Montclair State University, College of the Arts, Department of Art & Design

FUNDAMENTALS Adobe Creative Suite MAC  –  CRN ARGD211-04 Fall 2014  |  Wednesday – 5:30 pm – 10:10 pm

Adjunct Assistant Professor Najlah Hicks,


Course Overview  

Students will examine the foundation of visual design, utilizing Adobe CS6, the creative software suite that is essential to creating content for graphic designers, photographers, artists and other creative professionals. Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign will be your tools in creating illustrator vector drawing, Photoshop raster effects and image manipulations and InDesign page layouts.

This lecture and tutorial-based course is your introduction to Adobe CS, Mac OS X, as well as Suitcase Fusion: a typeface management application. You will learn which of the three programs to use based on your needs and intentions, to manage and print your files, to scan and edit imagery, and learn how to use the file server. The design process encompassing elements of design such as line, color, form, function, and space; and combining elements for enhanced visual design, will be the heart of all of your projects.

You will also be introduced to HTML & CSS, the coding language of the web. Utilizing HTML & CSS, and WordPress, a free and open source content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL, you will create your personal website that will be used as a portfolio portal for all the work  you produce in this class as well as all classes within the graphic design department.

Course Description  

ARGD211-04 is a project and exercise-based approach to learning the programs used on Macintosh computers, covering the fundamentals of the latest versions of the Adobe Creative Suite series: Adobe Illustrator CS, InDesign CS, and Adobe Photoshop CS. These programs are prerequisite for all those interested in working within the design and publishing industries. The use of scanners for importing both art and text will also be investigated. Instruction in the course is tutorial-based, with supplemental lectures and demonstrations. 2 hours lecture, 4 hours studio.

Course Objectives  

This course is focused on:

• Developing your basic understanding of the Mac computer and its functions

• Introducing you to Adobe CS as well as Suitcase Fusion: Type Management

• Introducing you to HTML & CSS, and WordPress content management system, allowing you to build a personal portfolio website that you will maintain for your four years at MSU

• Providing you with an understanding of the fundamentals of word processing, page layout, drawing, and typography using software applications

• Familiarizing you with scanning and the use of digital images

• Developing your abilities to create and manipulate images

• Learning to analyze and evaluate projects

• Solving problems while working within the stated limitations and deadlines

Course Structure

1. Projects – Four projects will be given, covering materials listed in the course objectives

2. Lectures / Demonstrations – The instructor will demonstrate important aspects of Mac OS, Adobe CS, and related software

3. Textbook Tutorials – We will be following through the textbook tutorials at your own pace outside of class and – when time permits – in class

4. Critiques – Personal and group critiques will be linked to each project

5. Quizzes will test your knowledge of each software package

6. Creation and maintenance of a website

Preparation, Participation and Course Expectations

Bring your sketchbook and notebook to class every week. Come to class prepared and ready to participate in class discussions and critiques.

You are responsible for meeting the deadlines given for each assignment. Each project sheet has the deadline for the specific project listed at the bottom. It is your responsibility to keep your track of your deadlines, and you are expected to read your project assignment sheets and come to class prepared. Use a calendar to keep track of due dates, critiques, and reading assignments.

Assignments are always due at the beginning of class, unless otherwise specified on the assignment sheet. You will not always be given time to print out your work during class. If you do not have your work ready at the time of a critique, the project’s grade will be dropped one letter grade. However, it is still better to come to a critique even if you don’t have a project complete, as not having the work done and missing class is worse than just not having the work done.

In critique, you will be asked to discuss your project in front of the class so that everybody benefits from your experience. A critique is a time to share your ideas and should be seen as a positive experience for everyone, even when mistakes are pointed out or suggestions/comments are made that you don’t agree with. It’s all part of the learning process. Please make sure that your cellular phone is TURNED OFF and you are NOT logged into Facebook, Twitter or any other social media sites during class.

It is recommended that you participate actively during class discussions and critiques. Respect your neighbor and their effort to meet the course expectations. When instructor is speaking, please respect his time and retain from speaking. When people are sharing, please give them your undivided attention.


