Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

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Note: some or all of the courses in the subjects marked as "Transfer" can be used towards a transfer degree: Associate of Science and Arts or Associate of Engineering Science at DACC. Transferability for specific institutions and majors varies. Consult a counselor for this information.

Areas of Study | | ARTS120 syllabus

COURSE TITLE:Basic Design 3-D I
DIVISION:Liberal Arts

Fundamentals of three-dimensional design. Theory and studio practice covering principles of plane, form, mass, volume, space, color, light and structure as they relate to functional object and aesthetic fine art applications. Materials can include clay, plaster, wood, metals and other three dimensional materials used in three dimensional forming, building and construction. Class meets five hours per week.

College-level reading skills required (place out of or complete DEVR098).


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Acquire and demonstrate adequate preparation for more advanced study in specific art forms such as sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, architecture, crafts, etc.
  • Experiment with and demonstrate through class discussion, critique, physical projects and examination fundamental terminologies and concepts used in three dimensional design.
  • Attain familiarity with the aesthetic criteria of three dimensional design and can objectively evaluate the work of others as well as their own.
  • Garner, discern, assess and appreciate the concepts of form, structure, mass, volume and function in nature and manmade environments.

Week 1
  • Introductions-syllabus review-materials
  • Lecture topic: Between 2-D and 3-D
  • Objective: To introduce the differences between the two-dimensional picture plane and three- dimensional volume, space, and structure.
  • Vocabulary:
    • two-dimensional
    • three-dimensional
    • picture plane
    • form
    • positive / negative
    • void / volume
    • solid
    • space
  • Reading and research: Shaping Space (assigned in class from internet sources)
  • Project 1 introduced
  • Assignments: 1) Transformed plane: make a 3-D object using a single piece of cardboard. (3 hours in class) AND 2) From 2-D to 3-D: generate a relief sculpture from a two-dimensional drawing. Any Pliable medium may be used. (9 hours) OR 3) From Frame to Form: Working from a photograph or slide, create a relief sculpture with that compresses space into a relatively shallow relief in cardboard. (9 hours)
Week 2
  • Project 1 continued
  • Project 1’s critique
Week 3
  • Lecture topic: Low Relief / High Relief
  • Objective: To introduce relief sculpture and to continue the discussion on the differences between 2D and 3D space.
  • Vocabulary:
    • bas (pronounced “bah” as in French) relief (low relief)
    • haut (pronounced “oh”) relief (high relief)
    • texture
    • additive
    • subtractive
    • volume reversal
    • negative
    • positive Reading and research: Light and Shadow and 3-D forms
  • Assignments: 1) Quick relief: Using aluminum foil (heavy duty), cardboard, staples, make a bas relief by pressing foil over found objects or parts of human subjects. Staple sections to cardboard backing. Spray paint result if desired (try spraying from just one side to accentuate relief). Spray painting must be done outside, with a tarp laid. (3 hours) OR 2) Relief Jewelry: Create a large scale (12 inches across or larger) piece of “jewelry” (a brooch or pin, for example) that explores the idea of low and high relief (3 hours) out. (3 hours) AND 3) Cardboard strata: Using cardboard glued together in layers, create a wall sculpture with both low and high relief. Consider translating a photograph or drawing or other 2D information. (9 hours) OR 4) Plaster casts: Using plaster bandages, combine casting from a human subject or found objects to create a relief. Combine individually cast elements onto backing board to create cohesive composition. (9 hours) OR 5) Relief by substitution: Press a clay slab into a low wooden frame, or surround an irregularly shaped slab with a low wall of clay. Working both additive and subtractive, create a “negative” mold (volume reversal) with which to make a “positive” plaster wall relief. Pour plaster into mold. Reinforce with sisal or light mesh if thin. Imbed a hook into back of relief while plaster is still wet. Variation: Crumple wax paper or aluminum foil or plastic bags to create a textured mold. (9 hours)
Week 4
  • Project 2 continued
  • Critique of project 2
  • Low relief/high relief continued
  • Lecture topic: Points, Lines, Planes, Volumes
  • Objective: Introduction of three-dimensional space conceived as a vocabulary of points, lines, and planes defining actual and implied elements.
  • Vocabulary:
    • point
    • line
    • plane
    • Volume
    • Dynamic
    • Implied
    • non-objective
    • In-the-round
Week 5
  • Reading and research: Kinetic sculpture
