School of Design Studies


Anne-Lise van Niekerk

Students enrolled with the School of Design Studies are expected to produce visually intelligent imagery that are persuasive, enticing, provocative, inspirational, challenging or simply clear and informative. Creatively clever manipulation of the still image shapes people’s perceptions, for example in advertising campaigns.


N Dip (Photography) TUT
B Tech (Photography) (cum laude) TUT
M Tech (Photography) TUT


Anne-Lise’s freelance photographic experience spans a diverse range of clients, such as editorial publications, telecommunications, tertiary institutions, artists, curators, and a local fashion label to name a few.

Having first completed a Diploma and Bachelor’s degree (Cum Laude) she proceeded to graduate with her Master’s degree in Photography in 2010, and has remained focused on academia.

She successfully held a solo exhibition in 2007 and has participated in numerous collaborative exhibitions. She regularly contributes as a seasoned curator of photographic exhibitions.

Career highlights include attending seminars presented by Susan Sontag and Stephen Shore, facilitating a student workshop with Bang-Bang Club photographer Greg Marinovich in 2008, and serving as chairperson to a panel discussion entitled “Distilling The Narrative” in 2015 at iMPAC Film Festival.

In spite of her professional standing in our local industry she remains a humble and dedicated photography lecturer, loved by her students both past and present.

School Focus

The School of Design Studies produces well-rounded designers, illustrators and photographers who are able to harness the power of the image as a medium of communication. The school focuses on communication mostly by means of the static image in order to deliver the desired message to the intended audience. Students master their technical craft in line with developing an artistic vision and conceptual thinking.

Communication Design

A communication designer creates visual messages by combining communication with art and technology. Careful thought and planning goes into the design of corporate identity, billboards, magazines, and packaging – the list is endless.

Communication Design provides the basis for a career in the graphic and print design industry. It delves into layout and typography, advertising and packaging design to name but a few fields, and is a must for anyone interested in graphic design.

Careers include: Graphic Designer; Corporate Designer; Layout Artist; Editorial Designer; Art Director; Advertising Executive; Copy Editor; Copywriter; Packaging Designer; Brand Manager; Brand Consultant; Marketing and Communications Specialist.

Second Year Communication Design
Elective Modules

Editorial Layout 203

Prerequisites: None

Students will be taught to develop an understanding of page layout and the relation between image and text together with page activation for various format sizes and scales. Students are encouraged to work with a combination of different styles and media in order to successfully integrate image and type in the relevant design software.

Corporate Identity Design 202

Prerequisites: None

Students use basic and fundamental knowledge regarding branding and graphic design to create a fresh and efficient corporate identity, complete with logo and other visual media to accompany it. The student will be able to conceptualise a brand identity and transfer that idea into functional corporate media.

Third Year Communication Design
Elective Modules

Digital Publishing 303

Prerequisites: Communication Design 101

Students are shown how digital publishing aims to emulate traditional printing media on modern digital mediums such as tablets and phones. Rather than a traditional printed page consisting of text and imagery, digital publishing provides the viewer with a greater sense of interactivity in the form of animations, video and sound.

Advanced Printing Practice 304

Prerequisites: None

Students are equipped with the necessary tools to be able to create documents for print. The printing process will be explored in depth in relation to the various forms of commercial printing. The evolution of print and its various incarnations through the ages will also be discussed.


The art of illustration deals with creating graphic representations that convey factual and sensory information about a particular concept. Illustration allows for the exploration of various illustration styles in a variety of media.

Students generate illustrations according to a theme and merge concept and form in order to communicate the message successfully. Illustrations produced range from the imaginative to images based on observation.

Careers include: Illustrator
; Storyboard Illustrator; Medical Illustrator; Comics Artist; Printmaker; 
Fine Artist
; Graphic Novelist; Textile Designer; Commercial Artist.

Second Year Illustration
Elective Modules

Digital Illustration 204

Prerequisites: Illustration 101

Students are introduced to digital processes in illustration. Various digital methods for creating images with digital software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are explored. The different applications of digital software and the integration of Photoshop and Illustrator are explored.

