Graphic Design Classes at VMCAD – Curriculum

Graphic Design CourseBy utilizing industry standard software and the latest technology in digital print production, Graphic Design students at the Virginia Marti College of Art & Design create projects that mirror real world specifications, processes and deadlines.

The College’s hands-on curriculum helps students hone their design and time management skills so that the client-driven focus of the graphics industry is not only understood, but incorporated into the students’ own creative process.

Having the opportunity to work with actual clients in a classroom environment, Graphic Design students focus on:

  • Traditional and digital illustration
  • Print layout and production
  • Web layout, production and management
  • Flash animation and dynamic content development
  • Brand marketing and design
  • Visual marketing and presentation
  • Portfolio development and presentation
  • Career development and preparation


Program Outline

Select a quarter below to view courses and course descriptions.

First Quarter

Math I – G143 – 3 credits
Covers the fundamentals of math, including fractions, decimals, percentages, statistics, simple business and consumer math, simple geometry, and basic algebra. This course will develop the basic skills needed to excel in both business and technical studies.

English I – G101 – 3 credits
Explores 9 essay styles, reviews grammar and MLA fundamentals, and improves both verbal and written communication skills.

Graphic Design: The Big Picture – BGD100 – 3 credits
Recommended first quarter
Beyond type, image and layout, what does being a “Graphic Designer” mean? An overview of the foundation and history of the industry. Students will gain a thorough knowledge and a clear understanding of their chosen field. Students will learn how to become communications experts, problem solvers and result-oriented professionals. By developing a timeline and course plan; students will set goals for a successful college career in Graphic Design.

Basic Color Theory – B103 – 3 credits
Covers the origins of color, color consistency, means of expression, formal qualities, color qualities, color temperatures, color perspective, composition, and psychological interpretation.

Principles of Design – GD1002 – 3 credits
Learn the design principles that govern all visual choices. Through hands-on workshops, students will explore the elements and principles needed to create strong and compelling work. Clear ideas for visual communication will be explored through a variety of two-dimensional topics. Students will learn the appropriate design vocabulary to discuss and evaluate their work in a professional way.

Second Quarter

History of Art I – G160 – 3 credits
Analyzes artistic development in architecture, sculpture, and painting from the Prehistoric era to the Gothic period.


Bible History: Old Testament – G163 – 3 credits
Can be taken in lieu of History of Art I
Covers the Patriarchs and Major and Minor Prophets from Genesis to Malachi and their historical context.

English II – G102 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: G101
Revisits key concepts from English 1 and focuses on reading and discussing short stories, poetry and song, film, and a novella.

Anatomy & Figure Drawing I – B128 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: Portfolio Review or X050
Involves human skeletal analysis and descriptive drawing techniques, to describe and interpret the human form.

Economics – G260 – 3 credits
Examines the basic concepts of the economy and their applications to problems and policies. Concepts include supply and demand, market and prices, income distribution, allocation of resources, contemporary economic issues, and personal finance.

Typography – GD101 – 3 credits
An introduction to designing with type and the development of type throughout history. Students will learn how to distinguish typestyles based on their characteristics, render different typestyles by hand, and use type as an illustration and design tool. Students will apply this knowledge and skill in a variety of original and creative type projects.

Third Quarter

Social Science I – G221 – 3 credits
An introduction to the theory and practice of interpersonal communication, which focuses on learning and applying the skills needed to improve the quality of interpersonal communication and interpersonal relationships with a variety of people.

Anatomy & Figure Drawing II – B129 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: B128
A further exploration of drawing techniques that focuses on the human muscular form as a mechanical device.  The course focuses on overall muscular definition and analysis, to understand the complexity of the human form.

Photography – B144 – 3 credits
An introductory course in the applications and use of the advanced digital camera. The student will examine and study the technical workings of the DSLR digital camera and apply this knowledge to achieve a self understanding and confident direction in digital photography. Students will be working in teams on projects that will lead to successful picture taking. This team concept key will let the student work with any image in any mode and create a high level of self expertise and expression in learning the art of photography.

Concept Development – GD102 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: X050 or portfolio review, B103, GD100, GD101
Concept Development is about creating options, recognizing the possibilities, solving the issues and making the right choices. Learn and apply the creative process to conceptualize and design unique, practical solutions to an assignment. Interpret, visualize and design assignments for maximum potential.

Adobe Photoshop – GD110 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: X040 or proficiency test, X050 or portfolio review, B103, GD100, GD101
Introduction to the basic concepts and methods of advanced photograph retouching and photo-illustration: using Adobe® Photoshop® software.

Fourth Quarter

History of Art II – G161 – 3 credits
Analyzes artistic development in architecture, sculpture, and painting from the Early Renaissance to the Post Modern era.

Bible History: New Testament – G164 – 3 credits
Can be taken in lieu of History of Art II (G161)
Covers the writers of the New Testament and their historical context and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Social Science II – G222 – 3 credits
Takes a psychological approach to explore classic and current trends in organizational communication and human relations in the work environment.

Adobe Illustrator I – GD120 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: X040 or proficiency test, X050 or portfolio review, B103, GD100, GD101
Introduction to the basic concepts and methods of advanced drawing and illustration using Adobe® Illustrator® software.

