Summer 2023 - IAT 102 D100

Graphic Design (3)

Class Number: 4545

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 8 – Aug 4, 2023: Tue, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.



Introduction to fundamental design principles for visual communication. Organized as a continual interplay of theory and practice, students will examine historical, philosophical, perceptual and semiotic approaches to understanding graphic design, and will explore principles of form, such as structure and composition, hierarchy, form, color, space, scale, typography, and legibility and readability through hands-on projects. Traditional time-based and interactive media forms will be compared and contrasted.


This course will introduce you to the fundamental design principles of visual communication. Organized as a continual interplay of theory and practice, we will examine historical, philosophical, perceptual and semiotic approaches to understanding and creating Graphic Design. This includes "formal" and gestalt principles, such as color, texture, shape, figure-ground relationships, and typography. Typography involves structural, organizing principles such as a typographic grid, as well as specific type styles, spacing between lines of text as well as between individual letterforms, visual perception, and how those issues can affect readability, legibility and comprehension. You will work individually and within small groups, and will manage your individual and collaboration time independently.

This course lays the foundation for upper-level design courses, together with Spatial Design (IAT 233) and Information Design (IAT 235). Through these courses, you will acquire the design foundations necessary for all other design classes.


  1. Be able to communicate visually through sketching, rapid viz (visualization) and iteration. Be able to look and think critically and analytically (evaluate, analyze, synthesize). Be able to solve visual design problems by choosing, organizing and manipulating formal visual elements (form, type, composition, colour). 

  2. Utilize principles of visual design to communicate clear messages across digital and non-digital forms of media to specific groups of people, and under specific conditions.

  3. Interpret the multiple potential meanings of visual designs by taking into account cultural, affective, symbolic and historical contexts. Understand how the different kinds and constraints of media (digital and non-digital) affect how visual designs are understood.

  4. Be able to observe, identify, communicate, explain and critique considerations of visual design using appropriate methods and terminology.

This is not a software course. However, you are expected to show a high motivation for independent learning of software skills, such as Adobe InDesign, PhotoShop and Illustrator.


  • Lab Assignments and in-lecture assigments (Individual) 15%
  • Quizzes (Individual) 25%
  • Major Projects (Individual) 60%


Important Notices/Delivery of Course:

· This course will be offered in person at the Surrey Campus with one lecture and one lab on a weekly basis per student.

· “Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion”.




Course materials: You will be required to purchase your own drawing supplies and paper; expect to spend around $50. on supplies (depending on what you have in your house, this could be less). I will be sending out a drawing supply list when you register for the course. We will be drawing with pencils and large-sized drawing paper (the bigger the better but at least double standard letter-sized paper). For this online version of the course, digital drawings for some of your submissions will also be accepted, but access to digital drawing tools is not required. You do need to be able to photograph your work and be able to post it to Canvas.  


You will need to have access to a high-speed internet connection and the following Adobe software: Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. You will be responsible for installing and ensuring that software works on your computer. Please see Adobe's website for cost of software ( There are free software packages and/or apps that have similar features to Adobe, but tif you choose to use these, they will not be supported by course tutorials. In other words, it will be your responsibility to meet course project requirements. Note that Adobe apps for iPad are not full-featured and tutorials based on desktop version may not be compatible. There is no tech support provided by the course on installing or troubleshooting software problems or installation. Please ensure you have access before registering.


Required readings will be provided digitally through Canvas.
You are encouraged to explore SFU library's A History of Graphic Design, by Philip Meggs.


Graphic Design School: The Principles and Practice of Graphic Design
7th edition, by David Dabner, Sandra Stewart, and Abbie Vickress (authors).

  • John Wiley & Sons; 7th edition, paperback (2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN:978-1-119-64711-9


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.