Note: This page is undergoing an EXTREME Makeover...

Foundations of Design for Communication

Essential Questions:

  • How can I use my personal sense of style to move people to action through visual communication for my school and community?


Part 1: Research & Communication

"All about me... all about others"

Essential Apps

For a complete run down on all the online apps you can sign up for and use this nine weeks, go to "There's an app for that". For the essentials, take care of the stuff below:

Choosing a cause

In order to receive a grade for you work this nine weeks, you must choose a cause to represent.
Choose a Cause (Charity etc.) or Club / Organization / Activity from among the many possible things going on right here at the middle school or in the community at large.

Your projects in this class will all relate to this cause.

There is a list of causes here to get you started.
  1. Choose a cause, or narrow it down to two.
  2. Post to our Edmodo group with a brief rationale (why you chose it).
  3. Find 3 - 4 ways people can help the organization on the site (e.g. give money, join an event, volunteer, donate items, write lawmakers etc.)
    • Highlight these using the Diigo highlighter tool & link the annotated bookmark to your Edmodo post.

Part 2: Foundations of Visual Design

If you're still struggling with the question, "what is Graphic Design?", perhaps you should check out the Graphic Design Primer.

As for the Foundations of good design...

Struggling with the tools? Try some of the Photoshop lessons and Illustrator lessons first!

For each lesson, you need only do 4 terms (NOT 12), three from Rob's list, and one of your own. Good luck!

Rob's terms:

Restful, bizarre, lonely, smart, nervous, expectant, creative.


  • Video instructions from Brain Buffet.
  • Create a new 8.5x11" 72px/in document in Photoshop using guide lines to create 4 uneven divisions of each page.
  • In each square of each page, use the brush tool to create a line that communicates feeling. Try to choose the feeling first, and then pick the square that most communicates that feeling to you.
  • You may only change the brush settings, do not use colors or other tools. You can change the stroke, style, and tip of the brush, or other brush settings.
  • Use the text tool to label the feeling that is conveyed by each line in each division of the page.
  • Save your work as epline-lastname.jpeg (see me for directions on saving to Jpeg if you need it)
  • Post yours to our Edmodo class group.


  • Video instructions from Brain Buffet
  • Create a print document in Illustrator using guide lines to create 4 uneven divisions of each page. In other words, create 4 squares on each page, each square having different size and shape.
  • In each square of each page, use the shape tools to create a shape that communicates feeling. Try to choose the feeling first, and then pick the square that most communicates that feeling to you.
  • The shapes must all be BLACK AND WHITE ONLY!
  • Use the text tool to label the feeling that is conveyed by each shape in each square.
  • Export your work as epshape-lastname.jpeg (see me for directions on saving to Jpeg if you need it)
  • Post yours to our Edmodo class group.

Replies / critiques:

  • On a scale of 1 (least) to 5, how well did the student:
    • convey the meanings of each term
    • follow the instructions
    • utilize all the cool shape tools Illustrator has to offer.
  • Explain why.

STOP! Project time...

Now that we've discussed line and shape, you'll make a quick logo to represent yourself using only line and shape in Illustrator.
  • Go complete the intro to Illustrator lessons if you didn't do so above...
  • Advanced notes and directions are on the Line and Shape Logo page.
  • You need only use line and shape for now, we'll discuss type later.
  • You may add your initials if you like, but don't spend too much time on it.
  • The shapes must all be BLACK AND WHITE ONLY!
  • Save as a pdf and post to Edmodo.
  • Explain what the heck you were thinking...


Now, you're going to learn about "Type" as a design element. I know you don't think of type that way but it totally is an element of design (and one of Mr. Walters' favorites)
  • Go READ and watch everything on the Typography Bootcamp page.
  • Follow Video instructions from Brain Buffet
  • Make a typographic logo for yourself using a typeface from this list:
    • Arial
    • Myriad Pro
    • DejaVu Sans
    • DejaVu Serif
    • Minion Pro
    • Rockwell
    • Calibri
    • Chaparrel Pro
    • Century Gothic
    • Trebuchet MS
    • Verdana
  • Add it to your line and shape logo.

Now, put the last two projects together and make a squishy logo for yourself. Make it your Edmodo Avatar. Here's an example:


  • Go to the Color page.colorth.jpg
  • Review the color rules.
  • Review the meanings associated with various colors
  • Access the Kuler extension in Photoshop
  • Complete the shoe Lesson.


