Graphic Artist - Computer Graphic Design | Penn Foster Career School

Online Computer Graphic Artist

Why Penn Foster Career School?

  • Regionally & Nationally Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Program Overview

You have an eye for design and a knack for working with technology. It's time to tap into that potential and take the first step toward the career you've always wanted as a digital artist. With Penn Foster Career School's Computer Graphic Artist career diploma program, you'll use Adobe® Illustrator® and other software commonly used in the field of computer graphic design. Your comprehensive lessons include color theory, computer graphics, elements of design, graphic design and production, and the home-based business. With Penn Foster Career School, you train at home and at a pace that's right for you, and you can complete your program in as little as four months.

Computer graphic designers work at advertising agencies, design studios, publishing houses, newspapers, public relations, manufacturing, or travel agencies. Whatever you choose to pursue, Penn Foster Career School can help you prepare for your future in graphic design.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

To prepare students for an entry-level career as a computer graphic artist.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Understand the benefits of using computer programs and hardware to create computer graphics that are artistically interesting and appealing to clients and consumers, as well as review different career options available to digital artists.
  • Explore basic color theory concepts and software techniques, the relationship between light and color, the organization of colors using color wheels and color spheres effectively, and the differences between additive and subtractive color and how it affects art on a computer.
  • Understand computer graphics and the difference between raster graphics and vector graphics along with the components and steps involved in publication design.
  • Identify how a computer works with existing graphics, original graphics, photographs, and the different types of graphics software available.
  • Understand the history of and the current uses for the Internet and the World Wide Web, how to navigate through the Internet using web URLs, and links and use email and upload and download files.
  • Recognize and name Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and search engines, while understanding how to use search engines and their features, including parts of a URL.
  • Identify the various components of a document, how the spacing between letters, lines, and words can be used, and what must be considered before a document can go into a page layout program.
  • Understand the term illustration and its applications in the world of graphic design, including the role of graphic images in publications; identify the different types of illustrations commonly used in graphic design and computer graphic formats used by most page layout software; and review today’s most popular graphics software packages.
  • Exhibit the basic design principles for communicating visually and incorporating Gestalt theory into your work by demonstrating how to use color, type, and an understanding of four basic principles of design: contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity.
  • Display the skills involved with setting up your own workspace including working with multiple art boards and preparing artwork for output by creating documents that fold and using templates, and explore drawing of basic shapes, drawing and painting complex artwork; working with gradient meshes, custom swatches, brushes, symbols, special effects, and type; combining text with graphics; creating charts, graphs, using image trace and live color and drawings in perspective, and constructing website interfaces.
  • Recognize the advantages and disadvantages of working from home, as well as how to review strategies for organizing and managing your home office, develop a proper work-life balance, and list the equipment you’ll need, as well as understand procedures for successfully marketing your home business.
  • Understand the role of client’s expectations, the various functions of a portfolio, including common methods of presenting artwork, key elements of a professional résumé and different ways to promote your artwork.

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
Introduction to Digital Art

Computer technology enables the trained individual to create highly sophisticated images.

  • Describe the benefits of using computers for artistic purposes.
  • Identify hardware and tools used to create digital art.
  • Explore different career opportunities available to digital artists.

Unit 2

Color Theory

Color sends a powerful message, and the correct use of color can add to the effectiveness of any project.


  • Describe the relationship between light and color.
  • Understand the basics of color theory.
  • Organize colors using color wheels and color spheres.
  • Use color in both two-and three-dimensional projects.
Computer Graphics

Graphics are a vital part of Web design.


  • Learn computer graphics formats.
  • Apply appropriate graphics (illustrations, photographs, animation, video capture).
  • Understand the electronic publishing process, and multimedia production.

Unit 3

Elements of Design

Even before you turn your computer on to begin your design, you’ll need to plan and take preliminary steps.


  • Plan your designs taking into consideration the subject, audience, illustrations, charts, graphs, type, page elements, spacing, style, and publishing the page.

Graphic artists use various kinds of illustrations.


  • Select, size, and place art in documents.
  • Arrange and manipulate illustrations to create different visual effects.

Unit 4

Introduction to Graphic Design

In this course, you’ll explore endless possibilities to create a great design.


  • Identify the four basic principles of design and the ways they're used in a variety of projects.
  • Recognize color relationships.
  • Explain the essential aspects of typography, including contrasts and categories.
  • Demonsstrate skill at incorporating proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast, color, and type into a design.

Unit 5

Graphic Design and Production

Learn and practice the basic skills needed to produce Adobe® Illustrator® artwork.


  • Draw and paint complex artwork in Adobe® Illustrator.®
  • Create charts, graphs, documents that fold, and graphics with text in Adobe® Illustrator.®
  • Use Illustrator® to create a website interface using image trace and live color.
Graded Project

At this point in your program, you'll be required to complete a graded project.

Additional Unit Material

Software and Textbook: Adobe® Design Standard

Unit 6

The Home-Based Business

Discover what it takes to run your business from home.


  • Organize your home office.
  • Balance home and work schedules.
  • Market your products and services.
Selling Yourself as a Computer Graphic Artist

You’ve worked hard and now have the skills you need to work as a computer graphic artist. Learn how to market and promote yourself.


  • Build a portfolio
  • Write a resume.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Adobe and Illustrator are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

Sample Lesson

To view a Computer Graphic Artist sample lesson, click here.

Computer Graphic Artist Program Details

In the Penn Foster Career School Computer Graphic Artist program you'll cover topics such as:

State Licensing Information

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered by your Penn Foster Program. You should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where you plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in your Program. Please click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Graphic Artist Computer Graphic Design

Computer graphic artists design and format documents and Web pages, using software such as Adobe® Illustrator,® for advertising agencies, publishing houses, and corporations. Here are a few qualities that effective computer graphic artists have in common:

  • Creative: When it comes to design, you often have to think outside of the box.
  • Flexible: Projects may require compromise and different approaches for different clients.
  • Innovative: Design issues will require creativity and unique problem solving.
  • Dependable: Clients and employers rely on you to get the job done.

Enrolling in Penn Foster was the best educational move I ever made. The curriculum is comprehensive and if you need help, you get it. If you need accreditation, you've got it. I enjoyed my program so much that I have signed up for another program. I just love the school. I highly recommend it.

- Lorene L., Computer Graphic Artist Graduate

My overall experience with Penn Foster was great. You are allowed to go at your own speed, and the school gives encouragement to keep you going. I would recommend Penn Foster.

- James R., Penn Foster Graduate

I am so happy that I made a career change with the help of Penn Foster. Penn Foster makes it easy, and they are always supportive and encouraging to you. Whenever I had a question, I just gave my instructors a call, and they were very helpful and easy to talk with. The online testing made it convenient, and my shipments always arrived right on time.

- Christina R., Penn Foster Graduate

Your program includes:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Learning aids, including Adobe® Design Standard Software
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Computer Graphic Artist academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

Does Penn Foster Career School's Computer Graphic Artist Career Diploma Program include any software?

Yes, this program includes Adobe® Design Standard software.

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