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Hands On Color Grids

Lesson 5 from: Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application

Richard Mehl

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Lesson Info

5. Hands On Color Grids

Watch as live students experiment, assembling their color grids highlighting various contrasts. Richard clarifies common confusions and dives deeper into color theory. How do you use relationships of proportion to create balance, stability, and order in your work? Why do we see certain color combinations in branding? How are designers like hunters and farmers?

Lesson Info

Hands On Color Grids

you guys all have a square punch. You all have a little bit of color in front of you. So do any of you have a particular color contrast that you'd like to work with? Vivid, vivid and all. Okay, great. And do you want to work with multiple Hughes, or do you want to try working with one? Hugh, um, want you want you. So once you start with vivid and dull versions of one hue Now, don't Don't be so, um, concerned with getting it right the first time. Just experiment and play and try to work with more variants than just light and dark. So we truly are working with vivid and dull, So you're going to find yourself in the range of pastels and what are pastels? Pastels are colors that are very complex. They're not just read with a little bit of white. It's usually read with something else and something else and something else. And if you look at this range of colors, pastels oftentimes tend to be de saturated colors. Not really pure colors, right? This is very saturated. So here. Yeah, well, let...

's get down to these colors over here, and they they had this other kind of identity to them, much less like I find that pastels are are difficult to name. Sometimes I don't even know what to call them. Or if I try to figure out what the mixture is, it's hard for me to say, Oh, that's a combination of the, you know, something like that. Whereas these colors, you know, they're so pure, so easy to name, so vivid and all, but I'll do like light and dark. Good. Okay, Christine, you're gonna be working with complementary colors on the computer. Okay, Sam, I'll do one. Cool. Cool. Excellent. So when it once again you can work with one Hugh, or work with multiple Hughes. Okay. It's up to you. Yeah. Light and dark also. Okay, Um perhaps, since you guys are working both with light and dark, maybe one of you can work with maybe one hue of light and dark and maybe multiple hues of light and dark. Yeah, that's what's left. What's left? Vivid and dull. You can't strive Evangel as well and warm and cool. Those are the two other things we can think about right now. Call cool. Okay. Given gel to OK, good. All right. So the square punch You guys have slightly different ones there. This is the big one. These things, by the way, are not available in art stores. You have to go to a craft store to buy these. You go to an art started by this. When you photograph started by this, I think they're used for more decorative kinds of purposes. But I love it for this. What I like to do is I look at the back side rather than this side. And this, by the way, is a one inch square. And I like to see the square when I'm punching through and just in order to economize, you know, you don't want Teoh get too close to the edge about close enough so that you do this. And if you just do that and then immediately just put it down on a piece of blackboard or whiteboard, you'll start to see it. So that's really the way you're gonna punch your square. So once you choose your colors, maybe choose one or two colors initially, and interest are punching. And as you make your squares and as you punch them out to start arranging them in a grid. And don't be so concerned about what the actual design is. It'll come as you work so simply by putting these colors that looked at how black just makes those colors look so vivid. Whereas if you put on weight a very different kind of response, so feel free to work with both backgrounds as well. Keep it loose. If you have your your phones with you take pictures along the way just to make a little recordings of things. We don't have a whole lot of time. So we need to work a little bit quickly on this for seeing I'm gonna give you started on the computer immediately. And maybe we can actually project this. Well, she works. Okay? No, you can choose any colors. Yeah, you're working with compliments. So choose you could choose of red and green or blue and orange. Right now. There's the primaries there. Okay? And then you're talking about mixes, so use opacity, but also trust. Try to, um maybe mixed colors find colors to mix together. Okay. Did you I'm just going to be walking around and looking at you guys and glaring over your shoulders a little bit as we go. This type of exercise before is this is a brand thing. Brand new food, Yeah, question coming from life from Sami, saying color exercises such as these Do you recommend doing them very quickly and say a five minute block of time? Or do you think a much longer extended period of time is better now? I know we have limited time here because of the nature of what we're doing, but what's your feeling? Overall, I