AP Studio Art 2D Syllabus Hybrid Online

"I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”

-Albert Einstein

Image by Hunter van Rossum

Course Description

This course is a year long, college level exploration of the principles of 2-D design. While the primary focus of the class will be digital photography, students have the option to demonstrate mastery in the principles of 2-D design through film photography, graphic design, and/or web design as well. Students will finish this course with extensive skill in digital media arts, including photography, editing, and the theoretical and practical applications of the principles of design. They will ultimately demonstrate these skills through a portfolio that shows the quality and breadth of their work as well as their concentration, which is a planned investigation of an idea of personal interest to them. It is the expectation of the class that these portfolios will be submitted to the College Board for AP credit in May. This syllabus provides direction for the highly motivated photography student to take the AP Studio Art 2-D Design Exam and earn college credit.

Image by Josh Behrens

So what that means:

We are going to learn about the fundamental principles of design and figure out how to master those through digital imagery (most likely photography). These principles apply to all areas of design whether it be websites, fashion, interior decorating, advertising, apps, architecture, etc. so it goes well beyond just photography and this class. You will demonstrate your understanding of these, not by a Scantron, but by actually creating images built upon these principles. The 6 we will focus on are (click on the terms to watch a quick intro tutorial):

  1. Balance
  2. Unity
  3. Rhythm
  4. Proportion
  5. Color Interaction
  6. Figure/ground relationship
Image by Kennedi Simons

The Portfolio

Understanding the portfolio requirements is key to this class since that is what drives the majority of the assignments and material. So we'll look at each of the 3 sections with:

  • the CollegeBoard definition
  • a translation of the CollegeBoard definition into normal language
  • a food metaphor (don't ask why but I hope it helps)
Images by Haley Teeples, Brenna Donovan, & Moses Turner

Quality (Selected Works)- 5 Images

CollegeBoard Definition: Quality refers to the understanding of artistic issues that should be apparent in the concept, composition/form, and execution of the works, whether they are simple or complex. The Quality section represents the student’s most successful works with respect to form and content.

What that means: 5 of your best images that convey a specific message, are intentionally composed with the principles of design in mind, and are flawless in terms of craftsmanship- exposure, sharpness, and color/contrast. So basically, would these make big beautiful prints that would capture someone's attention if they were hanging on a wall?

Food metaphor: This is your 5-star restaurant. You can't afford to eat there every time you go but when you want to celebrate a big occasion this is where you eat because you know everything will be great including the food, the service, the view, the ambience, etc.

Image by Klohe Hauber


Breadth (Range of Approaches) - 12 images

CollegeBoard definition: Work in this section demonstrates understanding of concept, form, and materials as they pertain to 2-D design. Conceptual, perceptual, and expressive development, as well as technical skill, are evidenced.

What that means: These images need to show that you understand the principles of design and can apply them in various situations. A wide range of techniques and subject matter is necessary to demonstrate your scope as a photographer.

Food Metaphor: This is like going to ClaimJumper. There is going to be a little bit of something for everybody. There are burgers, salads, seafood, etc. All of the food is good and prepared properly but is about variety rather than specialty.

Image by Amanda Mortilla

Concentration (Sustained Investigation)- 12 images

CollegeBoard definition: Students explore a personal, central interest as intensively as possible; they are free to work with any idea in any medium that addresses 2-D design issues. The concentration is based on the student’s idea and demonstrates growth and discovery through a number of conceptually related works.

What that means: Pick absolutely anything you are interested in and find a way to pursue that theme visually throughout the year. This can be a specific technique like long exposure or certain subject matter like portraiture as long as long as all of the images are guided by the same goal. What do you want to learn how to do or what do you want to show your viewers? This area should really push you to grow as a photographer and that progression should be evident between your first image and your last one.

Food metaphor: This is like eating at Sushi on Fire. You basically know what you are going to get each time you go. You go there because you like Asian style seafood and that is what they specialize in. Even so, each time you are there you see new rolls and different creations from you to choose from. You might not like the new stuff but at least you kind of know what to expect when you order it.

