ART 334 - Word & Image | Spring 2016

Bill Dugan |

Project 1 | Project 2 | Schedule | The Fine Print || Syllabus (PDF) | Bibliography


This course unites concepts that you learned in Art 331 and Art 333 through two increasingly complex projects designed to expand your growing knowledge of typography, visual form, and image-making. It will encourage you to think conceptually and develop your own visual voice.


For most students, Word & Image is the fourth graphic design class. Previous courses introduced you to the basic theoretical concepts and principles of graphic design, problem-solving techniques, and methods for generating, developing, and manipulating images. These were places where you began to explore the relationship between words and images.

In this class you will work on a complex multi-part assignment. It is designed to give you a full understanding of sequence and series, hierarchy, composition, and use of image and color. The assignments ask you to explore different means of creating/altering imagery and of working with typography. Grid structures (both rigid and flexible) are emphasized, laying the groundwork for an understanding of systems.

This project will require an understanding of Adobe Illustrator. You will be expected to know how to create complex shapes, have a thorough knowledge of bézier curves, layers, groups, patterns, the Pathfinder tool, and advanced text options. We will review the basic techniques in class, but this is not a technical workshop. It’s the students’ responsibility to learn the software.

The Projects

You will develop an icon set and an infographic based around one of three subjects provided. You will research the subject and subcategories, sketch concepts, and develop them as vector art. Then you will research and develop the material for an infographic, using the icons and symbology you have created.

PROJECT 1: Icons and Symbol Sets

Choose one of the three subjects provided and research the meanings of its icon subsets, developing a one-sentence explanation for each icon. Using pencil and paper, sketch out at least three approaches for each icon—more is better; you will be sketching and resketching until you achieve the right solution for each—taking care that all of your icons are visually and conceptually similar so that they create an immediately discernible family. What is your concept for the series? How will you order them? Will you use solids, shapes or lines? How will you contain them?

When working on your icons, keep in mind that they must also be designed to work in both large-scale signage and small phone-sized applications. What works for poster-sized displays does not often translate to 150-pixel wide icons. How will you satisfy these needs?

From your final sketch, we will then go to Illustrator and begin working in vectors. We will be working in black and white only. How will you translate your sketches to line art? How do you bring consistency in line, shape and scale to each icon?

Then we will begin working with color. Will you use a single color or multiple colors? Do all of your icons use the same color schema, or are there obvious subdivisions within your icons?

Final Deliverables:

Once your icon sets are finalized, you will set them up for display with a key at both poster size (a set on 24” x 36”) and letter (a set on 8.5” x 11”).

PROJECT 2: Infographic

Where graphics can generally communicate simple information immediately, text allows for more in-depth communication of abstract and complicated subjects. Therefore, infographics—a mix of text, data and graphics—are able to concisely communicate a complex message quickly. In Project 2 you will learn how to create an infographic based upon the subject matter and icon set you developed in Project 1. Therefore, for this project you will integrate 3–5 of the icons into your final infographic solution.

To begin, you will develop a thesis surrounding your icon set, stating the problem, providing 4–5 supporting facts, and finishing with a conclusion/call to action. Each of your facts will explain the problem in greater detail and, if possible, offer solutions. When your reader reaches the end of the infographic, they will know what to do/where to go for more information. What do you want people to learn? What facts might be new and interesting to a larger audience? How can you illustrate those facts in an interesting way?

Next, sketch out your ideas for visually representing your thesis on paper. Infographics can be long, rectangular, poster-sized, horizontal, or circular, but keep in mind they’ll get the most visibility online. How does your design translate to Twitter or Facebook? Some infographics are one large visual surrounded by many small ones. Others are linear and follow a path. The way you organize your hierarchy will affect how your audience retains the information. What do you want your audience to remember? What do you want them to do when they’ve finished reading it? There are multiple ways to show information, especially data. Will you use a bar chart, scatter graph, map, or some other plotting device? Will you use an illustration?

Now it’s time for Illustrator comps. Again, we will work in black and white until your comps are tight, and then we will add color. How do you plot data? How will you set up your infographic for the web and for print? What mixture of fonts and colors will you use to suggest hierarchy and emphasis?

Final Deliverables:

You will print your infographic large-scale on some kind of paper, at least 24” on one side. You will also set this infographic up for use online. Is there a way to subdivide it into smaller chunks for use online?


