The Image Studio is the first actual graphic design course within the Miami University curriculum. Prior to this course, students study fine art foundations including illustration and sculpture.

In this course, students investigate different ways of generating and communicating using imagery. Ideas of abstraction, simplification, pattern making, and visual metaphor are explored. Semiotics is briefly touched upon as a means of investigating these ideas further.


Students were to research ancient symbols, and use their findings as the basis of a new symbol of their own design. Initial phases had students sketching alternative designs for each symbol, simplifying the original design and updating the visual aesthetic. At this stage, students were allowed to work only in black and white.

These symbols would then be used to generate a number of patters through the use of repetition, scale, and/or rotation. Color could be added to provide meaning or visual interest as desired.

design by sam childs


design by maria bee

Local abstraction

Students were to photograph details found within their environment, framing them within a square format. They should zoom into the composition in fixed stages. These photographs were then recreated using Illustrator pen tools and flat colors.

The overall intent of the assignment was to investigate how cropping can be used to strengthen the design, as well as how simplification and abstraction can be used to create meaning.

work by michelle ensch and taylor brinkman

Weekly World News

Expanding upon the ideas of abstraction and simplification as a means of creating meaning, this project had students developing images aimed at visually conveying one national or international headline each week for the course of the semester. At the end of the term, students presented a slideshow of their work, explaining each headline and discussing the success of their designs with the full class.

work by sam childs

work by colleen griffiths