your learning achievements from which to expand and develop in future courses.

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.

  • Two lates equal one absence. A student is considered late if s/he arrives after attendance has been taken. If s/he arrives after attendance has been taken and is marked absent, it is the responsibility of the student to notify the teacher.
  • After two absences your final grade will drop one full grade for every absence. If you miss more than two classes there is a strong possibility that you will receive a failing grade for the semester. This policy is in accordance with the school attendance policy. Check your student handbook (page 14) for details.

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 assignments 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.

Recommended Books and Articles

  1. Graphic Design: The New Basics, Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips, Princeton Architectural Press, 2008, ISBN-10: 1568987706
  2. Design Basics, Lauer, David and Stephen Pentak. Thomson Wadsworth, 2008.
  3. Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice, Ocvirk, Stinson, Wigg, Bone, and Clayton. McGraw Hill, 2002
  4. Green Guide for Artists: Nontoxic Recipes, Green Art Ideas, & Resources for the Eco-Conscious Artist, Karen Michel, Quarry Books 2009, ISBN-10: 1592535186
  5. Universal Principles of Design, Lidwell, Holden & Butler, Rockport Publishers, 2003, 1-59253-007-9
  6. Designer & the Grid by Julia Thrift and Lucienne Roberts, RotoVision (February 1, 2005), ISBN-10: 2880468140
  7. Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual, Timothy Samara, Rockport Publishers (April 1, 2007), ISBN-10: 1592532616
  8. Type, Image, Message: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop, Nancy Skolos, Tom Wedell, Rockport Publishers, 2006
  9. Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students, Ellen Lupton, Princeton Architectural Press, (September 9, 2004), ISBN-10: 1568984480Sensation and Perception, Jeremy M. Wolfe, Sinauer Associates Incorporated, 2005
  10. Digital Imaging: Essential Skills, Third Edition, Mark Galer, Les Horvat, Focal Press; 3 edition, 2005
  11. Design Thinking (Harvard Business Review) by Tim Brown. June 2008, Reprint: R0806E
  12. Visual Images: Culture and Meaning of Images, Terence Wright, Berg Publishers (October 16, 2007), ISBN-10: 1859734731, ISBN-13: 978-1859734735
  13. Principles of Design, Joshua David McClurg-Genevese, Digital Web, 2005,
  14. Elements of Design, Joshua David McClurg-Genevese, Digital Web, 2006,
  15. Principles and Elements of Design, Joshua David McClurg-Genevese, Digital Web, 2006,
  16. Color: An Investigation, Joshua David McClurg-Genevese, Digital Web, 2006,