Chabot College, Spring 2012
Digital Media 31A, CRN 32462
Section 071 (Tuesday evening)
- Times: Tuesday evenings, 6:30 PM - 9:20 PM
- Dates: January 17 - May 22 (No class April 10: spring break)
- Classroom: 908
Instructor contact information
This course introduces you to Adobe Illustrator, a digital drawing application used to create illustrations, technical drawings, and page layouts. On the technical side, you'll learn how to create vector paths and bring them to life through the application of strokes and fills. On the creative side, you'll learn how to use gradients, blends, and effects to make your drawings more imaginative, attractive, and artistic.
File storage device
In order to store and transport the files you'll be creating in this course, you must buy a USB flash drive (sometimes known as a "stick drive" or "thumb drive"), and bring it with you to every class. You can buy these drives online, at the Chabot bookstore, or at nearly any computer store or office supply store.
The required textbook for this course is Adobe Illustrator CS5 on Demand by Steve Johnson and Perspection Inc., Que Publishing, ISBN-10: 0789744457, ISBN-13: 978-0789744456. This book is available either as a standard paperback or a less-expensive Kindle edition from Amazon: www.amazon.com/Adobe-Illustrator-CS5-Demand-ebook/dp/B003NE5Y2Y. (If you don't have a Kindle, you can read the Kindle edition on a computer or on an iPhone, iPod touch, and other device by means of a free downloadable app: www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/kcp, or you can read it in any web browser by going to the Kindle Cloud Reader at read.amazon.com.
Points will not be deducted from your score for unexcused absences. However, if you have an excessive number of unexcused absences, the instructor may drop you from the course. If the last of the unexcused absences occurs after the deadline for withdrawal (see "Last day to drop with W" under "Important dates" at the end of this syllabus), you will fail the course.
An absence may excused if it is for an unavoidable reason (such as illness or family emergency) and you notify the instructor of the reason before or immediately after the absence.
An "excessive number of unexcused absences" is defined as any of the following:
- Unexcused absences for two weeks in a row
- Failure to complete required lab hours for two weeks in a row
- Unexcused absences from six classes, failure to complete six weeks' required lab hours, or any combination of class absences and weeks of missed lab adding up to six.
The instructor is under no obligation to help you catch up on material that you missed due to an unexcused absence.
An attendance sheet will be passed around during each class period; please be sure to sign it. Failure to sign may result in an unexcused absence being charged against you.
You are not required to buy Illustrator software for this course. In order to complete your homework assignments, you're welcome to come to open lab hours and use the Illustrator software that's installed on Chabot's computers. (See "Lab hours," below.) However, if you own a computer, buying the software will give you the convenience of being able to work on your assignments at home. If you plan to use other Adobe applications besides Illustrator, consider buying a "bundle" such as Adobe CS5.5 Design Standard, which contains Illustrator and several other Adobe applications in one discounted package.
If you decide to buy the software, your status as a student entitles you to buy the educational version. The educational version of Adobe software is just the same as the commercial version, but it's much less expensive. You can get your software at the lowest possible prices from either of the following websites:
These two sites offer Adobe software at a lower price than you'll find anywhere else, exclusively for California community college students.
The software we'll be using in this course is Adobe Illustrator CS5.1, the most recent version of Illustrator. If you have a recent previous version of Illustrator (CS3 or later) on your home or office computer, it's okay to use that version for your homework assignments.
Illustrator is a cross-platform application; therefore, even if your home computer is a Windows PC, you can move files back and forth between your PC at home and the Macintosh computers used in the classroom.
As long as you're enrolled in this course, you're entitled to use Chabot's computers to do course-related work outside of class hours. The labs are available only to students who are currently enrolled in Digital Media or Music Recording and Technology classes, and only for work on course-related projects. The labs are staffed by volunteers, and open hours change frequently during the semester. For the current open lab schedule, go to http://www.chabotcollege.edu/faculty/mschaeffer/syllabi_s2012/labschedule.html
There will be no quizzes or exams in this course. Your entire grade will be based on your homework assignments. There will be a total of six assignments, in which you'll be asked to create different types of drawings in Illustrator. When you finish the course, these assignments will constitute a portfolio, a collection of work that demonstrates your ability.