Image by Kyle Hardisty

Course Overview

While you read about what this class is all about, look at what other HBHS students have produced with this opportunity.

Who should take this class

This class is for highly motivated students with a deep interest in design and visual communication. The primary avenue for completion of this course will be through digital photography but there are many other options available. If you like really jumping into a topic and creating amazing work by engaging in an authentic learning process with ideas, attempts, and revisions then this is the environment for you.

Requirements & Credit

This counts like any other class. The only difference is when and where you complete the work. No bells and no walls required!

You do not have to take another photography class before taking this but having some experience with cameras and editing is highly recommended. If you haven't taken a photo class at HBHS you must talk to Mr. Schwab first.

It is an AP course so it includes weighted credit for your GPA.

It counts for your Visual Performing Arts (VPA) credit.

College credit can be earned by submitting the final portfolio to the CollegeBoard and passing.

Image by James Hernandez


The structure of this course gives students a lot of freedom in how they decide to complete their coursework and improve as a photographer but it is very important that they stay disciplined and do not fall behind.

The class will meet on Monday afternoons in room I8. The exact dates will be on the Canvas course calendar once the school year starts.

Class meetings will include the introduction and discussion of upcoming assignments and course principles as well as class critiques (see below). Students are expected to attend each class session in its entirety in order to stay on track.

All assignments are geared toward successfully completing a 29 image portfolio at the end of the year. Peer reviews and instructor feedback will be provided for weekly assignments.

Each quarter, students will submit a portfolio review of images created so far. Students can and should use images from the weekly assignments, provided they received positive scores and feedback on those images previously

Image by Sarah Cudahy

Optional Lab & Office Hours

  • Wednesdays from 1pm-4pm
  • Tutorial Tuesday-Friday
  • Other times available upon request

Image by Julia Thompson

Assignments & Grades

  1. Assignments- 15%
  2. Class Participation & Professionalism- 25%
  3. Portfolios- 60%

Image by Mitzi Williams


Creating meaningful work is an ongoing process that requires continual refinement and improvement. Giving and receiving critiques is a major part of this class. It will happen in face to face settings and will also take place via Canvas discussions. Instructor feedback will also be available on a daily basis during lab time and office hours in order to get help on assignments while students are actively working on them. Students will be required to present their work to the class and engage in an evaluative discussion about each piece.

Image by Ethan Tweitmann

Required Equipment

  • No camera equipment is required to take this class.
  • The best camera is the one you have on you- smartphone, DSLR, GoPro, etc.
  • All necessary equipment is available for checkout or on-campus use. It is highly recommended though that students have access to a DSLR camera. The exact model and brand does not matter.
  • It is suggested that students purchase Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography subscription ($9.99/month) in order to have access to Lightroom and Photoshop outside of class. Students that do not or can not purchase this subscription will need to use lab hours to edit and process their images.
  • Reliable internet access

Image by Joshua Estrada

Policies and Procedures

  • Read and agree to the Technology Usage Contract
  • Be Professional
  • Be Respectful
  • Be On Time
  • Ask Questions- If you don’t understand something, it is your responsibility to ask a classmate or the instructor for help in a timely manner.
  • ALL assignments must be turned in on time to receive credit. Assignments submitted to Canvas will only be graded once but students have the opportunity to have their work checked as many times as needed BEFORE the due date.
  • The structure of this class offers a lot of freedom and flexibility but with that comes the expectation of responsibility and effective time management. Since this class encourages the process of learning with opportunities for feedback and revisions it is essential that all assignments are turned in on time. No late work will be accepted.

Image by Tiana Troilo


You can't walk out of the grocery store with food without paying (legally, at least) and you can't take someone's image off this internet and use it without his/her permission (legally, at least).

All of the photos in this syllabus are from HBHS students. I asked for their permission and gave them photo credit.

Artistic integrity and current copyright law will be covered throughout the year in order to ensure all student work is original in concept and execution.

Image by Courtney Jones


All students are expected to be active participants online and in class throughout the duration of the course. It is essential that all students are aware of and display proper netiquette at all times in order to foster a professional learning environment.

Image by Cayley Hebert

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