MAT-110 (full term course)

MAT-110, Digital Imaging I : Photoshop

The Basics

Meeting Times and Place

  • Online
  • Start times are TBA for Summer and Late-Start Classes (Summer students: see the MAT-110 Summer Syllabus, 8-week late start students: see MAT-110 8-Week Syllabus)
  • Class Meetings: Online only
  • Office Hours: Online only (by appointment via Elluminate Live)

IMPORTANT Class Deadlines!

The following dates apply to this LATE-START CLASS deadline schedule! These are not necessarily for other courses you are taking!

  • 2/15/12, Wednesday : Last day to drop without W and to receive a full refund
  • 3/7/12, Wednesday : Last day to switch to Pass/No-Pass grading status
  • 4/27/12, Friday : Last day to drop the class and still receive a “W” on transcript

NOTE: the instructor of this class WILL NOT agree to a late appeal for a grade change, removal of a W, or to help get a refund if the student fails to abide by the above deadlines. You have been warned.


Leigh Cotnoir,



Course Description

Students will learn practices and principles of digital imaging, illustration, and photographic manipulation using Adobe Photoshop. Students will also gain hands-on experience with the tools and techniques used by artists and designers to create effective and sophisticated digital imagery for print and web publication. The course covers photo editing and color correction tools, working with layers, selection and masking tools, blending modes, filters, and much more to enhance digital images and to create special effects. Projects include raster graphic designs for use in print publishing, website design, and multimedia.

Course Objectives

The detailed course objectives for Digital Imaging I : Photoshop are as follows:

  • Use Adobe Photoshop’s digital imaging tools and techniques for image editing and transformation, tonal and color correction, and special effects.
  • Apply photo repair and color adjustment techniques to generate realistic and stylized image representations.
  • Utilize digital imaging tools to make selections, create gradients, work with layers, manipulate brushes and paint, utilize masks and channels, and incorporate vector drawing techniques.
  • Integrate multiple digital images into a complex form through layer masking, clipping groups, adjustment layers, and filters.
  • Distinguish between raster images and vector graphics and use each approximately within a composite image.
  • Apply fundamental layout and design principles to original digital image work.
  • Apply appropriate color palettes and color spaces to a variety of digital outputs.
  • Assess typographic elements for visual impact and effective communication.
  • Create a cohesive art piece that conveys a distinct message using an assortment of digital images.
  • Construct a professional statement that interprets a digital image’s message and explains the technical devices used in its creation.
  • Analyze and critique selected images for message, quality of design, and proper use of type, color, and composition.
  • Discuss copyright infringement, legal aspects of ownership, and ethical considerations of image manipulation.
  • Analyze and assess personal and royaly-free image resources and evaluate appropriateness for web distribution and/or print production.
  • Use appropriate terminology to describe the relationship between digital imaging software and different hardware input and output devices.
  • Experiment with file formats, image resolution, and exporting options to generate a successful design for either print or web output.

Student Learning Outcomes

The MiraCosta faculty believe that students who complete one or more certificates or degrees are systematic, critical, creative thinkers and clear communicators who are intellectually curious, technically proficient, professional, and aesthetically literate. To that end, the faculty have identified six Student Learning Outcomes (SLO’s) that apply directly to the high-level skills you are expected to possess for the professional workforce:

  • Technical Skills
  • Application of Discipline Skills
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Professional Behavior
  • Aesthetic Literacy and Appreciation

Specifically, when you have completed this course, you should be able to:

  • Use digital imaging tools and techniques for image editing, tonal and color correction, and special effects.
  • Assemble multiple images into composite digital representations that incorporate color and design principles to achieve a sense of style, dimension and depth.
  • Plan, prepare, and design digital imagery that incorporates message in conjunction with artistic and technical elements of professional quality.

Need Technical Help or Advice?
While I will do my best to help students out in all areas, I will not be acting as technician during this course. Your system is your responsibility. I cannot troubleshoot your system problems.

Students With Disabilities

If you have specific physical, psychological or learning disabilities and require accommodations, please let me know early in the semester so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You will also need to provide documentation of your disability to Disabled Students Programs & Services at 760-795-6658.

Course Requirements

Required Textbooks

Adobe Photoshop CS6 : Classroom In a Book

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Adobe Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321827333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321827333

If you have a different version of Photoshop and want to buy the corresponding Classroom In a Book edition, that is fine. Just be aware that some of the page numbers might slightly vary, and some lessons might be a bit different. No lessons from the book will be graded. They are required only to advance to sufficient proficiency to move into the assignments.

Software and Computer

Because this is an online course, students are expected to have access to a computer that meets the minimum requirements of Miracosta’s browser-ready guidelines. Furthermore, it is the instructor’s recommendation that students also have decent speakers or a headset to listen to video lectures and tutorials, as well as access to high-speed internet (cable, DSL, or better connection). Students on dial-up modems might experience some problems getting the content delivered in a timely or useful manner.

For the instructor’s recommendations, please download this Photoshop Requirements and Purchasing Guide document.

