Visual Communication


VISUAL COMMUNICATION is integral to all contemporary media and forms the backbone upon which both the applied arts and fine arts environments are built.

The Open Window VISUAL COMMUNICATION programme is a progressive platform for learners to explore Communication Design, Photography and Illustration. The programme is designed to offer the graduate a sustainable career by focusing on an area of specialisation in one or two of the above fields whilst encouraging interdisciplinary awareness through a wide selection of skills-based modules. This approach provides a flexibility that promotes broad thinking and interdisciplinary articulation within a student’s chosen field(s) of study. Our graduates are able to solve problems in the rapidly developing applied arts arena.

Particular emphasis is placed on contextualising creative practices and trends within the relevant discourses of technological, socio-economic, cultural and political arenas in order to ensure that graduates have the ability to contribute as responsible visual communicators.

This qualification is intended for photographers, graphic designers, creative directors, copywriters and illustrators.

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Communication Design

If you are intrigued by fonts, patterns and bold images, and the visual relationships that hold them in tension this may be the field of study for you.

A Communication Designer plays a vital role in shaping the visual world around us. The designer’s job is to create communicative designs that inspire ideas, transform, shift and shape the world in which we live.

The course explores the endless possibilities that exist when image and type are integrated and it equips learners with the tools needed to engage the contemporary design landscape.

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

Vector Techniques

The focus of this course is on exploring different styles of vector image generation techniques specifically geared towards iconographical design and will include vector line art, isometric design and flat 2D design applications. Learners will gain an understanding of form, varied style and advanced techniques of image generation in Adobe Illustrator.


This course will focus on different techniques of generating typography such as 3D type, handlettering and textured type techniques. Additionally, learners will gain an understanding of different techniques of refining typography.

Motion Design for Designers

This course is geared to introducing learners to the workflow of Adobe After Effects. Learners will gain the necessary skills to create a functional logo animation as well as have insight to basic animation fundamentals.

DPS Tools for Web

The DPS Tools for Web course introduces learners to the practical development of websites using the Adobe Muse software. The focus is on developing web content for desktop screens that is functional and interactive without relying on traditional coding methods. It aims to teach the learner how to approach designing layouts and interaction for websites, with a strong focus on current trends in web design.

Editorial Layout (Non-COMM majors only)

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.

Third Year Communication Design
Elective Modules

Digital Publishing

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

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.

Advertising Practice

The course focuses on theory surrounding the process of advertising, specifically focusing on conceptualising fresh advertising ideas, building and refining an advertising campaign, and how to keep continuity across different forms of advertising. The course places a strong focus on advertising formats, as well as the process and different restrictions on using a variety of current advertising centres such as Instagram, Facebook and other social networking media.


By learning and applying different skills such as iconography, typography, layout and composition, learners are expected to complete an infographics design.

Learners will gain an understanding of how to compile data and research for the purpose of visual communication and learn how to simplify complex data into the form of simple and effective visual communication.


If you are addicted to doodling and can’t stop drawing, painting and expressing your thoughts and ideas with colour and line, this area of study is definitely for you.

An illustrator crafts images that express ideas – they will absorb all the information on a certain topic and distill it into a single, striking image, in the most suitable style.

The course explores various mediums and approaches that can be combined to arrive at an illustrated visual expression which outlines and clarifies concepts or ideas. Illustration communicates through various styles to present illustrated content for posters, books and editorials amongst other things.

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

Second Year Illustration
Elective Modules

Printmaking 201

Prerequisites: Illustration 101 (compulsory if registered for Illustration 201)

Traditional printmaking introduces learners to fundamental printmaking techniques such as monotype printing, etching and linocut printing. Foundational printmaking skills that form part of the printing process are investigated, thereby presenting learners with a general understanding of basic printmaking techniques.

Digital Illustration Techniques 201

Prerequisites:Illustration 101 (compulsory if registered for Illustration 201)

Digital Illustration Techniques’ introduces the learner to a variety of digital processes in illustration through the exploration of various digital illustration methods that inform the development of images with digital software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. The diverse application of digital software and the integration of Photoshop and Illustrator outcomes is explored.

Experimental Illustration 201

Prerequisites: Illustration 101

Experimental Illustration introduces learners to investigate exploratory processes in illustration and places an emphasis on the implementation of traditional materials and alternative processes into a digital context. This elective encourages learners to investigate unconventional modes of image generation, which in the final stage of the project, is ultimately introduced to a digital context where it is refined into a completed illustration.

Illustrated Type & Image 201

Prerequisites: Illustration 101

The Illustrated Type & image 201 elective is focused on the development of hand drawn type to be placed in conjunction with an image. The learner becomes familiar with the treatment of type as an illustrated element, which is then placed in the context of an illustrated image to form a final composition.

Comics 201-202

Prerequisites: Illustration 101

The Comics elective introduces students to the formal structure of comics and investigates 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.

Third Year Illustration
Elective Modules

Contemporary Illustration 301

Prerequisites: Illustration 101 (compulsory if registered for Illustration 301)

This elective explores contemporary illustration methods. The student is required to create a series of illustrations based on a more experimental approach which makes use of a variety current illustration techniques. This also involves the merging of typography into an illustration based context.

Illustrated Type 301

Prerequisites: Illustration 101 (compulsory if registered for Illustration 301)

This elective investigates 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 elective the student will not only have a better grasp of the process involved in generating illustrated typography but also on its general application.

Artists’ Book 301

Prerequisites: Illustration 100

The artists’ book elective introduces students to the development of artists’ books and explores the book format 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 through the introduction of illustrated content.