Your Montclair State email address( will be used to communicate with you about all course-related matters. Please check it regularly.


You will need the following materials for the class:

  An external hard drive or Flash drive with at least an 16GB capacity. You are responsible for your files. You should consider the purchase of an external hard drive. I also recommend you back your data up on a second drive on another computer as well as backing up all your files to DropBox on a daily basis.

Sketchbook — to take notes and do conceptual sketches; your preference of size and style

Pencil, eraser, black marker

  • NOTE: You are required to purchase a web  hosting account for this class. The recommended provider is Bluehost but you can choose any hosting  provider.

Class Exercises

We will be following through the tutorials in our textbook, as well as working together on additional in-class exercises to better understand the functions of each of the software applications. Textbook tutorials will often need to be done outside of class time, so be sure to make use of the open lab hours to complete them.


Project 1

(Illustrator CS): Digital Still Life

The assignment is to create a digital still life, in illustrator, using your knowledge of the drawing tools. The still life will be set up and must be sketched during the first class meeting.

Design Brief for Illustrator Exercise

CD Cover/DVD Case Design

Develop a design for a compact disc (CD) or DVV case. This design will include both the front and back cover insert for a conventional jewel CD case, along with the title panels. The design can focus on either an audio CD, CD or DVD game, or DVD movie title, and can be either real or fictitious.

Design Specifications

Size Conventional CD or DVD case dimensions

CD/DVD Name:

Use a real or fictitious audio CD name – or real or fictitious CD or DVD game title.


Design a logo for the company of manufacture for either the audio CD or game CD/DVD.


The project will include all of the information typically found on either an audio or game compact disc. Included will be the side title bars and the back cover insert. Dimensions can be found on a typical CD case or DVD cover.

Due Date:

Note weekly calendar for due date. 

B           Project 2

(Illustrator CS): Product Package

The assignment is to create a box design, in Illustrator, for one of following products: Pet Food or Children’s Cereal.

Design Brief for Illustrator Exercise

Pet Food Package

Develop a package design for a pet food company, according to the following specifications.

Design Specifications: Size: Determine size from those in production

Product Name: Student choice – do not use an existing product name

Manufacturer: Student choice- do not use an existing product name

Logo: The pet food must contain a logo that matches the company name selected by the student

Miscellaneous: The package design must contain all of the information that is normally found on a package of pet food. Selection of typestyles, typefaces and the box package is made by the student.

Final Package Printout: The final package must be printed in color, and at full size. See lab assistant for large-format prints, if required.

Due Dates: Note weekly calendar for due date.  Roughs and comps of the pet food package are due before printing.

C           Project 3

(Photoshop CS): Website Banners and Website Style Frames

The assignment is to digitally brand a company or nonprofit through use of Photoshop. You will construct files that will speak to the personality, emotions, experiences and core mission of the company or nonprofit that you choose. The final deliverable will be 6 website banners and website style frames.

Design Brief for Photoshop Exercise

Working from photographs, sketches, or other media and, using Photoshop, create 6 web banners highlighting a “cause” that could be presented to a client for their website needs. The completed web banners can be realistic rendering, caricature, or a combination of these elements.

Design Specifications

Letter-sized color laser or color ink-jet print as well as web ready files.


The web banners and website style frames will be created, in its entirety, using Photoshop. No portions of the project can be imported from Illustration, or any other Adobe CS program or template.

Due Date:

Note weekly calendar.

D           Project 4

(Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign CS): 12-page Booklet

The assignment is to create a booklet, to be used as a mailer for a non-profit organization of your choice. The project will incorporate InDesign, Photoshop and/or Illustrator.

* Specifications for each project will be given in class.

* Each project must be submitted with following items: Research & Conceptual Sketches, Preliminary Comps, and Final Designs. You will be graded separately on each phase of your projects. You will also be submitting each final design as a digital file.


Class Schedule

Based on our progress each week, this course schedule is subject to change. Should alterations to the schedule be needed, notifications will be posted to the class website.

