ART 125A
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Office: V126
Mailbox: V17
Phone: (415) 452-5354

Office hours:
Ocean campus, V126
Tuesday 6-6:45 PM
Thursday 11:30-12 Noon
Fort Mason campus, 203 Saturday 12:20-1:05 PM

figure_ground study in Basic Design
abstract study
(Student projects produced in collage and mixed media)

This page provides quick general information regarding the course for all students.
This is NOT the interactive course site for the online class!
The interactive course site is on the Moodle/Insight server and accessible with a student password issued upon enrollment.

Art 125A: Basic Design is a An introduction to the basic components of two-dimensional design: subject, form, content, with a focus on their dynamic interrelation. Through observation, analysis, discussion of traditional and contemporary approaches in fine and commercial arts, students learn to apply the elements and principles of visual organization to creative projects using various media.

The partially online section of this course (831) that I teach is presented half online and half in the classroom with mandatory Saturday morning meetings for three hours at our Fort Mason Art Campus. (The regular sections meets more frequently, twice during the week for a total of six hours.) Students are expected to follow the instructional presentations in class (face-to-face and online) and create their own 2-D designs on related topics.

Art 125A at CCSF has been approved by the current C-ID system for California Community Colleges, and will articulate to four-year universities that have approved articulation with the same C-ID designation. Credits transfer to UC/CSU. In addition, Art 125A is approved for CSU GE Area C1 and meets the requirements for Art and related majors at many CSUs as well as UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara. (For up-to-date information about student transfer in California, you can visit ASSIST at

Prerequisite(s): There are no prerequisites for this course. It is recommended that Basic Design: Art 125A be taken concurrently with Basic Drawing: Art 130A.

My Current Teaching Schedule for Art 125A: Basic Design

Spring 2015
Section: Meeting Days/Times Location
1. Regular section: 005 - CRN 30014 Tuesday & Thursday, 12:10-3 PM A103 - Ocean campus

2. Hybrid-online section: 831 - CRN 33169 (Half online, half in the classroom)

Saturday 9:30 AM-12:20 PM One face-to-face meeting a week in the classroom, the rest of the instruction is conducted online.)

Rm 203 - Fort Mason campus, Bldg. B for once weekly Saturday meetings.

Students should try to add the class as early as possible online, but if they are not able to, they are recommended to come to the classroom on the first day and add in person.

During the spring 2015 semester, the partially online (hybrid) section (831) with Saturday face-to-face meetings, has its first meeting on Saturday, January 17, from 9:30 AM to 12:20 PM Room 203, Building B at the Fort Mason Campus. January 17 is both the orientation and the first class meeting. The hybrid section runs through Saturday, May 16 (which is also the final exam date for that section).

In spring 2015, the regular section (005), with Tuesday and Thursday afternoon meetings has its first meeting on Tuesday, January 13, in A103 on the Ocean campus, from 12:10-3 PM

Access to the online course site requires registration and a password (issued upon official enrollment in that section). In the hybrid-online section (half online, half in the classroom), Saturday meetings are mandatory.) Our orientation for the hybrid-online section of Basic Design always takes place on the first Saturday of classes, from 9:30 AM-12:20 PM at City College's Art Campus, Fort Mason, Building B. In Spring 2015 semester, our orientation is on January 17, 2015. That is also a great day to add the class in person for students who cannot add the class online. (However, for all our classes, we strongly recommend that you register and add as early as possible!)

(Classrooms are wheelchair accessible.)

  Students in the regular section need not come to first class with any art materials, but bring a pen and paper to take notes. However, students in the online (Saturday/hybrid) section are recommended to also bring some found objects from the environment with which they can make marks by dipping them in tempera paint provided by the instructor. (Twigs, branches, leaves, piece of yarn or rope, feathers, old erasers, toothbrushes, sponges, Q-tips all work great for this purpose.) And they are recommended to wear comfortable clothes in which they can paint, without the worry of an accidental splatter. In the Saturday/hybrid-online section, we start with a group mark-making/painting project on the very first day. (Non-toxic, washable tempera paint, paint containers and paper will be provided by the instructor.) Students who are enrolled in the class will be expected to purchase the textbook by the second, or the latest, by the third week of class. This should allow for time to order online for those of you who prefer to do so. (Used copies or earlier editions are welcome and provide great savings for the students. See below.)


