Contact Adam

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Lectures & Projects

Digital Illustration Opening Statements

First, a time change

Despite whatever time is listed in the catalog, we will meet on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and usually wrap up by 8-9 p.m.

What is this class all about?

We are going to focus on learning two software programs; Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Adobe is an international company that is a leader in professional, industry standard software for print, photography, video, and web. This is the stuff that the pros use. We will start with Adobe Photoshop, which is what most students seem to prefer over Illustrator. With Photoshop, we will study photo retouching and digital collage. In Adobe Illustrator, will learn about creating vector shapes and tracing. We will learn the basics of both programs, figure out which program you prefer, and experiment with how both programs can help you create two-dimensional artwork. While this is an art class and you will get to make art, I come with a background in design and I am going to focus on teaching you practical skills that might help you at a job or in your career. I feel this is more beneficial to you and a better use of our time.

Teaching style

No tests, no quizzes, and tentative deadlines. We learn art and software through doing and through practice, not pointless memorization and tedious writing. It’s pretty difficult to learn a new subject when you are stressed out anyway, so let’s not even go there. It’s okay to have fun with your assignments in this class. There are many different ways to work within the field of computer graphics, and I try to help you find yours.

You can also expect to do a lot of self teaching in this class because that is the nature of any design field. Especially for those looking to go into design as a career. If you’re looking for step-by-step instructions or have a “get it done, on to the next thing attitude,” then you’re in the wrong industry. To succeed, you need to have a strong desire to figure out how things work, high standards for your work, and a willingness to explore, experiment, and research topics on your own. I want everyone to understand that I’m teaching to you to fend for yourselves. Interns and junior designers who are resourceful are more desirable than those who need their hand held. However, on the flip side, being too independent can work against you if you spend hours doing something incorrectly. So my advice is to give yourself a time limit, such as 30 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day, etc. (depending on your schedule). And if you can’t figure out the problem during your time limit, ask for help. Hopefully that will help balance the amount of questions you ask your supervisors or other professors. But always ask and get clarity if something is not clear. Lately, I’ve had too many students not asking for help and they should.


I will assign projects and ask to see progress every class. When I feel we are ready to move on, we will. If you guys are working on something and it looks awesome, we can always extend the due date.

How to Handle your Files

Use Dropbox. Google Drive is a good choice too. I highly recommend that you take advantage of cloud storage. Flash drives will break or get lost. Every semester I have a student lose their work because it was on a flash drive and they didn’t have a backup. Using cloud storage forces you to keep a backup, and their servers are infinitely more secure than your flash drive. You’ve been warned!


Consider your textbook to be This website is a showcase of the best digital and mixed media illustration out there, so study it for inspiration and to find a style that you might begin to develop. Also check out the latest Communication Arts illustration annual. This is some of the best commercial illustration done in the past year.

As for the software, I don’t require a textbook. Not everyone is a book person. With digital illustration software, you have books, the help menu, and online tutorials and video. It’s all fair game so choose the reference material that suits your learning style. Show me what you find, and I’ll let you know my opinion of it and try and give you a better suggestion if needed. Besides, there are many different ways to do something in Photoshop and Illustrator. So it’s good for you to get different opinions and experiment with different techniques to reach your intended goal.


In my perfect world, classes would simply be pass or fail. I really don’t care what your grade is, and neither will your employer. It’s just a formality of the institution. So we’ll meet on the last day of class to review your work, progress, and to discuss your grade. Grades have become “almighty” and I can’t stand it because students just focus on the grade, or completing a “checklist” to obtain the desired grade. That’s not going to help anyone. For all my classes, just focus on learning and understanding concepts. Walk away with knowledge, not grades.


Just show up. There is a huge benefit to coming to class so that you can learn from the successes and mistakes of other students, see any demonstrations I might perform, and to get help in person. No consequence for missed class, but you need to get in touch with me for anything you missed. If you know you will be absent in advance, let me know so we can try and make arrangements in case anything is due.

When the going gets tough …

Feel free to let me know what’s going on in your lives. There is more to life than work and school, so if you need to chat, are about to have a nervous breakdown, or need some sort of grace, just talk to me, and we will work something out.