Digital Illustration Art 441M

Syllabus     Projects     Class Schedule

Digital Illustration Art 441M, Syllabus

Teacher: Kevin O’Neill, MFA

Meets in Room 135 VAC on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-9 p.m.

Marywood Mission Statement

Marywood University, sponsored by the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, roots itself in the Catholic intellectual tradition, the principle of justice, and the belief that education empowers people. The University integrates an enduring liberal arts tradition and professional disciplines to create a comprehensive learning experience. Our undergraduate and graduate programs promote academic excellence, advance innovative scholarship, and foster leadership in service to others. Within a welcoming and supportive community, Marywood challenges individuals of all backgrounds to achieve their full potential and make choices based on spiritual and ethical values. Marywood University prepares students to seek sustainable solutions for the common good and educates global citizens to live responsibly in an interdependent world.

Course Description: Traditional delivery method

This course will explore the use of digital tools in creating illustrations for publication in print and on screen. Emphasis will be placed on developing creative thinking and personal style, as well as learning production techniques and technical skills.

Course Goals:

  • To become adept at using the hardware (computer, scanner, printers, digital camera, digital tablet, etc.) used by professional illustrators.
  • To become adept at using the software (Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and supporting programs) used by professional illustrators.
  • To learn to manage a digital workflow (file/ folder naming and organization, onsite and online backup of files, electronic review and markup of project drafts, electronic submission of files properly formatted for publication, etc.).
  • To learn to use digital tools to create self-promotional materials.
  • The exploration of applied problems in illustration.
  • To develop conceptual skills and personal style based on original thinking.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Create images using professional software (Adobe and others)
  • Assign the correct size, resolution and color mode for images for print and screen viewing
  • Create a digital file management system including redundant archiving
  • Create animations in Photoshop
  • Create a digital portfolio
  • Create and maintain an online portfolio presence
  • Understand relevant computer hardware and specifications

Marywood University Student Learning Outcomes

  • Inquiry and analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Visual and oral communication
  • Aesthetic literacy
  • Problem-solving


Evaluation of your progress will be determined by your research and planning, addressing all requirements of a project, meeting deadlines, creatively solving the problem, participating in class critiques, attendance and your professionalism.

Course Requirements

1. Quality Work and Meeting Deadlines

Students must demonstrate a high level of motivation, the ability to meet deadlines and timely completion of projects.  This reflects on your professionalism and is a requirement that will affect your overall grade.

Loss of data is not an acceptable excuse for incomplete or missing work.  You are responsible for routinely backing up all work, data.  Printing problems occur often, please print course work 24 hours before the critique.

2. Time Outside of Class

Students are required to spend time outside of class working on class assignments.  It is also a requirement that students spend time outside of class looking at and reading Graphic Design and Visual Art books, journals and magazines in the library. The time spent looking and reading about art will be evident in the quality and sophistication of your design as well as in the level of knowledge and skill exhibited on projects.

Students are expected to attend lectures, meetings, exhibits and events both on and off campus that pertain to their major area of study. Students are expected to make the necessary arrangements in order to attend these events.

3. Research the Problem Description

  • Learn as much as possible about the design subject.
  • Use the dictionary – keywords can help define the objective.
  • Recall related memories and experiences.
  • Use your resource book (sketchbook) to record ideas and collect imagery.
  • Good design strategies are developed through thorough investigations, experimentation and a natural curiosity by the designer.

4. Working Comps

Presenting working comps is required during class to provide evidence of research and working process of graphic design; evidence of research and critical decision points that lead to the final solution.The rational for drawing comps include:

  • Drawing enables the knowing of a subject visually in a more complex way.
  • Drawing advances what we observe and helps activate memories and associations.
  • Drawing is the gateway to invention when conceiving a solution in visual terms.
  • Drawing is a way to move beyond typical inexpressive headlines, graphic puns and style genres in design.

5.  Attendance

There are no unexcused absences. It is the student’s responsibility to get any information missed due to absences. Any of the following constitutes attendance penalties:

  • Arriving up to 15 minutes late to class = 1 tardiness
  • Three (3) tardy attendances = 1 absence
  • Arriving more than 30 minutes late to class or failure to attend class = 1 absence
  • Four (4) or more absences = Grade drops one whole level. For example if you have a final grade of an A and have 4 unexcused absences, you will receive a B. If you have 5 unexcused, it drops to a C and so on. 

Course schedules and finals schedules are published prior to the beginning of the semester. There should be no other place you need to be during class time and critiques. Exemptions for absences will be made only for a documented explanation from a doctor, nurse, counselor, or a similar person of authority. If a student misses several classes because of illness, a death in the family, or other serious reasons, the student must take the responsibility to inform the Art Department.

Severe weather policy:

There will be no project extensions due to class cancellations because of inclement weather.  All deadlines and critiques will remain when originally scheduled.  If classes are cancelled on a critique day, the critique will be conducted the following class.