Week 1 – September 5th

Review Syllabus, Introduction to Studio, Mac OSX, Suitcase, Brief Intro to Adobe

CS, Server, Create Blog.

Project 1: Digital Still Life – Sketches

Week 2 – September 12th

Scanning demonstration

Introduction to Adobe Illustrator CS6: Interface, Tools, Shape Manipulation, Filters & Effects, Altering Paths

Introduction to Typography, Point System of Measurement, and Illustrator Tools Boxes,

Introduction to Tutorial Exercises

Project 1: Scanning, Starting to work with computer

Week 3 – September 19th

Illustrator CS: Exercises

Project 1: Production

Week 4 – September 26th

Illustrator CS: Exercises

Due Project 1: Digital Still Life

Intro to Project 2: Product Package

Week 5 – October 3rd

Exam 1: Illustrator CS

Photoshop CS: Interface, Bitmap vs. Vector Images

Project 2: Thumbnails, Brainstorming in groups

Week 6 – October 10th

Photoshop CS: Tools, Layers, Color Adjustments, Filters, Masks, Channels

Project 2: Production

Week 7 – October 17th

Photoshop CS: Exercises

Due Project 2: Product Package

Intro to Project 3: Digital Self-Portrait

Week 8 – October 24th

Photoshop CS: Exercises

Project 3: Thumbnails

Week 9 – October 31st

Exam 2: Photoshop CS

InDesign CS: Interface, Tools, Incorporating with other Adobe Products

Project 3: Working with images

Week 10 – November 7th

InDesign CS: Frames, Text, Typography, Colors, Styles

Due Project 3: Digital Self-Portrait

Intro to Project 4: 12-page Booklet

Week 11 – November 14th

InDesign CS: Exercises

Project 4: Research & Thumbnails

Week 12 – November 21st

InDesign CS: Exercises

Project 4: Images and Text

Week 13 – November 28th

Exam 3: InDesign CS: Exercises

Project 4: Rough Comps

Week 14 – December 5th

Final Exam

Week 15 – December 12th

NO Class

Week 16 – December 19th

Final Exam

Due Project 4: 12-page Booklet

Final Grade

Your final grade will be comprised of the following:

1000 total points
1. Projects (40%) You will receive three separate grades for every phase of each project: Research and Thumbnail sketches, Preliminary Comps, and Final Designs (adding all three to total one grade).

Points per project: 100 – Total points maximum: 300

2. Pop Quizzes and Tests (10%) will be given to reinforce the understanding of covered material. If you miss a quiz, there will not be a make-up unless you notify me ahead of time and qualify for an EXCUSED absence.

3. In-Class Project Quiz (10%) will be given to reinforce the understanding of covered material. This will be tutorials you execute. If you miss a quiz, there will not be a make-up unless you notify me ahead of time and qualify for an EXCUSED absence.

Points per quiz/test: 33.33 – Total points maximum: 100

3. Homework (40%) Your grade will involve turning in your written and exercise homework on time, complete and uploaded to your personal website.

Points per class: 26.666 – Total points maximum: 400

4. Attendance and Punctuality/Participation/Meeting ALL deadlines (10%) Note that your grade will involve participation, absences, and tardiness, which will affect grades significantly.

Points per class: 3.125 – Total points maximum: 100

This class requires homework, which maybe up to 10 hours weekly, depending time spent in class for projects. Job, family, supernatural distractions will not be an excuse for late or missing projects. You will have to work in the class (EXCEPT in health related emergencies) Lab Hours will be available for students to work on projects and practice techniques.

* Do not throw anything away. You will be required to turn in a print portfolio at the end of the semester.

* Grading Criteria for Projects–You will be graded on your: design, clarity of visual communication, concept, creativity, ability to follow instructions, ability to meet deadlines, computer skills, and your verbal presentation.

Definition of Grades

A           Each of your assignments is completed thoughtfully, appropriately executed, and handed in on time or before. You participate in class work sessions, discussion, and critique. Your work shows above average ability to develop creative solutions to design problems. You demonstrate high efficiency and technical skill in the completion of your projects. In addition, your class participation and projects show that you bring a high level of analysis to your designs, exceptional enthusiasm to your work, and a professional level of competence in final presentations.