  • Assignments: 1) Using malleable wire of two different gauges, produce a "non-objective" sculpture. Refinement may require you to think of their sculpture as a "conversation" between two "moving points" (lines) in which the two lines engage one another, but never touch. Think composition. (4 hours) OR 2) Using a malleable metal wire (soft iron, aluminum, copper), produce a "full round" sculpture that accurately mimics a "found object." Variation: Create a piece of wearable clothing or armor from line that responds to a section of the human body. (4 hours) AND 3) Use both planar and linear materials to produce a "non-objective" sculpture with no "inside" or "outside." (9 hours) OR 4) Using found objects that are either planar or linear produce a "non-objective" sculpture that has no front or back and is free-standing. (9 hours) OR 5) Using planar materials (cardboard, foamcore, Masonite, OSB, plywood) render an organic volume. (9 hours) OR 6) Make and sleep in a tent, pavilion, or structure of your own design. Stress formal relationships of line, plane, and volume. (9 hours) OR 7) Create a pavilion for the opposite gender. Use at least one "implied plane" and one "implied line." (9 hours) OR 8) Create a mobile (try to improve on Calder...) that describes implied spatial volumes by the movement of its constituent elements. (10 hours)
Week 6
  • Continuation of Week 5 assignments
  • Lecture topic: Mass and Form
  • Objective: To introduce both traditional and non-traditional approaches to the concept of mass as applied to three dimensional form.
  • Vocabulary:
    • mass
    • density
    • weight
    • gravity
    • form
    • simulation
    • surface
    • tactile
    • traditional/non-traditional
    • Subtractive
    • Synthetic
  • Reading: Scale
  • Assignments: 1) Cast two 6 inch cubes in plaster. Using subtractive methods, do the following: a) make one block as “light” as possible—both physically and qualitatively, b) make the second block as heavy-looking and as inert as possible. (4 hours) OR 2) Make a heavy object—a rock, a block of plaster, an anvil, etc.—appear to deny the laws of gravity; conversely, make a physically light object appear impossibly heavy. (4 hours) OR 3) Create a sculpture in clay, plaster, or wood that gives different sensations of mass and weight from different angles of view. For example, a rectilinear block of wood with a hole bored through it will appear heavy from one vantage point, relatively light from another. (4 hours) OR 4) Find an actual stone or other natural “found object.” Produce a replica of the stone in a synthetic material such as Styrofoam. Use surface treatment that mimics as closely as possible to the original object. Using your found and fabricated objects, make a sculpture that combines these actual and simulated materials. (4 hours)
Week 7
  • Lecture topic: Inflatables
  • Objective: To introduce the concepts of scale and proportion as applied to three-dimensional form. To explore issues of abstraction as related to material, scale, and context to introduce methods for moving easily between scales.
  • Vocabulary:
    • scale
    • size
    • proportion
    • context
    • pattern
    • grid system
    • abstraction
    • "found object"
    • spectacle
    • camouflage
  • Reading and research: The Sensation, the Spectacle
  • Possible Assignments: 1) Create a "pattern" from a familiar object with distinct "planar" surfaces. Using this pattern as a guide, do the following: a) produce a flat "map" of the object, b) produce a "duplicate" of the original in an unusual material, c) using a "grid system" make a miniature version of your object "to scale," d) make a scaled-up version or "blow-up" of the original object, e) insert the enlarged object in a new "context." (3-6 hours) variation: use other methods for moving between scales such as calipers or a three-dimensional gridded measuring frame. (3-6 hours) OR 2) Make an inflatable sculpture. Make a paper mock-up of the projected sculpture using flat shapes stapled or glued together. Disassemble the paper prototype and use the shapes to determine the material need of your large-scale inflatable. (Remember how a dress goes together?) Cut enlarged versions of shapes from plastic sheet or similar material. Inflate the sculpture by using a high volume fan. Consider the sculpture's relationship to the site. (3-6 hours) OR 3) Design and fabricate a suit of "personal armor." Make two versions--each at a different scale and using different materials. One will be wearable; the other will be either significantly smaller or larger than you. (3-6 hours)
Week 8
  • Lecture topic: Modular Units and Repetition
  • Objective: Introduction of the concepts of “repetition,” “modularity,” and “part to whole” relationships. Application of modular principles to the construction of three-dimensional form.
  • Vocabulary:
    • module
    • modularity
    • part-to-whole
    • repetition
    • rhythm,
    • free-form
    • non-objective
    • connectors
    • connections
    • prototype
    • pattern-maker
    • jig
    • template
    • production
  • Reading and research: Modular space
  • Assignments: 1) Produce a “non-objective” structure or sculpture that is composed of at least 12 identical “modular units” (9 hours) OR 2) Design a new form of food and the machine required to prepare it. Present the “raw” material, the machine, and several examples of the “prepared” food in a sculptural, but palatable form (9 hours). OR 3) Use multiples of a common manufactured object to produce a non-objective relief or sculpture. (9 hours) OR 4) Use natural “modular elements” (e.g., leaves, eggshells, bamboo, etc) and combine them using only natural materials (or only “high tech” materials…) (9 hours) OR 5) Design a children’s game or toy comprised of at least 12 identical units. Consider the age of the child and the various potential interactions between objects and children. Design the box or container for the game. (9 hours)
