Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application

Lesson 16 of 20

Expression of Color & Opposites - Part 2

 

Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application

Lesson 16 of 20

Expression of Color & Opposites - Part 2

 

Lesson Info

Expression of Color & Opposites - Part 2

It's interesting. You chose a black background. No for love. That's what? I thought I thought it would. I don't know. Work better with the colors I was thinking, are you making a heart with those shapes? I haven't decided. Ok, I was when I was thinking about it last night I was thinking maybe like half ah, heart. So it's like an open shape, but I don't know whatever inmate and I know you're still playing with us, but look at this really interesting little center point right there that becomes a focal point in your composition. Yeah, and so you have a very strong sense of visual hierarchy, your eyes driven to that point. All these lines are converging and look what else is happening. You're making triangles. Yeah, and so you're creating another principle of design, unity of form. So oftentimes when you look at paintings and designs there's a a repetition of a particular form you see even in painting, maybe it's a brush stroke that's repeated over and over again. If you look at van gogh'...

s paintings, for example, the same breastroke over and over and over again even though the colors change he's showing us the sky showing us a field showing us trees the same brush growth over and over and over again so for him, unity of form comes out of that little brush stroke, even though the colors are changing. So I find the unity of form repetitions of triangles or squares of circles as so much value in so much harmony to a composition and that's what you've got going there? Yeah, combinations of triangles you lead to other triangles it's it's, one of the characteristics of that form and then on the other side, it looks like you have this kind of chaotic and dis harmonious discord. Not quite sure where to look first, although that orange shape is really important up in the corner, they're very beautiful colors together, but you made managed to make an arrangement where they tend their very expressive of this idea discord. So your ideas, maybe even you know that the original idea of love and hate might even shift a little bit as you work with us. Yeah, well, I was thinking very much of, like a particular interpretation. Also you remember back to what pablo was talking about with the book covers and how you enter into an assignment? Yeah, you know, and things begin to change and that's how art is art art is this process where it's very informative you go into it with a particular idea in mind and you kind of have to stay open minded instead of saying I have to follow my vision perfectly well maybe you do that but it leads you in different directions you're open to accidents yeah yeah you're open to improvisation this is almost like a square spring yeah used this in the last activity on my coming to play some point free to build up you want you know we think about two dimensional design is being flat but then we have like relief sculpture of if you think about a sculpture is being minimally dimensional could still be a flat representation but have a little bit of dimension to it so if you want to build up the surface slightly you could do that as well so like a little bit of a spring into the paper or crumple feel free so I started with the idea of hot and cold and I was already thinking I'm going to do the symbols but then you know it changes like when I got into the illustrator file the tang grams from the earlier exercise are still there only I think I want to play with just these shapes and having maybe using triangles for the hot and namie circles and stuff for the cold and just playing with the different colors and the layers I'm just right now I'm having fun with it it's it's a super refreshing because as a designer I am always like like ah serena said earlier and what he's like okay, but what's the message I have to it has to be something and I'm like it could be anything and I can just play and yeah having fun with it right now I really like how the white is becoming such an active part of the design yeah, right in the middle you have ah white rectangle yeah it's really attracted me that that one right white rectangle even though you have other white elements but my eyes going right to that point that's good I didn't even notice it white triangles trying to make the white I mean sorry rectangle I was trying to make white triangles around but figure ground and it's very easy to forget about the ground but once you tune into it it becomes an active part of the composition yeah, you have you're something you're trying to express and I like the tauron paper shapes in contrast to the very geometric kinds of little sequence the art versus you know the structure why did you choose blue um it's my favorite color and it's uh left brain for yeah it's an intellectual color you use it a lot in your work I d'oh yeah, because I just I just tend to gravitate for that I think especially with business clients they like blue very trusty reassuring color yeah, it is it's a color that a lot of people respond to in a very positive way how is the leaf the least playing into this? Um so I was playing the whole idea of, you know, left versus right structure versus chaotic every one of these is actually precisely cut but it's in a disordered pattern and so this leaf is kind of the centralising I found something that was half red and half grade so it's it's a central organic figure it's the integration of left and right hemispheres interesting belief itself is kind of this expression a line from nobody's joining thank you so much for your question if you're working on a design do you tend to come up with shape first or the color scheme first? And how would that choice change your work? Well, good question um, I would probably have to say in most cases I'm working with a shape first I'm thinking of a shape first uh but that's that's a graphic designer's point of view you know, a lot of my shapes, our letters now if you think about lobo's, they're driven by letter forms, so I'm locked