Fundamentals of Digital Imaging Using Photoshop Elements

I.     Course Prefix/Number: GRD 160

       Course Name: Fundamentals of Digital Imaging Using Photoshop Elements

       Credits: 3 (2 lecture; 2 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course covers the fundamental principles of digital imaging, including production, manipulation and output of digital images, and basic elements of design. High quality images will be produced from stock imaging and scanning from film and flat artwork. Course is designed for students who seek a foundation for ART 216 and those who are preparing to work in the photography/design field as medical photographers, wedding photographers, and production artists, who will not need the more extensive study of Photoshop and digital imaging provided in ART 216.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the basic principles of producing digital images.
  2. Manipulate images while employing the basic aesthetic principles of imaging.
  3. Create a slide show from available media.
  4. Organize images by creating catalogs
  5. Apply the basic principles of color theory to color correction
  6. Brighten underexposed images and to darken overexposed images in a local or global fashion.
  7. Restore and composite multiple images.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Basic Principles of Digital Imaging
    1. Pixel
    2. Raster
    3. Vector
    4. Bytes, Kilobytes, Megabytes
    5. Physical size
    6. File types
    7. Resolution
  2. Elements of two-dimensional Designs
    1. Tone
    2. Line
    3. Texture
    4. Shape
    5. Color theory
  3. Introduction to Photoshop Elements
    1. Tools
    2. Windows
    3. Pull down menu
  4. Scanning and Input, output
    1. Film scanning
    2. Flat bed scanning
    3. Stylus and tablet
    4. Stock CD’s
    5. Printing and files
  5. Managing pictures
    1. File Browser
    2. Contact Sheet
    3. Organizing pictures and tagging
    4. Getting information on your photos
  6. Photo presentations
    1. Mounting and matting
    2. Slide shows
    3. Album pages
    4. Calendars, greeting cards, postcards, and CD’s
  7. Client presentation
    1. Watermarking and copyright
    2. Proof sheets for clients and sizing
    3. Picture package layouts
    4. PDF presentations, email and photo websites
  8. Layers, selections and masking in Photoshop Elements
    1. Brushes
    2. Selection tools and saving selections
    3. Layers
  9. Density and Exposure
    1. Levels and curves
    2. Methods of creating the perfect image
    3. Dodging and burning
    4. Sharpening
    5. Auto adjustments
  10. Color Adjustment
    1. Color casts
    2. Color correction and methods of fixing color
    3. Auto adjustments
    4. Printing color and color management
  11. Repairing and Retouching
    1. De-saturation and saturation of color
    2. The rubber stamp tool
    3. Using a gradient fill
    4. Removing wrinkles and spots
    5. Restoring damaged photographs
  12. Montage
    1. Copy and paste/drag and drop
    2. Erasing part of an image
    3. Using a gradient clipping path

VII.  Methods of Instruction

This course will be taught through presentations, including lecture and demonstrations. Critiques of original works will be held throughout the semester.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  1. Produce 12 finished and mounted original works.
  2. Participate in critiques with completed work.
  3. Take quizzes and a final exam.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

  1. Ink jet paper – Glossy surface
  2. Flash drive or CDR disk
  3. Museum grade mount board
  4. Suggested source book: “Adobe Photoshop Elements” classroom in a book

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

  1. Grading:
    The final grade will be based upon a point system that will equal 100. The total points that you will receive at the end of the semester will determine your grade. The letter grade will be based upon the percentage of earned points out of 100 points, according to the following grading scale:
    100 – 90 = A
    89 – 80 = B
    79 – 70 = C
    69 – 60 = D
    below 60 = F
  2. Points will be derived from the following:
    1. 3 Informal Critiques
      10 points for each critique
      Total = 30
    2. Comments on 3 Critiques
      5 points for each critique comment
      Total = 15
    3. 2 Notebooks
      5 points for each notebook
      Total = 10
    4. Final Critique
      Total = 10
    5. Final Exam
      Total = 35
  3. Assignments
    All assignments are due at the critiques, as scheduled.

XI.   Other Course Information

Open lab schedule at Oakton will be presented to the student at the beginning of the course.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.