Week 9
  • Modular space continued
  • Lecture topic: Structures
  • Objective:
    • To introduce structural design principles as applied to three-dimensional problem solving.
    • To explore the possibilities inherent in working within strict material and process limitations.
    • To draw connections between design professions such as architectural engineering and industrial design and the three-dimensional art and design.
  • Vocabulary:
    •  structure
    • structural integrity
    • structural system
    • compression
    • tension
    • tensile strength
    • tension cable
    • expansion
    • contraction
    • distributed load
    • cantilever
    • form follows function
    • honeycomb
    • rib
    • skin
    • parameter
  • Reading: Architecture
  • Assignments: 1) Using no more than 16 square feet of cardboard, design and build the tallest structure you can. (9 hours) OR 2) Using no more than 16 square feet of cardboard, design and build a pedestal that will support your body weight no less than 18 inches off the ground. (9 hours) OR 3) Build a functional ramada (shade structure) from found materials gathered from within a limited geographic area. (9 hours) OR 4) As a member of a design team, design and build a foot bridge that bridges a minimum of 10 feet and a budget of less than $25.00, and will sustain the entire weight of your team. (9 hours)
Week 10
  • Structures continued
  • Lecture topic: Phenomena, Change, and Motion
  • Objective: To make explicit the connection artists and designers working in three-dimensional art feel with physical events and actual processes-both natural and human-made.
  • Vocabulary:
    • phenomenon
    • event
    • actual vs. simulated
    • natural
    • human-made
    • process
    • time
    • real-time
    • duration Reading and research: “reflected light” and “light as a medium”.
  • Assignments: 1) Create a sculpture that gives the sensation of time, change, or motion in a single, static object (viz., Bernini’s David or Brancusi’s Bird in Space). (9 hours) OR 2) Make a sculpture that uses wind or moving water as a motive force, e.g., a “whirlygig.” (9 hours) OR 3) Make a sculpture that explores the idea of illusion through reflectivity or optical distortion (9 hours) OR 4) Make a sculpture that focuses the energy of the sun or tracks its movements. Variation: Use actual light—candle, incandescent, fluorescent, laser, mirrors reflecting an existing light source (or sources) etc., as the subject of a sculptural installation. (9 hours) OR 5) Make a non-objective sculptural object that illustrates the idea of tension or compression through actual processes. (9 hours) OR 6) Create a series or sequence of objects that conveys the idea of time, change, or movement. (9 hours) OR 7) Make a kinetic sculpture or “process” sculpture that marks a specific amount of time. (9 hours) OR 8) Make a “time capsule” and bury it. (?) OR 9) Make a sculpture or architectural model that exhibits qualities of “timelessness.” (9 hours)
Week 11
  • Free studio week. Use this time to complete past assignments.
  • Midterm critiques
Week 12
  • Lecture topic: The chair
  • Objective: To create a working seat at scale.
    • Create a seat. You may use any material. (9 hours)
Week 13
  • The chair continued
Week 14
  • Final Project
  • Objectives:
    • To encourage the student to work with multiple principles and elements introduced by the Course.
    • To integrate disparate conceptual orientations into coherent spatial constructions and/or presentations. To explore the impact of physical or social context on a work of art.
  • Assignments: 1) Construct a site-specific sculpture that illustrates the concept of "balance"--conceptually, physically, and visually. (18 hours) 2) Do a "mail art" sculpture that takes into consideration the exterior form, the interior content, the practical requirements of shipping through the mail, and the visual aspects of the final presentation. This project is ideal for graphic design students who want to explore package design. (18 hours) 3) Create an "island" on a 3’ X 3’ base (you must be able to take the sculpture through the door) that celebrates a particular historical personage or advocates a particular belief system. Exhibit the work in such a way as to heighten the impact of your sculpture. (18 hours) 4) As part of a design team, construct a work of "public art" for an actual site. Use actual public art "RFP's" (request for proposal) whenever possible. (18 hours) 5) Make a sculpture that floats. Take into account reflections, movement, context, associations of water. Organize an event on a body of water. Variation: As a member of a collaborative team, design and build a full-scale cardboard boat. Film the boat “in action”. (18 hours) 6) As part of a design team, organize a kite-flying event for junior high school kids. Work out plans for successful kites, contact local schools, consider the time of year and context for the year. This assignment is ideal for education or child care majors. (18 hours) 8) Create a series of inflatable sculptures or other monumentally scaled sculptural objects that respond to a particular social event or natural phenomenon (e.g., solar eclipse). (18 hours)
Week 15 and 16
  • Wrapping up loose ends
  • Final critiques
  • Review for final
  • Final exam