into the recognition of a letter, a letter r letter, a c or a letter d that has a very specific kinds of shape but very quickly you have to go to color especially now and again when I was coming up color played an important rule, but it wasn't a decisive role so many things had to work in black and white first because that's how things were printed in one color black and white and now we were we live in an rgb world and you know my now cliche is that there's no black and rgb well there really is we make a black with rgb it's the absence of color it's the absence of light rgb is based on light so you take all the movie everything to zero zero zero zero rgb that's black and but how often do you see black now on a computer screen other than the typography that might be text you know bolo something most of the time you're seeing colors so now when my students are designing logos or when I'm working on ah say a brand for ah trade show something like that um I'm thinking about bo thing simultaneously I'm really thinking about color at the same time that I'm thinking about form and I don't find much separation in those things anymore now it's to the extent that I used to literally I used to be able to say I could develop a design in black and white first and then apply color and now I really feel like I have to do things simultaneously just because of the fact that we're delivering these messages in elektronik environment where color is not it's not a luxury anymore it's there all the time rgb is all the time for us. Yes, this is my this is my attempt at private and public see if I've succeeded, richard you wanna guess which is which? So, um, snowmen uh could be yeah, they are I didn't just want toe make some kind of symbol of some kind of human figures like that. So trying to apply a couple of things we talked about so over here I was shooting for as much contrast as I could possibly get so contrast of shapes of organic versus kind of more more symmetrical, or lined up contrast of hugh, intent and color, and to just express the idea of the public there's lots of different voices and different things going on, and then over here only having one so it's just one hue, and then there's different the contrast is on the light to dark, basically, and also tried tio from our first exercise, where we had the same color that looked different in different place. This guy is the same, yeah on each one's. But here you can't really can't really pick him up, and he kind of just fades into the to the background is what I was trying to go for, what is over here he's popping out more she's, a little bit more significant, kind of in his in his home and his family he's there's a lot of contracts, they're they're using albers one color looks like too. And what a great way to express his idea of public and private. You know, one person having two different personalities are too different ways of expressing themselves privately and publicly. Well, I like that. I liked the analogy to the idea that you had talked about yesterday, how the environment can actually affect how you view the object in the centre, the subtraction, and so because I thought that we're kind of like that in real life, like saying something to your friends or family at home and a close sitting might be interpreted very differently than if you said the same thing in public and might that not be appropriate might be funny or people might not might think there's something wrong with you? Um, and so you have the environment kind of effects exactly how the actual object is interpreted, which is the same color concept and you've got so you have these really very abstract shapes that are symbolic of humans and there's, a large shape in a small shape. I'm just looking at the black, white and gray composition there is that a parent and a child uh I was going for you and then on lee on the other side, we show the larger forms so the child is a child present no, he's, not just the parents of the child is interesting and these other shapes that you have where you thinking about those also in the same symbolic way so I didn't want teo I didn't I guess I wanted to express how it could be totally different from the from the person in the middle and so they could be I guess I was thinking that could be kind of other people or or the public, but maybe they're just so different that you don't even notice kind of similarity or different personalities or would you like that? Do you think you're ready to glue? Uh, sure. Okay, we take a look at what christine has on the computer, right? This is what I came up with hot and cold fire and water. Um I had fun with the it was so much easier for me on the computer to play with, multiply and have the overlapping colors to come up with new colors, so I had fun playing with that and I like limiting myself teach us using I'm circles for one and like sharper shapes for like triangles for the hot one. Yeah, and on one side you have overlapping forms that are transparent yeah, and we still have to think about this as an illusion of transparency because they're not really transparent, even other computer way call it opacity but what's happening is that that's that intersection shape just a different color and it's it's telling our eyes which is telling our brains that that's overlapping and we're seeing through it versus on the other side all the shapes are opaque yeah you don't really see through not much oh yeah I didn't I did for some but a few yeah it's kind of hard to see it like those three colors right here right here yeah a little bit yeah, but really pronounced on the side yeah huh? And under this no, you don't have to do any gluing. Yeah it's done virtues print I wish this over you wantto walk us through it and talk repeat what you said before about this so uh here we have spring so again working with one hue and different shades so here this is spring and I was thinking of this sort of new growth and plants which to me are symbol of spring is right greens and um so starting with sort of the darker leaves at the bottom and then coming up to these really bright, bright greens that represent new leaves the new growth on a plant um and then on the right with fall it's sort of the opposite there