This is purely the notes of Fundamentals of Graphic Design provided by Coursera.

N.B. All the images below are screenshots from the course videos.

Updates ongoing…

I. Fundamentals of Imagemaking

  • Image
  • Type
  • Shape & Color
  • Composition


It is what it is!

Imagemaking techniques

  • Techniques
    • shape
    • color
    • volume
    • texture
    • weight
  • Process, Generation, Iteration


Not what it is!

An idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal meaning.

II. Fundamentals of Typography

How we communicate with words.

The Lexicon of Letters

The anatomy of letters:


A lot of typographic terms are based on the human body: Terms

Words and Spacing

Alignment: Words alignment

Spacing: Words spacing

Type Size: The Point System

POINT SIZE - the measurement system for type.

72 points = 1 inch => 1 inch = 1/72 point

Point size

Basic standard type size: Basic standard type size

Typesetting Text - Leading (行距)

Height btw baselines Leading

How to Choose a Typeface

Typefaces, Fonts and Type Families

Font vs. Typeface: font typeface

Serif vs. Sans Serif: serif

Typeface Categories

Serif: typeface_category_serif

Sans Serif: typeface_category_sans_serif

Weight & Width: weight_and_width

How to “Read” Typography

Denotation vs. Connotation in TYpe


How to Use a Typeface

Letterforms (字体)

Experimenting with Leterforms

Typographic Composition

III. Fundamentals of Shape and Color


  • Simple & Complex Forms
  • Negative & Position Space
  • Figure/Ground Relationships
  • Attributes of Color
  • Complimentary vs. Contrasting
  • Print vs. Screen
  • Repetition, Rhythm, Pattern

Graphic Shapes

Graphic shapes are used to make marks, icons, symbols.

Visual Contrast

  • simple geometry shapes vs. non-geometrical shapes with contrast
  • small vs. large
  • vertical vs. horizontal
  • narrow vs. broad/wide
  • (depth) shallow vs. deep
  • moving vs. static
  • (tone) light vs. dark
  • soft vs. hard
  • (weight) light vs. heavy
  • line vs. volume

Marks, Icons, and Symbols

Marks = graphic shapes = normally no connotation => denotative form


  • pictorial
  • represents actual things
  • easy to read


  • non-pictorial
  • represents ideas/products
  • learned/coded

Negative/Positive, Figure/Ground

An object on a background relationship that results in different perceptions.

Figure/Ground relationship examples:

  • black shape on white background is brighter than white shape on black background
  • different figures with different depth produce the different distance on same ground
  • figures in same size but different tones produce different depth (darker denser shapes are closer than those lighter fuzzier ones)

Working with Color

The Color Wheel

Mixing Color: Paint, Print and Screen

Rhythm and Pattern

IV. Fundamentals of Composition

All About Contrast

Visual Contrasts

Single Contrasts

Multiple Contrasts

Type Contrasts

Image Contrasts

Working with Images

Composition in a Single Image

Cropping and Hierarchy

Putting It All Together

Composition in Context