All Of the projects done for this course can be put in a sketch book. This web site constitute the text for this course. The artwork you make will be the illustrations for your personal version of a text book for this course. It will be called the Design Book.

The objectives of the Design Book are to:

Organize all the information from the class.

Display your individual art works in an appropriate setting.

Be a model for a long term, complex design problem.



If you know that you like to work large, get a bigger book --14 inches by 17 inches is the next size.

Drawing pads have better paper but usually only 30 pages -- not enough.



A sketch book that is 11 inches by 14 inches or larger is required. That size allows for a variety of different sized projects. Occasional large pieces, if desired, can be accommodated with fold outs. The book should have a spiral binding. That allows the book to be opened flat while you work in it and to fold the pages completely back to display only one page at a time.

The book should have 80 to 100 pages, There are not nearly that many projects, but it is better to have too many pages than too few. Mistakes are occasionally made and some projects may require several pages. You are also more likely to experiment with more pages. Most sketch books have that many pages.

The Design Book should be used for this course only -- so get a new one. There will be pages left for other purposes after the class is over. Keep the Design Book in good condition since appearance counts heavily in art.


There will be plenty of time to explore your own interests after learning the fundamentrals.



It is difficult to catch up -- try to keep up.




Read "if you make a mistake"

There are lots of projects in this course but none are particularly difficult or complex. Each is designed to teach a specific design concept. Think of the projects as text book illustrations for the course. If you understand and apply the information in each lesson you should be able to make a satisfactory composition. The projects are opportunities for you to express yourself but you must also demonstrate your knowledge of the topics covered. This will show that you understand and can use the information you have been given. That may mean watering down a dynamite idea to make it fit, but it will insure that you thoroughly grasp the essentials of the assignment.

The topics covered follow a logical sequence, each building on the one before. Each will introduce a new idea (or two) that must be explored and illustrated by the image you put in the book. All of the previous concepts need to be considered each time, so it is important that you understand each as well as possible before going on to the next.

The projects have very specific guide lines that may seem restrictive at first. These limits are meant to direct you to learning the desired concepts and skills in the most efficient way. Once you get used to this style of working (a lot like in the real world) you will find that you will have to impose your own restrictions in order to solve the assigned problems in the short time given.

Nothing should be on the back of a page with a project on it. This is so you can more easily edit your book should it become necessary.

Remember: designing is planning. Plan ahead how your book will be organized.



There is space in the Design Book for notes.


These pages are essential parts of most books.



All of the projects should be in correct order in the Design Book. The projects are the only things that need to be in your book, but it is possible, even desirable, to put other class related activities in the book. If you take notes in the book, they should also be in the proper sequence. Since the notes affect the appearance of the book, they should be as attractive as possible.

Your preliminary planning sketches may also be left in the book. The thumbnail sketches and roughs for the Sun Symbol project must be in the book. After that you may continue to leave all of your work in the book, or edit it as you please. You might enjoy looking back on your developing ideas with your grand children some day.
If you make a second version of a project it might be informative to leave the first in the book for comparison. You can always take pages out of the book later.

The first three pages should be left blank at first. They will be used later for a title page and perhaps a frontispiece and/or an table of contents. Only the title page is required, but it is difficult to add pages after the fact if you get ambitious later. This is your personal book and can be arranged and decorated as you choose as long as it meets the requirements of the class.


A consistent system of labeling will be one of your first design decisions.



All of the projectsshould be labeled (as illustrations would be in any book). The labels need to be placed in the same relationship to the projects and/or the pages throughout the book. If you put a project in the book sideways, be sure to have the label face the same direction as the artwork. Look at other books and decide how you want your book to look.

All labels should be the same type face, or if not, should have some relationship to the project. Labels should not compete with the artwork for attention. Keep them small and unobtrusive.

Be precise when placing: labels. Measure and lightly mark guide lines to insure the labels are properly aligned. Remember to erase the guide lines (and any other marks that should not be part of finished book).


Student example #1

Student example #2

Student example #3


All books start with a page that lists important information about the book. It helps identify whose book it is and might help someone return the book if it is misplaced. The information that should be included is: the artist (that is you) and the title (in this case the course name -- Design and Composition).

Print your name (by hand or computer) or use your signature. Sign your name several times large and in ink then choose the best (and most legible) to collage with the other information onto your title page. Arrange the information so that it is easy to read, balanced and attractive.

Decorate the page if you wish but remember what is most important and display it accordingly.


It is possible to add additional pages to your book at any time. The spiral can be unwound and replaced after adjusting the pages, but this is difficult to do.

Replacing a page is the easiest. Cut the page to be removed leaving 1/2 inch of it beyond the spiral. Cut the spiral's holes off of a new page and carefully glue it onto the piece of the original page you left. Carefully align the edges of the new page.

Adding a page is also possible by gluing. Cut the spiral's holes off of the new page and carefully glue or tape a narrow strip of it onto an existing page near the spiral. It is helpful to crease the new page before gluing and adjusting the angle while the glue is wet. Be careful not to glue the book shut. The new page will not open as wide, but it will be in the correct place.

It makes sense to wait until you learn a few things about design before you make the cover, the most public part of the book.

Student example #1

Student example #2

Student example #3


This is your personal textbook. You should decorate the cover. You may do so in any style or technique as long as it does not take away from the usefulness of the book. Try to show how much you know about design and at the same time make an image that satisfies your creative instincts.

Collage will give you the chance to make a sophisticated image using photographs and can be used with drawing and/or painting to make a more complex image. Glue carefully since the cover is subject to more abuse than the work inside.

If you have some painting experience, or just want to see what you can do, try painting the cover. First paint it one color (white) to cover the printing. The paint may cause the cover to warp, but it can be straightened. The paint will help protect the cover (acrylic paint is tough).


© 2006 James T. Saw
Do not copy or reuse these materials without permission.