like to say quickly, but in fact it's it. It ends up looking like you're looking for the meaning of life, and you could be there for hours. Uh um, literally. You can spend a long, long, long time with us, and what I recommend for students is once they get to something they like, um, maybe they just leave it on their desk and they come back to it later. They might make changes, So it's an ongoing kind of project. I came in just regarding the course in general, just to explain what our viewers can expect in our online students. Richard, your students, perhaps many of the people watching seem to have an intuitive sense of color and color relationships. But I feel challenged with color. And I wonder, is this class gonna help someone like me with a become more intuitive? And I have an understanding of color? I think so again, it's like juggling a basketball. Yeah, the more you do it, the better you get. The more comfortable you become, the more confident you become. That's really what it's all about. So you can call that intuition right? Ah, person who's really good at something doesn't really think about it as they work. They're not like thinking, Oh, this is warm and cool. This is light and dark, but it's happening. And so they're getting effects based on their experience. The more you do this, the more experience you get. It's a great way of challenging yourself to work with colors that you've never used before to try ideas that you've never experimented before, you know, who would know to work with warm and cool. Necessarily, We all would work with a contrast of Hugh, but warm and cool, light and dark, vivid and dull. Those aren't very specific color contrast that we're all that aware of so experimenting with it in this way is is a great start. Fantastic. Yes, It's just green is a tricky It's if a new it's more of Ah, there are warmer variants of green. So, for example, this I would consider a warmer variant of green than this more yellow. And this is going to be a cooler. Very inter green. All right, so we see cool. More of a neutral and more of a warm greens. One of those colors where you can actually see warm and cool. You can't do with yellow. Almost impossible. Um, red. You can see warm and cool variants. But you could also. I mean, this is an expression of warm and cool orange and blue. Yeah, you're doing vivid and all. Yes, OK, so don't color treat women core me Cool? Yes. Is supposedly the warm side. Okay, Looking good. So the reds air? Definitely very warm. The blues air Definitely very cool. How would you color? This is like because I always thought and most warm but there are definitely shades that are cooler. Yeah, More blue. Yeah. So ah brown, that is more red is going to see more warm a brown that is more blue or greenish is going to see Michael. You're working with vivid and dull. Okay, so maybe try to push the, um uh, the extremes. So we're very, very dull, very vivid Just to get a good range of that contrast. Yeah. Christine, how you doing? I'm like, mixing colors by adding them on students. And you're working with orange Lower engine Liu. OK? Yeah. So I'm mixing than by putting them on? Yeah. Yeah, controlling capacity. That would just is, if you were mixing paints, you'd be mixing them together. Yeah. Yeah. You're also getting vivid and dull, but you're focuses on complementary mixtures. Yeah, but you're achieving other things in the process. Yeah. So you talked about. That's a good life. And you don't think you you talked about the idea of hierarchy and how you can draw the eye to certain places and then go here first, going for second. Go here. Order. So obviously one of the ways to do that is to really start contrast, like the whole composition is dark. And then one areas lighten your drawn to that, or the whole competition is dull. One areas vivid. Yeah. Um what are some kind of other ways that you can play with the higher gear kind of move the IRA. Uh, arrangement. Certainly. The center of any composition is ah, really powerful position. But it's also very predictable, right? But, you know, from experience, I'm sure you put something in the middle. Chances are you're going to go to it, no matter what. Uh, but if there's anything that's gonna distract your attention, your attention is going to move over there. Um, so arrangement could definitely be part of it. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. This is very vivid. Yes, yellows, very vivid. So this is very dull. So think about the purity of the colors. Right? Colors that are very identifiable is green or yellow, and then other colors as they lose their identity is a loser. Purity. They're becoming dollar. They're becoming less less colorful, more diffused. That's a beautiful range of colors that look in that stoles. Hard used dull, you know, we do it all the time. You look at it. I'm dressed right. Uh, I'm dressed in all dill colors, right right now. And some of us might have. You know, typically, you're actually dress in such vivid and dull so your your pants, your genes are very vivid. You're sure it is dull? Yeah. So often times we find ourselves using that contrast in everyday life just to get dressed in the morning. You know, if you I don't wear ties that often. But if I do, you know