Digital Design Curriculum


Learn how to apply your artistic vision to the widest spectrum of digital experience for web, mobile, and tablet platforms, from gaming to broadcast mediums. Your focus is on creating big ideas, executing successful projects that consider current trends, technology, and consumer mindshare. You'll collaborate with thought leaders, work directly with clients, and partner with industry mentors to envision new design directions, emulating a digital agency experience.

Creating a Design Core – Terms 1-3 (6 months)

In the first half of the year, we provide you with a strong foundation in the ABCs of Digital Design. You learn why it is important to understand the core motivations of your audience, and to create desirable products that meet both their current and future needs. You learn to navigate and manage the technical constraints of a project while considering business and brands. You also learn the latest design tools, techniques and approaches that increase your capacity for design and your ability to execute larger, more complex, projects.

Term 1 Course Descriptions

As students enter the program, they discover that they are already part of a broader design world and that engaging with that community now provides a basis for a strong professional network at graduation. The course is both topic- and event-driven, with students learning fundamental presentation techniques and networking principles.

This course provides students with tools to work as effective members of project teams. The course focuses on three key areas: team building, effective professional communication skills, and time management.

This course provides students with the methodology to envision, plan, and communicate complex information structures in a manner that is highly creative and fully professional. The course is based on a workshop/lecture model and helps students define the user experience for a specified brief.

Creative direction and art direction are strategic approaches to developing the concept, messaging and visual language of design and media projects. They provide the framework from which design decisions can be made to ensure that all elements of the project are focused and consistent with the overall message. This course will enable you to explore design principles while trying out different approaches to develop the creative direction and art direction of a project. It will not attempt to be definitive or encyclopedic, but rather exploratory and experimental. In some cases, you’ll be expected to generate ideas rather than conclusions, and to consider many different approaches to developing the guiding concept for a project.

This course introduces you to the principles and practices for production of digital illustration and design, and covers the fundamental tools and techniques of bitmap software such as photo-retouching, color correction, blending and combining images, using masks, applying filters and adding text to an image. Concepts such as resolution, bit depth, color modes, layers, blending modes, masks, channels, paths and non-destructive editing will be covered as well. The software creates a powerful basis for production of digital illustration and design.

Interface principles teaches the concepts of way-finding and affordances. You will learn how to use visual hierarchy and positioning to create successful interfaces, and will develop a strong knowledge of the icon design process. You will also gain the ability to use form and context to bring meaning to the user about the function of the interface and its components. Ultimately, you will learn how to make appropriate design decisions with respect to the specific business needs and target audience needs.

Motion design marries the technical skills of graphics art with those of video production. A good motion designer has extensive knowledge of both mediums and the tricks and tools of each. Common examples of motion graphic work are title sequences, advertising, infographics, and music videos. In the video components of the course, students will be taught the fundamental industry standard techniques of: pre-production, post-production, cameras and lighting. You’ll start capturing and organizing video files that they will edit and use to create a short stop-motion narrative using Adobe Premiere. After you have a basic understanding of stop-motion video production, you’ll begin a more technical approach with Adobe After Effects. You will then discover how to integrate material between Adobe Premiere and Photoshop, while gaining a basic understanding of animation, masks, effects, and proper workflow techniques.

This course serves as a designer’s introduction to two fundamental building blocks of the web. You will learn how to articulate content and concepts using the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), and how to describe that content’s visual representation using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). You will learn the Document Object Model (DOM) and understand how browsers visualize the DOM according to the CSS Box Model, and what sort of visual language the Box Model imposes.

Term 2 Course Descriptions

This course provides students with a deep understanding of brands and their impact on our lives. It serves as a launching pad for students to consider their own brand and how to market themselves after graduation. Students have the opportunity to research, plan, and create a new brand and are challenged to consider its relevance to a specific target audience.

Written language has existed for thousands of years. Typography is the practice of reproducing the written word by mechanical/digital means. From Gutenberg’s press to Adobe’s PostScript language to the explosion of on-line information, the mass reproduction of texts has had an enormous effect on our world’s history and culture. By embarking on this course of study, you will quickly find yourself immersed in an exciting world of inventors, kings, rebels and revolutionaries. You will also focus on learning typographic rules and applications.

