Color in Action: Designer Pablo Delcan


Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application


Lesson Info

Color in Action: Designer Pablo Delcan

Let's welcome pablo del khun hey here here here here here hey how's it going good how you doing good is its strange and generally see you guys but I think we'll make this work we can hear you see you pablo tablet present introduce yourself for the creative live audience yeah my name is probable con I'm a graphic designer in new york city and I run a small design studio with a lot of animation work illustration and book design well you're very welcome to creative life thank you for joining us today thank you pablo what's that you've cut apart the earth in the background there I see what you're mass destruction that's the thing working progress way have to piece it back together at some point how are things in new york everything's nice it's dark now it was a thursday and all day sitting on this chair huh it's good it's monday so it's it's good that it's over how's everything over there I kind of like all of the classic a a little bit looks looks fantastic it's the future well, you know ...

all this stuff already so yeah um so we're here to basically, uh hear you talk a little bit about your use of color in your design work and uh uh we checked in a little bit in terms of what the things were that were going to talk about so I'm gonna bring up the er minutes. I'm gonna bring up. The jewels were in covers first. So can you tell us a little bit about this? I don't know if you can see what we have here, but I've got the slip case with the covers where we see the spines and and it looks like there's a color bar on the side and just tell us a bit about this project. Yeah, this's, I think my first for design product, it is a student, and the assignment was to select a series of books and it's them or random asses. As one book series on I chose the jolt burn books I have read in a long time and, well, re reading them. I was kind of amazed by the barry's sublime way he had of describing things, especially like landscapes and things like that. And I started looking at naturalist painting, self landscapes, and I wanted to kind of involve this idea through design and after doing some research, and I found the siri's of naturalist illustrations off people looking into the details and birds and minerals, and I was kind of it was it was fascinating looking at people looking at these things in such detail. Andi, I thought, how can we take these things and create something that isthe fictional this's, a series of books, official books so the first idea was just having the naturalist drawings and kind of experimenting with the idea of three d movies when you put those glasses on and you have this strange illusions of some colors coming forward, I was receiving on dh that didn't work, but the process of of trying to do that came to this experiment of breaking down cm wakey printing and creating abstract patterns that played with this idea of of the nationalist illustrations and the signs of printing. So there was a way to to hit back at the idea of science fiction by distorting or abstracting something as concrete as naturalist illustrations. So these shapes are based on natural forms. Yeah, the girl it's a collection of, for example, we're twenty thousand leagues under the sea it's all a collection of naturalised drawings of fish and sea creatures. We can I'm sorry, but we can't actually see the title. So which one are you talking about? There's one that's protect prominently blue that's. Probably the one that's. The one about this two twenty thousand leagues under the sea. Does it have a little head of a parrot in it? No that's. Probably about one half brings, uh, with birds. Yeah, okay, and then another one that has there is one I have birds know there's one has fish yeah, that has birds and trees and another one that has meant mineral cools the minerals one this is for ah journey to the center of the earth it's all a collection of minerals natural this drawings of minerals that have been digitally extracted to create this this abstraction of or this it was almost like using abstraction teo vote fiction within science you were talking about breaking down the c m y k technology or the process can you elaborate a little bit on that because when I look at this I definitely gets a magenta yellow and then I'm seeing the black gradation bar the grayscale bar on the side and you have a color bar on the other side so he chose to use those or you decided to have those bars in there as well as he's very organic form so you have this heavy geometry contrast it with these very kind of psychedelic kinds of forms. So what were you expressing? I think what I was trying to do there was kind of reinforce this idea of the science is it printing and the or kind of like reinforced this idea of four color printing with these uh crop marks and these print marks that are never seen in final prints but I thought there was something very beautiful about them and they kind of in some way they they contrast that nicely with this these very organic forms so that's, a good kind of segued into the next project, which is a serious and book covers for jeff vandermeer. Can you talk about those it's funny that's that's seriously of books were commissioned to meet after an art director saw jules berne covers and he was like, please try to do something that's along this line, and immediately I reacted trying to not do something that I have from the past, and I think by not making them