See the website listed at the top of the syllabus for the updated schedule. The schedule is subject to change as the project progresses depending on the dynamics of this class and work process. However, this schedule does give you ample time to complete your project. You are advised to plan ahead but pay attention to any changes that are announced in class or via email.

Jan 25


Jan 27


Feb 1

Introduction to first assignment and course specifications, review of deliverables, explanation of concept and research.
Lecture on symbology, iconography, and the development of visual systems.
For Wednesday:

  • One sentence explanation of each icon.
  • Sketch at least three concepts for each of the 16 elements in your chosen subject. REMEMBER: your subject will be what you base the infographic on in the second half of class, so keep that in mind.

Feb 3

Review research and critique of first draft sketches in class. Be prepared to post them on the wall for discussion. Please make each of the sketches at least 4” x 4”—this may mean you have 10 sketches for one icon and 3 for another, etc. If you need to enlarge your sketches, use a copier. We are not working on the computer yet.

We talked a lot about concept in class. Concept is the abstract idea or notion behind your group of icons and symbols. In some cases it might be best to show the thing you're talking about, and in others you'll need to think harder about the feeling, action, or larger idea you're trying to convey. Try to avoid cliché or truism.

While you're wrestling with that, be sure to step back and review the collection as a whole. You want to ensure the collection stands together as a family, sharing visual and stylistic cues across each piece.

For Monday, I want to see your best set of 16 (or 17) icons/symbols. Go with the strongest ideas and flesh them out to tight sketches–as tight as you can make them. You should be starting to consider things like line thickness, positive and negative space, and framing devices (how your icons are contained, or if they don't need a container).

We're continuing with pencil or pen sketches only; they should be 4" x 4", on paper, ready to post on the wall.

Feb 8 Review second draft of tight pencil sketches.
Feb 10 Working session.
Lecture on Illustrator: Artboards, blending, opacity, and the Pathfinder tool

For Monday: Bring your sketches into Illustrator and have at least eight to present.

Feb 15 Review/critique first Illustrator comps. Have eight to present on the wall, at least 4” x 4” in size.
Feb 17 Working session. Be prepared to continue development of your comps in class.
Feb 22

Review/critique all Illustrator comps. Have the entire set ready to present on the wall, at least 4” x 4” in size.

Feb 24

Lecture on Illustrator: Color, prepress, type, and PDF
For Monday: Introduce color into your comps, with rationale.

Feb 29 Review/critique your set in B/W. Have the entire set ready to present on the wall, printed 4"x4" and 1/2"x1/2" as before.
For Monday: Bring your entire set in color with your rationale, printed 4"x4" and 1/2"x1/2".
Lecture on Color: meanings, application, pairings, and families
Mar 2 Review/critique of color icons and rationale.
Mar 7 FINAL Working session.
For Wednesday's final crit: Have your icon set printed as a set on a board at least 24” on one side. Icons should be at least 4” on each side.
Print another set on a letter-sized sheet with icons at .5” on each side.
Introduction to Project Two
Lecture on infographics: Layouts, outlines, story
Mar 21 Review/critique of outlines and research. You will present your outline to the whole class. Be prepared to show your sources and research.
Mar 23 Working session.
Lecture: Visual display of data: Chart and graph types, graphing in Illustrator (and also Excel)
For Monday: Tighten up outline, begin sketching infographic
Mar 28 Review/critique of sketch concepts. Bring three to show the class at tabloid size or larger.
Mar 30 Working session.
For Monday: develop the first draft of your infographic comp.
Apr 4 Review/critique of final sketch concept. Tabloid size or larger, please.
Apr 6 Working session.
For Monday: Bring your concept into Illustrator.
Apr 11 Review/critique of Illustrator draft in black and white. Tabloid size or larger, please.
Apr 13 Working session.
For Monday: Continue development of the infographic, and begin adding color.
Apr 18 Review of color drafts.
Apr 20 Working session.
For Monday: Continue development of your infographic, and split your infographic into smaller sections for social media.
Apr 25 Review/critique infographic and breakout versions
Apr 27 Working session.
For Monday: Get to work.
May 2 Final review/critique of all projects.
May 4 NO CLASS. Tighten up all of your designs and make them shine.

Course Specifics


Graphic Designers are called upon to solve problems on a daily basis. Everything from “Please change the font color” to “The printer says the file is corrupt” to “Come up with 3 new concepts by 4 o’clock”. We are communicators, problem solvers, critical thinkers, researchers, technical experts, therapists, and advisors. Developing these skills early will make it easier to find a real job after graduation.