As part of the Adobe Creative Cloud of programs, the Illustrator and InDesign course will expose you to the powerful vector manipulation tool used by leading designers within the industry. You will take skills learned in the Illustrator course, translate your designs, and apply them in a variety of publishing media including new InDesign, Interactive ePub, and mixed media work. To learn these tools, you will create compelling Infographics by understanding and representing Big Data.

Motion Broadcast Design focuses on creating high production value motion design and the development in audio and video mediums through pre-production, production and post-production and discipline. Content includes pitching a media project, producing pre-visualization documentation, camera operations, lighting instruments, lighting techniques, and blue/green screen production, lower third typography, and animation. You will advance your knowledge in keying techniques, and apply dynamic range and EQ processing techniques.

Emerging Ideas focuses on creating high production value Motion Design and the development of heavy After Effects techniques. The course will cover character design, rigging, and animation utilizing techniques in After Effects. You will gain advanced knowledge in animation techniques, tracking movement, and understanding depth and 2.5D depth and compositing various assets into one final product.

This course will cover the core fundamentals of 3D workflows, primarily focusing on modeling, texturing, lighting, animation, and rendering using a professional 3D software solution. Introductory tools and techniques of 3D animation will be demonstrated in workshops where students will construct various animation projects. As hands-on training, you will be required to create a series of in-class exercises and assignments culminating in the creation of several still images and short animated videos. Technical practices and concepts of dynamics keyframes and procedural animation will be included in this course.

This course provides practical approaches to key sub-disciplines of interactive design including Competitive Analysis, Information Design, Interaction Design, and Visual Interface Design. Each lesson will take one of these topics and discuss various practical ways of applying them to cross-screen/responsive projects.

In this course, you will learn the core principles of IA — the process of developing the structure and content organization of interactive applications via wireframing. You will learn classification techniques, such as schemes and schemas, be exposed to organizational exercises such as card sorting, and learn various interaction methods.

Interface designers are facing a revolution of their craft due to the introduction of rapid prototyping frameworks/tools that are simpler to use. Techniques that were once a convoluted mess of browser-specific workarounds can now be accomplished with a single line using programming library such as JQuery. This has set an industry expectation that an interface designer must also be able to rapidly prototype design. JavaScript & JQuery aims to introduce the interface designer to the concepts and techniques required to rapidly prototype highly interactive/animated interfaces using JavaScript.

Term 3 Course Descriptions

Digital Design, like most professional disciplines, operates within both a creative and a business context. In order to successfully navigate the industry aspect of the profession, designers need to have the ability to form professional relationships, present their work and their ideas, understand the impact of their career choices on themselves and others, and become part of a broader design community. During the term, you research career paths, meet prospective employers through studio tours, and liaise with a visiting recruiter who will talk about what digital design agencies are looking for in entry-level candidates.

The Project Management course provides you with the framework required to successfully manage projects and become knowledgeable members of project teams. The five major process groups that form the project lifecycle (initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and closing) are covered in depth, and students will also learn specific techniques from the nine knowledge areas of project management including Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Risk, Communication, Human Resources, Procurement, and Integration.

The web, video games, movies, TV – today’s world is an increasingly visual one. The imagery we create has an immense impact on our culture and personal development. As a professional visual communicator, it’s crucial to understand the history, purpose, and mechanisms of visual media. In this course, we explore questions such as, should communication design be a marketing tool or should it serve the public it reaches? Should designers focus just on solving a problem or also on defining the problem itself? Are the problems we are helping to solve creating new, even larger problems? Is the current visual pollution a sign of too much design or just of its misuse? Once you have been guided through a number of philosophical and ethical questions, you develop a guiding design manifesto that assists them in researching and defining initial grad project ideas.

This course goes beyond the concepts of branding and strategic design. This is a project-based course where students will work in teams to develop a multi-channel campaign for a real, non-profit client. You learn how the application of marketing techniques and information design transforms into stimulating narratives and compelling campaigns – campaigns that have a big idea at their core, but are executed using tools and techniques learned from your first four months in the Digital Design program. The end result will be a cross-channel campaign that will educate and engage audiences to take action for a positive cause.

