Visual design

One Year course

Length of the course 10 months

Start October 2017

The OneYear Course is taught following a single theme approach with cycles of lessons on theory integrated with workshop exercises and subjects. In this way students acquire the solid cultural, methodological and operative foundations necessary for following a Master’s course in Visual Design and Web Design.



Characteristics and aims

The OneYear course aims at consolidating the basics of visual design thereby allowing a critical approach to the design stage. The study plan includes lessons on Basic Design alongside general training. The first of these provide an historical, cultural and scientific background to visual design focusing in particular on visual processes, also studied from a theoretical and physiological point of view. The coherence between the subjects covered helps in constructing a design methodology, a designer’s most vital possession. The general training, on the other hand, provides the necessary creative, technical and methodological skills for the further study of visual communication and design during the Master’s year. There is in fact a continuous learning process that starts from the OneYear Course and leads to the specialist Master’s course.


The OneYear Course lasts for one academic year  from October to July. Attendance is compulsory and full-time commitment is required including the participation to lessons, class exercises, visits and the individual study.

Professional openings

Allows admission to:
Master’s course in Visual Design
Master’s course in Web and Digital Design

Programmes and teaching staff to be updated


  • Basic Typography
    Marta Bernstein

    This subject studies the morphology of alphabetical signs and in particular the print character, providing the notions for their understanding and the elements for correct use and design. The alphabetical sign plays a primary role in contemporary society and even more so in a society started up towards globality and instantaneous communication. From this comes the need for a designer in communication to have an in-depth understanding of the genesis of alphabetical signs and their characteristics. List of contents:
    – Evolution of the verbal sign: from a mark to the letter (pictogram – ideogram – phonogram) up to typification.
    – Historical focus on selected type-designers and theit typefaces. Particular attention will be placed on the development of lettering during the 20th century and the first years of this new century.
    – Classification of the typefaces according to their role and morphology. References to some classification systems (UNI, Novarese, Storico, …)
    -Anatomy of the character; nomenclature of the glyph and classification of the parts of a letter; typification of the character -The design of the glyph; draft; geometric design (free, mathematical or mixed tecniques). Optical corrections. Basic geometry for variations.
    -Spacing: space as active subject in type-design; space in the letter (counterform); space in the word (condensing); space in the text (leading and unleading)
    -Contrast: contrasts of characters according to morphology (styles); grey-scale contrasts (from clearest to darkest); contrasts of direction (round-italic); contrasts of size (bodies); contrasts of intensity (narrow-broad); internal contrasts in the letter
    -Legibility: degree of legibility as active perception of the typeface, legibility varying the spacing (in the letter, word, text); legibility by subtraction of elements or superimposition of elements
    -Design of the character; draft of certain letter types on square, triangular and circular form; identification of morphological aspects peculiar to the character; basic geometry for selected gliphs;
    Identification of a common geometric construction framework; production of several letters and polytypes of the alphabet; typification on the computer of an entire alphabet

  • Photography Workshop
    Sabine Schweigert

    Using both analogical and digital instruments the course is devised in order to allow complete creative and technical autonomy and to support graphic design practice.
    – Preparatory stage
    Tools and instruments: camera typologies: pinhole, or stenopeic cameras, small, medium-sized and large formats with particular reference to the 35mm reflex camera.
    Lenses: image formation, focal length, f-numbers; diaphragm / shutter, focus, hyperfocal distance and depth of field.
    Films: structure, sensitivity, types and instructions for use. Evaluating, selecting and using the right film; special films.
    Lighting: the nature of light and light effects, definition of colour temperature.
    Natural light, continuous artificial light and flash; lighting set-ups and characteristics.
    Digital photography: typological characteristics of tools and instruments for lighting. The digital image and digital enhancement.
    – Operational stage
    The photographic studio. Instrument and characteristics.
    Manual and through-the-lens (TTL) exposure meters; area exposure; calculating correct exposure and effects of over/underexposure. Analysis of the photographic subject and image construction through specific use of different lighting typologies; soft lighting, hard lighting, back lighting, mixed lighting.
    The artistic portrait; analysis of subject and lighting set-ups.
    Still life; photographing opaque, reflective and transparent materials; artistic composition with scenery and use of artificial light.
    The camera and instrument characteristics.
    Black and white developing and printing techniques. The enlarger; cutting and deformation effects. Masking. Techniques and artistic effects of image enhancement using dedicated chemical materials.
    – Design stage
    From image composition to image enhancement, integrated with the “Computer Graphic Design” course.

