Course: Graphic Design
Grade Level: 10th Grade
Duration: Year-Long Course

I have taught this 10th-grade, year-long Graphic Design course four times, making changes to the curriculum each time I taught the course. This version of the curriculum map reflects how I most recently taught the class. If I were to teach it again, I would certainly make additional changes. But I feel that the curriculum is at the stage where I can share with other art teachers. Feel free to use any of the ideas here for your classes. Click on the project names for more information about the project. The links in the Artworks/Readings column take you to images and articles online.

Unit Name
Summative Assessments
(Final Projects)
Design Concepts
Intro to Graphic Design
  1. Group project:
    Make a visual solution to a problem that the school is facing.
What is Graphic Design?
Drawing (Pencil and Paper)
  1. Classroom Drawing
    Make an observation drawing of the classroom, including at least one corner in your composition.
  2. Thumbnail Drawings
    Make 6 small-scale pencil sketches of compositions that could represent a tree. Choose your favorite sketch and use Sharpie marker to make it into a final black and white drawing.
  • Observation Drawing
  • Contour Drawing
  • Negative Space
  • Generating ideas (brainstorming multiple ideas before picking one)
  • Composition
  • Contrast
  • Flat color
Illustrator Exploration
  1. Black and White Circles and Squares
    Make an abstract composition that includes shapes of contrasting size.
  2. Pen Tool Drawing
    Make an abstract composition in which all of your shapes belong together for some reason (you choose the reason).
  • Abstract
  • Repetition
  • Contrast
Illustrator Drawings
  1. Family History Project
    In this project, you will represent the history of your family through three Illustrator drawings of objects. Choose three objects that say something about your family and it’s past (recent or distant). You will then make three separate drawings, one of each object. The three drawings will work together as a set to show the history of your family.
  2. Family History Artist Statement
  • Symbols
  • Simplification
  • Representational images
  • Foreground and Background
  • Color
  • Series

Related Projects

Art Works/Objects

Artist statements:


  1. Patterns, Part 1
    Make four repeating patterns, each inspired by a different word.
  2. Patterns, Part 1 Artist Statement
  3. Patterns, Part 2
    Choose your favorite pattern from part 1. Make a full page drawing in which you use the pattern and break the pattern.
  4. Patterns, Part 2 Artist Statement
  • Patterns
  • Balance
  • Symmetry
  • Asymmetry
  • Contrast
  • Repetition


  1. Initial Drawings
    Make an abstract drawing using only your initials (2 or 3 letters). Try to create a drawing in which a viewer will notice shapes before he or she notices letters.
  2. Initial Drawings Artist Statement
  3. Opposites
    Make a composition consisting of only two words which are opposites
  4. Opposites Artist Statement
  • Fonts
  • Type
Photoshop Exploration
  1. Photo Abstraction
    Use Photoshop to make an abstract image that combines at least eight photographs. A viewer should not be able to tell what any of the pictures are of.
  • Layers
Photo Collage
  1. Mad Scientist
    Create a Photoshop collage of a scene that includes at least two people in action. Create the people for your scene by combining as many objects as you need—none of which can be from pictures of humans.
  • Context
  • Action
  • Movement
  • Human Figure
  • Ohad Meromi (Worker #1, 2013)
  • Winslow Homer (Deer stalking in the Adirondacks, 1871)
  • Hannah Hoch (Coquette, 1925)
  • Organizing content
    1. Grid Project, Parts 1 and 2
      Part 1: For this project, you will illustrate a theme from either your Earth Science or Social Studies class. You must combine images and text to provide a holistic view of your theme.
      Part 2: Make a b/w version of your project, with each image numbered.
    2. Key
      Write a key, so that a viewer will know what each image represents.
    • Alignment
    • Grid
    • Cropping


    • examples of magazine pages that are organized with a grid.
    Combining Images and Text
    1. Cookbook
      Create a single page or a spread for a multicultural cookbook.
    2. Food Revolution
      Class addresses an openIDEO challenge, coming up with a solution to a given problem, and then acting as the graphic designer on the team that will (theoretically) implement the solution.
    • Heirarchy
    • Proximity
    • Margins
    • Bleed
    • Alignment



    In addition to numerous searches on Google, Pinterest and Artsy, I regularly referenced the following books as I planned, modified, and adjusted this curriculum:

    Graphic Design The New Basics, by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips

    Graphic Design Thinking: Beyond Brainstorming, Ellen Lupton, editor