you want to have some kind of a contrast, and oftentimes that's a good place to do it. Maybe one little element of ah vivid color against the Delafield might be enough. Christine, you're using straight to here. Yeah, that's something that you prefer working in digitally. Or do you like the hands on? What's your preference? I definitely like the hands on. I'm playing around with this and I'm like, Oh, e like, I can't play around us as well. But but you do it. I mean, you are playing around with here because really yours. You're choosing where you're placing things and all the different saturation that are available to you. Yeah, at least like I have this much more colors than everyone. But now, Administrator also has these great color tools. I'm just gonna sit down over here. Let's go into the So they have compliments down here so you can actually select colors and no starts out. We'll hear these tints and shades, um, complementary colors. So they give you some ideas over here, a swell is working together, so they have these kind of automatic pallets that will generate for you. You know, it's it's not quite as exploratory us playful, but as a means of automating processes and doing things very fast. Illustrators actually come a long way. I wonder if I'm on the right track here. So there's some of these colors that are looking a little, uh, kind of like a purple, almost like this column's title Purple. Yeah. Yeah, but these other colors like that, I'll point over here to the screen. Like this color is really, really interesting. And that's from my experience. This is a really good example of what happens when you mix blue and orange together. These other colors over here. I would think a little bit more about these. Are you next thing blue with this? Okay. Okay. And how about this color down here? I think I mixed. Yeah, an orange on top of blue. Okay. But it's looking a little more pink to me. a man like by, like purple. You know, I keep going with that, though it could also be this particular Blewitt system rgb like. So maybe you might actually start to vary the blues a little bit. Yeah, Should, But this is a good exploration of the compliments of blue and orange. Quite come back now for other students who, of course, are working with a hands on a paper, etcetera. Having experienced illustrators or something you use. And do you have a preference for Bryce? You have. What's your preference for actually working with your hands as a pope? Watch what? You always were working a little bit more visually, I suppose. With illustrations. Yeah, I do prefer illustrator. Just because it gives a little bit more range of me toe really quickly change things round or change the whole board or things like that. But yeah, this is a lot of fun. And, Jane, you working both mediums as well, don't you? Not really. You said you worked with paint. Yeah, So it's all just you call that analog? I like that. But it's all pretty much intuitive the way I work. Sure, but I do. This is interesting because I usually have a color wheel with the, you know, the waited. You know, it's kind of like the n, but it the color star. Yeah. So I was referring to that Color stars. A great or the color wheel is just a really good thing to have in front of you. I think a lot of artists probably have it on their walls. Maybe it's the color will that they created for themselves. Just a reminder that you have this universe of color. That was it is term. The universal colors that are always available to us. Oh, beautiful. The orange and blue. So you're working with the compliments, right? Yeah. Yeah. Like those together? Yeah. And light and dark. Yeah. Yeah. So late and dark has also given you a little bit of vivid and dull. Some of those colors are a little bit more pure. Some of them are a little bit less pure, but definitely a range of light and dark. It's kinda hard to push them together so that you get rid of the white spaces in between. So it's really color against color. I'm working a vivid and all. Yeah, yeah, with two different hues that I like. I think like blue greens on the purples together is one of my favorite combinations of color. So they're both cool color. Both cool what they can have. Warmness. Yeah, Yeah, like this one is, I think, warmer than like this one. Yeah, it's just the difference between you and you can think about that. It's a warmer color. It's purple is you know, as you move from blue to purple, it's moving toward red. That's one way to think about warm and cool that way, as it moves toward this is surely nice over here. Look at that. Get my shadow all the way. So that center, one in particular, is so strong and you're working with visual hierarchy, you know your eyes definitely going to those spots in the center. And in each case, it's based on. Um, you know, in this case, this is clearly based on the bright and dark light and dark later, dark, warm and Corbyn. Cool. Sorry. Definitely it's the green definitely feels warmer, the other in the surrounding colors. Clearly, the orange feels very warm, you know, orange or red, orange and blue or blue green those are the most. Contrast you warm and cool colors. So this is ideal. That's, you know that's the fewest squares and you want to use in a grid. Um, a