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visual literacy
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Prerequisites: none

Course available to: Freshmen,Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors.

The course is designed for students interested in art and design.

Visual Literacy. Lesson plans, work files, presentations.

There’s a reason it’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. 

Science suggests that the human brain responds to and processes images faster than any other type of data.

  • 32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business, with blogging in second (27%). (Social Media Examiner)
  • When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (Brain Rules)

HubSpot has collected some statistics that show how visual content is a powerful communication tool:

  • Content with relevant imagery gets 94% more views than content without images.
  • People remember information better when it’s paired with images (10% retention of audio information vs. 65% retention of audio + visual information after three days).
  • Visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social media.

Visual Literacy is the ability to communicate your ideas through visual elements.

We all have different personalities, experiences, ideas, and understanding of life. A designer's task is to convey his/her ideas by working with and manipulating the Elements of Art. These are our "visual tools".

If you understand how to use these tools to control how people see and interpret your design - then you are on a right path to be a great designer.

Warm-up Mind Exercises

Before you start using design to express your ideas and communicate thoughts, let's work on exercising your mind to be more flexible and creative. These are important "work-outs" for your brain that will help you to "loosen up", to think outside the box, and to choose unusual solutions to given problems.

breton method

Andre Breton method

geometric doodling

geometric doodling

semester I

unit 1: Digital Imaging

Learning Targets:

  • vector vs. bitmap
  • PS basics: advanced photo editing
  • AI basics: vectors, paths, shapes
  • AI - special effects
  • AI - extras (icons, image trace, 3D, etc.)

Digital Imaging

Photoshop intro

selection tools

selection tools


layers basics

Matching shapes. Layers in Photoshop.

matching shapes

layer opacity

double exposure

Color emphasis. Layer saturation. Photoshop basics.

emphasis. layer saturation

Color balance and layer settings

layer colors

Remove background in Photoshop. Basic options.

remove backgrounds

Imagine this! Photoshop creative assignment. Basic layer techniques.

imagine this!

image size

contrast & levels


enhancing photos

fixing photos

fixing photos

PS final

intro to Illustrator


vector graphics


practice paths





type outlines

type properties & type outlines

name logo

Type tools & name logo

pencil in illustrator


toucan in illustrator

toucan drawing

image trace

image trace

IL final

unit 2: Visual Communication

Learning Targets:

  • pinciples of infographics: types and styles
  • data visualization: steps of working with information
  • choosing apropriate templates
  • basics of photography
  • photo editing basics
visual communication

visual communication

jack and jill

Jack & Jill

aesop fables



Types of symbols

target audience

target audience


cover redesign

photo analysis

edit photographs

documentary photography

documentary photography

use of photography


unit 3: Layout

Learning Targets:

  • organizing space - layouts, alignment, grid layout
  • printed materials vs. screen view: color modes, typefaces
  • solving specific visual problems - defining the goal: what do we want to achieve?
  • intro to typography

grid & guides


article (hierarchy)

recipe (flow)



my name is...

semester 2

unit 4: Elements & Principles of Design

Learning Targets:

  • what are the elements of design?
  • how each element affects design
  • finding balance in elements use
  • how to apply the design principles to solve a visual problem
  • what are the principles of design?

line moods

line: notebook page


line: map

road signs

shape:road signs

value scale

value: value scale

color wheel

color: cutout color wheel

color wheel

color: color wheel

color wheel

color schemes (interactive)

color schemes

color: color schemes

color scheme

color scheme


space: movement

textures and patterns

texture: designs

texture: typescape


space: typography 1


space: typography 2


about Infographics




contrast: life or death


Visual Alphabet

buard game lesson

movement & projecty: board game



unit 5: Problem Solving

Learning Targets:

  • Gestalt principles
  • OpArt in design
  • creating symbols

Visual Perception



gestalt squares

gestalt squares

gestalt squares

4 black squares

name design

name logo

less is more

less is more


paper collage


ink spot

ink spot

ink spot


Logo Design basics

business card design

business card

Less is More (InDesign)


typography 3


typography 4


typography 5 (InDesign)

portrait typography

typography portrait






visual diary

visual diary

extra assignments

powerpoint presentation

design layout (backgrounds)

powerpoint presentation

PowerPoint template

contact sheet in Photoshop

PS contact sheet

collage in PS

color schemes

Practice color scheme

color triptych

Color scheme triptych

Wisconsin essential standards rubric

  no evidence Beginning Emerging Proficient Advanced

AA1 Cr10
aesthetics & problem solving

Artwork does not show use of given elements and principles of design or there is no evidence. Artwork shows limited understanding and use/application of given elements and principles of design. Artwork represents some understanding and use of given elements and principles of design. Artwork demonstrates an understanding and a proper application/use of given elements and principles of design. Student used elements of art /principles of design to achieve unified, balanced, exciting, and effective space that goes beyond the task.

AA1 Cr.12

Work is not complete and/or does not show the process from specified instructions or there is no evidence. Student somewhat followed the process. Some steps are skipped or incomplete. Work requires major improvement. Student mostly followed the process. Work shows some skills and basic/partial understanding of the process. Student followed the process exactly as the instructions specified. Work shows proper use of skills and techniques. Student followed the process exactly as the instructions specified and, in addition, the piece exhibits evidence of creative experimentation beyond the required task. Craftsmanship and attention to details are flawless.

AA2 Pr.10
aesthetics & communication

The artwork does not comply with the task and instructions, there is no personal involvement in the process or there is no evidence. The artwork communicates little effort and personal emotional involvement in the process. Student tried using elements and principles of art to solve the aesthetic task. Some areas need improvement. Student used elements and principles of art properly and conveyed a clear message. Artwork shows individuality and effort. The artwork displays a clear meaning and style of the assignment. Artwork communicates specific art style or other requirements. The message is clearly communicated. Student went above and beyond in the use of Art Elements and Principles to convey a clear message, showed understanding of the task, and solved the task in the most creative way. Artwork shows individuality and emotion involvement.


visual basics

R. & J. Wilde
Visual Literacy
ISBN 0-8230-5620-1


1. All assignments must be completed on or before the due date.
2. Unfinished artwork is graded as such.
3. If you are absent, it is your responsibility to make up all work. You can sign out art supplies if needed.
4. If your project requires extra time to be completed, you have to make arrangements with me prior the due date. This is your responsibility.
5. Each project has a rubric with specific requirements and guidelines. Follow them.
6. Unless an assignment specifically requires copying, it will be interpreted in the same manner as plagiarism.
7. You are also graded for your in-class studio work.


1. Food, drinks, candy, gum are not allowed in the Art rooms. A bottle of WATER is permitted in room 206 (only).
2. Cell phones are not allowed at any time. Phones should be turned off and put away.
3. Be in the room before the bell rings. Dropping your stuff and leaving does not qualify you as being on time.
4. Sit at your assigned seat unless I give you OK to move. That means you do not walk around the room during the class.
5. Talk quietly with students at your table. Do not talk during the instructional time.
6. Draw, paint, etc. on your artwork only!
7. Use materials from your tote-tray only... don't go into other people's trays.
8. You can bring your work home anytime. You are responsible for having it back next day.
9. If you must swear, please do it elsewhere... Thanks.
10. You are responsible for cleaning your work area and the tools that you used.
11. If you are in the Graphics lab, use the printers for the current ART assignments only!!!
12. Encourage your fellow classmates in a positive way... treat them fairly and nicely. This room should be a fun and comfortable place for everyone.