Art Fundamentals

ART FUNDAMENTALS, Theory & Practice, 12th edition
eText: ISBN-10 0-07-760428-8, ISBN-13 978-0-07-760428-8
Print: ISBN-10 0-07-337927-1, ISBN-13 978-0-07-337927-2
Author(s): Ocvirk, Otto; Stinson, Robert; Wigg, Philip; Bone, Robert; Cayton, David
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Higher Education
Copyright year: © 2013 Pages: 336
Publisher's Retail Price:$146.67 (But my students rarely purchase at the retail price. :)
CCSF Bookstore's Price: Check here for prices of the new and used copies at our college store.
(Most students are able to acquire the book at very discounted prices. Even for the most recent 12th edition, Direct Textbook has copies starting under $30 and Amazon has copies a little over $30. Course Smart lists a digital rental at $52.80. Students are advised to also look into purchasing the 11th, 10th or even the 9th editions of this book, with the instructor's blessing for a huge savings! Some students have been able to purchase a fine copy for around $7-10, but mostly you can get a decent used copy of the 12th or an earlier edition around $20 very easily. The 9th and 10th editions came with an Art Fundamentals Core Concepts CD-ROM, which was packaged free with every copy of the text, which may or may not be included in a used copy. However, now all students can have access to an expanded supplemental website by McGraw Hill in lieu of the former CD. The McGraw Hill site is an optional supplement to our class as we have our own course site, which will provide you with a great deal of information.

Available at City College Bookstore Downtown San Francisco, 84 Fourth Street @ Mission, Tel: (415) 267-6585, as well as the main campus bookstore on Phelan Avenue. (There will be additional reading materials which will be provided through web links.)


Examples of student works created in Art 125A: Basic Design


student work, Basic Design

Line study (exploration of line types, line character and measure)

student color wheel example, Art 125A

A student interpretation of the basic color wheel, displaying hue mixtures from the three primaries, their tints, tones, shades, and mixtures with their complements.

student work, Basic Design

Abstract composition, study in asymetrical balance

student work, Basic Design

Optical illusion / systematic gradation

student work Basic Design

A mixed-media collage study exploring depth

student work, Basic Design

Line study (exploration of line types, line character and measure)



