Syllabus, Course of Study and Course Map ~

    ●   These classes introduce students to Fine Arts, Visual Communications, Computer Code, and Graphic Design.

    ●   We use Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver, iMovie, etc. as a medium for artistic expression.

    ●   We challenge student understanding of Design, Visual Literacy and Advertising concepts to create better-educated Consumers and Citizens.


  •   This site gets thousands of hits from all over the world.

  •   It started simply as a place to keep curriculum organized, then became a resource for others.

  •   It generates lots of questions, especially from teachers who are creating a digital art class for the first time.

  •   Suggestions for Teachers: Look at this curriculum from a "Project Based" learning perspective - ALL the tutorials, ALL written assignments, everything is intended to support the big project. There is no "busy work." 

  •   Do the project yourself before you roll out to kids, including tutorials. Most of the projects take 2 to 3 weeks from start to finish.

  •   You're welcome to use anything on this website, but you may want to put your own "spin" on it, modifying the projects and tutorials to your individual needs, with the ultimate goal of creating your own projects based on your own ideas and style. 

•   Unfortunately, there is no "plug-and-play" curriculum. In other words, if you plop kids in front of computers and tell them to "do these tutorials … " you may not get the results you would if the project was authentic and came from you. "It's the singer, not the song, that makes the music move along." ~ Pete Townshend

Student Responsibly

Click to View Tutorial

School is your Job.  The same expectations for the workplace are those required here:

Be Respectful, Be Professional, Be Ready and Be Honest. 

If a person is to be treated as a "professional” or as "adults in process," you must compare yourself against the following standards: 

Respect is the order of the day

  •   One must give it to get it and a person's personal power is derived from their ability to empower others through respect.  Respect is the care and consideration for others, oneself as well as knowing one's place.

Profanity does not exist

• Language is power and profanity only denotes low class behavior, anger, or lack of self control … none of which work to advance a person in the world of work. It creates a hostile environment for women (and men.)

Do first, ask questions later

  •   When directions are given by bosses, employees follow them.  The ability to execute is valued in the workplace.  It is true that one must think while on the job, but questioning the boss should be done respectfully and is never done when acting on the understood.

The last minute is not "in time,” professional, nor adult

  •   Last minute folks will fail to be promoted as they will never produce their "best" work … no time for critical review or checking for good process.  The end product is often times much less than was possible.  It also sends a message that you don't care.

  •   Planning and execution of events are of a professional nature.

Good manners always are warranted

• First impressions are often about appearance and manners.  It is always easier to say yes to someone who has displayed manners that someone who is only nice when they want something.

Your personal life and your school life are separate

• Drama does not work well in the workplace, nor school … people get fired for this as much as being late for work.

Your wants and needs may not come first

• Belies an inability to see the "greater good" and says to your boss that you are unmotivated and selfish.

Being on time is non-negotiable

• If Time is Money, then those who are responsible with the first will have no trouble generating the second.

Production of work is non-negotiable

• You get no rewards for doing nothing … people are only paid if they do their jobs and that includes what must be done on their own time.  Teachers work weekends and evenings even though we do not directly get paid for it … because it is necessary.




Course of Study


Digital Art and Design introduces students to fine arts,
visual communications and graphic design.

  •  It is a "Project Based Learning" course, meaning that students are presented with a question or problem at the beginning of each project, and must find unique solutions to their design challenges using the tools and techniques learned during the project’s course of study.

  •   There are usually at least 6 projects  per semester which account for approximately 50% of the Visual Art Content grade.

  •   Each project is designed around a specific Principle of Design like Shape, Contrast, even Typography, etc.

  •   The projects usually take approximately 10 days and move quickly. This is a rigorous class and students are expected to work very hard.

  •   All assignments contained in the projects are intended to be applied toward completing the project and producing the final product. If students complete all the tutorials, they should end up with a completed product ready to submit for a grade.



This introductory course covers the core concepts associated with digital imaging. We use Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, iMovie, etc. as a medium for artistic expression.

  •   Students learn how to effectively use this software in a graphic design environment; planning and carrying out professional digital imaging projects. This course introduces both basic visual design concepts and a comprehensive understanding of digital workflow, providing the student with a foundation for print, web, interactive, animation, and game design projects.

Click to View Tutorial

  •   Digital Art & Design also crosses curricular boundaries integrating with Biology, Math, Social Studies, etc. Most subjects can benefit from the communication skills and presentation capabilities fundamental to the study of Digital Art & Design. We also challenge students understanding of design, visual literacy and advertising concepts to create better-educated consumers and citizens.