Software that you need is as follows:

  • Photoshop CC 2014 or higher
    • Lower versions of Photoshop are not acceptable due to some advanced functionality within the application.
    • Photoshop Elements NOT OKAY!
  • Browsers (only one required for use with Blackboard)

Where To Buy Software

Go straight to the source for this software:

The ‘Photography’ package will suffice for this course, but if you are enrolled in other design classes using other Adobe products, be sure to see if it makes more sense to get a larger plan. You can always start a free 30-day trial and commit to a plan in a month.

Completion of Work

You are required to check into the class each Monday to see what you are responsible for doing each week. You will look in the Blackboard “Weekly Schedule!” link to find the current week’s folder. Weekly folders will be made available at the start of each week. You should also make note of important due dates under the Blackboard “Due Dates” link.

You will be expected to complete ALL assignments. Incomplete assignments will be evaluated as-is when turned in. Late work can only be turned in up to one full week late after the original due date (with a grade reduction). As the course progresses, students can expect to spend, at a minimum, approximately 6-8 hours a week working on this course’s content to be successful.

Discussion Boards

You will be expected to participate in Discussion Boards almost every week, and sometimes more than once a week. In a normal classroom environment student-to-student interaction is just as important as student-to-teacher interaction; this is also true in an online learning environment. Because students will not be participating in any group projects for this course, the Discussion Boards are intended to encourage students to communicate with and help one another—just as they would in an on-ground classroom. Discussion boards will show up in your “Weekly Schedule!” folder as they are progressively assigned.

With the understanding that our class weeks will be Mondays 12a.m. – Sundays 11:55pm, you will make weekly posts according to the instructions in each individual discussion forum. Be aware that each forum has different requirements and due dates, so follow instructions to receive credit. You will NOT receive “late” credit for discussion boards, as they are specifically to engage you at that point in the course, as if you were in class. There is a technical help forum, however, to which you will contribute throughout the semester, which has a much longer-range due date. You may contribute as many posts as you want, as long as you meet these minimum requirements for credit. This participation will help the class stay lively, allow students to play active roles in helping other classmates, and foster a better understanding the course material. These forums are intended to serve several discussion roles:

  • Act as technical help boards for peer-to-peer help
  • Act as a place for students to share observations about web design techniques, methods, and trends
  • Serve as a place for students to share course-relevant design news and links
  • Serve as a place for students to share their own web work links and get constructive feedback / critiques
  • Discover that other people are experiencing similar problems, and find similar resolutions
  • Share observations about problems in scripts, misprints in the book, etc.

Lastly, some common sense rules apply to these forums: always be constructive in your criticism; always be respectful and courteous, and use good judgement so as not to post offensive material.

Critiques (For Credit)

It is imperative that each student contributes to each critique. A dialogue of constructive criticism is what helps artists and designers find weaknesses and strengths in their work. These sessions are important tools in refining your own self-critiquing and design processes. We will have online critique assignments for each project, either through discussion boards or Elluminate Live. Critiques will be assigned during the semester.

Drawings, Artwork, Comps

With each project, you will be required to create either hand sketches or computer drawings of layout design ideas before embarking on the full-scale project.  All materials turned into the instructor must be in digital format.

Grading Policy

You may only turn in a project late up to one full week after the original due/critique date. Any work later than one week overdue will automatically receive an “F” without an excuse from a doctor, court, or police report. If you know you will be unable to complete work on time, please discuss it with the instructor in advance! Please note that your grade will automatically drop by 10 points for late work. This means that if work is up to a week late, your highest possible grade begins at a 90.

The final project is the exception! ******NO LATE WORK ACCEPTED FOR THE FINAL.******

Class Participation

This is an online course, so class participation is monitored in a variety of ways. While there is not a specific “Participation” evaluation value in your final grade, your level of participation will often help determine borderline grades, flexibility in missed work, etc. Participation is monitored through the following outlets:

  • meeting progressive deadlines for samples, preliminary drafts, etc.
  • doing required work in class during each class
  • participation in discussion boards
  • evaluations of critiquing skills

FALL/SPRING Grading Breakdown:

  • Exercise-1 :: 20%
  • Exercise-2 :: 20%
  • Project 1 :: 25%
  • Project 2 :: 25%
  • Discussion Boards / Critiques :: 10%
  • Each project will also take participation into account for borderline grades.

Letter Grade Assignments

Letter Value Numerical Value
A 90-100
B 80-89
C 70-79
D 60-69
F 0-59


Completed projects will be graded on the following criteria (OVERVIEW):

  1. Instructions (did you follow technical instructions for the assignment?)
  2. Craftsmanship (is the finished piece and presentation clean and well-crafted?)
  3. Overall Composition and Creativity (did you understand and successfully execute the problems presented?)

For detailed grading criteria, you will need to refer to each project outline page.

Grading Definitions

  • A = Outstanding achievement: available only for the highest accomplishment
  • B = Praiseworthy performance: definitely above average
  • C = Average: award for satisfactory performance, most common undergraduate grade.
  • D = Minimally passing: less than the typical achievement.
  • F = Failing.

**No incomplete grades will be given without EXTENUATING circumstances.

Digital Art, Design, and Communication Education