Illustrated Type 201

Prerequisites: Illustration 101

Students focus on the development of hand drawn type alongside an image. The student becomes familiar with the treatment of type as an illustrated element, which is placed alongside an illustrated image to form a final composition. Students develop illustrated type for a motto placed alongside another illustrated element, which is finally integrated into a final composition.

Experimental Illustration 203

Prerequisites: Illustration 101

Students are introduced to exploratory processes in illustration with an emphasis on alternative materials and illustration approaches. This module encourages the student to investigate unconventional modes of mark making, which may be introduced into a more refined illustration context in the final stage of the project.

Comics 201-204

Prerequisites: Illustration 101

Students are introduced to the formal structure of comics and investigate the application of foundational elements and conventions of comics as a tool for self-expression and the communication of ideas. Comic page layouts, the relationship between text and image, the visual style of comic art, the writing and the production of self-published comic books as a form of expression is explored.

Printmaking 202

Prerequisites: Illustration 101

Students are introduced to a few fundamental printmaking techniques such as monotype, etching and linocut. Students are introduced to various printmaking skills and thus obtain a general understanding of printmaking processes.

Third Year Illustration
Elective Modules

Artist’s Book 304

Prerequisites: Any Illustration elective module taken on Level 2

Students are introduced to the making of artists’ books and explore the book as a medium for artistic expression. Students learn to challenge the conventional book format and become exposed to different ways to make use of the book format as a medium in order to convey an idea / concept in a non-textual manner featuring illustrated content.

Illustrated Type Advanced 303

Prerequisites: Illustration 101

Students investigate various methods involved in generating illustrated type. It introduces the planning and conceptual thinking that is involved in this process. The relationship between the legibility of the type and its expression is explored. After completing this module the student will not only have a better grasp of the process involved in generating illustrated typography but also on its general application.

Sequential Art 301-304

Prerequisites: Comics 201/202/203/204

Students are guided through critical and analytical approaches to comics, graphic novels and sequential art. The module explores boundaries of the formalistic limits of sequential art, and provides students with a means to explore sequential art as a tool for self-expression and the communication of complex ideas, all the while experimenting with a variety of tools, media and approaches of an advanced sequential nature.

Contemporary Illustration 301

Prerequisites: Illustration 101

Students focus on the production of an illustrated record (LP) sleeve in which they are encouraged to explore stylistic approaches of a contemporary nature. The student is required to create a complete illustrated back and front for the record in a more experimental and innovative manner. This also involves the merging of traditional and digital illustration and the integration of illustrated typography is explored.


Successfully capturing and documenting life through the lens of a camera consists of more than just pressing a button. Photography is a highly creative and competitive field of practice.

Photography focuses on the mastery of photographic techniques that are industry relevant and develops students who can successfully enter the various photographic industries from product photography to fashion.

Careers include: Commercial Photographer; Editorial Photographer; Press Photographer; Image Retoucher; Director of Photography; Lighting Technician; Studio Manager; Art Director; Stylist.

Second Year Photography
Elective Modules

Lighting Techniques 202

Prerequisites: Photography 101

Students are introduced to the fundamental theory and principles of light and its behaviour, and instructed on how to control the quality of light. The module demonstrates basic one-, two- and three-point lighting techniques and offers insight to how lighting conveys mood. The student is instructed on basic studio etiquette, including how to use professional studio lighting, light modifiers and accessories.

Lighting Techniques 204

Prerequisites: Lighting Techniques 201

Students focus on lighting techniques applied to challenging subject matter that necessitate creative problem solving, such as products showcasing a combination of reflective, transparent or opaque surfaces. The module instructs students on special effects lighting and extensive three-point lighting techniques to complement the foundation acquired in Lighting Techniques 201.

