Graphic Design


Graphic design is about communicating ideas and information using text and images in order to present a solution to a given design brief.

This course will allow you the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills in both handmade and digital graphic design techniques and processes so that you can successfully create artistic and innovative design work. You will study the skills of typography and layout as well as image making using digital photographs, illustrations and traditional printmaking methods.

In the first term, you will receive training in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to ensure that you have the necessary skills to confidently produce digital design work. You will also explore the work of other designers, critically evaluating and responding to various design styles in order to develop your own ways of working.

In the second year, students may choose to specialise in an area of graphic design that they particularly enjoy. This could be type design, illustration, magazine layout, packaging, poster design or even animation.

Year 1

  • The basics of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Drawing skills from direct observation using traditional materials
  • Printmaking using linocut and etching techniques
  • Taking digital photographs and editing for use in your own design work
  • Research and respond to a range of artists and designers
  • Visit a gallery or museum to develop your visual language skills

Year 2

  • Advanced Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator techniques
  • Introduction to Adobe InDesign to set up magazine pages
  • Design and make bags, badges and t-shirts from your own designs
  • Write a critical essay on a designer linked to your coursework project
  • Develop a digital portfolio of final design work
  • Mount and present your final design work for exhibition

Rhiannon Rolf

Studied at Varndean College: Graphic Design, 3D Design & Dance (2013-2015)

Progression: Art Foundation at Brighton Met, then Graphic Design for Digital Media, University of Brighton

Riannon attends the University of Brighton studying a BA in Graphic Design for Digital Media, Her art foundation teacher had noticed she paid a lot more attention to online platforms rather than physical ways of designing so suggested that course over the standard Graphic Design course.

She enjoys the course so much, having never previously considered going to university, and has found it the most rewarding experience. I got a 2:1 in her first year and a 1:1 in her second. She has also gained three years of customer service in jewellery from aged 16 and in 2017 secured a job as a print and design specialist. More recently she landed a job as a part-time Social Media expert at a dance studio. She hopes to work for a magazine or fashion/street culture environment in the future.

Rhiannon says: "Varndean was an amazing experience for me, I made loads of friends and was allowed to express myself in a way no other educational place had allowed before. I would say be yourself, try as hard as you can but always stick with what you want to do in the future."

Course Essentials

Courses Available
A Level
Entry Requirements

PLUS

Grade 5 in GCSE Art or Technology or a Merit or above in BTEC Level 2 First Diploma

If GCSE Art or Technology have not been taken, suitably qualified students with a good portfolio of work will be considered. You can submit a combination of drawings, photographs, collages, sketches for logos and/or digital design work to demonstrate your creativity, imagination and technical ability.
How The Course is Assessed
60% coursework, 40% externally set assignment
Career Pathways
Many students continue their studies onto an art foundation courses or higher education degrees in graphic design, illustration or photography. Some students go onto degree courses outside of the design subject area, such as fine art, textiles, architecture, history, politics, economics and English.
Transferable Skills
Use and application of imagination; team work; creativity; layout and composition skills; visual and technical skills.
Other Information
You do not need Photoshop at home to complete this course. We have Photoshop on all computers in college and also in the library so you can access the software during your free study sessions. You also do not need any prior knowledge of Photoshop or Illustrator to enrol onto graphic design at A Level.
Enquiries To
Jas Chopra: jcc@varndean.ac.uk