Each assignment that you hand in may be projected on the screen as a teaching example or distributed to students as part of an in-class exercise, in your class or in other classes. If there's a particular assignment that you don't want to be used in this way, please say so in the documentation file that accompanies the assignment. (See "Documenting your work," below.)
There will be two kinds of requirements for each homework assignment: content and skills. The content requirements have to do with the purpose and style of your Illustrator drawings. The skills requirements have to do with specific features of Illustrator that you'll use in creating the drawings. The content and skill requirements will be explained by the instructor in class and given to you in writing (online). Be sure to fulfill all the requirements in order to get full credit for each assignment.
Documenting your work
Every homework assignment must be accompanied by a documentation file containing two types of information:
- List or describe the steps you followed in order to create your drawing. (You obviously don't have to include every little step, but you must include the major ones -- enough so that it's clear how every element in the drawing came to look the way it does.) This information is not just for the instructor's use; it's also for your use, so when you look at your Illustrator drawing sometime in the future, you'll know how you made it (and, more important, how you can make another one like it).
- If your assignment contains elements (such as photographs or other bitmap images) that were not created in Illustrator, or were created by someone other than you, you must list the source of each such element in your documentation. If it's your own photograph, say so; if it's an image you scanned from a book, give the title, author, and page number of the book; if it's an image you downloaded from a website, give the URL of the website. Think of this as a bibliography, similar to what you would include in a term paper.
Keep in mind that other people's work is their own property, and you don't have the right to incorporate it into your own work unless you have their permission. (In some cases, getting that permission may require paying a fee.) There are many websites and CD-ROMs that offer free photos and clip art for noncommercial use. You're free to use such clip-art in your assignments, as long as you list the sources in your documentation file, and explain why you have the right to use it. (For example, your documentation file might say "I downloaded Image X from www.freestockphotos.com, whose images are free for personal or educational use," or "I paid a licensing fee to www.gettyimages.com for the right to use Image X.") If your documentation file does not include this information, or if the information is inaccurate, your assignment may not be accepted.
If you wish, you can type your documentation directly into the Submission box when you submit your homework in Blackboard. Otherwise, you can submit the documentation as a separate file. A documentation file may be in plain text format (for example, a file created in SimpleText or Windows NotePad), or it may be a Microsoft Word document. Other word-processing formats are not acceptable. (It's fine to create your documentation file in a different word-processing program, so long as you save it as a text-only file, a Rich Text Format [RTF] file, or a Microsoft Word [DOC or DOCX] file.) You'll find a collection of sample documentation files in the Course Materials section of Blackboard, created in different styles and formats.
In the last week of the course, all students will have an opportunity to get up in front of the class and present their portfolio of completed images. Please be prepared to talk about each image -- what it represents, what your intentions were, and how you achieved them. The instructor may also ask you questions about some of your images. The quality of your presentation, including your ability to answer questions about your portfolio, will count toward your final grade.
Your grade for the course will be based on a 100-point scale. Depending on how many points you have at the end of the course, you'll receive a letter grade as follows:
- 89 points or higher: A
- 77 to 88 points: B
- 65 to 76 points: C
- 53 to 64 points: D
- 52 points or lower: F
Conduct that will lower your grade
- Lateness to class. Every late arrival to class, or early departure from class without the instructor's permission, will be regarded as half of an unexcused absence. (See the "Attendance" section, earlier in this syllabus, for policies regarding unexcused absences.)
- Late homework. For each day an assignment is late, one point will be subtracted from the score for that assignment. When necessary, you may be able to get an extension by asking the instructor in advance. No extensions will be granted retroactively.
- Absence during final presentations. Final presentations have the same importance as a final exam. Unexcused absence from class on presentation days -- whether or not it's a day when you are scheduled to present -- will result in your course grade being lowered by one letter grade.
- Plagiarism. Plagiarism means passing off someone else's work as your own. If you plagiarize all or part of an assignment, you'll receive no credit for the assignment. (Note that third-party images may be included in some assignments, as long as they are documented and you have the legal right to use them. See the section on "Documenting your work," earlier in this syllabus.)
Here's what we'll be covering each week. (This outline may change according to the needs of the class.)