6. Grading Criteria Breakdown

Grading is based on: 8 Projects + Class Participation (equal to 2 projects)

Your grade for the class will be determined by combining your grades for the projects with a grade for class participation, which will be worth the same as two projects. Class participation includes showing up on time for classes, participating in critiques and class discussions, working while in class, showing an understanding of the material, etc. All grades will be averaged for your final grade.

Individual projects will each be worth 40 points, which will be divided by 10, to translate into a letter grade. For example, if you earn 40 points for a project, divide it by 10 to get 4.0, or an A. 30 points would equal 3.0, or a B. Points are earned according to the following criteria:

  • 10 pts. Creativity – The project should be solved in a fresh, unique and engaging manner.
  • 10 pts. Aesthetics – The drawing should be well done, exhibiting a level of skill with the media. The composition, colors, images and type should be visually compelling, displaying an appropriate balance of harmony and variety.
  • 10 pts. Specifications – The project should solve the problem that was presented. In illustration, the illustrator is solving a specific visual problem for a client, delivering a message to a targeted audience, not just making a pretty picture. The solution should meet the technical requirements (size, color, file format, etc.) in the project brief.
  • 10 pts. Presentation – Roughs of ideas should be thoroughly explored with sketches turned in on time. You should be able to explain and discuss your project proposal. Your project should progress and evolve on schedule. Final projects should be turned in complete and on time. They should be clean, free of typos and presented professionally.



Grades are not contractual. Faculty input is given in order to cultivate critical thinking and understanding at a particular point in the design process. Only conforming to advice given by faculty does not guarantee a specific grade. Students are not guaranteed an A if they “did everything the professor told them to do.”

Grade A: The objectives of the assignment are not only mastered but also treated in an original way. The completed assignment achieves an unexpected but effective approach to the subject that is appropriate, thoughtful and reveals aspects that are usually unnoticed or not discussed (The special nuances, subtitles, sensitivities, insights, knowledge and perseverance that makes a design outstanding). The completed design must illustrate that good design is based on powerful, original thinking and thoroughness. High motivation is evident, performance criteria is consistently exceeded on every aspect of the project.

Grade B: The completed assignment shows an understanding of the assignments objectives in a strong, logical manner. The design clearly demonstrates above average thought, understanding and originality. Technical problems are very few and are minor in nature. While above average and demonstrating good design sensitivity, the design still lacks qualities of excellence.

Grade C: Objectives of the assignment are clearly understood and the projects were completed on time. The work is competent but not outstanding yet fulfills the requirements of the problem description. The project may also contain technical problems that demonstrate a lack of skill/ attention. The work lacks strong visual interest, thoughtful and imaginative resolution.

Grade D: The design project did not address the objectives of the assignment. Inappropriate or irrelevant concepts are present. Clarity and understanding of the problem description along with assignment objectives are not demonstrated and/ or based on faulty logic. The design fails to come to any resolution. Technical problems may or may not be abundant.

Grade F: Lack of effort on the assignment or failure to complete the project; failing work exhibits a disregard for; or a complete lack of understanding of the assignment’s objectives and instructions.

Meeting Deadlines and Late Work

Students must demonstrate a high level of motivation, the ability to meet deadlines and timely completion of projects. This reflects on your own professionalism and is a requirement of the course that will affect your overall grade. For each class day a project is late, the grade will be lowered. If you miss a critique because of an unexcused absence, your project will be lowered one grade. Loss of data is not an acceptable excuse for incomplete or missing work. You are responsible for routinely backing up all work, data. Printing problems abound, print work 24 hours before due.

Plagiarism in Graphic Design and Original Images

Plagiarism is defined as the offering as one’s own work the words, sentence structure, ideas, existing imagery, or arguments of another person without appropriate attribution by quotation, reference, or footnote. It includes quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing the works of others without appropriate citation. No claim of ignorance about the nature of plagiarism will excuse a violation.

  • Each student in this class is expected to follow Marywood’s academic honesty policy. As a student in this class, you are expected to follow the policy’s guidelines and report any and all known cases of academic dishonesty.
  • Students are encouraged to further develop image making skills by incorporating their own photography or illustration in their work whenever possible. Digital and phone cameras are viable means to incorporate original photography..
  • Rationale: Students must be creators in making imagery not finders of imagery, therefore no Google or other images created by someone else unless used for a reference. Students must have a high degree of ownership over the image.
  • Clip-art and stock photography is instant art that is already designed and circumvents the creative process. It is the designer’s stand-by; it is a goal of this course to gain experience and become more skillful through the experimentation and exploration of image use, not a reliance on stand-bys. Where stock photography is acceptable is if you need generic images to build illustrations or have no way of accessing a specific image.

Imagery used without permission or claimed as your own and is found not to be your work will result in an F for your project. Repeated offenses will be addressed under the Academic Policy listed below.

Teaching Strategies

Each class will contain a lecture pertaining to the assignment which may include historical references, contemporary design trends, software instruction, discussions, documentaries, quizzes, problem-solving strategies, and/or critiques, followed by a lab with individual hands-on instruction. In addition, we may take field trips or have guest speakers.