Building on the principles acquired in Branding Strategy, this course functions more like a seminar and workshop. It’s less formal and structured than the strategy course as the focus shifts from the strategic aspects of branding to the art direction and brand management necessary to create full brand identities and graphic standards. You focus on creating beautiful, encyclopedic identities for one of three proposed clients.

This course focuses on information architecture for mobiles and tablets. You create the information architecture and wireframes for a mobile project, create a functional prototype, and conduct a series of user testing scenarios.

This course will give you the ability to analyze the world around you and turn that analysis into practical techniques. The course will cover abstract design, Trapcode Particular, character animation, animated typefaces, transitions, and featuring products with commercials. You also dissect a successful motion piece and recreate with provided graphics. Each lesson includes the analysis of a motion concept, demonstration of related techniques and lab time.

Specializations in Design – Terms 4-6 (6 months) 

In the second half of the year, you are in the driver’s seat and get amplify what you love. Digital Design provides the opportunity to specialize in either Interactive Design (problem-solving and design thinking) or Motion Design (digital storytelling), and you create portfolio pieces in areas which you are most passionate. 

You tackle more sophisticated and technically complex projects, while defining and executing your Graduate Project. We round out the year with a five-week employment boot camp, where you are exposed to a number of influential industry members, as you focus on preparing and networking your way into your dream job.

Term 4 Course Descriptions

The Graduate Project is the single largest portfolio asset generated within the Digital Design curriculum. It represents not only a larger scope than most other projects you will have worked on in this program, but also an opportunity to set a career direction and pursue an individual passion within Digital Design. Because of its size and scope, the Graduate Project requires a high degree of skill and precision in its conception and planning. Graduate Project Strategy will assist you in the initial development of their final projects by providing one-on-one project management assistance, lectures on key techniques in project management, workshop time for developing the project pitch and associated materials, and peer review through class presentations.

One of the most fundamental principles in Art and Design is experimentation. It is a tool that allows us to be constantly inspired and constantly learning. It is through the process of experimentation that the most creative and innovative ideas are born. Maintaining a personal practice of experimental projects helps develop visual skills and helps students stand out to a potential employer. This course allows for an open forum for you to create new innovative and inspiring work. It does not contain a definitive method, rather suggests a starting point that is constantly changing and evolving while helping progress the quality of one’s work. You will learn new techniques to aid in experimental 2D work with the hopes of them finding your own experimental style.

The Advanced Communication design course will be an elective and tailored to those students who are naturally drawn to excellent visual communication and have previously excelled in the Brand Strategy and Brands & Identities courses. This course will further challenge the student’s ability to create strong brand communication design, brand identity and brand strategy and messaging, and will also introduce an advertising campaign component to further challenge students and inspire written as well as visual communication practice.

Interactive Specialization

Understanding how to think like a designer involves understanding how to think like a user, and is a fundamental part of becoming a strong designer in the industry today. This course provides students with methods and tools to employ design thinking to their projects, particularly to their Graduate Project. Students will learn to examine the complexity found within the context of a design opportunity. 

This two-day boot camp is dedicated to helping interactive students understand how their projects can be evaluated through different lenses in order to create more sustainable, and viable projects. The entrepreneurial design world has increasing demands for designers to have a breadth of knowledge that extends beyond production. This course provides you with the opportunity to understand the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate start environment and the steps necessary to launch their own IP. The course focuses on marketing, lean UX, and lean start up models so students can validate projects early in the conceptual cycle.

This course will provide you with the methodology to envision, design and prototype rewarding experience. You will learn a “digital design” approach to game design. This course will provide an introduction to gamer types (Bartle Player Types: MUDs,) and provide an overview of the MDA (Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics) game design model. In addition, you will be introduced to fundamental topics around meta game strategies, and utilizing social mediums and sporadic game mechanics.

Interactive Specialization + Development

JavaScript as a language has evolved beyond simple page interactions to full-fledged web and mobile app production. It's constantly being updated to access more web services as well as the hardware it's running on. This course takes the core concepts covered in JavaScript & jQuery course and expands upon them. You will cover a variety of topics that include: storing data locally and cloud, accessing the phone's accelerometer, group based development with version control and using GPS with the Google Maps API.