Photoshop post-production 201

Prerequisites: Photography 101

Students are introduced to the practice of corrective post-production techniques and digital image workflow applied to photographic content. The student is instructed on how to use Adobe Camera RAW, Adobe Bridge and Adobe Photoshop in a non-destructive multi-layer workflow. Corrective retouching techniques include colour grading and adjustment, contrast adjustment, skin tone retouching, image sharpening and preparing photographic files for print and digital output.

Photoshop post-production 202

Prerequisites: Photoshop Post-production 1

Students further develop their fundamental post-production skills by placing emphasis on non-destructive multi-layer retouching and preparation for output. Intermediary post-production techniques covered in this module include spotting (“clean up”), adjusting lens perspective, converting photographic imagery to monochrome (“black and white”) and refining tonal adjustments through basic dodging and burning techniques. Emphasis is furthermore placed on printing practice.

Third Year Photography
Elective Modules

Professional Retouching Corrective 301

Prerequisites: None

Students focus on the fundamental skills of the professional retouching practice. Emphasis is placed on a non-destructive multi-layer workflow, focusing on skills such as batch processing, selection techniques (masks and channels), advanced spotting, advanced skin tone retouching and advanced colour-, contrast and tonal adjustment. In addition to the aforementioned corrective techniques, the module aims to highlight ethical considerations and retouching etiquette.

Professional Retouching Manipulative 303

Prerequisites: None

Students cover advanced post-production techniques focusing on image manipulation and basic conceptualisation. The student will be instructed on post-production techniques including compositing, colour grading, image stacking and the creative distortion or rendering of elements in the photographic image using Adobe Camera RAW, Adobe Bridge and Adobe Photoshop.

Lighting Techniques 302

Prerequisites: Lighting Techniques 201

Students work on their lighting skills in the studio by placing emphasis on special effects lighting and techniques including production set lighting, projection lighting and advanced portrait lighting techniques. The module places emphasis on conceptualisation, creative problem solving and art direction in the studio in addition to advanced lighting and production techniques.

Lighting Techniques 304

Prerequisites: Lighting Techniques 301

Students focus on advanced lighting techniques applied in on-location settings where mixed lighting conditions are present. Students will understand fundamental principles and theories of light pertaining to mixed lighting conditions, including light ratio and the control thereof, and the control of colour balance pertaining to the variety of artificial light sources used in on-location productions. Lighting Techniques 302 places emphasis on intermediary to advanced three-point on-location lighting using a variety of light sources as well as how to convey mood.

General Elective Modules Applicable to All
Visual Communication Design Students

General Second Year
Elective Modules

Concept Development 201

Prerequisites: None

Students build a more solid understanding of the complex cognitive and affective processes associated specifically with idea production in creative thinking. The main aim of the subject is to strengthen the thinking skills and mindsets that students can use to generate creative ideas using concepts in problem solving. It promotes a deeper understanding of the creative process, allied with a flexible array of idea generation exercises and techniques framed within problem solving activities to improve the divergent thinking skills of each student.

Marketing 201: Building your Brand

Prerequisites: None

Students are introduced to the concept that they are a creative brand. It takes more than just a piece of paper stating that you have a degree or a diploma to be successful. Students are accompanied on the journey of creating and building their personal brand – from establishing what it is that sets them apart, to the various ways and channels available today that they can use to market themselves and build their brand identity.

Marketing 202: Your CV and Portfolio

Prerequisites: None

Students are introduced to the concepts of the cover letter, résumé, curriculum vitae and portfolio. These are all discussed and analysed in detail, presenting different examples and layouts. Students produce their own CV and portfolio and end the module with a completed CV that they can use and maintain.

Marketing 203: Putting your Brand to Work

Prerequisites: None

Students might know how to build their own brand – but how do they actually market themselves in an incredibly competitive marketplace? This module aims to help students gain the necessary skills to go out and look for work, whether it is freelance or full-time employment. Students are introduced to different employment opportunities; where to look for project funding; possible legal concerns as well as workplace etiquette – equipping students to market themselves successfully.

