Graphic Design 101 with Matthew Revert

Learn the basics of graphic design as they apply to the publishing industry with acclaimed graphic designer Matthew Revert in this four-week workshop.

Your Instructor: Designer and Visual Artist Matthew Revert

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 16

Price: $299

Class Description

They say don't judge a book by its cover, but that doesn't mean you can't judge a cover by its design.

Good design is not just a matter of aesthetic taste. It is a learned skill that can be honed like any other. And who better to learn from than the man whose unique visual style has graced some of the most memorable small-press covers in recent years—the ubiquitous Matthew Revert.


There is a distinction between a design course and a Photoshop course.

This is not a course detailing the near-endless functionality of Photoshop or any other graphic program, but it will require you to use them in order to complete the assignments. It is understandable that students will have varying levels of aptitude in the use of graphic software and in order to meet these skill levels, Matthew will be available on a one-on-one basis to discuss techniques to produce the work you want.

You will leave this class with the tools to produce a market-ready design, for both digital and print publication.

Check out more of his work at Matthew Revert Design.

A note from Matthew:

The software I primarily used in the execution of this course is Photoshop, but the aim is to make it accessible for all, no matter the software used. If you use software such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign or even free web-based applications such as Pixlr, I will endeavor to tailor the experience to your individual needs. The course is intended to provide students with design essentials, which can be explored no matter the software used. At any point, I will be available on a one-on-one basis to help you navigate technical issues with your chosen software.

What This Class Covers

Week One: An Introduction

Lecture: The first week will cover introductory basics. It will ask the simple question, “what is graphic design?” before exploring how designs are implemented for the commercial world of publishing. Students will be asked to study various examples of graphic design within the publishing world covering several different design styles from non-fiction accounting books through to horror novels. Using their understanding of design tropes, they will be asked to create a cover that adheres to a selected genre.

  • What is graphic design?
  • Artistic design vs. commercial design. Is it either/or?
  • Understanding your market
  • Examples of graphic design within various genres and styles of writing
  • Common design errors

Assignment: Students will be presented with a list of fictitious books along with a brief description of each. They will be asked to a design a cover that matches the style and genre of the selected book. One-on-one assistance will be provided regarding specific software techniques.

Week Two: Typography

Lecture: In the second week we will look at the importance of typography. When one first approaches the notion of designing book covers, it can be easy to overlook the role typography plays. Week two aims to guide students toward an appreciation for typography by examining examples of existing book covers that utilize it well. Students will be asked to create a book cover using typography as the sole visual element.

  • The importance of typography
  • Conveying emotions and ideas with typography
  • Maintaining visual harmony between typography and imagery
  • How to use typography legally and ethically
  • Common typographical errors.

Assignment: Students will be presented with another list of books with accompanying descriptions. Using typography as their only graphic element, they will be asked to design a cover that still expresses ideas and emotion relevant to the book.

Week Three: Working with Another’s Art

Lecture: In the third week, we will discuss the use of another’s artwork in commercial book design. It will make a distinction between graphic design and other mediums such as painting, illustration and photography. It asks what the designer’s role is when using artwork in their designs to ascertain when to step away and when to actively alter. Students will learn methods for sourcing imagery appropriate for commercial use without legal ramifications.

  • Understanding the distinction between design and illustration
  • What is the designer’s role when working with another’s art?
  • Legally sourcing imagery for commercial use
  • Altering another’s art ethically
  • Common pitfalls when working with another’s art

Assignment: Using the skills attained thus far, students will be asked to legally source an appropriate image or series of images to produce a book cover. If appropriate, students may need to gain permission from an artist whose work they wish to use in their design.

Week Four: Preparing a Design for Publication

Lecture: In the final week, students will use everything they have learned to produce a print-ready design. They will learn how to find the appropriate cover templates (if available) along with techniques to optimize the design for the printing process. This is aimed to get it right the first time and avoid costly mistakes that could have easily been avoided.   

  • Understanding resolution (bigger is better)
  • Working with printer cover templates or designing your own
  • Preparing a design for digital publication
  • Preparing a design for print publication
  • Common mistakes when preparing a design for publication

Assignment: Using a previous design or creating a new one, students will produce a print-ready file that conforms to specifications I will provide. They may also produce a full wraparound design built into the provided template if they choose. The design should take into account skills learned to this point and contain a mixture of graphic and typographic elements.

Goals Of This Class

  • Explore the fundamentals of graphic design as they apply to the world of commercial publishing.
  • Learn how to express ideas and emotions relevant to your project while avoiding common beginner errors.
  • Learn the importance of typography and how to implement it in your work.
  • Learn methods for sourcing imagery appropriate for commercial use without legal ramifications.
  • Incorporate everything you learn to to produce a market-ready design for both digital and print publication.
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