nine square grid like that is better because it gives you a little bit more of a compositional possibility. Mawr variants. When you get into six by six or six by seven or six by eight, then each. As you increase the number of squares and your grid, the composition of possibilities also increase. You could doom or with the composition that way, but this is really beautiful. Look at that or just questions online. Richard stayed is saying that they're still not understanding the difference between dull and vivid. They're saying it's possibly due to what they're watching on in terms of their screen. But is there a better way to define that? Yes. OK, so the that it's It's often and we've talked a lot about this. But light and dark is also, uh, ah, way of thinking about vivid and dull. But it's not as is exacting, So a vivid color is a pure color, very identifiable color. You look at a color you say That's orange, so that's usually a very vivid color. You look at a color where you can't really define it anymore. So as orange becomes dollar or more diffuse, it loses its identity. And that's really what we're talking about here. Colors that are very identifiable, very pure, very intense versus colors that are darker or lighter but have less an identity of a color built into them. So my gray is a very neutral gray has no color in it, of no identifiable red or blue or green associated with it that you can actually see in it that you can get a sense of when you look at it. That's a de saturated color. Yeah, so, like your shirt, for example, is a good example. It's great. There's a little bit of blue in it. So I would say it's a Chromatic Raya dark chromatic gray. But it's not a vivid color. Your pants are vivid. Sure, that's a good contrast there. And your watch also very vivid. Yellow, green, super vivid. So you're actually a great expression way. We're trying to define shell treasury. This is closer. Probably. Yeah, again. You know, for me, it's much easier to say Yellow Green. Yes, it's more universal. But you're a great example of contrasts of vivid and dull. Nothing to do with your personality. It's all done on the inside. Trust me. But it's interesting again. This is my slight issues of color blind cause I would have sworn this was black, but it's far from black. It's great. This is black. Yes. If I stand next to you, then we can kind of see the distinction. You're definitely go totally on now. Yes. You can actually start to see a little bit of color here, right? Yes. I'm happy to blue. You're right. Whereas I am just all very dull. Yours, Mom. The always Yeah, this is You know, I would call this a greenish grey for sure. It's a chromatic gray black up here and then a little bit brighter. You see it again? I would have had these more in the brown family. Yeah, again The good days. What would you say about my boots with a there? Definitely Brown. Yeah. Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? Yeah, right. So that's looking nice. So those brown's look at those browns and those air mixtures of orange and blue. Should I be using the same kind of orange and blue throughout? No, no, no feel freedom exits out because I was playing with like you're using to Hughes Orange and Blue, those hues and so that gives you all kinds of variants light blues, dark blues, vivid blues, Dole blue, same thing with the orange and all those mixture. Colors are going to be different. Based on that now, Etten would say, Don't do that. Be very is try to reduce as much as possible, you know, And that is one philosophy of design. As you reducing, reducing reduce, you take away as many things as possible until you're left with what you can't take away anymore. It's looking nice. Complementary colors are very interesting. A lot of sports teams use compliments. Can anyone identify any sports team that uses complementary colors that they probably appear that much hated Lakers? Maybe, yeah, Lakers Well, or for me, the you know, I grew up in Minnesota, So the Minnesota Vikings, that's ah, you know, yellow and purple, I believe. But also the Lakers the same thing. You alone purple, those air complementary colors. Um, not too many sports teams use some soccer teams. I use red and green, blue and orange. Though we have the Knicks, we have the Mets back in New York, so a lot of brands will pick up on those colors. Yeah, compliments are a great if you're working with an orange, you know, maybe the first color you associate it. Whether be its complement would be blue here in the United States, since red and green are so associated with the Christmas holidays, which is not true around the rest of the world, by the way, you'll see a lot more red and green used in other places. If you ever tune into PBS and watch all over there British dramas, those dramas from the thirties you see a lot of red and green, and it's so beautiful to see those colors together. It uses interiors, but we wouldn't do it here necessarily. But it's one of my favorite color combinations. Is red and green capitalized on that? Yeah, I thought it started thinking of red going in a different way after madmen. This is beautiful. We had a question, actually. Christine, from some of the viewers who are using illustrated themselves and They just