actually I was thinking this is starting at the top where these air believe is that a wr greener to begin with and then they eventually sort of die off and change color and become darker and then they're almost black when they when they're on the ground there and that's sort of the end of their life cycle I really like how the stripes you can think of them as stripes even though they're very irregular but at the bottom and we'll call the bottom is closer to that edge of the table syria there's almost like a sense of continuity across right through here it does break down right up here right in this area over here so that idea the striped kind of goes away at that point what I would do at that point is maybe a few of the few fewer of these very light so you have more of a definition of that top edge to match the definite of this top edge but again I love this idea of integrating the little white lines into it it's active it has energy feels like it's pulsing yeah great you looks like overlapping leaves true dream and just you know all variants of one hugh really beautiful you get unity from that harmony and yet contrast so tell us a little bit about the concepts again we kind of know what this is love and this is hate um for this what I was thinking you know the triangles are all drawing into the center but it also expands beyond the bass because I don't know, I guess for me love is like it's all about connection right in the middle, like with all the colors, but then also it influences everything around it great, so is simultaneously moving inward and outward. Yeah, that's the great I think it's one of the great characteristics of the triangle, it does point to a center, but then you've got this spreading idea, which is very much like a perspective when you think about perspective, like the cliche of railroad tracks, they start out wide and they get narrow as we looked down and that's like a triangle. Yeah, very dimensional. So to contrast, that I intentionally moved everything in from the edges on this one because I feel like hate is very internal and contained often I really like this composition, I think this is really nice. I like the way the forms move and how my eye most you've used those three dark triangles to really anchor the composition for me, they're very important, you know, there there are elements in there that I'm not that attracted to, but those three dark triangles are very important. I also really like the linear elements and I don't know if we can see this, but like here this one little literary ellen, it is so important in that competition and then you have this one up here so this is a different kind of unity of form your pete ng several different kinds of shapes but keeping but it's a lot of there's more different shapes and all if you look I don't know if you can tell on the screen but like some of these oranges these two are are different texture than this one. Yeah, like the paper has a different text yeah, that is hard to tell but you can definitely tell looking in person yeah, so yeah, it has a little bit of ah like a tooth or a texture to it and very active white spaces as well look at this white space in here how important that is in the competition figure ground, you know, bringing the ground into the composition very nice when you have orange and blue but you have the compliments there this brown color up there is really a combination of orange and blue for those people who have actually mixed those colors you can find a way of mixing the green is very similar to the blue kind of is in the middle in a way if you think of the oranges like yellow and you have a yellow he's right here so the green is the intersection of blue and blue and yellow so the colors actually even though it's an expression of hate their fairy harmonious the shapes are really provocative was this supposed to be a hand I don't know maybe it's for the king of like exploring different ways of making jagged edges huh? I kind of like that idea of it being a hand and reaching in from the top a little bit and almost like your hand in there making a composition the great abstraction yeah um so this is the human side on the white side as uh come like a representation of purity and so use the least cause they're they're natural um then I put the tech on the dark side and this is supposed to represent like a screen because a lot of like whether it's a computer a television or a cell phone this screen is amazing three dimensional to cause a lot of things I dislike to show like the connection that we have two are like we're john to it how it's kind of with this everywhere kind of pops out and then I like these green just remind we come like the matrix that um that lettering and then here these this here shows like the conflict but this shows our connection to technology and I use thes thesis colors because they represent like the core is in the back of a device like the yellow why in the red corner to show that connection that we have to go now but then yes the conflict there o and I and I um took the head off the body because um technology could make us lose their mind on didn't it? It represents disconnection from uh human men added the shadow to it you look on screen it's like looks like a different looks like different paper like a different color and this is actually a great way to look at you know, even somewhat dimensional work take a photograph of it yeah flattens it out so now we're reading that shadow and you know what we're really talking about is this so you can't really see this at home but this has lifted off the black surface the weight is lifted off the black service by about an inch it's giving us this really shadow we call that a drop shadow in typography and look how it plays with these three green stripes over here so you go from very vivid green into a dull green yeah it's kinda like what we talked about with viewing colors at night in the dark versus colors during the day and how much they change there's also a really interesting design thing happening here and you started off with that leaf over there that has this really kind of active edge and you have an angle right you carry that angle down come down here the triangle the triangle is angled too