pattern like making them a little bit more iconic, it was a way to reacting against that, but siri's itt's the southern reads trilogy by death vandermeer. And if these books were the spanish efficient, there were the spanish translations and it's similar to jules verne in the sense that it's also science fiction and it's the whole trilogy is based on this this area in the world that's been somehow blocked against people because everyone that comes in comes out disease, or and then dies a little bit later or something. So the same, the idea off this border that the stores, the reality and there's gonna be a little book, but at some point there's like rabbits that dump through it, and they kind of mutated these things so it's, so it's kind of illustrating this the transition from one place to another science fictional place and you decided to use a black background here in contrast to the white you used on the jules verne can you talk about that? That was I think that was more getting time. The beginning I was e showed these with a gauge background so it kind of it a vote more this idea of naturalist illustrations off white paper but they thought that these books should be presented um in the morgue genre efficient way so that it it kind of belong more to a darker, darker audience I guess it definitely comes off that way. It's spooky yeah. And the covers look a ziff there at least in this display their their trip to excite by side so they look like certain images and colors move from one cover to the next to the next. Yeah. So what? One of the issues with this that they wanted to avoid was to have each book look too much its own and not not be relevant to the siri's itself so they they of the art director of why collaborate with on this one everything too if you put the three books together side by side we all connect so this was all designed as one image and then displaced apart so they keep their uncovered but yeah, even in the first there's a little bit of that blue it was about kind of unifying everything in a subtle way so that once you saw the next book, you would immediately kind of link it when you have already seen and the choices of the colors where they based on the natural forms that you were attempt you do represent so you have green and then this sort of ah brown color for the rabbit and then the, uh the owl looks like he's blue and yeah, yeah so for for that what happened? Wass for the first story was as ran to the post naturalist illustrations that I re appropriated I didn't draw any of that and the third one looked at some point too much like the second one I still have that brown colored way have to alter it a little bit. So look, I just think that enough in itself and not so much to the second one so it was more roundish before and then we maybe a blue hour what's existing I love the use of just the black actually I like the black a lot and we're did the typography at the top is very simple and elegant. Did they were you compelled to do that or was that your choice? Um yes, I think the the image I wanted the image too enough not compete with any overwrought typographic execution, so I thought something like very this classic up flush left some corner with we're kind of to the job and let me in it's really speak for itself and not not going to compete with it do these designs also wrapped to the spine like the vern covers yeah yeah they spine and to the front flat yeah yeah is there a box? I don't think there's a box yet my box at some point I think they just came out with or the third one hasn't come out yet like anything it's printed um so maybe after the I don't know publishers go they probably really first three and then we'll come out the box said I also like the proportion of the rectangle is very unusual yeah very long so the next thing I think we're showing is the new york times cover the book review yeah and and the students have just been working with you lucien of transparency so this is perfect there was some transparency the other pieces as well but really prominent here so the way we learn so so for this one and this was almost in experiments for myself and I have been seeing the execution of it until it was our everywhere once is kind of scary I would've maybe added some some things it was a fella just experimenting how colors overlap and I chose to do this the is a really special about education and it's titled the way we learn and when when nicholas blackman I were working on this two miles later, we're talking about education just for children. We want to have something that was a little bit more universal about education. So the idea of the classic questions of why, what who where seems interesting to me and and they seem to all kind of have something to do with each other. So this idea of obscuring and making them hard to read and having them still be a very, uh, nuclear trimming design where it's still very there's there's the composition is very much all centered and spinning in different directions. S o the words themselves don't compete with each other although you could say they buy some colors having more contrast with the background, you could probably see them left better so it looks like a color wheel said primaries and the secondaries yeah, little bounce. Yeah. Oh, yeah, it was I think my first reaction was to put color for the simple fact of having things read on their own if you really tried hard enough, but I still wanted to keep, uh, kind of ah, hard to read approach today so that you have to first to the immigrant experience that emits as in a