  • Upon completion of this course a student will be able to:
    1. Distinguish, explore, employ and organize design elements (line, shape, value, texture, color) to create unified space in two-dimensional compositions.
    2. Formulate own ideas, in response to assignments given, through research, visual references and rough sketches, to create finished 2D artworks that integrate elements of design with principles of visual organization.
    3. Apply technical skills using a variety of basic art materials and processes (pencils, markers, ink, collage, paints, and current technologies as relevant) to create 2D artworks in response to projects assigned in the course.
    4. Analyze, compare and contrast the visual dynamics in various 2D works with respect to process, purpose, subject, form, content, and context.
    5. Identify, appraise, and articulate, using language with correct art vocabulary, the visual dynamics found in own work and in the works of peers in critiques, and in examples of artworks provided in classroom learning activities.
    6. Evaluate and improve own creative work in response to feedback provided by the instructor and by peers in critiques.
    7. Acquire overall visual literacy and art historical awareness through the introduction of a broad range of traditional and contemporary approaches in fine and commercial arts.
    8. Synthesize the visual mechanics of 2D space in preparation for more advanced coursework in the field of art.
    9. Demonstrate the ability to engage in cognitive processes essential to critical thinking— a skill beneficial in all disciplines— through constant analysis of the interrelations between a whole and its parts that lead to the construction of well-designed and sound structures.
    • Online
      1. Presentation of each week's overview and task list
      2. Assigned readings of content pages on the web
      3. Slide shows of related artworks and previous student projects
      4. Project descriptions
      5. Links to related websites (including museums and galleries)
      6. Listing of reading assignments from the textbook
      7. Reminders on due dates
      8. Participation in online discussion topics
      9. E-mail correspondence among students and instructor
    • Face to Face
        Onliners meet every Saturday, and the regular section (TR) students meet on Tuesday and Thursday in class to:
      1. Discuss weekly content in person
      2. Critique design projects
      3. Work one-on-one on design problems
    • Tests
        (Both the regular and the online section will have mid-term quizzes, and at least one other quiz in the following order.)
      1. A short introductory quiz to learn to use the test tool online.
      2. Online Mid-Term Quiz
    • Field Trip
        One or more field trips will be scheduled based on art exhibitions in the area.
    • Grading
      1. Grading of projects
      2. Portfolio of work done in class due at mid term and for final
      3. Grading of quizzes
      4. Grading of final exam project (weighs as two regular projects)
      5. Grading of overall class participation (including participation in the online discussion forum, group critiques in face to face meetings, effort evidenced by the quality of design projects, keeping up with readings)
    • Grading Details
    • Mid-term and final grading is calculated per the following:
      1. Your overall participation in the class = Regular and punctual attendance, participation in discussions and critiques, keeping up with the assigned readings, completion of assignments by their due dates (1x at mid-term; another 1x at finals=2x in weight in calculation of total grade)
      2. The average of your project grades (1x each, with the exception of the first spontaneous group project, which counts as 0.5x), mid-term exam grade (1.5x), and the final project grade (2x).
      3. Cumulative growth, conceptually and technically. (Taken into account in evaluating project and participation grades.)
    • Individual projects will be graded per the following criteria:
      1. Demonstrated understanding of the visual problems studied. (60% of the grade)
      2. The amount of exploration, creative energy, thought, skill, craftsmanship and the overall effort you put into the assignments. (20% of the grade)
      3. The quality of the overall presentation of your work (the degree of completion and appropriate craftsmanship put into finishing). (20% of the grade)

      Please note that in grading, students are graded individually for their own progress and are never compared to one another! One of the most cherished aspects of our college is that it attracts a very diverse student body. Students come from all different backgrounds and have varying degrees of preparation. Some are true beginners with no prior art experience but are interested in exploring art; some have degree goals in other subject areas, but take Basic Design as a general education elective; some are professionals, with a great deal of experience, already employed in the field, but need the class to update their skills; some are returning students exploring their educational interests; some students have the goal of preparing a strong portfolio for transfer.. The class is designed to cover the basics for everyone, but directs all to aspire to great heights. All learn from one another's experience. Our classroom environment is designed for learning by participating. Students who attend regularly, follow the lectures and readings and complete the required tasks tend to do very well!

    Two weeks of consecutive absences without an excuse may result in a withdrawal from the class or a lower letter grade. (Two counts of tardiness equal one absence. See Attendance & Requirements on the detailed course syllabus for more information.)