There is no text book You will be directed to articles via internet.
Suggested Material/Tool list
  • 8.5x11 (or bigger) sketchbook
  • #11 x-acto knife with extra blades
  • small bottle of white glue
  • small plastic bucket
  • metal tape measure (optional)
  • assorted pencils and pens
  • assorted paints, brushes (as needed for specific projects)
  • eye protection
  • hot melt glue sticks and gun
  • Corrugated cardboard good condition (no grease, wet stuff, 24" in any direction, minimum. Check big box stores.)
  • Start gathering material now for projects later in the semester:
    • masking tape
    • roll of soft iron wire, baling wire is cheap (thin enough to bend easily)
    • a box for all your stuff.
Notes: Other supplies will be assigned as needed for particular projects.
Bring what you will need to complete the assignments.

Vocabulary on concepts and terminology: (85 points)
12 studio projects: (600 points)
Sketchbook: (30 points)
Artist’s statements: (120 points)
Critiques: (120 points)
MIDTERM: comprehensive, 30 multiple choice questions and True and false (30 points)
FINAL EXAM: comprehensive, 40 multiple choice and true and false (40 points)
Total points: 1025 points


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Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Testing & Academic Services Center at 217-443-8708 (TTY 217-443-8701) or stop by Cannon Hall Room 103. Please speak with your instructor privately to discuss your specific accommodation needs in this course.

Spring 2019

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