very formal way and then kind of looking for meaning and did you use the color wheel is part of a new expression of, um, children's education I don't think I was thinking of that at the time I think maybe subconsciously in some way there was something of that came in I definitely thought that there was something about education and color that you know and it's an obscure way they have they have to do with each other it's a good way to kind of show variety and you mean when you're mean there's so many things that from children's toys when they're growing out, I thought there was a little bit of that in there and then from I don't know highlighters in textbooks and things like that I thought I have some relevance in the color choice is the last piece we want to show is thie modern love can we take a look at that a part of it? So um I don't think we're gonna hear the sound on this right? So you can talk over this pablo and just kind of tell us and as it runs so it's a beautiful range of blues and these great shapes I mean, this is this is an animation of the collaborative with brian rae, whose artist and horny and were commissioned by the new york times to create animation for their modern love column and we wish we started off with just wanting to do something with cut paper because we have never done that before and I mean cup a person easy enough to do since we had a very type that line and we started this cutting paper and I start experimenting with the camera and at some point discovered just overlaying white pieces of paper on the light box and directing them very this is very interesting effect and also like with the settings of the camera itself there was so much control of that color that we could interpret the light by altering the white balance or the shutter speed we could have like more great news to less brightness, though on paper that we used to overlap so it's all it's all made with white paper and different kinds there's a little bit of tracing paper for some elements but it's predominantly all white thiss boy paper that's very impressive. I I really thought that this was all generated somehow in the computer and somehow made to look like cut paper. Oh, no, that was that was all that was all paper. I love the effect of the light in the dark and the change in temperature you know how the blue gets warmer and certain areas they almost goes toward a blue violet. Yeah, yeah, um that there was some of it that was done in post production of course in terms of maybe doing some color correction or even like adding some altering the speed of things but most of the whole thing was was created on the light box and the transparency effects again are that's paper actually his physical tray translucency coming through the light bucks so paper paper yeah it's gorgeous I love these shows yeah beautiful gorgeous so the son was basically just a light box and the camera is above it and I was just sitting behind the camera taking pictures and moving things I think there's a need twelve or harassed for every second I think it's like a three minute video of something so it was it was ah tedious process but there was so many so many surprises along the way of just experimenting with light and paper is an animation always tedious. Yes, it always is. So um, what you working on now? Um right now with this finished two animations for a source e and I actually just finished, like, two days ago when I've been kind of sitting looking out the window for three days not really waiting just like really enjoying not doing anything but eventually something will come along yeah, right now, it's pretty slow. We're gonna brandon product for a coffee shop that's but that's also like kind of a slow project it's it's kind of a time one like it's they slow down and then they pop up again coming in from online audience if you wouldn't mind that work for you sam is interesting saying pablo when you design a book cover must you be intimately familiar with the book and also the author as the designer? Is it important for you to like the author and appreciate the book? I think it's it's always important to know what the hour and if you could read it all the better I don't think liking a book is all that necessary I think it's a desire and you need to be able to step back and really address things for what they are and almost like the more you like it but the harder it is to design a cover for it because you're so personally involved in the process that whatever you do it's never gonna be good enough for for when you're setting yourself up for so I think it's just, um really taking some distance from the work and making sure that you're addressing the book for what it is about not putting I know it's a tricky question I feel like them that covers that I'm most happy with our four books that I've liked. So maybe I think it is important to fill full failed at the end of your designing something for a book that you don't like it's kind of like you're probably just doing it for the money, otherwise you're just doing it for getting the book the face that it deserves what do you think it should have but I think yes it's it's important you like the book that you're designing a better than not liking it do you always read things in the book from cover to cover before you start work uh most of the time yes, a lot of times they don't give the manuscript and I have to read either little plot summary of it um other times it's like a very dense history book I can read a little bit of it kind of assume what what the thing is about for I think