    Materials: (Please note that Blick Art Store in San Francisco will have kits for both of my sections at a near 50% discount. You may want to look into what materials you already have and compare the prices of materials in the kit to decide whether buying the kit is a good option for you. However, if buying the kit from Blick, be sure to specify that you are getting it for Art 125A: Basic Design, as Blick also carries the kit for my other class, Art 126: Color, and that is more expensive than the kit for Basic Design due to the additional materials involved.)
    • A small notebook or a sketchbook for taking notes
    • Pencils (2B, 4B, 6B, 8B...)
    • A pencil sharpener
    • A plastic or white rubber eraser (no pink erasers!)
    • (OPTIONAL) Two or more permanent felt-tip pens/black markers (one fine point, one Sharpie, one flat marker)
    • Acrylic or gouache paints in tubes. If buying acrylics, prefer Golden Acrylics, in the following fluid colors:
      1. Primary Magenta
      2. Primary Yellow
      3. Primary Cyan
      4. Mars or Carbon Black
      5. Titanium White
    • If buying gouache, prefer Winsor & Newton in the following colors:
      1. Primary Red
      2. Primary Yellow
      3. Primary Blue
      4. Ivory or Lamp Black
      5. Permanent or Titanium White
      (If you already have a gouache set, you may not need to make a purchase, but please check with me. There is also a much more economical brand than Winsor & Newton: Savoir Faire, but is of lower quality.)
    • Plastic paint containers with lids or plastic film canisters with tight lids (not a must, but will come handy for saving paints)
    • A couple of jars for water
    • 2 to 3 synthetic brushes
      (For gouache paints I recommend Cosmos or Winsor & Newton, synthetic watercolor or a set of designer brushes) #8 or #10 round, and #1 or #2 round (for finer touches). You may also purchase a flat 1/2inch brush. For acrylics, you can use a similar set of synthetic designer brushes that give you a variety, or you may choose from synthetic acrylic paint brushes. We want a fine and a medium round brush with a good point and a medium flat. For fine, that will be #1 or #2, the medium will be around #8-#10. You may also want to wait until we discuss materials in class to see if the basic sets I have ordered in the kites are of interest to you.)
    • A spatula (prefer a flexible tip and a smaller point for mixing paints)
    • For gouache users: A watercolor/gouache palette with wells and some extra room for mixing colors
    • For acrylic painters: Either a palette designed for use by acrylic paints (paper palettes are O.K.), or an enamel butcher tray, or ceramic or glass plates, or freezer paper that you can tape on the table to use as a mixing area.
    • A glue paste stick (paste!)
    • Scissors, and an X-acto knife or a small utility knife
    • A ruler (24") or a clear square
    • A compass
    • A roll of masking tape
    • A few push pins
    • A Strathmore Bristol Board pad, 14x17 inches (vellum); or a Canson Vellum pad 14x17 inches. (Wait on this item! I will give all students a free Bristol pad upon enrollment during the 3rd week of the semester.)
      (If you find any of the above paper types in a pad that is on sale, feel free to get it regardless of brand name as long as the paper type matches. In that case, 14x17 inches or bigger will work.)
    • A portfolio to store your work (which you can buy or make)
    • A tool box for your supplies
    • OPTIONAL: Tracing paper
    • Additional supplies such as colored paper sheets for collage will be announced as needed.
    • OPTIONAL: Removable artist tape (3M, Artist Pro, Magic, Scotch, etc.
    • OPTIONAL: A basic student color wheel for reference when mixing colors.

    Click here to view a list of art stores.


    Attendance is mandatory for all sections, but the number of meetings in a physical classroom vary for regular and hybrid-online sections. Students in the regular (TR) section meet twice a week for three hour sessions. Students in the partially online section meet face to face once a week on Saturday in Room 203, in Building B of the Fort Mason City College campus. Students in the online section are required to login to the course site (Insight/Moodle) at least once weekly and engage academically, following through on the tasks listed in the weekly task list. (The site is password protected and accessible upon registration in the course.) The hybrid-online section is designed for students who prefer to complete this 3-unit course with less meetings on campus and prefer the flexibility of doing the rest of the work during the week in their own time.


    All assignments need to be completed by their due dates. Attendance during class meetings is mandatory. (Absence due to illness or other legitimate excuses are exceptions. In those cases, late work will be accepted without any penalty, within a reasonable period of time, but please communicate with me to keep me posted.) For all students: When engagement in the work assigned is evidenced, but more time is needed for the proccessing of information and/or successful completion of a project, late work will be accepted without a penalty up to one week after the original due date. Assignments turned in later than one week will be marked lower. Participation in class critiques is required for all sections and is part of assessment. Participation in the online discussion board is required for the online students. Craftsmanship is critical. Clean up after class is required. Textbook (earlier editions are fine and can result in major savings!) and materials are required, but some supplies are available through the lab, which the instructor will explain in detail during the first week of class.