Sequential Art 301-302

Pre-requisites: Comics 201/202 or Illustration 100

Sequential art 301 guides learners through critical and analytical approaches to comics, graphic novels and sequential art. The course explores boundaries of the formalistic limits of sequential art, and provides learners 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.


If you are obsessed by getting the right shot, with the right light, at just the right moment, then enrol for this subject.

A photographer is a storyteller, communicating through still images. Photography combines technical skill with a deep appreciation for observation, to express not only what you see, but how you interpret what you see, and the way you want others to experience the photograph.

The course involves creative problem solving, and encourages an appreciation for visual communication in order to express a distinct perspective through the photographic image.

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

Postproduction 201

This elective deals in the fundamental skills of the Photoshop CS6 interface as a digital workflow solution to students specializing in most visual commu-nication avenues. The module covers the essential tools and workflow most commonly used in both photographic and design practices, such as the Adobe Photoshop toolbox, options bar and applications panel; using Adobe Bridge; using smart objects and filters; understanding file types and file preparation for output to print

Postproduction 202

This elective extends the student’s knowledge of post-production by introducing intermediate image correction techniques applicable to the workflow of commercial photography genres. This module elaborates techniques applicable in image editing, image editing software and printing practice, and places emphasis on corrective editing for beauty and product photography. In addition, the student will be introduced to various techniques focusing on non-destructive corrective editing, as well as intermediate large volume editing, retouching practice and creative techniques applied correctively.

Studio Lighting 201

This elective instructs the learner how to apply a variety of basic lighting techniques to subject matter using 1-, 2- and 3-point lighting set-ups.Such basic lighting techniques demonstrated in the photographic studio can be applied to portrait and product photography.Learners will also be introduced to the terminologies and workflow of relevant studio equipment, studio etiquette, studio safety and basic studio maintenance.

Studio Lighting 202

This elective broadens the learner’s lighting skills in the photographic studio by placing emphasis on subject matter that necessitates creative problem solving. Such challenging subject matter include shiny metals, such as silver, chrome or stainless steel objects, as well as products that are filled with liquid.  Emphasis is also placed on the stylistic conventions of effects lighting in portraiture in order to convey atmosphere.

Figure Drawing Advanced

This elective explores the technique of figure drawing further. Learners are encouraged to engage with the anatomy, whilst using emotive and expressive drawing techniques to enhance the depiction of the figure.

Alternative Drawing Techniques

The elective aims to enhance the learner’s ability to explore the field of drawing through applying various mark-making techniques. Learners will explore the effects of using unconventional drawing media, and how to apply experimental mark-making techniques with a composition in mind. Learner are encouraged to introduced to contemporary approaches in style and technique, which emphasises creative thinking.

Third Year Photography
Elective Modules

Postproduction 301

The objective of this short course is to build on existing skills of the Adobe Photoshop (Basic – Intermediate) short course and explore more of the advanced techniques available so as to ensure seamless operation and application of tools, workflows and processes involved in editing.

Postproduction 302

In this elective, learners will be instructed to apply a variety of compositing techniques to a range of photographic images in order to master manipulative editing skills prevalent in the image retouching industry. Learners must showcase an understanding of compositing terminology and principles, and be able to relate this understanding in an environment simulating industry demands and tasks. In addition to these manipulative techniques, learners will also be tested on their ability to execute certain corrective editing techniques in a similar vein simulating industry demands and tasks, such as criteria regarding the technique as well as time constraints to achieve the desired effect. This elective aims to deliver an individual who possesses a variety of indispensable image retouching skill sets that ultimately will broaden the learner’s field to possible workplace opportunities.

The Promotional Video 301

This elective broadens the learner’s marketing perspective by encouraging the learner to position themselves within the industry. The learner will work on creating a refined showreel or promotional video for future client perusal that highlights the learner’s body of work within a conceptual manner, highlighting portfolio strengths and potential for future projects.

Studio Lighting 301

This elective broadens the learner’s lighting skills in the photographic studio by placing emphasis on special effects lighting and techniques. Such special effects lighting include production set lighting, projection lighting and advanced portrait lighting techniques. The elective places emphasis on conceptualisation, creative problem-solving and art direction in the photographic studio in addition to advanced lighting and production techniques.

General Elective Modules Applicable to All
Visual Communication Design Students

General Second Year
Elective Modules

Building your brand

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. You need to take all that you know and will still learn to build a personal brand, allowing you to market yourself and stand out as a leader in your field. 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.

Your CV and Portfolio

In this module 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.

Putting your brand to work

You might know how to build your own brand – but how do you actually market yourself 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

Communication Design General


Communication Design (Interactive/Digital Design)


Communication Design (Advertising Print/Digital)


Communication Design (Illustration/Motion)


Illustration (Marketing/ Communication Design)


Illustration (Communication- Design/Photography)


Illustration (Motion Design)


Photography 1


Photography 2


Photography 3



2nd and 3rd Year

Open your window to infinite possibilities…

Department Heads

Maaike Bakker

Maaike Bakker

Practical Coordinator | Subject Manager: Illustration

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

Jayne Robertson

Jayne Robertson

Academic Coordinator | Lecturer: Visual Culture

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


Carmen Koetje

Carmen Koetje

Subject Manager: Communication Design

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

Markus Hagedorn

Markus Hagedorn

Lecturer: Communication Design

BTech Multimedia TUT

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
BA Hons (Visual Communication) OWI

Jan Pretorius

Jan Pretorius

Lecturer: Communication Design

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

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

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) 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. For more information, please contact Open Window on 012 648 9200.
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