are somewhat process you're using to mix colors of your working in illustrator. But it's a good if I might be new to the program. Okay, so what I'm just doing is like selecting Ah, like one of the boxes that already have color. And by this is my shortcut, but pressing on the option key and dragging it top. Ease that box like see the orange. I copied it. I just put it on top. Um, bring it to the front and play with the transparency to see, like to go up or down just just to play with, like, the levels of orange. And then you can see how the mixture of the two colors can. It comes out. Yeah, it's the same orientation of squares that I had when I had. I just, like, rotated the board by like I like it better from this first benighted from the other direction. So look at how these dark colors really kind of attract your attention, so there's a clear visual hierarchy. My eye tends to go to these darker colors first and then to start to move through. So there that contrast of light and dark is really working well here for you as well as other things. There's definitely dull colors and vivid colors as well. And thats helping out to in terms of the visual hurricane. It's beautiful, very nice. What would you call this color? I would call it Turquoise. Turquoise? So blue, Green, blue green. Well, this is beautiful. So you have very vivid colors down here and then dollar colors up here. I'm not sure if that was again what you're working with, that's where you're going. It is very difficult, but I was trying to go from warm to cool on. I also noticed that there was a lot more tense on this side. Is that that the way it's supposed to be as more cooler colors, anise early. But I definitely see what you're doing there. You're definitely going from very darker, vivid colors and moving this way toward less vivid colors. Lighter colors. So that's ah what I would call a very strategic and a compositional structure. Yeah, where you have a very clear idea. Almost a great Asian. Now look at that. That divide right there, right between this set of colors, kind of breaks a little bit down there but very light over here. Compared to these, it's gorgeous. Very nice. So you have one or square me dio now color It is, uh, it's It's a pretty good product, but it's also a bit in perfect in that not every hue has a full range. So there is a little bit of limitations. Sometimes you may not find the exact color you're looking for, and I might make you change your other colors to suit that missing color. To some degree. Do you see how I'm going for, like a light a tent? You feel that in your trying to find that I'm trying to find a bluest shade of green, right? It's very light you don't, but that's that's good. You're you're doing what Albert talks about looking for colors with your eyes closed. You've got on idea in your head, by the way, you know, usually something that I find really difficult with picking fabrics for designs that I have because I know what I wanted to look like. And I've sketched it out, and then finding the right color fabric is often really hard. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The hunting. Yeah, yeah, I like to tell my seasons that designers have to be hunters and farmers, you know, because you you definitely have to hunt. You have to know how to source things, and some people are really good at that. That's what they do. They find things. They're really good collage artists. They're they're able to put things together because of what they find. Other people are really good at nurturing what they already have in front of them, and they're the farmers right there. They're able to take something, some sources that are already in front of them and just work with them in ways. You know, if you can do both, that's ideal. But it's hard, right? Yeah, yeah. So you have an idea in your head a color and you can't find it. Sometimes you have to make it. Yeah, that's where wash comes in. Glass is a great product. It actually creates colors that are very similar to cull. Arrayed. Have any of you worked with wash of, you know, so you can pick up a too big wash. It's not as expensive as oil. Um, it's tricky to learn how to mix it correctly, cause it's not. It's a water based paint, but it's not a watercolor, so you don't want it to be transparent at all. It's a very limited amount of water, but you can make your own colors that way. Um, one of the, uh, the artists that I'm most interested in right now is Andre Matisse. I just saw this great show in MoMA in New York of his cutouts, and, um, he's just so fascinating with, you know, the colors that he uses and just variations of things and lovely. But, you know, seeing those colors in your head, it's hard. Uh, have you tried to amass, close your eyes and just see a color without associating with something so it just close your eyes and imagine the color red. It's really hard to do. You can think of like red things, like I'm thinking of Ah Red, you know, Super Beetle ho. Are Emery thinking of a red Fiat or something? Laughs. My first car, Um, and that's easy. But just to flood your closed I vision with the color red or any color is really hard. It's fleeting, so it comes and goes very, very quickly. It's hard to imagine that. But that's kind