B           Each of your assignments is completed thoughtfully, appropriately executed, and turned in on time. You participate in class. Your work shows above average ability to develop creative solutions to design problems and you demonstrate above average efficiency and technical skill.

C           Each of your assignments is completed thoughtfully, appropriately executed, and is turned in on time. You participate in class. You demonstrate average abilities in both design and production. You are doing the proper amount of work for this class and meet all minimum requirements.

D           Your work does not meet the minimum requirements for class attendance and/or participation, the quality of your projects is below average in design and/or execution, or your projects have been consistently late.

F           You have failed to complete the necessary work for this course in design concept, execution, and/or production, or you have had four or more unexcused absences.

Incomplete grades are given only in the case of family emergency or documented illness which interferes with your completion of the course.You must submit the required paperwork to me according to the college’ s deadline. You must also submit to me a written list of work, which is missing, and a timetable of when the work will be completed. Students with a documented disability should contact me to discuss accommodations.

W Withdrawal: This grade can only be assigned by the Registrar’s Office. If a student withdraws from a course during the add/drop period, the course is deleted from his or her permanent record. If a student withdraws between the fourth and seventh weeks and completes an Add/Drop form, obtaining advisor approvals and submitting it to the Registrar’s Office, they will receive a grade of W, assigned by the Registrar. A receipt provided by the Registrar to the student confirms that a withdrawal has been made. This should be kept with other personal records. Check with Registrar’s Office for final withdrawal dates. There is no penalty for a grade of W.

I Incomplete grade: A grade of I (Incomplete), signifying a temporary deferment of a regular grade, may be assigned when coursework has been delayed at the end of the semester for unavoidable and legitimate reasons. Incomplete grades are given only with the written approval of the instructor and the major department Chair.

Request for an Incomplete Grade form must be filled out by the student and instructor prior to the end of the semester.

Late Work Penalty

A project not ready at the beginning of class or handed in after a critique on the due date will be penalized by ONE (1) grade unit when handed in the following class. No projects will be accepted more than two weeks after the due date. An absence is not an excuse for a late project. Limited lab access is NOT an excuse for a late project. Please plan ahead for lab time. 


Studio/Lab course, such as this, strongly take into consideration the entire learning and work habit process as well as required assignments. The ability to be on time and ready to begin is ALWAYS a key to being a successful student and employee.

Regular class attendance is mandatory. Lectures, instructions, and critiques will not be repeated. Each student is expected to stay the full length of the class from the beginning to the end. Do not miss class just because you did not finish the project. Participation in a critique is still important, even if you do not have your project ready. It is your responsibility to get missed information from a fellow student if you are absent or tardy.

One unexcused absence is permitted in this course. More than one unexcused absence will result in lowering your final grade by one letter grade per absence. For example, with two absences, an A becomes B. With three absences it would become C. Four unexcused absences will be grounds for a failing grade, regardless of the amount or quality of work completed. An attendance sign-in sheet will be circulated during the first 15 minutes of class. If you do not sign the sheet, you will be considered late. If your name is not on the sheet at the end of class, you will be counted as absent. The sheet will be kept on the front counter. It is your responsibility to find and sign it each week. Coming in late three times equals one absence. You are late if you arrive to class fifteen or more minutes after class start lime. Excused absences are emergency room visits, hospitalization, car accidents, or a death in your family. If you are going to be late or will not be attending class and know this ahead of time, ALWAYS call or e-mail to give me notice. Depending on the circumstances, notifying me will not necessary count as an excused absence, however.

Make-up / Late Work

Make-up work will only be allowed for excused absences. A doctor’s note or other verification will be necessary to excuse an absence. As you have time to work in the lab outside of class during open lab hours, an absence will not necessarily be considered as an excuse for a late project.

Policy on Academic Integrity

Students are expected to read and understand Montclair State University’s Academic Integrity Policy, which can be found in the Montclair State Catalog. Members of the Montclair State community are expected to be honest and forthright in their academic endeavors. Students who are suspected of violating this policy will be referred to the Office of the Provost.

