Fall 2017 - IAT 110 D100

Visual Communication Design (3)

Class Number: 5164

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 3520, Burnaby



Visual communication for art and design in digital media. Students learn the fundamentals of digital raster and vector image creation. Design principles such as form, typography and colour theory as they apply to digital media will be taught. Students will have core projects in digital photography, magazine layout and kinetic typography. Primarily for non-SIAT majors; while SIAT majors may take the course, it does not count for credit for SIAT degree requirements. Breadth-Humanities.


This inquiry-based course will allow students to practice researching, writing and reflecting on a visual communication problem. Students will learn in a "studio style/interactive" lecture, where hands-on activities including sketching, journaling, and team discussions will be used to facilitate active engagement with the course ideas and approaches to acquire the fundamentals of analog and digital visual communication.

In addition, students will be introduced to historical, political and technical dimensions of visual composition including the principles and elements of design applied to an image, a series of images and to image and text combinations.

Students will be expected to use analog technics such as a pencil, a sketchbook, and image collaging tools. Digital tools required include access to a digital camera and open source applications.

This is not a technically oriented or software training course, students will be expected to be highly motivated and self-sufficient in learning any necessary technical skills to complete the assignments.  


Students will be prepared to:    

• Examine historical, political and technical dimensions of visual communications and design
• Compare and contrast the tensions between analog and digital image production as it relates to a visual communication problems in selected contexts.
• Apply the principles of design including research, visual composition, sketching and analysis to an image, a series of images and to image and text combinations.
• Reflect on their own perspective when solving visual communication challenges and how their personal stance shapes their design approaches, decisions, and solutions.
• Critique their own designs and the work of others in terms of how elements within the design communicate idea and intention.


  • Projects 65%
  • In Class Quizzes/ Participation 20%
  • Reading Responses 15%


This is a draft assignment weighting; assignment weights will be announced the first day of class.

This course uses the SIAT standard grading scale for final letter grades, the cutoffs for which are:

A+ - 95%
A - 90%
A- - 85%
B+ - 80%
B - 75%
B- - 70%
C+ - 65%
C - 60%
C- - 55%
D - 50%
F < 50%


Learning Pre-requisites

Before starting this class, you should be able to:

  • use a digital camera or phone to take photographs.
  • use a computer to print, scan and download instructional materials from a website.
  • use open source software applications.
  • organize your work-schedule
This course requires regular attendance and participation to do well.



Required Materials

• A sketchbook with white pages (no lines or squares). It has to be no bigger than letter size (8.5 x 11 inches) and no smaller than (5.5 x 8 inches). 
• An analog writing tool ( pencil, marker or pen).
• Access to a computer that is able to process digital images and that you can download software to. You will be expected to download freeware as needed.
• Have access to a digital camera. Camera phones or other lower quality cameras are fine as long as the picture is at least 10-mega-pixels in resolution quality.
• Readings: There are two required books for this course ( see info in the "required reading" section). Additional readings will be distributed digitally through CANVAS via SFU Libraries.

Supplemental Fees:

• There is a $15 supplemental course fee for printing and other in-class activity supplies for this course.


Pater, Ruben. The Politics of Design. A (Not So) Global Manual for Visual Communication (BIS Publishers, 2016)
ISBN: 978-90-6369-422

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics. The Invisible Art (New York: HarperPerennial, 1994).
ISBN: 9780060976255

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html