  • Computer Design I, I I
    Erasmo Ciufo

    The aim is learning the tools and basic dynamics of graphic design through the use of technological equipments and applications such as the Adobe softwares.
    Photoshop and Illustrator are the leading programmes for dealing with bitmap and vectorial images and are extensively used by web designers, illustrators, photographers, graphic designers in publishing and multimedia.
    The integration of these programs enables an enormous number of creative developments, as long as their features are thoroughly understood and their purpose is clear and consistent with the overall design approach. During the one-year course students will deepen the necessary information to gain a professional control of their functions.
    The course’s methodological approach emphasises content. Exercises focus on the analysis of graphic elements: exercises in formal composition (configuration) and study of the nature and design applications of colours deriving from theoretical experiences of the psychology of perception and colour theory.
    As mentioned, the course is closely tied to the teaching of photography: the images created are actually transferred into digital format and developed further to be incorporated into the projects carried out in this course. Main topics the programme deals with:
    – Bitmap and vectorial images. Image resolution and size.
    – Channels: in the mazes of bitmap methods, greyscale, Lab, RGB and CMYK.
    – Adjustment for colour and luminosity using levels, curves, tonality/saturation, channel mixer functions…
    – Layers: blending modes and tonal adjustments
    – Selection methods and tools: integration between specific tools in order to define complex selections, cutouts and masks. Working with paths; clipping paths. Masks: layer mask, selection mask. Working with text
    – Retouching tools (but not only): clone stamp, erase tool, brushes history
    – Layers styles
    – Correction filters, editing, creative processing
    – Saving formats for the integration of different softwares and optimization of images for printing, web and mobile device.
    – Illustration exercises, retouching, image processing aimed at printing, web and mobile

    – Vectorial objects. Selection tools and methods
    – Drawing in vectorial graphics: working with primitives, using the Bezier curves
    – Working with colour: filling objects and strokes. Compound path: groups, unifying objects, blends
    – Controlling the text options and settings typography specification in accordance with the project
    – Integration of the functions related to the creation of illustrations
    – Integration of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign
    Introduction to InDesign

  • Form And Colour Laboratory
    Massimo Caiazzo, Narciso Silvestrini

    The course has the structure of a laboratory where students study and realize bi/tridimensional models of shapes, objects and systems related to color design issues. List of the contents as follows:
    – Colour is not a transcultural truth
    – Colour has a history
    – Basic terminology
    – Chromatic syntheses: additive, subtractive, optical
    – From the triangle of colours, to the hexagon, to the cube
    – Fractal generation of the chromatic polygon
    – Marginal colours (W. Goethe)
    – The RGB_CMY cube: vertices (point), edges (line), faces (surfaces), volume (space)
    – The double tetrahedron of colours: a model of material states: gaseous, liquid, solid
    – The octahedron and its development: “6” vertices, “6” points of view, “6” tetrachromatic combinations
    – Chromatic conjugations according to the Islamic chromatic system
    – Chromatic conjugations according to R. Arnheim’s colour triangle
    – Chromatic interpretation of Buckminster Fuller’s spatial triangle: 1 + 1 = 4
    – Chromatic conjugations: the system of possible permutations between three data elements
    – Margin type and related perceptive inductions
    – Phenomenal transparency: the four conditions
    – Transparency and spatiality
    – The three modes of colour appearance: volume, surface, film