The following sections, Whitespace & Grids, are both related to and integral with Alignment. This stuff is important in keep your designs looking polished and awesome vs. random and kind of crappy.
  • Go learn about Alignment.
  • Then check out the next two sections.


In page layout, illustration and sculpture, white space is often referred to as negative space. It is that portion of a page left unmarked: the space between graphics, margins, gutters, space between columns, space between lines of type or figures and objects drawn or depicted. The term arises from graphic design practice, where printing processes generally use white paper.

White space should not be considered merely 'blank' space — it is an important element of design which enables the objects in it to exist at all, the balance between positive (or non-white) and the use of negative spaces is key to aesthetic composition.
  • Go to the Whitespace page.
  • Read and watch everything
  • Move on to Grids. We'll practice these skills together.


The grid serves as an platform on which a designer can organize text and images in a rational, easy to absorb manner.

Part 3: Tools of the trade...

Okay, here's all the stuff you can use to make awesome designs in this class. Bear in mind, you should think of these tools as simply tools. You're the one with the big ideas. This is not a "Photoshop" project. It's a Life and Career Skills, Research skills, Resource Management Skills, Project Management Skills, and Presentation Skills project. The bigger the variety of tools you include / combine to create final products, the more awesome you are!

About web apps:

It's important to note that we have invested quite a bit of money in Adobe Creative Suite for this lab. It is the industry standard for design, and if you wish to enter Graphic Design, Web Design, Desktop Publishing, Advertising, Web Development, or a similar career path, you should use the Adobe products. On the other hand, if you wish to focus mainly on what you can do at home for free, feel free to completely shun our local apps and use the web apps here.


Adobe Photoshop

Main Photoshop Wiki Page

  • Here is where all of our official class Photoshop lessons are... giddy up.
  • If you want to use Photoshop, you should do these lessons... you may be required to... if i feel like it...

PSD Tuts +

  • This is your advanced training library... these lessons are the cool ones.

Adobe Illustrator

Main Illustrator Wiki Page

  • Here is where all of our official class illustrator lessons are... rock on.
  • If you want to use Illustrator, you should do these lessons... I may make you do them regardless

Mac Lab Vids

  • Tutorials from a HS Graphic Design Class

Vector Tuts +

  • Want to make something that's actually awesome using Illustrator? Check out these tuts!

Viewing the possibilities (what can be done with illustrator?)

Adobe Fireworks

Main Fireworks Wiki Page

Adobe InDesign
info and links
Adobe Flash
info and links

Part 4: Projects

PSA Poster

Now, use all of these fabulous new tools to design a quick 8.5 x 11 of a PSA Poster for your cause.

What is a PSA?

  • They're created for a non-profit organization (someone who is not trying to make $ off of products)
  • Persuade audience to take a favorable action (what do you want the reader to do???)
  • About a Service, Issue, Institution or Cause (Much like the specific topics listed above).

Tips for making a good PSA:

  • Focus on a simple, clear, single message that: creates awareness of the problem or issue
  • shows the importance of the problem or issue
  • promotes behavioral change (what do you want the reader to do???)
Ready to get started? Click Here

Typographic PSA Poster

The Big Idea

Here's the basics. This is very similar to the PSA Poster assignment in terms of content, but you need to convey your meaning entirely with type. You may include some line and shape, but no photographs. The primary focus of your poster should be type!

Ready to get started? Click Here!

Illustrative Comic PSA

Okay, some of you are brilliant illustrative artists. If you can freehand the brush tool like a mad fool and design amazing character art, you need to consider throwing down a comic-style PSA poster.
Obviously, you'll need to share a message relating to your cause and include characters and dialog.

Ready to get started? Click Here!


Infographics are the essence of Graphic design. Take Information, add design, shake well, and voila: beautiful information!
Ready to get started? Click Here!

Contests & Challenges

Mini-thon Logo Challenge

The Logo/T-shirt design should include:
  • SG Mini-THON 2012
  • Dare to Dream: This year's theme.
Mrs. O'Brien would like the design by the end of Oct. or beginning of November (However, this is a flexible timeline.)

Ready to get started? Click Here!

Independent Mixed-Media Awesomeness

Okay, so the idea of this project is to pursue anything beyond the scope of what we've officially discussed in class so far. This is your chance to explore fields related to visual design that take it a step further, kick it up a notch, and so on. Basically, I won't give you any specific project goals here. I will give you a host of tools. Use them to make something cool. Share it with the rest of us.

Ready to get started? Click Here!

Part 5: Just for fun

Vector Self -Portrait

Typographic Self-Portrait