Motion Specialization

This two-day boot camp is dedicated to helping motion designers ideate and finalize their graduate projects. You will explore characters, worlds, and metaphors, while ensuring you have a clear understanding on how your concepts translate into compelling stories. You will have a clear understanding of how their technical choices affect the story arc, message and emotional connection with the audience. You will leave the boot camp with a refined concept (rough script, story) and art direction (style frames) for your Graduate Project.

A good motion graphics title sequence is a display of design, typography, branding, animation, photography and conceptual skill, all within a limited time frame. It’s a combination of skills and limitations that few other types of projects call for. They are a brilliant showcase for proficiency and creativity. Motion Title Sequence provides you with the opportunity to create a title sequence all while gaining an understanding of pitching, approval, production and post-production processes, as well as conceptual and narrative techniques. Through a series of lectures and workshops, students will explore the history of title design, analyzing film for theme and composition, understanding storytelling, semiotics, film/TV branding.

Motion graphics, whether for a TV commercial, title sequence, or interactive story, are hugely reliant on 3D graphics to bring life to concepts. In this course, we will take the skills learned in the previous course and put them to use crafting motion graphics spots that emulate real world, professional work. You will source short pieces matching weekly themes like sports, children’s programming, new, etc.. You will then break down what makes the shots work, produce storyboards of your own interpretation, build your animations in Cinema 4D, and then enhance your renders in Adobe After Effects. The focus of the class will be on effective use of the Cinema 4D toolset, and quality of final product (taking into account pacing, tone, look and feel, etc.).

Term 5 Course Descriptions

This is a course dedicated to ensuring the quality, thinking and execution of the Graduate Project is being completed at an industry level. With the assistance and feedback of the HOD, external examiner, and industry mentors, students deliver a Graduate Project that aligns with their career objectives and fills any portfolio gaps. 

The goal for this course is the fulfillment of a final assembled package design in relation to a merchandised retail space. Students learn how to work in a three-dimensional space, make a product stand out on a shelf, and make the packaging layout fit to the die. They also develop an understanding of the hierarchy of information in a branding and packaging context.

Interactive Specialization

Understanding how to prototype, test, and iterate while working in a studio-type environment is a key part of succeeding in the design industry. Building on the T4 Design Thinking course, this T5 Studio Accelerator course is dedicated to helping students ideate and finalize their Graduate Projects. Students also explore alternative interaction techniques such as Designing for Thumbs and Minimal Attention User Interfaces. We use Agile project management methodology production techniques.

Interactive Specialization + Development

This course builds upon students' understanding of basic coding and introduces advanced scripting techniques and development environments/platforms. Students come to understand how to create prototypes using the latest tools and emerging technologies and apply this to testing and developing Graduate Projects.

Motion Specialization

This course builds upon earlier terms' 3D techniques and dives into the world of visual effects and compositing. With instruction and in-class demonstrations of industry standard techniques such as image based lighting, match moving, and rotoscoping, students are given a generalist’s overview of the visual effects pipeline and toolset. 

Term 6 Course Descriptions

Term 6 begins to narrow students' focus to the traditional professional expression of their path through a cover letter and résumé. Students have the opportunity to create both, moving towards employment preparation (e.g. job interviews). Topics in this area include the structure of an employment meeting, effectively responding to difficult questions, building a team with an interviewer in 20 minutes or less, and presenting oneself with confidence in the face of a panel.

Current ethical issues affecting the design industry are the focus in this course, offering students an opportunity to learn the basic legal areas relevant to designers – from copyright law to contract law. They consider different models of dealing with the business of design including freelancing versus studio environment, managing clients, subcontracting work, and defining a professional set of practices and ethics.

Students are exposed to the skills, advice, and resources to build a completed portfolio and personal identity. By the end of the term, they maximize the persuasive value of their experience and creative vision. Each student works with an advisor to define a creative vision for their portfolio and a format that best supports it, after which they determine the previous projects that should be incorporated. Using skills developed in previous project management courses, students develop a plan for refining selected works, designing, and building their completed portfolios.

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