- January 17: Introduction. About this class: attendance, homework, grading. Getting familiar with the Macintosh computer and its operating system.
- January 24: Illustrator Basics. Introduction to the concept of vector graphics and to the use of Illustrator. Tour of Illustrator's interface: tools, palettes, menus. Basic file management. (Textbook chapters 1, 2)
- January 31: The Pen Tool. Using the Pen tool to create paths consisting of straight lines and Bézier curves. (Textbook chapter 6)
- February 7: Creating Paths and Shapes. Using other path-creation tools, such as the Pencil, Eraser, and Paintbrush. Creating polygons with the various shape tools. (Textbook chapter 6)
- February 14: Editing Paths. Selecting, editing, and moving paths and points. Adding, deleting, and converting points. (Textbook chapter 3)
- February 21: Modifying and Combining Paths. Simplifying paths. Using the Pathfinder panel and the new Shape Builder tool to create and modify complex paths. (Textbook chapter 3)
- February 28: Patterns. Using pattern fills. Creating seamless patterns. Using distortion to simulate perspective. (Textbook chapter 5)
- March 6: Color. Enhancing paths with colored fills and strokes. Introduction to color spaces (notably RGB and CMYK) and color management. Choosing, specifying, and mixing colors. (Textbook chapters 5, 6)
- March 13: Gradients and Transparency. Creating and modifying gradients. Distinguishing between the Gradient panel and the Gradient tool. Applying transparency to objects. (Textbook chapters 5, 6)
- March 20: Blends. Using the Blend feature to mimic gradients, "morph" obects, and create special effects. (Textbook chapter 5)
- March 27: Text. Introduction to text and fonts. Formatting text, including character and paragraph attributes. Wrapping text around objects. (Textbook chapter 8)
- April 3: Structuring an Illustrator Drawing. Creating, deleting, ordering, and hiding layers. Applying effects to layers. Working with rulers, guides, and grids. (Textbook chapter 7)
- April 17: Brushes. Using Illustrator's five types of brushes (Art, Bristle, Calligraphic, Pattern, and Scatter). Creating new brushes from Illustrator artwork. (Textbook chapter 11)
- April 24: Symbols. Creating, modifying, and using symbols. Using the "symbolism tools" to achieve special effects with symbols. Using 9-slice scaling. (Textbook chapter 12)
- May 1: Adding Bitmaps. Distinguishing vector drawings from bitmaps. Importing, placing, and manipulating bitmap images. Understanding the special characteristics of bitmap files (such as resolution). (Textbook chapter 9)
- May 8: Vectorizing and Rasterizing. Using Live Trace and the Pen Tool to convert bitmapped images to vector objects. Using Illustrator's Rasterize feature to convert vector objects to bitmaps. Overview of bitmap file formats. (Textbook chapter 9)
- May 15: Wrapping Up. Review, questions, odds and ends. Presentation of students' portfolios.
- May 22: The End. Remainder of the portfolio presentations.
If you have questions or concerns about anything in this course, feel free to do any of the following:
- Talk to the instructor personally. For short conversations, I'm usually available immediately before or after class. If you want "quality time," come to my office during my regular office hours, or make an appointment to see me at some other time that's convenient to both of us.
- Email the instructor. I usually answer emails within 24 hours, and often much sooner than that. (Emailing is a much better way to reach me than phoning. I rarely check my phone messages at night or on weekends, but I always check my email.)
- Post questions or comments in a discussion forum on Blackboard. This is a great resource for getting help, advice, responses, and suggestions from your fellow students. I may occasionally post responses to questions in the discussion forum, but I won't respond to all of them. If you need an answer directly from me, email is a better option.
- Last day to add or drop with NGR in person: February 3
- Last day to add or drop with NGR online: February 5
- Last day to opt for Pass/No Pass: February 16
- Last day to drop with W: April 6
If you wish to drop the course, it is your responsibility to submit a withdrawal to the Admissions and Records Office. If you stop attending class, the instructor may choose to drop you from the roster, but you should not rely on the instructor to do so.
If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability or illness, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please let the instructor know as soon as possible.
Standards of behavior
All standard College policies (including, but not limited to, those pertaining to classroom behavior, attendance, plagiarism, discipline, and homework) will apply to this course.