MM327 - Introduction to Graphics Applications

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In MM327, We Create 2D and 3D Graphics

Here's a sampling of some of the work produced in MM327.

About the Course

Do I need to know the software before I sign up for this course?

  • No. We will start from the beginning, introducing the basic design concepts as well as the techniques for working with the various software applications.

Do I need to purchase any specific software?

  • The software is all free! However you may want to purchase a subscription to Adobe Photoshop, if you prefer to work with that application. Otherwise use GIMP.

Who is this course for?

  • This course is for students interested in working in the visual arts, design, or other fields that emphasize visual problem solving and/or technology. If you are interested in graphic design, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, video, illustration, web design, and so on, you're in the right place.

Are there any prerequisites?

  • Officially there are but because this course is a new incarnation of MM327, no prerequisites are necessary.

Is there a required text?

  • No. All resources are located on the Internet.

What graduation requirements does this course fill?

  • This course fulfills requirements for both Computer Science/Multimedia Degrees and Media Arts and Communication degrees. It will also fulfill upper division elective credit. So if you are looking for an upper division course to help you reach 180 credits to graduate, sign up!

What will I learn?

  • Good question! See below...

Learning Outcomes

In this course, you will:

  • apply the principles and elements of design.
  • design and develop concept, form, and content in graphic communication.
  • generate visual concepts and implement design solutions to convey meaning.
  • apply a variety of techniques required in graphic and new media design.
  • demonstrate processes or workflows that yield specific digital imaging results.
  • optimize graphics according to project specifications.
  • integrate multiple applications to create original work.

Course Requirements

Students will develop the fundamental software skills to complete several design projects. Through the process, the basic principles and elements of design will be emphasized in order to inform each design project. Students will develop the software skills and apply basic design concepts to complete each assignment.

If you are in the on-campus class, you are expected to attend every class and meet every deadline. Late work will be graded down.

Technical demonstrations are provided through weekly video screencasts. My expectation is that you view all relevant screencast lectures prior to coming to class, or beginning an assignment.

Assignments and projects will be assigned throughout the course. Assignment details are linked from this syllabus (see below).

All work will be turned in using Flickr. I will send you an invitation to join the group during the first week of class.

Sketchbooks, created in Google+, will be graded as part of each project. The requirements are noted in each project under "project specifications."

Software Applications

The following is a list of software applications that you will need to install. All are free (except for Photoshop). If you prefer not to purchase Photoshop, GIMP is available for free and has similar functionality.

  • Photoshop - Available for free 30-day Trial
  • GIMP
    • GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.
  • Google Sketchup
    • Sketchup is a 3D modeling program for applications such as architectural, interior design, civil and mechanical engineering, film, and video game design.
  • Blender
    • Blender is the open source, cross platform suite of tools for 3D creation.

Other online applications that will be incorporated in the course.

  • Vimeo
    • Vimeo houses the lectures and software demonstrations.
  • YouTube
    • I use YouTube to post critiques of your work. You will be invited to subscribe to the playlist called MM327 - Crit-eeek!
  • Flickr
    • When you complete your work, you will upload it to Flickr for everyone to review and comment on.
  • Google+
    • Everyone is required to keep a sketchbook or album or clippings and/or work that inspires you. Upload work to Google and your Sketchbooks.

Grading Policies

  • Five project assessments - 20% each
  • For on-campus students, 3 absences will cause the final grade to be lowered by one letter. Five absences will lower final grade two letters.
  • Grades will be posted and calculated in Blackboard.
  • Late assignments or projects will be graded down one letter grade per day. Assignments or projects that are over 3 days late will not be graded. If it is after the fifth week, a student may withdraw from a class. Withdrawal forms are available in the Registrar's Office. The instructor should grant the "W" grade only if the student is doing passing work. Otherwise, a grade of "F" will be recorded. Withdrawals must be turned in to the Registrar's Office by the last day of regularly scheduled class, (i.e. prior to finals week).

Text or Suggested Materials

Additional Learning Resources

Means of Assessment

Students will be assessed using a specific grading rubric for each project.

In general, students’ projects are evaluated on:

  • Creative use of the applications: Is the work expressive, dynamic, have energy, complex, and researched? Is the work unique and display a level of refinement to suggest software proficiency.
  • Integration of design elements and principles: unity/variety, hierarchy, proportion, scale, shape, space/whitespace, line, size, balance, rhythm/repetition, proximity, emphasis, color, texture/pattern, value, and type. Have these ideas been considered and implemented and to what compositional effect?
  • Level of sophistication and refinement expected at the 300-level. Does the work formally communicate the written concept?
  • The assignment is turned in on time, complete, and formatted correctly, using Flickr.
  • Originality of work.
  • Software proficiency.
  • Students' ability to articulate and demonstrate processes and techniques related to software and digital graphic communication.
  • Specific criteria outline for each assignment.

My intention is to provide ongoing feedback, as well as highlight exceptional work in the Flickr group that you will be invited to join. Rubrics with my "official" comments will be emailed to each student as I complete the grading process. Those rubrics are located on each project assignment page.

Brief Outline of Course

Course Introduction and Review

2D Typography

  • Terminology
    • Representation. Abstraction. Concept. Form. Conveyance. Content.
  • Project

Typographic Collage

  • Terminology
    • Collage. Bricolage. Assemblage. Rollage.
  • Project

Basic 3D Modeling with Sketchup

  • Terminology
    • Models. Tools. Drawing. Text. Styles. Terrain.
  • Project

Modeling Abstraction with Blender

  • Terminology
    • Objects. Meshes. Extrusion. Modifiers. Materials. Rendering.
  • Project


  • Terminology
    • Grid. Contrast. Symmetry. Bleed. Blending Modes.
  • Projects (choose one)

  • Be sure to visit the disclaimers page for information on academic misconduct and disabilities.