FALL 2023

Blanka Roundtree broundtree
Santiago Echeverry secheverry

Course Description

FMX 210 is a studio/production-oriented course. It is an introduction to the usage of electronic and digital tools for experimental creations from an aesthetic and technical point of view. The main purpose of this class is to expand the students’ creativity in the Digital Media domain.

In this class we will study the history, evolution and theory of current technologies in order to understand their potential as creative tools, contextualizing the software and hardware that will be used by the students throughout the semester and their professional careers.

This class is a pre-requisite for multiple other classes in the Film, Animation and New Media Department, as well as other departments. This is a studio class and you are expected to participate as open minded creators, even if you consider yourselves as “not creative”. Your authentic self-expression is what is going to make the class a full learning experience for everyone.

BFA students majoring in Film, Animation and New Media will be required to present every single project created in this class in their Junior Portfolio Reviews, once they take FMX 298/398. I encourage every single student, regardless of their major, to see every assignment you create in this class as a professional project that will be part of your academic and professional portfolios in the future with the potential to be exhibited in academic conferences or professional settings.

Process and Strategy

The class will explore the nature of digital creation, the basics of pixel altering tools such as Photoshop, vector-based tools such as Illustrator, and their applications in the printed world, using Adobe InDesign. In the process, students will learn basic notions of Color Theory, Logo Design, Typography, Compositing, and industry-standard file compression for digital delivery. The course will also explore Time-Based media, producing GIF / rotoscope animations, motion graphics, etc. to be used in Social and Emerging  Media.

Knowing that this is also an introduction to the uniqueness of the digital creation in a creative environment, we will study examples (websites, movies, interactive products, etc.) created by traditional and contemporary producers, reading also short essays and texts about digital creative processes.

There will be a different assignment for each class, where the students will apply the concepts presented during the previous session, and a group critique in order to solve any misunderstandings and conflicts.

The assignments are there to ensure the students will learn how to use the hardware & software and start exploring their own abilities to express and create artistic content using digital tools.

This class requires you to participate actively in order to progress along with the other students. If you are attending remotely, you CANNOT use an iphone, an android phone, or a tablet: you need to be able to follow the classes as they are taught, watching and reproducing the assignments and code that the instructor is offering practicing in real time. It is your responsibility to access the class from a safe, quiet, private environment, using an adequate laptop or computer (preferable with dual screens) in order to participate actively in it.

This class requires at least 4 -6 hours of individual work per week, plan your schedules and free time accordingly.

Learning Goals

Digital Tools are the core of current industry standards. In this class you will:

• Understand the nature of digital creation utilizing the most up-to-date tools, evidencing the logic behind any digital visual creation.

• Comprehend the differences between Vector based imaging and Pixel based design, one being mathematically constructed, the other utilizing a grid.

• Survey the evolution of currently used industry accepted tools, especially the Adobe Creative Suite, as well as open-source alternatives.

• Understand the importance of image optimization for online delivery, determining the usage of compression types according to the platforms used.

• Learn the fundamentals Typography, Logo Development, and Branding elements.

• Understand the basics of Color Theory in the RGB digital creation environment, understanding also CYMK digital printing principles, as well as Pantone Spot Color.

• Understand the radical differences between Digital Media and Printed Media, as well as hybrid production using InDesign to produce PDFs, electronic documents, and pre-press for print, including Packaging production.

• Understand the nature of Animation and Video as a sequence of still images and manipulation of time, in the form of GIF, rotoscope or creative frame by frame animations.

• Create a PDF portfolio with the pieces produced during the entire semester

• Understand the importance of a digital journal – in this case a public blog – as digital memories and tool for self-assessment.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the end of this class, you will be able to:
• Understand the nature of Computer Graphics
• Discern Pixel vs Vector Based media
• Utilize Typography in creative and expressive ways
• Apply Color Theory to maximize the impact of digital products
• Create industry-standard vector graphics
• Produce static and time-based media
• Create animations for Social and Emerging Media
• Create industry-standard electronic documents

Illustrator Specific Tools to learn

  1. Selection tools (e.g. the Selection tool, Direct Selection tool) – used to select and manipulate objects in your artwork
  2. Drawing tools (e.g. the Pen tool, Shape tools) – used to create new shapes and paths in your artwork
  3. Transformation tools (e.g. the Free Transform tool, Rotate tool) – used to modify the position, size, and orientation of objects in your artwork
  4. Color tools (e.g. the Color Picker, Swatches panel) – used to apply and manage colors in your artwork
  5. Typography tools (e.g. the Type tool, Character panel) – used to add and format text in your artwork
  6. Layers panel – used to organize and manage the objects in your artwork
  7. Pathfinder panel – used to combine and manipulate shapes and paths in your artwork
  8. Brushes panel – used to apply brush strokes to paths in your artwork