for fiction and for novels I think it's good to read the whole thing pablo I know everyone online and here in the studio as well really enjoyed your do you have questions here? I'm sorry. Yes here yeah, I was just wondering how to go about it pushing a book cover like what are things that you want to make sure that you include in order to get the book I mean I would think that the goal is to get the book off the shelf so like what type of things do you yeah by what what's your process when you when you go through design a book cover um I think percival is just making a list things that the voter vocs whether it's references to objects or references to places and then from there you kind of this story designing and really I mean there's I think the process could either go very easy and what you choose. Oh, yeah, if you go to the bookstore, you can see very different kinds of book covers, there's, the ones that are more more credible or the ones that look of our specific way. And I think normally when when you're designing a book like that, you were told to to kind of address that issue. Can you tell us how many covers you've had killed? I think I have killed many more covers than I've had proved. I mean, I think I think I don't think I've ever made a cover that's gonna prove the first round, I think it's always been second or third rounds that have made it lately I've been having covers that are always killed and are never approved, which is a bummer, but, I mean, oftentimes you see the book cover just going down the wrong way, and you have to just stop, but in terms of process, I think I think that book covers it's still one of those things that graphic designers and really put themselves into and it's almost like the one of the more artistic forms of graphic design, and we're creating a little art piece that then he's going to represent something else. Pablo this has been really fantastic to have you as a guest unfortunately, well, one thing we can never fix on creative lives that we've run out of time so very, very quickly how can people find you online? You can go to my website, which is not working right now, but I'll be working eventually. It's silicon ceo one for pablo thank you so much for being with us today. I know I already have really enjoyed it and good luck with all of your future projects is great to have you here. Well, richard, any final thoughts from session one today I hope everyone has fun and definitely I hope you learned something I think that's a big part of this but, you know, always approaching color and the context of play I think that's really important and tomorrow we're going to be back and we're going to be applying some of the ideas most of the ideas we talked about today to some, uh, riel designs were working with ten grams we're going to be working with leaves with some organic forms, color expression and I actually have an assignment for you guys roughly the expression of opposites, so I'd like you all to choose two opposite ideas it could be emotions emotions is a good place to start so it could be, um, happiness and sadness o r something maybe a little bit more personal about it, and you're going to find ways to express these two ideas. These two opposite ideas, using very simple colors and more elaborate colors, colors and forms, simple shapes and creating a dipstick, a composition that is two pieces that inform each other and using color to express his emotions or whatever. These ideas are these opposites. So tonight, if you would think about what it is, you'd like to express these two opposites and maybe make some sketches. Maybe make some of this about what colors you might think are good ways to express these ideas. He's opposites. You worked with colors today that clearly have opposite attractions. Complementary colors are mutually attractive and repulsive to each other. They attract and repulse. You'll find ways to do this, but that's kind of your assignment.

Class Description

Our response to color comes from the place in our brain where trust, loyalty, behavior, and decision occur – every successful project relies on a designer making smart choices about color.

In Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application, Richard Mehl will give you a foundational understanding of color theory principles and demonstrate how to apply them. Richard has studied alongside design legends, Paul Rand, Bradbury Thompson and Herbert Matter and in this class he’ll share insights gleaned from 12 years of teaching and writing about color in design.

Richard takes an accessible approach to the serious study of color theory for designers. You’ll be exposed to a relevant series of ideas and skills by exploring a range of analog and digital projects. Richard will discuss:

  • Color terminology and meaning
  • How to view color in context
  • Contrast grids and color illusion
  • Tips for creating harmonious color palettes

In Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application you’ll develop a new awareness and sensitivity to color that will bolster your confidence in your personal and professional design work.



How wonderful to have such an experienced, thoughtful teacher, who takes educating others so seriously. The depth and breadth of his teaching skill is matched by his knowledge of the subject. I studied art in school, own some of the color books he recommends, and learned far more than I thought possible. And he does it all in such a kind, affirming, supportive way. What a calm guide. How lucky are we to have access to a class with him!