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Color Fundamentals

with Mary Jane Begin

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  •   01 Class Introduction

  •   02 Understanding the Basics of Color

  •   07 Color Palette


Class duration: 2h 48m

See all 22 lessons
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    29 student reviews

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About The Class

Learn color as it applies to any field.

This class will give you an overview of color principles and demonstrate how to apply them. Instructor Mary Jane Begin is an award-winning illustrator and author of children’s picture books, a Rhode Island School of Design graduate and professor in the Illustration Department. 

In this class she covers: 
  • The elements of color, including value, temperature, saturation, hierarchy, complements, light, harmony, and contrast 
  • The use of color complements in image making 
  • The relationship of color to the medium and expression 

Through a series of demonstrations, you’ll learn how to work with color and ultimately make better color decisions. This class covers color theory foundations that applies to all image making, in design, art, illustration, photography, and beyond.

Lesson Plan

  1. 01

    Class Introduction

  2. 02

    Understanding the Basics of Color

  3. 03

    Color Contrast and Hierarchy

  4. 04

    Saturation or Vibrancy of Color

  5. 05

    Ground or Surface Color

  6. 06

    What is Color Harmony?

  7. 07

    Color Palette

  8. 08

    Set-up Chalk & Charcoal Demo

  9. 09

    Demo: Sketch Simple Still Life

  10. 10

    Demo: Establish Value Structure

  11. 11

    Demo: Find Temperature Balance

  12. 12

    Demo: Shadow & Highlight Placement

  13. 13

    Demo: Establish Dimensional Form of Object

  14. 14

    Set-up Watercolor Demo

  15. 15

    Demo: Establish Color Ground

  16. 16

    Demo: Establish Colors for Object

  17. 17

    Demo: Sketch Object onto Watercolor

  18. 18

    Demo: Color Subtraction & Value Range

  19. 19

    Demo: Color Blocking for Composition

  20. 20

    Demo: Establish the Shadow Tone

  21. 21

    Demo: Utilization of Opaque Color

  22. 22

    Desaturate Image in a Picture


Meet Your Expert

Mary Jane Begin

As an award-winning illustrator and author of children’s picture books, a Rhode Island School of Design graduate and professor in the Illustration Department at RISD…Mary Jane feels INCREDIBLY lucky; she gets to do all the things that she loves to do ... read more

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Bonus Material

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  • pdf Color Fundamentals Keynote

82% of students recommend this class.
See what some of them have to say.

  • Anna Kotzè

    Anna Kotzè

    October 2017

    I really liked the informal demonstrations and I also liked the way she set out her pallet with warm and cold colors. This was not only an informative class but inspiring. The casual and relaxed working style, encourage playfulness. Thank you for an awesome class.

  • Laura

    December 2018

    I’ve had foundations in many of the color instruction that was presented here so the information was a very good revisit. I also think it was explained better in this presentation than in the other training I’ve had. I enjoyed listening to the lecture, thankfully they weren’t drawn out until you want to stop listening. The demonstration was best after we moved off the charcoal drawing (although that was interesting to watch) because using the paints really brought home to me the application some of the lessons learned. I wish that part would have been more robust so that all of the elements in the lecture could have been directly called out in the demonstration. The instructor was most effective when not trying to multitask too much. Overall, I recommend this course.

  • Robin B.

    May 2017

    I had previously learned basic color theory, but this instructor took my knowledge beyond with layered instruction about value-contrast-complements-hierarchy, etc., and she does it in such a fun way with her own examples of work and great stories! I like her poise and confidence and think this series is a terrific value.

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