Working with Graphics

Working with Graphics

Welcome to the online companion to the Working With Graphics session of the Spring 2018 EdMedia Program! Here, you’ll find an outline of the work we will be doing in class.

Icons: homework from last session

Bring in an example of an icon you use in your practice to share with the group.

It doesn’t matter where you get the example; it can digital, from a textbook, dowloaded from, or one that you have drawn yourself.

Why are graphics and graphic design important in learning and teaching?

Every time we make a choice in the font we use, the colours of our text and background, or place images into a file, we are doing graphic design. We are communicating information and ideas, and the use of appropriate visual language will make this communication more effective.

Graphic design is about communication.

For a great explanation of the importance of visual communication, please see the first chapter of the SFU TLC ‘s Graphic Design Handbook.

Activity: Good and bad examples of graphic design

Please pick one good example and one bad example of graphic design from the images on the table.

Share your picks and discuss why you think it’s good/bad.

Some simple principles for designing your graphics

  • Hierarchy – all visuals have a hierarchy of information- what do you want your audience to notice first?
  • Alignment – align all objects to an imaginary grid
  • Consistency – keep your visual language consistent throughout your design
  • Less is More – keep it simple and don’t overload your design
  • Type – use two typefaces, maybe three at most in one design
  • Colour – use black and white and maybe one or two highlight colours

If you follow these principles, you will have a great design! The rules can be broken, of course, but that is for the more experienced graphic designer.

For more details on these principles, view the presentation (PowerPoint file):  Working with Graphics

Try it yourself: design a movie poster

CC BY-SA 4.0view terms
File:All in Time poster.jpg
Created: 27 September 2016
CC BY-SA 4.0view terms
File:The Unearthing Poster – The SonnyFive.jpg
Created: 1 September 2


  1. Take a look at movie posters by doing a Google Image search. Notice how they follow the principles of design outlined above. If you search for movie
    posters + a genre like sci fi or romance, you’ll see how they follow pretty similar rules for design.
  2. Choose a genre. For our activity, we will use our transmedia story as the basis for the poster. Duane will lead a discussion and as a group, we will decide what the genre will be.
  3. Get into groups and sketch out your own poster. Sketching out a design is the first and perhaps most crucial step to good design. Most designers will start by sketching out a thumbnail on paper. This allows you to see the big picture without getting bogged down in details or technical difficulties that come with software use.
  4.  Move into Powerpoint. Powerpoint is a standard software used in the creation of research posters, so it’s a good tool to know. Here is a basic PowerPoint template and some jpeg images(.zip) to start your poster off: Graphic Session Files.
  5. Once you’ve finished your poster, upload it to this site!

Technical Tips

Image File Types

There are numerous image file types out there so it can be hard to know which file type best suits your image needs. For our purposes, we only need to know a few basics.

TIFF = large files, great for printing
JPG =  for web graphics with the  advantage that you can choose the level of compression you want
PNG = for web, if you want to include transparency (see-through) element in the graphic
GIF = typically small, and can be animated

When working in Powerpoint or Photoshop, you will likely use jpegs.

Of course, there is much more to this topic. For a great read, try 99Design’s article on the subject.

Adjusting and Cropping Your Images

Tip: Did you know in Powerpoint, you can crop and adjust your photos?