Students are required to present their work for both preliminary/in progress critiques and final critiques. During these critiques, students are required to meet all deadlines and present their work clearly using a professional vocabulary as well as actively participating in discussions.

Marywood Class Policy

The classroom is a formal environment dedicated to learning and students are expected to behave in a courteous and respectful manner. Therefore, faculty have the right to ask disruptive students to leave the classroom if the learning environment is being negatively impacted.

Academic Honesty

The Marywood University community functions best when its members treat one another with honesty, fairness, and trust. The entire community, students and faculty alike, recognize the necessity and accept the responsibility for academic honesty. Students must realize that deception for individual gain is an offense against the entire community. Cheating and plagiarism are behaviors destructive of the learning process and of the ethical standards expected of all students.

Students have a responsibility to know and adhere to the University’s Academic Honesty policy.  Violations of this academic honesty statement or the intent of this statement carry consequences.  University procedures for investigation of alleged violations of this policy ensure that students are protected from arbitrary or capricious disciplinary action.  Initial sanctions for violations of academic honesty ordinarily are determined by the course instructor. The faculty member will employ a range of sanctions, from a minimum of a failing grade for the specific coursework in which the infraction occurred to a maximum of a failing grade for the entire course. If necessary, the chairperson and/or academic dean may become involved in investigating the allegation of academic dishonesty and the determination of sanctions. The faculty member will file a report with the office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, with copy to the faculty member’s department chairperson and the student’s academic dean.  An academic dean may also choose at any time to inform the Dean of Students of charges of academic dishonesty for adjudication in the University conduct system. Likewise, a member of the University community may submit a conduct report against a student, group of students, or student organization for alleged violations of the Academic Honesty policy to the Dean of Students, who will inform the appropriate academic dean for possible adjudication. The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will maintain a register of established cases of academic dishonesty in order to identify an individual student’s pattern of violation.  Two established cases of academic dishonesty will result in suspension from the University; three established cases will result in dismissal.

In a case in which the student is involved with violations of both academic and discipline policies from the same incident, the Dean of Students and the cognizant Academic Dean of the college or school in which the student is enrolled will confer regarding sanctions to assess their academic impact and to assure that a consistent message is communicated to the student.

Cheating is defined as but not limited to the following:

  • having unauthorized material and/or electronic devices during an examination without the permission of the instructor;
  • copying from another student or permitting copying by another student in a testing situation;
  • communicating exam questions to another student;
  • completing an assignment for another student, or submitting an assignment done by another student, e.g., exam, paper, laboratory or computer report;
  • collaborating with another student in the production of a paper or report designated as an individual assignment;
  • submitting work purchased from a commercial paper writing service;
  • submitting out-of-class work for an in-class assignment;
  • changing grades or falsifying records;
  • stealing or attempting to steal exams or answer keys, or retaining exams without authorization;
  • submitting an identical assignment to two different classes without the permission of the instructors;
  • falsifying an account of data collection unless instructed to do so;
  • creating the impression, through improper referencing, that the student has read material that was not read;
  • artificially contriving material or data and submitting them as fact;
  • failing to contribute fairly to group work while seeking to share in the credit;
  • collaborating on assignments that were not intended to be collaborative.

Plagiarism is defined as the offering as one’s own work the words, sentence structure, ideas, existing imagery, or arguments of another person without appropriate attribution by quotation, reference, or footnote. It includes quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing the works of others without appropriate citation. No claim of ignorance about the nature of plagiarism will excuse a violation.


The student has a right to appeal sanctions resulting from academic dishonesty. A student who decides to file a formal grievance must submit the request in writing to the departmental Chair or the Dean. This is ordinarily done within thirty working days of the date an alleged incident occurred or a problem began. The necessary form is available from the Academic Dean of the college or school where the alleged problem occurred. The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is the final recourse in the academic appeal process.

Accommodations for Students with Documented Disabilities

Marywood University is committed to ensuring an inclusive learning environment that is accessible to all students consistent with the mission of the university and in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. If you anticipate or experience a barrier in this course due to a chronic health condition, a learning, hearing, neurological, mental health, vision, physical, or another kind of disability (including a temporary injury or pregnancy) please contact The Office of Student Disability Services (SDS). Please be advised that academic accommodations can be requested at any point during the semester, but accommodations are not retroactive. Additionally, accommodations must be renewed each semester for students already established with the office.

 For questions or to schedule a meeting to determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations please contact the Office of Student Disability Services by emailing, by calling 570-348-6211 ext 2335, or by stopping by the office in the Learning Commons Room 217. More information is available here.

Office of Student Success

Information about the Writing Center, Tutoring, and Adaptive Technology can be found here:

Title IX

Please be aware that, for the purpose of Title IX, a professor is considered a mandated reporter. This means that if a professor overhears information about a possible Title IX violation (sexual violence or harassment), they must disclose it to one of our campus coordinators.

Health And Safety Issues

Art students are now using more and more materials that may be hazardous to their health, particularly if used for extended periods of time.  The instructor will make every attempt to safeguard students, but ultimately the issue is in the hands of each individual.