Photoshop Specific Tools to learn

  1. Selection tools (e.g. the Lasso tool, Magic Wand tool) – used to select specific areas or objects in an image
  2. Retouching tools (e.g. the Clone Stamp tool, Healing Brush tool) – used to repair and touch up areas of an image
  3. Painting tools (e.g. the Brush tool, Clone Stamp tool) – used to add color and texture to an image
  4. Type tool – used to add text to an image
  5. Layers panel – used to organize and manage the different elements of an image
  6. Adjustment layers – used to apply non-destructive edits to an image
  7. Filters – used to apply a wide range of effects to an image
  8. Masking tools (e.g. the Quick Mask mode, Layer Mask) – used to hide or reveal specific areas of an image

InDesign Specific Tools to learn

  1. Selection tools (e.g. the Selection tool, Direct Selection tool) – used to select and manipulate objects in your layout
  2. Text tools (e.g. the Type tool, Character panel) – used to add and format text in your layout
  3. Drawing tools (e.g. the Pen tool, Shape tools) – used to create new shapes and paths in your layout
  4. Transformation tools (e.g. the Free Transform tool, Rotate tool) – used to modify the position, size, and orientation of objects in your layout
  5. Color tools (e.g. the Color Picker, Swatches panel) – used to apply and manage colors in your layout
  6. Layers panel – used to organize and manage the objects in your layout
  7. Pages panel – used to manage and navigate the pages in your layout
  8. Links panel – used to manage and update the external graphics and fonts used in your layout
  9. Master Pages and Templates
  10. Margins, Padding, Gutter, Bleeds in preparation for Printed / Electronic Media


There will be several projects throughout the course, including papers, assignments, take home exams, and others. Each one of them will be a part of the final 100% of the grade in approximately equal weights. If necessary, I will do some pop quizzes, depending on the students’ participation and motivation, and depending on how certain sessions work, I might add an extra work not listed in the syllabus.

The grades posted on Canvas may not reflect the final grade on SpartanWeb.

Readings / assignments / requirements

Create your own blogs for the class. In these blogs you will be posting your assignments and comments. Your blogs will be the equivalent of your journal and the participation for the class. They will need to be updated 1 day before the class and they will be graded. I will be checking these blogs using turnitin.com in order to track your evolution during the sessions, and also as a way to know that you are reading and exploring all the files I will be presenting. You can post any comments on your blogs, be aware these blogs will be public and accessible to everyone in the class.

Make sure you check your UT webmail account every day. Assignments and comments will be sent to your UT accounts. We will use Canvas to post the grades, so make sure you check it regularly.

Short readings will be distributed throughout the semester. Most of the information will be provided by the professor or will be found freely online. Critiques will frequently be initiated from various topics covered in the readings. In order to participate effectively you will need to have read the required texts and be able to articulate your responses to them within the context of class discussion and critique. We will watch plenty of excerpts from movies / documentaries / Interactive Media during the class that will also be considered as part of the material for the class.

Use your own portable hard-drives / USB Drives to store your projects. Use the local CASS server as a backup, but do not rely on it to store sensitive or important information or documents, it is a PUBLIC server and anyone can have access to that. The day of a critique, bring the ORIGINAL files and store them in the CASS server / Dropbox Folder so we can study and analyze your creative process. The assignments MUST be uploaded before class starts. If they are not in the server, and you are uploading the project to the server in class, I WILL remove points off of the assignment grade.

The computer labs are refrigerated… BRING a sweater or a jacket

You MUST purchase your own USB powered drawing tablet with a stylus. I strongly recommend the Wacom Intuos Tablet available new for around $40

Possible last-minute changes

Although unlikely, it is possible that last-minute changes might be made to the dates for all assignments or class meetings, excepting only the final exam. In this unlikely event, I’ll make all possible efforts to inform students with sufficient lead-time.

Final Exam Schedule



Register for Siso: equipment cage


  • If you have not already done so, I encourage all of you to please get your shots and boosters for Covid19, Monkeypox and Meningitis.
  • Local Pharmacies are offering appointments for shots
  • If you are sick, even if it feels like the sniffles or allergies: DO NOT COME TO CLASS, go to the health center and document your medical issues (to avoid having an unjustified absence)!

I reserve the right to modify this syllabus
for any reason at any time.