  •   It provides students with a fundamental understanding of computerized graphic art design, illustration and production techniques. Students will become knowledgeable in the use of software for publication design and production, illustration and digital imaging. Major projects are included in a student portfolio.


Course Goals

Upon completion of this course,
students will be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  •   Create illustrations from concept to completion using both pixel and vector based software applications.

  •   Solve design problems by using computer technology to manipulate and produce information, products, and services common to the web and graphic design industry, illustrators and digital artists.

  •   Understand and communicate many of the fundamental aesthetic Design Principles through written assignments, visual presentations, critical discussions and portfolio publications.

  •   Create publications, advertisements, and package designs with text and type as a major design element.

Upon completion of this course,
students will understand the following tools and techniques:

  •   How to optimize images and graphics for the web and other screen-based media.

  •   Recognize the difference between and appropriate usage for the different graphic file formats, such as:

png-8, png-24, jpg, gif, ai, psd, pdf, swf, html, css, fla, etc.

  •   Know the definition of and difference between:

Transparency/Opacity/Alpha, DPI/Resolution,
Vector vs. Raster, Additive vs. Subtractive Colors

Upon completion of this course,
students will demonstrate competency with:

Feathering, Clone Stamp, Magic Wand, Eraser, Brush, Paint Bucket, Type Tool, Filters, Layering, Pen Tools, Effects, Masks, Adjustment Layers, Blending Modes, Gradients, Color Swatches, Blending Options, DPI, Scanning, Vector vs. Raster, Transparency/Opacity/Alpha, Web Formats, Text and Font, etc.

Upon completion of this course,
students will understand and demonstrate the ability to:

  •   Scan, enhance and modify images using:

Blending Modes - Blending Options - Hue -
Contrast - Saturation - Levels - Gradients - Color Replacement - Effects

  •   Create publications, advertisements, and package designs with text and type as a major design element.

  •   Create and present work examples and a portfolio of art at a public show.

Upon completion of this course,
students will use the computer as a tool for communicating:

  •   An introductory knowledge of Art Genres and Art History, such as:

  ○   The Renaissance, Cubism, Surrealism, Pop-Art, etc.

  •   Symbolism and Allegory in a work of visual art.

  •   A video presentation explaining the elements and principles of design in professional attire.

Upon completion of this course,
students will have created compositions that demonstrate understanding of:

  •   Many of the Elements and Principles of Design, such as:

Balance - Symmetry - Proximity - Margin - Shape -
Contrast - Line - Visual Hierarchy - Shape - Space - Text & Font

  •   Color and its Effect on the Viewer, such as:

  ○   The difference between Analogous, Monochromatic, Triad and Complementary Colors.

  ○   The difference between Warm vs. Cool Colors.

  ○   The difference between additive, subtractive, RGB and CMYK colors modes.

  ○   The techniques for indicating light, shadow, depth and other expressive composition techniques.

  •   Enhancing images with color and tonal adjustments, sharpening, and other image modifying processes using special effects, such as:

Blending Modes, Blending Options, Hue,
Contrast, Saturation, Levels, Gradients,
Color Systems, Etc.

Upon completion of this course,
students will also have:

  •   Click to View TutorialResearched and written about the elements and principles of design

  •   Researched and written about professional roles of graphic artists in the field

  •   Analyzed and critiqued current professionally published works of art

  •   Evaluated the needs of a client and plan and execute an advertisement that meets those needs

  •   Designed advertising for a specific target audience

  •   Properly prepared graphic files for efficient uploading and viewing on the Web

  •   An understanding of copyright infringement and appropriate use guidelines

Click to View Tutorial

  •   Be familiar with systematic problem-solving models that incorporate feedback and peer review

  •   Define general copyright/appropriate use guidelines

  •   Demonstrate the ability to solve design problems using technology by creating unique and expressive fine art and advertisements on the computer.

  •   Exhibit an understanding of the fundamental Aesthetic Design Principles through written assignments, visual presentations and rhetorical discussions. 

  •   Create composite compositions that demonstrate visual design concepts such as:

Visual Hierarchy, Shape, Contrast, Balance, Proximity, Space, Text, Font, Etc.


Students will be Graded on:

A Midterm and Final Exam


  •  There will be a midterm and a final exam focused on Software, Art History and Design concepts.


  •  Tutorials, Direct Instruction, Daily Journal Topics, and other assignments will be the source for exams.

Students will be Graded on Project Reflections

Click to View Tutorial


  •  Students must post their work on their Professional Portfolios published on-line viewable publicly. 