My job is not to tell you what to do, or how to solve a problem, or tell you what your concept should be. I’m here to help guide you to a solution, not show you what it is. I expect everyone to know what a concept is, how to explain it to me and the class, how to execute that concept through type, image, and layout, and then present it. You will be asked to present your final projects to the class, and we’ll work on delivery and technique–a fundamental part of the business.


Instruction will primarily take the form of studio sessions but will also include informal lectures, and group crits.

Of primary importance is the process of creating the solution, and the critical dialogue that accompanies the process. That means you are expected to develop and explain your original concepts, provide informed opinions, offer constructive criticism and defend your work. Weight (both in discussion and grading) will be given to addressing process development and critical evaluation.

You are expected to come to each class prepared to show your progress. While this is a studio course, you may not necessarily have time to do your work in class. A large amount of class session through the semester will be used for group review.

Final projects must be sent out to a service bureau for output. Students are expected to be familiar with the basics of InDesign, Illustrator (bezier curves) and Photoshop (layers) as well as with collecting for output, gathering fonts, etc.

Your presentation materials (comps) will be prepared in a professional manner. That means careful trimming and mounting. This is important to your final grade.

Printed and bound projects are due at the end of the semester. You are expected to turn in two copies. One copy will be kept as part of course archive. I will also ask for a multiple page PDF file of each of your projects. NOTE: These PDF files do not count as your final projects.

Lost or corrupt files and/or the inability to print will not excuse you from deadlines or crits.

You are in college, and computers have a spellcheck function. If I see misspelled words in your final projects, I will mark them down accordingly.


Absolutely mandatory: If a student misses three unexcused classes the final grade will be lowered one full letter grade (i.e., if you have a grade of a B at the end of the term and you have missed three classes, your final grade will be a C). If you miss six classes, the final grade will be dropped two letter grades, and so on. If you miss more than five classes, excused or otherwise, I will advise you to drop or withdraw from the course.

I will have a sign-in sheet on a desk at the beginning of each class. If you don’t sign it, you will be counted as absent. If you arrive 15 minutes after class begins you will be counted as absent. (Likewise, if you leave early, you will be counted as absent.) If you miss information due to absence it is your responsibility to obtain the missed information from your classmates (no exception). You are expected to come to next class prepared to show your work.

You are expected to come to class on time prepared to show your work for a critique. Please note that I will note every time a student presents the same work as on previous class without any further progress. This will affect your final grade especially if it is a pattern.

There will be no incomplete given at the end of the term unless the student can verify his/her personal situation with medical documentation. Even then, 90% of the work has to have been completed. Incomplete is given only to those who are unable to complete the work due to unforeseen circumstances such as serious surgery etc. Please refer to university policy on incompletes.

I work in Washington, D.C. and take the train home. If, in the event my train is delayed, I can’t make class on time, I’ll notify the class via email as soon as I’m aware of the delay, and notify the design department.

Email Communication

On the first day of class you are asked to send me an email contact you check regularly along with the section of Art 334 you are registered for. I will use it to create a class roster. This roster is the one I’ll use to contact you all on a regular basis. If you don’t send me your contact information, the burden is on you to get the information from your classmates.

I will not answer class-related email 24 hours before the next class. If you send me an email asking about the assignment at 9PM the night before it’s due, you’re obviously not taking this seriously.

Office Hours

I don't keep office hours. I'm an adjunct, which means class time is your time to talk to me (see the attendance policy above). I don’t critique via email. If you have a question during the week, by all means ask me, and I'll get back to you. But don’t expect me to send you a 20-minute review in email format.


You’re senior-level design students. I look at the class from a professional point of view: If you don’t deliver your work on time, you’re fired. Worse, you don’t get paid. Find a way to make things happen.

I grade on four main points during each project: Participation, Concept, Design, and Craft. These grades lead to your final grade for each project. They are non-negotiable.

Participation is how much you contribute to each class on a regular basis. Each critique is your chance to ask questions, offer feedback, and interact with your fellow students. The more you learn how to do this constructively, the more you will learn. Can you give and receive constructive criticism? Did you do your research?

Concept is about the thinking behind each of your projects. What is the idea you're basing the design upon? How strong is it? Are you willing to alter or change your concept if a newer, stronger one presents itself? Is there anything in your class notebook? How well is it organized?