InDesign I/Print Production – GD130 – 3 credits
Recommended Prerequisite: GD110 or proficiency test
An introduction to basic computerized page layout including layout design, image setting, page composition, and text flow using Adobe® InDesign®. Students create a series of creative single-page advertising and editorial projects. In addition, students will learn the basic techniques, procedures, and processes of graphic art preparation and reproduction and how to properly prepare mechanicals for one, two, and four color process material.

Illustration I/Traditional – GD140 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: X050 or portfolio review, B102, GD100, GD101
An overview of illustration, focusing on famous illustrators of our time. Students will also learn a variety of traditional illustration techniques and mediums used in the professional illustration field. Students will apply these techniques and mediums in a variety of original illustration projects.

Fifth Quarter

Web Design I/Layout – GD201 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD110 or proficiency test, GD120 or proficiency test
A foundation in creating clear, intuitive and well-thought-out web interfaces. This course combines the knowledge of Adobe Photoshop® with the theories of web usability and logical interface creation. This course explores interface design principles for the web relating to usability, visualization and functionality constructs. Students will design their sites with attention to movement, balance, emphasis and unity. An overview of HTML and CSS will be given in preparation for their next course.

Adobe Photoshop II – GD210 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD110 or proficiency test
An exploration of advanced image editing, color correction and adjustments, layer effects, and drawing tools using Adobe® Photoshop®. Students will apply these advanced tools in a variety of original industry standard projects.

Illustrator II – GD220 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD120 or proficiency test.
An exploration of advanced vector image creation, manipulation color correction and adjustment, special effects, and drawing tools using Adobe® Illustrator®. Students will apply these advanced tools in a variety of original industry-standard projects.

InDesign II/CS Live – GD230 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD130 or proficiency test
A continuation of advanced layout design and page layout procedures with a focus on multi-page layout using Adobe® InDesign®. They will have an industry-standard knowledge of the prepress and print production process. Students will apply their layout design, page layout, and prepress knowledge in a variety of original industry-standard projects.

Sixth Quarter

Principles of Business – B211 – 3 credits
An introduction to principles of business, corporate structures, terminology, and an overview of the practical aspects of entrepreneurship including branding, advertising, marketing, public relations, and operations.

Web Design II/HTML & CSS – GD202 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD201
A continuation of web design knowledge and apply functionality using HTML and CSS. Websites will be built according to web standards with attention to interface functionality and accessibility. Students will learn to use Adobe® Dreamweaver® and Adobe® Flash® to develop dynamic web content. Students will conceptualize, design, develop and maintain their own interactive multimedia web sites.

Brand Identity Design – GD260 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD210 or proficiency test, GD220 or proficiency test, GD130
An overview of the brand identity design process. Design and execution of brand identity projects including logos, business cards, and stationary using industry standard page layout and design software.

Adobe Flash I – GD250 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD110 or proficiency test, GD120 or proficiency test
Introduction to Adobe® Flash®, the industry-standard tool for creating rich, dynamic content, and applications for the web and interactive media.

Seventh Quarter

Business Law – B210 – 3 credits
An overview of the American legal system and basic laws that apply to contract sales, copyright and trademark, negotiations, product liability, and setting up a business.

Web Design III – GD203 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD202
Advanced projects in Adobe® Flash® involving more action scripting, character animation and the implementation of User Interface (UI) components.

Flash II – GD252 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD250 or proficiency test
Students will learn advanced layout design and page layout procedures with a focus on multi-page layout using AdobeTM InDesign. They will have an industry-standard knowledge of the prepress and print production process. Students will apply their layout design, page layout, and prepress knowledge in a variety of original industry- standard projects.

Illustration II/Digital – GD240 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD140, GD110 or proficiency test, GD120 or proficiency test
The instructor will demonstrate a variety of digital illustration techniques using Adobe® Photoshop® and Adobe® Illustrator®. Students will apply these techniques in a variety of original digital illustration projects.

Eighth Quarter

Entrepreneurship – B224 – 3 credit
An intensive business course to assist artists of all disciplines interested in developing arts-based businesses. This course covers topics that impact an entrepreneur’s daily operations including identifying and developing their personal brand, developing strategies for communicating with their target market, identifying a variety of tools for protecting their work legally, raising capital, and accounting.

Web Design IV/Digital Portfolio Dev. – GD204 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD203
A comprehensive approach in creating a portfolio site. Students will then optimize it for search engines and focus on professional development, client relations, branding and promotions.

Portfolio Development – GD270 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: Completion of all course work prior to 8th quarter, unless recommended by Director of Education and Department Chair.
An exploration, analysis, and preparation of a professional portfolio to meet the employment and promotional needs of the graphic designer. Students learn methods, techniques, and tools for effective portfolio preparation strategy and structure; element selection and preparation; self promotion; and interviewing techniques.

Personal Brand Development – GD262 – 3 credits
Prerequisite: GD260
A continuation of GD260 Brand Identity Design with a focus on each student’s personal and professional brand in regards to their professional career development and marketing.

Internship – GD280 – 2 credits
Prerequisite: Completion of all course work prior to 8th quarter, unless recommended by Director of Education and Department Chair.
A cooperative venture between the Graphic Design profession and the college to provide the student with on-the-job training. Skills learned in the classroom will be utilized in the placement as much as possible. Students must maintain a minimum work schedule of 6 hours per week and attend regular Internship Review sessions.