    This is a brief summary of the course requirements to provide general information for all students. For a more detailed course syllabus for the students taking the regular TR section during the week, go to: Art 125A: Basic Design. Students in the online section will access their syllabus through our online delivery system: Insight when the course opens, however they can browse through the syllabus of the regular section (link above) to have access to some further details that the two sections share.


    Important Dates in Spring 2015 Semester for All Students:

    During the Spring 2015 semester, general instruction for all courses at the college begins on Monday, January 12 and goes through Thursday, May 14. Final exams begin on Friday, May 15, at which point classes no longer meet for regular instruction, but once for their scheduled final exams during May 15-22.

    Course Dates: The first day of class for the Saturday/hybrid-online section (831) is scheduled on Saturday, January 17 and the final exam is for that section is scheduled on Saturday, May 15, from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM.
    The first day of instruction for the Tuesday-Thursday section (005) is Tuesday, January 13and the final exam for the TR group is scheduled from 1-3 PM on Tuesday, May 19

    Holidays: The college is closed in observance of Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 19; Presidents' Day Weekend from Friday, February 13 through Monday, February 16; Lunar New Year on Thursday, February 19; Spring Recess and Cesar Chavez Day from Monday March 30 through Sunday April 5.

    Important Days: Last day to reduce units in order to qualify for 100% enrollment fee and non-resident tuition fee refund for full term length classes is Monday, January 26. Last day to add full-term credit classes in person/on the web is Friday, January 30. The last day to drop a credit class without a ‘W” notation on permanent record or withdraw or reduce course work in order to qualify for 50% non-resident tuition for refund is Friday, February 6; last day to file a petition to receive Associate of Arts or Science Transfer Degrees and the last day to request pass/no pass (P/NP) grading option is Thursday, February 12. Last day to file a petition to receive the Associate of Arts or Science Degrees, Award of Achievement and Certificate of Accomplishment is Friday, February 17. End of Mid-term period is Friday March 13. Last day to process a student or instructor initiated withdrawal is Thursday, April 16. Last day for students (earlier date may apply per instructor) to fulfill requirements to remove an Incomplete notation received from previous semester is May 14.


    Important Information Regarding Withdrawals:

    Please be aware that there are new restrictions at the state level in allowing repeat attempts to take a course, regardless of the grade received from a course. There is no longer general repeatability and there are limitations on the number of attempts a student may make to take the course for a passing grade. "W," "D," or "F," grade entries on the transcript all count as attempts to take a course. Courses are now grouped into families. Students can take or attempt to take a total of four courses within each family and can attempt to take the same course for a passing grade for a maximum of three tries. If a student fails or withdraws from a course— as long as the student has not exhausted the maximum four attempts allowed within that course family— a student may have up to two more opportunities to take the course for a passing grade, but will not be allowed again if fails or withdraws at his/her third attempt even if the student has not exhausted all four attempts allowed for that family. Therefore, if you feel that you will not be able to commit to a course in a given semester, it is best to communicate with your instructor early and drop the course before a "W" (withdrawal) may be recorded for the semester. International students should be aware that they need a minimum of 12 academic units throughout any given semester in order to maintain their student visas. Therefore, withdrawing from a class and the subsequent loss of units may result in the loss of a student visa to the United States.

    Please note that this information is only given to be helpful to all students taking into account that sometimes life situations may get in the way of a student's ability to attend the class or complete the work required, in which case a withdrawal before the issuance of a final grade may be in the student's best interest. However, our goal is for all our students to complete all their classes successfully.


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    DSPS Office is in Rosenberg Library – R323
    (415) 452-5481 Voice
    (415) 452-5451 TDD
    (415) 452-5565 (except for exams)


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    When wanting to access the eBooks in our library collection or other library learning resources online you will be asked to enter your student ID barcode number. Sometimes students get confused and try to access the collection with their regular student ID number, but please note that instead you need to enter the barcode number starting with 224 at the bottom of your student ID card.

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    This page was last updated: November 12, 2014