Design is the logical product of your concepts. If you don't start with a strong concept, you're just moving elements around the page. Everything has a purpose, and should serve the concept. Anything else is decoration. What is your process? Have you sketched anything? Have you fulfilled the purpose of the assignment?

Craft is about how much time and effort you put into the physical manifestation of your projects. Are they covered in glue? Are the edges torn? Is the printing perfect? Did you try several approaches to the final mockup, or go with the first one you built? How difficult was your approach?

Projects are what you present to me and to the class. You will be given a grade on each completed project and your presentation. Failure to turn in a completed project on time will result in an F for the project. Semi final and final crits are absolutely mandatory attendance. Missing class on those days will be considered the same as missing an exam.

Stated deadlines must be met. Assignments will not be accepted if they are late. You're better off turning work in incomplete for a lowered grade than not turning it in on the due date. You'll get an F for the project if your work isn't turned in on the due date. This is not negotiable.

Lost or corrupt computer files and/or the inability to print will not excuse you from crits or deadlines. Always back up all your work. You are also advised to allow at least three days for production before final crit and give yourself some extra time in case you have any technological break down. Not attending a final or semi final crit, even if you do not have your work completed, will result in an F for the project.

Academic Integrity

By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC's scholarly community in which everyone's academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong. Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal. To read the full Student Academic Conduct Policy, consult the UMBC Student Handbook or the Academic Integrity section of the UMBC website. Any level of plagiarism is not acceptable. Students presenting work that is not their original concept and execution will receive an automatic F for the class, and I will report them to the Undergraduate Academic Conduct Committee. Plagiarism and copying will not be tolerated.

Because this is a studio course and you are all expected to present your process and final work, sometimes instructor can see when a student is being heavily influenced by another students’ work. In case by case, instructor will reserve the right to judge when this happens and help the student who is picking up idea and stylistic direction from another student to redirect and find his or her visual language.


Students are expected to treat each other and the professor with respect and courtesy. In addition please make note of the following:

  • All cellphones have to be turned off.
  • No iPod or any other music gadget attached to your ears: no exceptions.
  • If I find you checking email, posting to Facebook, working on other class projects, surfing the net for anything other than for class work, I'll ask you to leave the classroom. No exceptions will be made.

You are expected to do all of your research outside of the class time. Class time is reserved for studio work or reviews. Research during class is allowed if part of the class session or if I specifically request students to do so during class—normally a rare occurrence for this course.


Sustainable Development Goals (17)

In 2015, 193 countries agreed to adopt a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each of these goals has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. There is one existing icon set for the SDGs; you will develop a new one.

No Poverty
No Hunger
Good Health
Quality Education
Gender Equality
Clean Water and Sanitation
Renewable Energy
Good Jobs and Economic Growth
Innovation and Infrastructure
Reduced Inequalities
Sustainable Cities and Communities
Responsible Consumption
Climate Action
Life Below Water
Life on Land
Peace and Justice
Partnerships for the Goals

Olympic Icons (16)

The modern Olympic Games date back to 1896, when 14 nations came together in Athens under the organization of the International Olympic Committee. In 2012, 204 nations sent 10,768 athletes to the Summer Olympics in London. There have been many famous icon sets developed for the Games. You will design a completely new one.

Golf (new)
Kitesurfing (new)
Sevens Rugby (new)

Big Air in Snowboarding (new)
Freestyle Skiing (new)
Mixed Doubles in Curling (new)
Mass Start in Speedskating (new)

Social Issues (16)

A social issue is a problem that a group of people within a community view as being undesirable. Which is a diplomatic way of describing some of the most difficult problems that face humanity.

Domestic violence
Mental Illness
Crime & punishment
Civil Rights
Women’s Issues
LGBTQ Issues
Child Abuse
Civil Liberties
Drugs & Alcohol
Gun Control

Other Important Dates

Sounding Botany Bay: Tim Nohe
An exhibition on the change of an Australian environment
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
4:00 PM-5:30 PM

Ben Marcin
March 10th, 2016
Time TBA, Room FA 221

Colin Ives
April 7th, 2016
7:15pm, Room FA 107

Ram Devineni
Dresher Center Humanities Forum
April 13, 2016
7:00 PM-8:30 PM
Performing Arts & Humanities Building: 132

April 14th: film presentation
1-3:50 PM in FA 221

AIGA Baltimore’s 4th Annual Ink & Pixels Student Portfolio Review
Saturday, April 16th, 2016
Stevenson University School of Design
Time TBD




Take me back to the top