of what that idea is of looking for colors with your eyes closed. That's beautiful. Very nice contrast of light and dark and a little bit of warm and cool. Absolutely. And some vivid and dull. Would you like to try a little contrast or proportion? Okay. Okay. I'm not bored, but also. Okay, so this concept. So you see this This is Ah, a bit of a distorted color wheel, right? Not all the colors are equal sized. And that has to do with this idea of contrast, of what it calls extension the extent of the influence of a color on other colors, but a little bit easier to think about, conscious of use the word proportion. So we see that a small amount of yellow is balanced by a lot of purple. Um, about half assed much orange is balanced by twice as much. Blue and equal parts red and green balance each other. And those relationships are numerical. So literally 1 to 1. Uh, 122 and 123 So you can try making a composition where you use colors in those proportions to create balance or imbalance. So For example, if you use a lot of yellow, which is a little bit of purple, deal is going to be so dominant. But you can scale it back to the point where yellow becomes balanced with the purple. So what I'd like you to do then, is to think about those numbers and to use the colors in those proportional relationships. 123 12 to 1 to one. This concept goes back to guard 1/19 century. It's gonna cool. And if you're working with any kind of a composition and you want to create a sense of balance or order stability, this is a good place to go. Thinking about those relationships of proportion 1 to 112123 And those are just with the primaries in the secondaries. As you get into tints and shades, a tent hot, probably in most cases, is going to have a higher light value. So a tent of purple is going to react differently than a pure purple. A shade of purple is going to feel darker, so actually probably a little less of a darker purple than a pure purple. But this is something you experiment with, but initially just started. Now, with those basic ratios, it's a good place to start earlier about the You're saying red and green is, of course, not associated with Christmas, little literally everywhere in the world. But so, Sam, ask the question. As a designer, do you have to concern yourself with the cultural significance is of color? Absolutely. If that is a concern and not always Is that a concern though, right? Uh, what would What would stop you from using red and green if you didn't? If if it wasn't? Ah, say, ah, communication piece. Or if you weren't marketing something for Christmas, if you just wanted to make a interesting composition, why not use red and green? Yeah, but, you know, I think for most, uh, commercial design practices where you're promoting something or trying to persuade somebody on idea be persuasive, then those cultural associations have to be have to be considered for sure. Oh, this is very interesting. So you're making a very strategic design. Your started to create a great Asian Where your your plans up here? Who? I was looking for the orange great needs. Uh, Okay, so look at this is dividing. No, it's going from very down here. Latest in the corner coming out and you have this beautiful edge of darkness right here. So every time you see light and shadow no around here, you'd have to kind of look at the ceiling to start to get a sense of that contrast of light and dark. But that's essentially what you're doing. You're creating a sense of light and dark, with light and shadow almost speaking, of light and shadow. Have you noticed how at night it's hard to see colors? Yeah, so less light. The colors become very diminished, right? So we can't really use identities of colors or you can't see identities colors quite so easily in the dark. So the world tends to be very monochromatic, very kind of dark, except for those brilliant lights like neon lights and things like that. What we see. But if you're in nature, you know, colors go away at night, they become very, very dark right during the day when the light is brilliant, we see all the colors credible, pure colors, very vivid colors. How are students will doing? What are you thinking of their projects? I'm liking what I'm seeing this is a This is good. I like this idea. This is nice, um, of just working very freely without having to glue things down. Glue, you know, glue sticks and rubber cement. And if we had rubber cement, this room would all have to get up and leave because it would be the vapors would be too much glue. Stick is great, although I don't like the idea. Plus thrown away those plastic containers all the time, But it's a great source. So, you know, for example, if you make something and you want you feel like it's finished and you want to preserve it, glue stick is a great way to actually do things down. But I love this idea of just kind of pushing things around like this. Wow, That's nice. I love this little orange in the corner. Yeah. Nice. Christine. How you doing? Well, yeah, I'm It's beautiful. Very nice. I call it my abstract work. Um, so, yeah, just playing with them. I've played around with a lot of muted. Yeah. Call there isn't staring. Do you wanna try working on little countries or proportion? Okay. So bad I was