AVT 215: Graphic Design I

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Prerequisites: AVT 104, 105 and 222—or permission of instructor with portfolio review.

Course Description

Introduction to elements of basic typographical composition, including the historical development of letter forms; recognition, use and specification of existing typefaces; and alphabet design.


  • Recognize the importance of proper use of typography in visual communication
  • Understand the anatomy and evolution of the Roman letterform
  • Understand the history of printing and its contribution to graphic design
  • Develop essential craft, critique and presentation skills
  • Learn basic software skills in QuarkXPress


AVT 215 is not a graphic software training class—students are expected to have a functional skill level in Adobe Illustrator CS2 prior to taking AVT 215. Through lecture, studio and computer lab time, students will learn typographic principles using hand rendering, traditional paste-up as well as software on the Macintosh platform. Students will develop a series of projects from rough schematics to final presentation for their portfolio. Students will be expected to research and utilize external graphic vendors and professionals, and are strongly encouraged to join professional design organizations such as AIGA and ADCMW.

Textbooks & Materials

Performance Requirements

Due to the dynamics of the course your attendance, participation and punctuality are critical to your successful completion of the class. You must be on time and prepared—with no exceptions. Not being properly prepared with required assignments is considered an absence from the class. Final projects are due at the beginning of class. Projects turned after the start of class are automatically reduced 1/2 letter grade. Late projects (after the due date) will not be accepted. If compelled to miss a class, you must contact Miemo Khamvongsa (akhamvon@gmu.edu) the Teaching Assistant via email with an acceptable explanation within 12 hours to be excused.
If absent, you are responsible for materials covered in class. Please "buddy-up" with a classmate for this information. Two un-excused absences will result in a half letter grade reduction. Tardiness will also affect your final grade—two late arrivals equals an unexcused absence.


All final projects will be graded by the following criteria:1) concept development, 2) execution and 3) presentation. Concepts—developed through schematic thumbnail sketches and computer roughs—have the same weight as the finished project. You must show the design process for all projects. Presentation on the proper type of mounting board with tissue overlay and cover sheet also has equal weight as the other components. Final semester grade will be determined by project grades (50%), readings/written assignments (20%), quizzes (10%) and class participation (10%). There will be a final exam worth 10% of your final grade.

Additional Requirements

Projects are due on the due date at the start of class. Any project not turned-in at the start of class is dropped one-half (1/2) grade. Revised projects (re-do's) will be not accepted. A non-returnable digital portfolio of all final projects (in PDF format only) must be turned-in on CD at the end of the semester. Zip or floppy disks will not be accepted. Creative presentation of the digital portfolio CD (i.e., case, labeling, layout & design) will be considered as a part of the grade.

If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 703-993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through the DRC.

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