  • History Of Design
    Barbara Camocini

    The fundamental stages of ‘modernity’ are addressed in logical and chronological order but not in a comprehensive way. The distinctive character of Modernity are reassessed starting from a general overview on main themes accompanied by specific focuses (monographic lectures) on authors, movements etc.
    A critical attitude will be promoted in order to achieve a better understanding of the aesthetic and functional issues – deriving from the debate on modern architecture and Rationalism in particular – related to the general notion of “industrial product” which was adopted around 1850. Themes dealt with:
    – statement and definitions of design: History and evolution?
    – a unifying concept of design and the origin of Industrial Design in relation to Architecture
    – Italy and design: domain and genuine inspirations
    – Origins and historical development: from its meaning to contemporary experiences
    – magazines, institutions, awards, exhibitions.
    – Exhibit Design
    – Decoration and early rationalism, the types of reference, historical origins and relevance to the present
    – Vitalism and anti-rationalistic movements
    – The Bauhaus and the epistemological foundation of “Design” and “design profession”
    – From Functionalism to Organic Design
    – The second postwar period in Italy, Europe, USA: economic growth and production
    – Crisis and emerging anti-design issues: utopies and Radical movements
    – A new return-to-order: Postmodern
    – Contemporary trends
    Note: a concise bibliography for self-study will be assigned in addition to the presentation supports and documentation prepared by the tutor.

  • Sketching
    Claudio Fassini

    Free hand drawing is the first technique to represent ideas. The aim of this course is enabling students to finalize thier creativity in order to communicate in a clear and fast way with all the professionals involved in the design process. Particular attention will be devoted to the analysis and application of the fundamental rules for free hand drawing: perspective, proportions, colouring techniques basics.
    The course teaches the basic techniques to draw free hand, introducing particularly useful details in order to help communicate designs well. Each class will be articulated in three main moments:
    – assessment of the tasks developed independently over the week
    – introduction to new topics through the use of demos, case studies and exercises to carry out during the class
    – explanations of new tasks to deliver for the next class
    Content of the course as follows:
    – basic rules and tools
    – hand-eye coordination
    – basic geometric shapes
    – axonometry and representation of solids
    – shadowing techniques to improve the tridimensional effect of an object
    – rilief from a photographic image of an object
    – intuitive perspective: basic rules, usage
    – composition of solids
    – cuts and sections
    – copy from life
    – rendering techniques using Letraset paper, coloured pencils, markers, chalks
    – artistic vs geometric representation
    – shadow theory
    – human body and objects
    – fast drawing techniques

  • Visual Design Foundations
    Serena Brovelli, Davide Fornari

    The Visual Design Foundation course lasts one year and aims at conveying to students the basic design elements for visual communication. The basic design approach identifies a typical introductory discipline. The course is set out into assisted exercises requiring the students to complete assignments – both digital and paper format – to boost their design skills. In the bigger picture the course allows students to acquire the necessary theoretical and practical basis to give shape to communication products and start their professional career in a sounder way.
    The programme will then introduce critical subjects for graphic design: space, borders, colour, sign, typeface, the opposition order vs disorder,sequence – rhythm – movement, symmetry vs asymmetry, the organization of the surface, grids and , composition, the relationship between text and shape.
    The same topic will be studied in-depth thanks to frequent case studies focussing on very important projects and authors: moments in which theory and practice are combined to promote the acquisition of a critical attitude and of the genuine roots of a visual culture.

  • History Of Graphic Design Foundations
    Silvia Sfligiotti

    The course is closely related to the teaching of Graphic Design Foundations. The aim is to deliver students with the basic tools for developing their own visual and graphic culture. Design here is intended as part of an historical, linguistic and philosophical “conversation” where every image is the result of visions, perceptions, things we have seen or recalled from our memory and may represent a visual language we can share with the others. Learning the basic alfabeth of this language is not a mere act of possession but identifies primarily a source of creative thinking.
    The course starts with an introduction into the domains of Visual Design. Lectures will follow focussing on specific graphic projects, locating them in time and space and outlining their mutual relations.
    The selection of key episodes and authors will be conducted in accordance with the main elements structuring a visual language – value, colour, sign, form – and with the basic oppositions such as full vs empty, border vs center, surface vs space, hiding vs showing, sound vs silence.

  • Wayfinding Workshop
    Luigi Farrauto

    The workshop focuses on maps and wayfinding systems. Students will deliver a project concerning maps and info-visualization which will be checked weekly through open revisions.
    Some of the themes that will be addressed at a theoretical/methodological level during the revisions are: maps and personal geographies; icons and pictograms; wayfinding: case studies and theories.