Design & Visual Communications

Course Description

Design & Visual Communications is a dynamic industry that balances art and science. The design shop will prepare students seeking a career in the digital media field. From concept and design to printing and distribution, this program instills the latest industry standards and best practices. In the classroom, students will learn editing and drawing techniques in Photoshop and Illustrator, page layout in InDesign and Quark and web design in Dreamweaver. In shop, students will learn how to use a digital press, print plates, operate an offset press and various bindery methods.

The Design & Visual Communications program will teach you: desktop publishing, offset printing, digital printing, layout & design, safety, web design, color theory, marketing, the use of light tables for assembly (stripping), offset plate making, offset press operation, binding & finishing operations, printing sales and estimating with customer contact.


Related - Introductory to Desktop Publishing: In this class, students focus on developing an understanding of the basic design theories that are essential to a solid design foundation. Students will use a variety of traditional methods to illustrate their understanding of the Elements of Design, Principals of Design, Basic Typography and Color Theory. Students are introduced to the Adobe Creative Cloud including InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator as well as cloud based web design.

Shop - Introduction to Graphic Production: This course is designed to provide vocational students with a base knowledge of the Graphic Communication production environment. Students will learn basic functionality and maintenance of copiers, network printers with and without inline finishing. General understanding of paper type and paper weights and industry specific math and measurement.

Skills: Typography | Intro to Elements and Principles of Design | Sketching Techniques | Mac OS | Paper | Bindery | Adobe Creative Cloud | Digital Printing


Related - Design Theory I: In this class students will expand on their understanding of design theory using a problem solving approach and a variety of traditional and electronic tools. The projects will include real-world consumer driven problems that will allow students to illustrate their understanding of design theory while practicing the software skills needed to attain Adobe certification. Weekly projects, class critiques and written essays to develop and demonstrate communication skills will be emphasized.

Shop - Graphic Production: Second year students learn functionality of the shop machinery; Offset Press, Screen Printing, Wide Format Printer, Cutter, Stitcher, Folder, Dye Sublimation, and Embroidery. Students are introduced to the daily operations of the live work done for the school and community.

Skills: The Design Process | Copyright Laws | Introduction to drawing | Offset Printing | Adobe Illustrator | Photoshop


Related - Advanced Design Theory: Students move beyond the foundations of design and visual communications to build a stronger understanding of its application in a modern design studio. Students will be introduced to a variety of design mediums including web design, motion graphics and video as well as marketing theories such as campaign building, branding, portfolio development, career development, and time management. Weekly projects, class critiques and written essays to develop and demonstrate communication skills will be emphasized.printing, web design, animation, photography and digital video.

Shop - Advanced Graphic Production: Third year students begin to act as Production Coordinators. They run the morning and afternoon production meetings plan the schedule for the next day and will have direct contact with customers and vendors. Students will analyze and evaluate inline perfect bind and book making and variable data. Students are actively engaged in the daily operations of the live work done for the school and community.

Skills: Photography | Web Design | Animation Basics | Drawing | Branding | Image Retouching and Composition


Related - Design Theory Application: In Senior year, students focus on independent application of skills attained over the previous three years. Four large scale projects are designed to challenge students planning and self-management skills while allowing them to demonstrate skills from Strand 2 and prepare them for work or college.

Shop - Independent Graphic Production: First half of the year they participate in grooming the underclassmen in the daily operations of the live work done for the school and community. The second half of Senior year is a year of individual focus. Students will select an avenue they choose to pursue greater knowledge in and will propose projects based on their individual interest.

Skills: Independent work skills | Presentation skills | Work and College Prep


About the Industry

Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and reports.

Work Environment

Graphic designers generally work in studios, where they have access to equipment such as drafting tables, computers, and software. Although many graphic designers work independently, those who work for specialized graphic design firms are often part of a design team. Many graphic designers collaborate with colleagues or work with clients on projects.

How to become a...

Graphic designers usually need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. Candidates for graphic design positions should have a portfolio that demonstrates their creativity and originality.

Certifications We Offer

  • Adobe Certified Associate in Print & Digital Media Publication Using Adobe InDesign
  • Graphic Design & Illustration Using Adobe Illustrator
  • Visual Design Using Adobe Photoshop CC

Career Pathways

  • Graphic artist
  • Graphic Designer
  • Art Director

College Pathways

  • UMass Darthmouth
  • MassArt
  • LaSell
  • Fitchburg State
  • SNHU