Design Strategy & Software

Gain skills in the Adobe Creative Suite, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, while learning the fundamentals of graphic design through project-based work.

What should you know before taking this class?

Design classes are no joke! You'll spend more time than you expect getting your work just right. This class is not an easy A - you'll work for it! That said, I find students who do the work for this class and put in the time and effort usually find success.

You do not need any prior design experience. That's what you're here to learn!

Looking for the most recent syllabus? My homepage has the most up to date syllabus for all courses I am teaching.

Can I see a sample?

Absolutely! It's hard to plan without some idea of what you're getting into, right? Here's what you can expect from my class.

Lecture Recordings

All my lectures are recorded. Lecture recordings (and all other media involving you directly!) gets uploaded to Kaltura. Only BU students, faculty, and staff have access to these recordings.


I record all tutorials and upload them to my YouTube channel, Professor K Explains. You'll find content about my day job work as a creative director along with the tutorials for my classes here. Get ready to learn!


I use Blackboard for grading and assignment management, and keep all class information in neatly organized folders that you'll gain access to throughout the semester. This helps us all keep on track!

Class Materials

All slides are on Google Slides, and my syllabus is available on Google Docs. Download a sample syllabus for this class, as well as some sample sketchbook prompts I've used in this class in the past.

CM323 - Class 1 - Introduction to Design
Class 5 - Layout, Typography, & Image
Class 9 - Logo Design Workshop
Class 2 - Elements of Design & Color Theory
CM323 - Class 6 - Intro to Grids and InDesign
Class 10 - Visual Themes
Class 3 - Research for Designers & Concept Development
Class 7 - Letterforms & Creative Layouts
Class 11 - Designing for Digital Mediums
CM323 - Class 4 - Analyzing Design Research & Sourcing Illustration & Photography
Class 8 - Logo Design & Competitive Analysis
Class 12 - Final Presentations and Tie-Up

Past Student Work

I'm always so proud of my students and what they come up with throughout the semester. Here's a selection of what past students have done in my class! Work in this class is typically done by students with no prior graphic design experience.

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Project 1: Lyrical Layouts

The assignment: Set the text of a poem or song lyrics twice. For the first layout, set the text using the standard guidelines for type design; focus on legibility, type size, leading, spacing, and format. For the second layout, break any of the rules to express the meaning of the words.

The first layout is an in-class assignment. The second layout is prepared and presented for grading.

What you'll learn: This assignment is designed to help you learn the fundamentals of great design - the "rules" - and then give you your first introductions to breaking those rules in a creative way to tell a story. Often, we come into design classes with our own predefined notions of what "good" design is, based on what we've seen and been exposed to throughout our lives. But the truth is that great design is thoughtful and solves a problem - not just "clean" or a sans-serif that we happen to like because we've seen it a lot. You'll use Adobe Illustrator to explore this creative typography.

This is the most "artistic" of the four assignments. Take big risks to convey your meaning with this assignment, and try using elements like placement, shape, and composition to get that message across in ways that go beyond the literal.

Project 2: Snack Advertisement for the College Age Demographic

The assignment:
Create an advertisement for a snack for the college age demographic.

What you'll learn: In this assignment, you're going to explore your first forays into concepting, brainstorming, and getting feedback from your audience. We'll start with creating a persona - imagining who our audience is, and what they might need from a snack. You'll also interview several members of your audience on snack preferences and use this research to inform your design and concept ideas.

Finally, you'll translate these ideas into an ad that sells the snack to your demographic. You'll use a combination of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to create the advertisement. All assignments in this class have a critique component, where you'll get feedback from your peers as well as me, and learn how to push your design to be the best work it can be.

You'll exercise and build skills in graphic design, copywriting, and user-focused design in this assignment. Some students also push the work even further, imagining how this might integrate with a larger campaign.

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Project 3: Magazine Layout

The assignment: Choose an article in the field of design that you feel is important for others to read from a trusted or scholarly source. Lay out your article in Adobe InDesign, using the class magazine template as a base, and expand on it to convey the meaning of your article. Then, I will put together your layouts and organize them to create a class magazine, and show you how to publish this online using new tools in Adobe InDesign.

What you'll learn: As a professional designer, you'll often be asked to work within an existing set of visual standards. Your job will be to identify how to honor and work within these standards, and keep the overall visual theme or brand intact, while still conveying your own creative meaning. A magazine is a great example of this. You'll learn how to work within constraints, as well as Adobe InDesign for page layout, and the techinical aspects of excellent print design and typography, in this project. This is also an opportunity for you to tell the world what you believe is important in the field of design today.

Past students in the fields of journalism have sometimes opted to write their own articles. As long as you're sourcing things properly, you can absolutely do this!

Project 4: Logo Design & Brand Guidelines

The assignment: You will be assigned a team to work in, as well as an industry. Complete a competitive analysis, and then work together as a team to create a logo, brand guidelines book, and 2-3 examples of your logo in use. Present your work as a team, showing your process, and ensure each team member is represented in the final presentation.

What you'll learn: Most professional designers work in creative teams, and lean on each other to play to each other's strengths, and create something incredible together. In this final project, you'll work together as a team to identify an opportunity in an industry you've been assigned, and create a logo and brand guidelines for that opportunity. This project will allow you to build your writing, analytical, design, concepting, and teamwork skills. You'll be able to use Slack as well as Zoom to work with your team members and coordinate to build something amazing together.

BrandGuide-catcher-indd-final (1).pdf
CM323 Squad 4 Brand Guideline Final.pdf
Final project.pdf