like I want to do that. Okay, So go onto something else. Feel free. Does anyone else want to experiment with illustrator? Anyone here have illustrator skills and your personal preference when you're using your list because you officer, use both of your seat two's hands on what's What's your experience of using? If you like Elektronik color as opposed to just paper and cutting? Clearly, you enjoy both papers so much better. What reason? I like reflected light Easier on the eyes. Yeah, um, I'm also not a big sitter. As you can tell, it's not good for your backs, you know, And I always tell the stories of my students. When I was coming up in design, we stood all the time. I started a drafting table. You know, we weren't sitting at computers, we were moving around. It was a very physical experience. You have to get up and walk to a different room in order to make a photo staffed or something like that. Nowadays, my students tend to sit for eight hours, 10 hours at a time, and I can just imagine what their backs are gonna be like, you know, five years from now, or 10 years from now. In fact, I have students who are even in their thirties yet, and they're already complaining about back problems. Good thing, Teoh. If you do work at a computer, you know to get up, stand up, move away. But for me, there's nothing like reflected light. These colors up here are beautiful and vivid, and they are what they are as supposed to the digital display, which is depending a calibration and what screen you're looking at, what the light is like in the room. It's very difficult. It's not as much fun, but it is necessary. How can you be a graphic designer and not work at a computer these days? You can't. It's impossible. And certainly typography is something that we use almost exclusively on the computer. Although I teach lettering. Also lettering hand lettering. And there again, if you're working with pencils or charcoal contact crayons, markers, paints, making lettering designs, working with color and lettering designs is a great experience. Really beautiful. Have you seen this segment? We've been learning about how to put your colors together in terms of their warmth for that business, except you have the yellow work beautiful so really stands out Now you got a sense of hierarchy and and that one piece of yellow look at how it's balanced by all those colors around it. So the purple, the blue green, the tents, nothing is. I mean, there's those purples. Those darker ones are definitely fighting for attention, but they're not winning at all. They're they're definitely back there for me. At least some people may feel differently about for this one. I have only one dark purple. Yeah, that's And look how the purple reacts to the black background as opposed to the white. Yeah, the other thing you start to see is, you know, if you're if you're framing, for example, and if you have this idea of, say, what should I put this photograph against, You know, black or white, I often look at the edges, and if the edges air primarily dark, I tend toe. Maybe think about a lighter background if they're primarily light, attend to think about a darker background. So I have some contrast. If that's the effect I want. And I was going to ask because our hill is asking online. Richard, is there such a thing? as colors that clash. And she's just never be used together because I know they used to say living Green should never be seen. I think that was an expression. I got particular you thinking about clothes, but I don't know that applies to anything else. I think that's pretty subjective. Yeah, yeah, is a lot of color is but the idea of clashing, clashing colors. I read this quote recently. There's another great book called Color Works Video Para, and he interviews a lot of designers in this book. I think Paula Shares interviewed in and I think she says something or paraphrases something. I'll paraphrase it. There are no ugly colors. They're just not colors that aren't used well together. And I think that's true. It's, uh so I don't know if it certainly is a matter of taste. You know, uh, some people might say that the colors you're wearing, a clash, you know, they might say that, but it will be in the chat room. Bridget, look what he's already but that I think it's so subjective. Um, I don't really think about that too often. I really am open minded about things, and for me, as someone who teaches color. Uh, I want people to explore these options for themselves and not to have preconceptions about what something might be. They need to see it first. Very hesitant to endorse any idea that's just being talked about, especially when it comes to color. I really have to see it. But I want to ask you a question, Richard, cause some is something I'm just an energy that you're giving off. I just love your passion for this subject. So I really want to know for myself. Where did this come from? Where did your passion for color in your okay started? It's a good question. Um, and it's ah, it's. And I say that is actually how I lead off my own book because I have to talk about that. Where does this come from? It happened very late in life, actually. Um, I was asked to teach a course at SV A that had never been taught before. It was a course, a