and it informs us that moved back up in this direction and then back down so this competition is really driven by this zigzag yeah, which tends to unify this element up here it's so important it's the only like circular form and the composition really? Because this leaf over here is still made up of triangles even though they're circular kinds of triangles very triangle and that leaf up there and this is the one that really represents humanity to me and this this watchful figure that's up there and again flattened out it almost looks black it's kind of area of a black ground here you have a black form that in itself is a, uh, representation of figure and ground reversal and then those triangles right in the middle that tie it all together it's beautiful, very smart. And then finally look at how powerful this white shape is. Um was the end of the idea of an end part of it? The letter and you see that now and you could be part of it. I love that idea of seen letters and things and seen shape sometimes in places where we don't normally see things sort of. Serena, what was your inspiration? So this was the right brain left brain and I used one unifying color um blue to just civilized brain in general and every one of the boxes are percent have precise dimensions on dh every one of the cutout people kinda little doesn't there's a line in the middle and then there's a line that's cut out and in that unifying sort of um leaf shape which is kind of the right brain well kind of emotion and in nature I mean somehow it seems to have to me equal parts red and green and there's snow like distinct line ofwork merges were you thinking of some kind of a progression with those colors? Um I think I was going from cool toe warm it's hard with blue because it's hard to find warmish blues but yeah, when we think of a warm blue it's it's moving toward the purple so like the blue violet for me is more of an expression of a warm blue and that really has to do with his position on the color wheel more than anything else you also have vivid colors and dull colors so like this blue here right in the middle that blue grey is very dull compared to this color over here which is very vivid same thing down below very dull vivid the idea of a progression though I think is a very important part of design is about transition and expression of time and I also like your abstraction of the human shape it's basically just this little plus sign yeah a head two arms a body kind of like you know the top of a body essentially very nicely done beautiful and the leaf actually contributes a lot to it now it's one element that feels very, very different if you were to take it out I don't think the composition would have as much energy as much power wow. Okay, just working with what I had here um so beware of cliches coming up so this is the first the shame and when I've got so this is supposed to the honor which is going to have mostly elements in this side and kind of one of this court is that nature um and the colors here I mean this is definitely work on this and take so much of it out um but I just thought that you know, the basic elements of the cult of basic colors to uses is, you know, scattering out from the center and keeping it um let's see who's keeping all the elements air earth um fire I think it's but the black lines underneath the leaves for honor well, what that represents you know what? I just black better than white for a contrast so it's kind of broken part of the lines here they're shattered in this this side and I also thought about the load is growing out of the you know that mud with this so that's why? You know that part unifies the two I like those grey stripes their bridge between the black background in the leaves and you mentioned about doing a little editing so what what would you take out of that composition? Uh well this one I would just probably re dio um I mean it might just have like this one leave which represents to me it's like the color of the heart that might just have that that cluster leaves though did I kind of get the sense of like the flame or the fire yeah yeah I would if I were doing this I would start to eliminate some of those little small specks of color especially blues and the greens yeah in order to unify the competition on both sides on the other side you have red, white and black which is very, very clear and very kind of structured is a compositional um idea and the colors are very clear so the blue and the green kind of enter into it and maybe fewer of those elements tell us a little bit about that side though the black white red I think that's really beautiful it's really my favorite part of this because you take these stern has some of these elements take um again just basic because it is shame it's the black and white thinking it's the bars is the you know the we gotta sound like a teenage girl but the blood you know that comes over good uh this part of part of getting through that. Being in it, um, that's necessary. So one of the things I see happening in these two competitions, this contrast of direction. All right, so horizontal, vertical in one. And then really lots of diagonal spreading out from the center and the other repetition of form. Still, yeah, little shapes repeating themselves.

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.

Reviews

Nabha
 

The course was great. Richard was a very good teacher, appreciating the students’ work and helping them expand and improve on it. I learned from that alone. I feel more confident in choosing colors, and hope to bring a greater sense of fun to my design work. Thanks again.

PETE
 

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!

Joe Loffredo
 

I was concerned that I wouldn't like watching everyone work, but I found that it was the best part! It allowed you to see Richard's lessons being put into action by the various students, each of which is talented in their own right. And Richard is great. Knowledgeable, intelligent, and supportive, he's got the attributes a great teacher should have. I'm a painter, not a designer, but the class really helped me a lot. When I go back to the canvas, it will be with a much deeper understanding of color, and how colors interact with each other.