Introduction to Digital Design ARCH11192

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2016- 2017

Semester 1, 20 credits. Course organiser: Denitsa Petrova (

Thursday 14:10 – 16:00,  H.R.B Lecture Theatre, Hugh Robson Building, George Square



This course provides a foundation in techniques and theory used in the design and development of digital media for screen and print publishing. Areas covered include an introduction to graphic design theory (form, colour, typography etc.), page layout (grids), branding, user interfaces and web design. The content of the course addresses design context such as aesthetic and audience, usability and the impact of form and platform on functionality. Practical work includes creating design concepts and user interfaces and showcasing these via multiple design mediums.


On completion of this course, the student will:

  • Have a knowledge of graphic and user interface design theory.
  • Have a knowledge of current and emerging practice in print and web design.
  • Have the ability to create and manipulate bitmap and vector artwork.
  • Have the ability to develop and publish design concepts utilising principles associated with visual language.
  • Have the ability to research, plan, prepare, implement and evaluate print and web design.

Lecture Topics

1. What is digital design?
2. Grid and Typography
3. Colour and Image
4. Embedded Media
5. Form and Content
6. Branding
7. Websites with Style
8. Photography, Collage, Photomontage
9. Moving Image
10. Computational Creativity
11. Guest Speaker



Coursework is used to assess progress in, and understanding of, the practice of Digital Design, and allows students to develop and apply knowledge and skills across the duration of the course as the focus shifts from small assets to more complex integrated design work.

  • Submission 1 –
    Digital Design Concepts and Documentation –  40%
  • Submission 2 –
    Digital Design Implementation and Documentation –  60%


Both submissions should include a report of guide length 750 words (PDF ONLY) critiquing the submission. Outline the project goals and inspirations, and any problems, solutions or interesting points encountered along the way. Refer to concept, literature, methodology and execution. Include screenshots and other imagery as appropriate. The report should include links to any third party materials that may have been used and resources should be referenced with an absolute URL. The report should be a PDF. You can ‘print’ out a PDF from any application on the lab Macs by selecting File > Print > PDF

Project Brief and Submission Information

The project brief and submission dates/locations are available on LEARN

Course Aims

This course will push its participants to develop skills in developing materials and designs suitable for screen based multimedia

Participation in this course is intended to lead to a deep understanding of the issues encountered in digital design, and in particular the impact of platform on form, structure and content

Participants will develop their own approaches to understanding and interpreting digital design

The project will expect its participants to keep a record of their design methods and to submit information about their approach along with their practical design work

The project also aims to push designers to develop their creative and expressive voice and to challenge them to apply imaginative and conceptual ideas introduced in lecture and tutorial sessions in order to develop works of design that may end up in their professional portfolio. It also expects its participants to push themselves technically, to attempt to grasp the concepts behind design in multi format contexts and developing a sophisticated, creative response to the brief and to apply a professional approach to the subsequent development of original assets used in the project.

Finally, the project aims to provide a well defined brief that participants are expected to explore and respond to in imaginative, diverse and creative ways.

Criteria for Assessment

Work will be assessed on the basis of:

  • Demonstrated skills in conceiving, creating and implementing your design work
  • Demonstrated abilities in meeting the requirements of the project brief while imaginatively responding to open-ended design challenges
  • Demonstrated technical competences with design and multimedia production tools
  • Demonstrated management of available resources, including time and technology
  • Demonstrated awareness of contextual and critical relevance
  • Precision and competence in presentation, including well formatted documentation of the work
  • Design quality of the work in terms of meeting functional requirements, legibility, usability, interactivity, and appropriate use of media
  • Account will be taken of the risks taken and degree to which the design deviates from standard solutions.

Please note that assessment will take account of tradeoffs between the above criteria, particularly taking account of the diverse backgrounds of students in the class.

You are encouraged to seek feedback during the development of your work, but please note that adhering to feedback does not guarantee a high assessment of the completed work. Note also that the assessment of the work is not necessarily commensurate with the amount of time spent on the project work.

We will offer constructive feedback on the submissions but cannot give detailed feedback on every detail of the work submitted. Within four weeks of the first submission you will have received short written feedback on your work and a provisional mark, to be confirmed after the exam board in May/June of the year of study.

Tutors may refer to the risks taken in response to the brief, the conceptual approach you’ve taken with your design, the quality and character of the design, the clarity of the written components, and any technical issues that may help you in future.

Tutors will scale grades and refer to University’s Common Marking Scheme:

The issues of design and its evaluation will be further canvassed in Media and Culture.


Albers, J (2006, 1963 orig.) Interaction of Color, New Haven CT:Yale University Press

Armstrong, H (Ed.) (2009) Graphic Design Theory, Readings from the field, New York:Princeton Architectural Press

Berger, J (1972) Ways of Seeing, London:Penguin

Cloninger, C (2002) Fresh Styles for Web Designers, Indianopolis:New Riders

Elam, K (2004) Grid Systems: Principles of Organising Type, New York:Princeton Architectural Press

Kandinsky, W (1979, 1926 orig.) Point and Line to Plane, Mineola NY:Dover

Lidwell, W et al. (2003) Universal Principles of Design, Beverley MA:Rockport

Lupton, E (2004) Thinking with Type, New York:Princeton Architectural Press

Lupton, E & Phillips, J C (2008) Graphic Design, The New Basics, New York:Princeton Architectural Press

Miller, B (2011) Above The Fold: Understanding the Principles of Successful Web Site Design, Cincinatti:HOW Books

Pipes, A (2008) Foundations of Art and Design, London:Laurence King

Samara, T (2002) Making and Breaking the Grid, Beverley MA:Rockport

Samara, T (2007) Design Elements, A Graphic Style Manual, Beverley MA:Rockport

Shaugnessy, A (2009) Graphic Design: A User’s Manual, London:Laurence King