  •  Students must also reflect on what they’ve learned during each project, on video and in writing. 


  •   Here are example Reflection Prompts and and example of a Verbal Presentation:


Students will be Graded on Daily Journals

Click to View Tutorial




  •   Each class begins with a brief journal (Here is an example of a typical Journal Prompt) usually a short question about the project theme or concept. Proper academic grammar and spelling is required.

Students will be Graded on Daily Tutorials

Click to View Tutorial

  •   Most Tutorials are selected specifically to reinforce project topics and are intended to be applied toward completion of each student's final product. Tutorials are usually graded under the Work Ethic category and are subject to the grading policy. Here is an example of a typical tutorial.

  •   Tutorials are intended to be applied toward completing the projects to help produce the final product.

  •   If students complete all the tutorials, they should end up with a completed product ready to submit for a grade.

Students will be Graded on Timeliness

Click to View Tutorial

  •   All assignments must be submitted by the time scheduled on the date due unless noted otherwise by instructor or updated schedule.


  •   Late projects will be downgraded a full letter grade reduction. (i.e. A becomes an B). Each additional day late will reduce the grade by an additional full grade (i.e. an A becomes a C).


  •   Projects will not be accepted after 5 days past the due date, or from previous projects, unless special arrangements have be made with the instructor.

Students will be Graded on How Far You've Come …



  •   Instructor reserves SOME leeway to assess students’ individual work ethic, critical thinking skills and amount of progress made, for example: if a student knew nothing at the start of class but achieved proficiency by the end, she should be recognized for that distance progressed.



  •   If a Students' talent and skill level was already proficient at the beginning of the course, they are expected to excel HIGHER than they started, and not "take it easy”

Course Map

The semester generally unfolds with projects in the following order:

Digital Art and Design

Web Design

  •   Project #1: Shoe Repair Project - Create a Shoe Advertisement in this Introductory Photoshop Project

  •   Project #1: Fan-Tastic - Build a website in TextEdit about a something you are a fan of - a Fan Site about favorite Band, Sport, Team, Athlete, something like that …

  •   Project #2: Drive Me Wild! Design a Car Ad in this Introductory Photoshop Project

  •   Project #2: Art Genre Project - Create a website about your Favorite artist or Art Genre in Dreamweaver

  •   Project #3: Portrait Project - Sketch you face and then scan it into PhotoShop

  •   Project #3: What in the World? - Create a Map with Rollover Popup's in Dreamweaver

  •   Project #4: Picture Perfect - Do a portrait of Someone Else

  •   Project #4: Run and Jump Game: A Web Design Project using Flash, Photoshop and Dreamweaver

  •   Project #5: Renaissance Poster Project - Create poster about the Renaissance in PhotoShop

  •   Project #5: Portfolio Project - Create a central home page linking all your web sites together in Dreamweaver

  •   Project #6: Monster Movie Poster Project - Create poster about a Fictitious Monster movie in PhotoShop

   •   Project #7: CD Cover Project - Create a CD Cover of Your Favorite Music


  •   Project #8: Cereal Box Design - Create a new Cereal Box Design


  •   Project #9: Drag and Drop Project - Create a Drag and Drop project using Flash and Illustrator

  •   Project #10: Free Trade Project - Create new American Currency using Illustrator

  •   Project #11: Aesop's Fables Project - Using PhotoShop, Flash and Illustrator, create an animated fable with sound and music.




Final Thoughts:

  •   Not long ago someone asked me what I do and I said: "High School Teacher."

"Oh, Good for you!" they replied, "But I could never do that ..."

Then they said something I'll never forget: "Thank you for your service," they said, as if I were a soldier in the military - sacrificing for our country.

Obviously people understand that teaching can be a tough job and sympathize with its demands. Educators are expected to be kind, patient, and professional, all while conforming to constant certification changes - from "No Child Left Behind" to "Common Core" - everybody seems to know how to do our job better.

Yes, people admire our commitment to public service, but honestly, respect for teachers seems lacking overall. For example, teaching is not considered a "profession" as it should be, even though our work requires advanced degrees, specialized skills and training to be competitive, similar to lawyers and accountants, but without the chance for advancement or stock options.

So why do it? It's true - in the private sector, "making a killing is thrilling," but over all, climbing the corporate ladder or squeezing an extra point out of someone's mortgage rate led to an unfulfilling and hollow existence for me. Of all the different careers I've had, from banking and finance to government and technology, teaching has been the only "meaningful" one. I'm motivated by meaning and significance in my work beyond money. When that's happening, I can be a benefit to everyone.