Foundations of Digital Image

Spring 2015

Rutgers, Mason Gross School of the Arts Visual Arts 

Katie Pennachio / 

Matthew Hotaling /


“Fundamentals of Digital Image” is proposed as a 2-week course which meets two times for 6 hours each, total of 12 hours. It would be required for BFA and BA students to satisfy one credit of art foundation requirements. The 1-credit course would be offered 6 times per semester. TAs would be teaching on different days of the week for each round of offer to make it easier for scheduling. The class size should be capped at 17-18. A pamphlet will published by the faculty to specifically cover the subjects of the course.

Pedagogical Benefits

This two-week course aims to introduce visual arts foundation students to the fundamentals of the digital image. Today, regardless of the discipline, visual artists are surrounded by digital images either as producers, publishers or consumers. This mini-curriculum is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to correlate formal aspects with the fundamental properties of digital images. The intention of the curriculum is not to teach specific software or computer programming but rather to inspire and equip students with knowledge regarding digital production and representation. Content of the course will also address cultural connotations, trends, and the archeology of emerging digital image aesthetics.

This syllabus is designed for a two-week period. The first week will be conducted in an intensive lecture/presentation format. Assigned readings and hands-on homework will require revisiting all concepts taught in the lecture/presentation portion of the course. During the second week students will engage in discussion of the material covered in the first week and will be expected to produce work which demonstrates proficiency in the covered topics, which are listed in the section titled ‘Topics’.

Learning Outcomes

A student who attends these two weeks and fulfill the requirements of the assignment will be able to:

  • distinguish the fundamental properties of digital images such as format, type, origin etc. with respect to their formal appearances.
  • establish appropriate digitization workflows for specific purposes.
  • satisfy given digital property requirements while editing images.
  • gain the vision to improve their digital image processing technics and keep up withupcoming visual technologies.


The course designed as a Pass/Fail course. Pass is based on consecutive attendance and the submission and presentation of assignment(s).

A successful student of this corse should be able to:

  • present work in various type of digital media assigned by the lecturer.
  • use appropriate terminology during presentation.
  • comment on physical and mathematical origins of digital vision technologies.
  • digitize and convert images in various format by using the most efficient ways.TopicsTypes and formats of digital imageRaster imageIn computer graphics, a raster graphics image, or bitmap, is a dot matrix data structure representing a generally rectangular grid of pixels, or points of color, viewable by way of a monitor, paper, or other display medium. Raster images are stored in image files with varying formats.Vector imageVector graphics is the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygon(s), which are all based on mathematical expressions, to represent images in computer graphics. “Vector”, in this context, implies more than a straight line.

    For example, consider a circle of radius r. The main pieces of information a program needs in order to draw this circle are an indication that what is to be drawn is a circle

  • the radius r
  • the location of the center point of the circle
  • stroke line style and color (possibly transparent)
  • fill style and color (possibly transparent)Properties and potentials of these types will be explained and analogies from art and visual culture will be presented.


Digital images regardless of their type can exist and catalogued in various formats. All these formats such as:


Structure of different formats and their strengths and weaknesses will be analyzed in detail.


Color, its digital representation and properties will be studied in detail with reference to its historical roots.


Color systems based on Hue Saturation Brightness/Value and Hue Saturation Lightness Munsell color system is a color space that specifies colors based on three color dimensions: hue, value (lightness), and chroma (color purity).

RGB Additive Color System and Color Gamut

An RGB color space is any additive color space based on the RGB color model. A particular RGB color space is defined by the three chromaticities of the red, green, and blue additive primaries, and can produce any chromaticity that is the triangle defined by those primary colors. The complete specification of an RGB color space also requires a white point chromaticity and a gamma correction curve.

Hexadecimal Color System

Digital coding system for identifying millions of colors in digital media.

Size and Resolution

Ultimate way of defining the size of a digital image is using pixels. Image resolution is an umbrella term that describes the detail an image holds.
Pixel count

Digitization process

Two discrete steps of digitization as sampling and quantization will be studied.

Motion in Digital Media

Motion in digital media will be studied and specific terms as keyframe, progressive scanning, frame blending will be explained and exemplified.


Algorithms and logic of compression for various digital formats will be explained.

Display Types

Various different types of digital image display technologies will be introduced and their unique potentials will be explained with showing examples form media art works focusing on these qualities.


Please follow the assignments section of the website.