What is Plagiarism and Why is it Important?

In college courses, we are continually engaged with other people’s ideas: we read them in texts, hear them in lectures, discuss them in class, and incorporate them into our own work. As a result, it is very important that we give credit where

it is due. Plagiarism is using others’ ideas, words, concepts, or images without clearly acknowledging source of that information.

How Can You Avoid Plagiarism?

To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you use another person’s idea, opinion, or theory; any facts, statistics, photos, drawings – any pieces of information – that are not common knowledge; quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words; or paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written words.

Using someone else’s designs or artwork and representing it as your own is plagiarism. If you are caught cheating, stealing, or plagiarizing, you will be brought before the university academic disciplinary action committee. You will fail the project and possibly fail the course. Further information on plagiarism can be found in the MSU Student Handbook.

Students with Disabilities

A student with any verified disability that may require special accommodation should make an appointment to discuss this during office hours. In accordance with Disabilities Act, students with bona fide disabilities will be afforded reasonable accommodation. The Disability Resource Center (DRC) will certify a disability and advise faculty members of reasonable accommodations. The Disability Resource Center is located in the Morehead Hall, Suite 305, their phone number is x5431.

Cleanliness / Lab Rules

Always thoroughly clean up your work area in the Graphic Design Studio (College Hall 124) before you leave. Especially be sure to clean up any cut paper scraps from your desk or in the production areas. Using spray mount is prohibited in any quantity inside the building. You are responsible for knowing and following all computer lab rules, both verbal and posted.

The Computer / Lab Time

As you already may be aware, the Macintosh computer and its software are primary tools for the production of graphic design. You will be expected to spend time outside of class in the lab gaining familiarity and practicing your skills with the software programs, as well as completing your assignments. Although you may have a computer, scanner, and printer at home, it is to your advantage to work in the lab during open lab hours. Assistants are on duty to help you with questions and you will be able to get opinions of other students on your work, helping to make it better than if you are working alone. The majority of the work in this class will be completed on the computer, but be aware that while the computer is a great tool, it is fundamentals and concepts that we are emphasizing in this course.

It is also your responsibility to always keep your files backed up and organized.

To Access MacLab File Server

1. In The Finder Desktop, Place Cursor on the “Go” Pull-Down Menu.

2. Slide Mouse Down to “Connect to Server.”

3. When the “Connect to Server” Dialog box opens, make sure that the.

“At: Menus” has the proper IP address of the server. IP address will be posted on the white board in the front of the room.

4. Select “Connect.”

5. When the “Connect” dialog box opens, enter your name and password you were given.

6. The “Server Volumes” dialog box will open. Select the volume you will be using for your file storage. Enter OK. (Other volume access will be identified by the instructor if required).

7. The server icon will appear on the desktop. The student folders are arranged alphabetically.

Scroll down to your individual folder, double click on your user ID name, and make sure you can access all of the sub folders in your main folder.

General Server Rules

1. Do not open files and work on them from the file server. Rather, drag the files on to your computer and work on them from there. Working from the server slows down the network.

2. No files can be printed from the server. They must be moved from the server to your computer in order for printing to take place.

3. When you are finished working, please drag the server icon from the desktop in to the trash. This clears the computer for the next person to log on to the server.

Change in Course Requirements

Since not all classes progress at the same rate, the class schedule may be adjusted during the semester. For example, the instructor may wish to change the number and frequency of exams or the number and sequence of assignments. If any changes are required, you will be given adequate notification.

Lab Use

Anyone not enrolled in this class attempting to use the lab during this class time will be asked to leave. Please report anyone who is unfamiliar to you to a lab assistant or your instructor. The lab is only for use by MSU Art & Design majors and those enrolled in courses scheduled to meet in the lab.

Reporting Emergencies

Dial x5222 on the telephone in CO124 to report an emergency to Campus Police.


Montclair State University Adjunct Assistant Professor Najlah Hicks