foundation course for advertising art directors, students who are interested in advertising some students who are interesting grafter them, but mainly advertising. And it was a foundation course, meaning giving them the skills that would that they would need for further study now in advertising, as soon as you get into concept development, it's kind of like the understanding is you already know how to design. Now you're just working with ideas. So these kids really needed a like a a crash course. Ah, boot camp, essentially in foundational studies in color and inform. And the director of the program at SV A. Richard Wild, Um asked me to develop this course, and it was and I had never taught color before. I taught typography. I taught graphic design. I had kind of used what I knew about color. And like many people, I was like looking at Paul Rand and saying, I like those colors. I'm gonna use those colors or someone else or I'd go and see something at MoMA. Look at Camden Skin it. I'm gonna use those colors. But I really didn't have any sense of theory. So in 2002 I started studying color, and the first class was just pure experimentation. I really didn't know what I was doing. We did a lot of collage. Slowly, I developed it and it was really reading and re reading and re reading. You wanna sitting and Albers the thing about both of those books and both of those authors and teachers? It could be the German English translation. To some degree, it just could be the way they speak. But it's very difficult texts, and you have to re read it several times in order to really understand it. And over six or seven years, I was able to do this and actually assimilated. But the real understanding, I have to say happened when I was kind of forced into writing a book about color, Um, which happened in 2011 so kind of late in the game. After I have been teaching in a long time, I was finally forced to You actually put it into words. And I have to say, since writing that book, I am twice as good with color and talking about color and thinking about color as I waas because it forced me to really think about theory and to articulate it. Um, and that's kind of been, you know, my background. But I went to Undergrad art school and study black and white photography. So All I was dealing with was contrast of light and dark for a long time. That's all I had. And it really focused my attention specifically on that contrast for most of my life as a designer, until literally like the last decade or so. No, I know that the online audience are absolutely loving what you're showing with us riches that begins with a background in there. That's what Christine actually created online. Starting online on using Illustrator. A nice example of complementary contrasts. I mean really good mixtures. There really interesting range of colors. I'm very vivid colors, some less vehicle also complementary. Contrast the blue in the orange. Very nice. Look at that. Also a little bit of light and dark here and slight variance of warm and cool. Beautiful. I love the tables to I don't know if you could. This is This range of colors in front of you isn't just inspiring doesn't just make you want to, like, get all those colors and surround you. That's nice. So that's a very strategic design. You see the diagonal you see on one side of the agonal contrast of light and dark, and then something else happening on the other side. A little bit of a complementary contrast thing going on. Very nice. A little hard to see, but if the angle looks nice, little parallelogram nice. Okay, So contrast of light and dark prices that yours, Or is that Christie's? This is yours. Yeah. I was interested if you if you had any criticism because for some reason, I find this one visually pleasing, pleasing. I find this one also visually pleasing. This one is It's just not very interesting to me. And I don't I don't quite know exactly why. Do you have any thoughts on exactly what's going on between them? Yeah, I'm not really associating with those two dark colors with the rest of it. They feel like too much of an anomaly. You know, that word anomaly? It's It's something that's very, very different. An anomaly can be a really good element in the design because it does focus your attention. I think in this case it's just too much. I think if you were Teoh, go more in the red like a darker, darker red, but not that dark. You probably work a little bit better. Okay. Wow, Look at this gorgeous like that. And this is an option. You can always put a little space in between so you can clearly see the grid structure. Very nice. Warms and cool. So yellow greens and blues, greens and more Middle greens. Nice. Very good, You guys. Nice work.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Playing With Color - Color Design Glossary
Playing With Color - Color Wheels
Playing With Color - Leaf Collage
Playing With Color - Patterns
Color Grid Template
Tangram Template
Playing With Color - Wallpaper - 1280x800
Playing With Color - Wallpaper - 1200x900
Playing With Color - Wallpaper iPad
Playing With Color - Wallpaper iPhone

Ratings and Reviews


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.


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.

Student Work