General Third Year
Elective Modules

Concept Development 302

Prerequisites: None

Students expand upon the creative thinking that was developed and focus on the application of creative ideas in producing solutions to challenges and problems. Students are encouraged to interrogate, modify and improve their creative organisational habits and develop their independent enquiry and self-directional skills in order to evaluate ideas for implementation when producing creative products.

Research Skills 301

Prerequisites: Visual Culture 200

Research Skills focuses aims to develop students’ abilities to identify arguments, evaluate and review research information, reflect on issues and draw conclusions that can then be presented through academic writing. The subject emphasises critical thinking and the practical application of information in order to present an argument.

Professional Practice 304

Prerequisites: All Film Arts students must complete this subject on Level 3

Students are introduced to subject specific professional practice and general business principles and procedures. Project and personal financial management essentials are described and issues of Tax, Vat and Labour Law elaborated. Students are guided through the concepts and conventions underpinning business practices such as agreements, contracts, project schedules and general bookkeeping. Emphasis is placed on developing a thorough understanding of key professional practice components to enable them to enter the workplace as confident and informed professionals.

Package Information

Graphic Designer

(Web & Print)


Graphic Designer

(Branding & Print)


Commercial Illustrator

(Digital Illustrator)


Illustrator Generalist


Commercial Photographer / Advertising Photographer




Graphic Designer / Illustrator


Graphic Designer / Interaction Designer


Illustrator / Motion Graphic Designer


Illustrator / Photographer


Photographer / Film Production Consultant


Graphic Designer / Motion Graphic Designer


Graphic Designer / Photography


Open your window to infinite possibilities…


Carmen Koetje

Carmen Koetje

Subject Manager: Communication Design

BA (Visual Communication) OWI
BA Hons (Visual Communication)
(Cum Laude) OWI

Dalene Meyer

Dalene Meyer

Subject Manager: Drawing

BA (Fine Arts) UP

Elani Botha

Elani Botha

Lecturer: Communication Design

BA (Visual Communication) OWI
BTH (Theology) UP
Enrolled BA Hons (Visual Communication) OWI

Jan Pretorius

Jan Pretorius

Lecturer: Communication Design

BA (Visual Communication) OWI
BA Hons (Visual Communication) OWI

Jayne Robertson

Jayne Robertson

Lecturer: Visual Culture & Academic Coordinator

MA FA (Curatorial practice)
Currently reading for DLitt et Phil (Communication Stud.) (RD)

Jorina Botha

Jorina Botha

Lecturer: Photography

N Dip (Fine Arts) TUT
B Tech (Fine Arts) TUT

Karl van Heerden

Karl van Heerden

Lecturer: VC Theory / Photography / Art History

BA (Visual Communication) OWI
BA Hons (Visual Communication) OWI

Lala Crafford

Lala Crafford

Lecturer: Illustration / Drawing

BA (Fine Arts) UP
Enrolled for MA (Digital Arts Interactive Media) WITS

Miranthe van Staden

Miranthe van Staden

Lecturer: Visual Culture Theory

BA Hons

Maaike Bakker

Maaike Bakker

Subject Manager: Illustration/ Practical Coordinator

BVA (Bachelor of Visual Arts) UNISA
M Tech (Fine Arts) (Cum Laude) UJ

Nina Torr

Nina Torr

Lecturer: Illustration

BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) Parsons The New School for Design NY

Suzette du Plooy

Suzette du Plooy

Subject Manager: Photography


The Open Window (Pty) Ltd (company registration 1973/015860/07), trading as Open Window Institute, is registered as a Private Higher Education Institution by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) with Registration Certificate Number: 2000/HE07/016. Open Window (Pty) Ltd courses are accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) under the Higher Education Act, 1997. Open Window (Pty) Ltd is a SETA provider with provisional accreditation with MICTSETA: Accreditation Number: ACC/2016/07/0012 until 31 March 2017. For more information, please contact Open Window on 012 648 9200.
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