Assignment #6

Color Harmony

Problem: Create color progressions, palettes/color inventories, and a free-study that explores color dominance and visual hierarchy.

Materials: Photoshop, Illustrator, Creative Process Book, pencils, Bristol Board 9×6″,  color materials of choice (gouache or acrylic paints, cut paper, colored pencils, laptop with Photoshop) scissors, exacto knife, ruler/t-square, glue, misc. chosen materials.

Concepts: Analogous, Complements, Near-Complements, Split-Complements, Tonal Progression, Shades, Tints, Proportion (scale, interval), Triadic Color System

Technical Skills: digital skills: layers, color palette, selection tools; painting techniques, draughmanship with ruler/t-square, exacto knife and collage.

Research / Inspiration

  • Color Harmonies– Interactive Tool
    Experiment with the Monochromatic and Complements buttons.
  • Color Theory Simulation – Interactive Tool
    Experiment with the Learn the Basics > Color Relations and Color Schemes
  • Personality of color – kind of fun.
  • Kuler from Adobe – Plenty of existing color schemes to choose from (but not all of them are successful)
  • Colour Lovers – Another great site for all things color.
  • Color Scheme Designer – an online application to help you choose a color scheme
  • The Color Wizard – an online application to help you choose a color scheme
  • Different Methods for Choosing Color Schemes in Web Design – links to a variety of applications for choosing a color scheme, including those mentioned above.
  • Take note of the color relationships you see in fashion, advertising, household items, fine art, textiles, etc. Make notes and observations about what works and what doesn’t and why. Can you relate these observations back to the color wheel and the study of color theory?

Experimentation / Iteration

Refer to Class 26 for detailed instructions.

  1. Progression Studies
    1. Shades (shades_progression.psd)
    2. Tints (tints_progression.psd)
    3. Complements (
    4. Painted Progressions in Gouache
  2. Color Harmony Palettes
    1. Analogous Palette with 3 interlocking shapes
    2. Split Complementary Palette with 3 interlocking shapes

Expression of Form, Emotions, or Concepts

Illustrated Harmonious Moment: Free-Study

  • To honor the lives cut short in the recent shooting in Connecticut, I’d like to you recall one moment in your elementary school years that represents a feeling of hope, joy, inspiration.
  • For the last freestudy of the class we will be creating a proportional inventory (see below) and using this palette to illustrate a moment from your childhood.
  • Important things to focus on: As with previous free-studies, research, thumbnails, color tests, consideration of overall compositional balance between figure and ground, and unity is important! Because this is your LAST class project, see if you can utilize other aspects of the Basic Tenets of DESIGNthat we have covered in this class.
    • The Practice:  Concept + Form are ingredients that a designer uses to produce a composition that communicates meaning. The relationship between the Concept (idea) and the Form (process/result) produces the Content (meaning).
      • Concept = WHAT? What do you want to communicate?
      • Form = HOW? How will you do it?
      • Content/Meaning = WHY? Why is it important?
    • Size: 9×12″ or larger composition
    • Medium: Inking pens or brush & ink, Colored pencils, gouache, or acrylic
    • Graphic Style: Use graphic novels for style reference. Research authors Chris Ware, Marjane Satrapi (watch Persépolis), Alison Bechdel, Daniel Clowes, Craig Thomson for inspiration.
    • Layout: LESS is MORE. In order to illustrate a moment in time, only represent the most important elements in order to communicate the message. Thoughtful, well-considered figure-ground relationship. When capturing a moment, the figure-ground relationship must be strong and stable. Clearly orientate the viewer. If your experience is informed by looking up, looking down, etc. make sure the viewer clearly understands that point of view.
    • Color: Your composition should use the exact proportion of hues in your color inventory from your color reference. Create a simple proportional inventory that clearly demonstrates visual hierarchy through color.
  • RESEARCH: In your CPB, write the story of one moment in your elementary school years that represents a feeling of hope, joy, inspiration. Think about how you can clearly represent this moment with a limited number of elements and through the color palette you have chosen. Review the graphic novels and online resources presented in class. Create  a color inventory (see guidelines below).
    • Find a color reference (your favorite sweater, household object, advertisement, photograph, book cover, etc.) that works with the childhood moment you want to represent. Remember you are representing a moment, specifically a feeling of either joy, hope, or inspiration. Your palette should reflect that. Research the Psychology of colors.
    • Create a color inventory palette that proportionally represents your color reference and clearly demonstrates visual hierarchy through color with Dominant color, Sub-Dominant color, and the Accent color. At least one of your Sub-Dominant colors should include a tint or shade of the dominant color. If your recipe is too complicated, economize and simplify the ingredients (or choose a different reference). See for more info on dominance.
    • Guidelines:
      • You may use paint, colored pencil or photoshop/illustrator* to create your Proportional Inventory.
        (*do not use preset palettes or automated shortcuts)
      • The finished inventory should include the color reference (or a photograph of it) and a series of proportional color swatches.
      • It should be properly presented, mounted on bristol.
    • Here are few examples of proportional inventories created from color references:
  • EXPERIMENTATION/ITERATION: Make 10 thumbnail sketches to “thinkout” the variety of ways you can express this one moment. Choose one and develop it. Decide how you will color in your composition. Create a rough color test or two, until you are satisfied taking careful thought about you intend to color your work based on your color inventory. Remember that your inventory should be reflected in your final composition, meaning your dominant color should be dominant, sub-dominant colors should be secondary, and accent color should draw the attention of the viewer to the focal point. Clear visual hierarchy should be present.
  • EXECUTION: Redraw your finished sketch onto 9×12′ bristol. Use inking pens or brush & ink, to “ink” or outline the pencil lines. Next use colored pencils, gouache, or acrylic to color the inked composition according to our color tests.

Thoughtful Assessment (verbal and written)

  • Critique
    • Bring all assignment parts to class, protected in a portfolio case or protective paper or cardboard envelope.
    • Be prepared to present, discuss and analyze your finished work in terms of concept, craft, what you learned, and creative process.
    • State the following: your name, what you are presenting (title and design problem), which parts are successful and why, which parts are unsuccessful and why
  • Written Assessment
    • In your Creative Process Book, at the end of the Assignment #6 section, document your thoughts about this project. Think about what you learned, what you could have done better (planning, material use, craft), and how you will apply what you learned to your next project.

Work Hour Tally

  • In your Creative Process Book, outline the hours committed for each portion of the assignment, including dates and times.
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