Intro to Design: Using Color Theory to Express Emotion

, Independent Designer and Illustrator

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Susan DiPaolo

Susan DiPaolo


Peanut Labs

Peanut Labs


Kodi S

Kodi S


Class Project

Create four images that express emotions through the use of color

About the Class

Color is one of the most basic tools that a designer or illustrator possesses in their visual toolbox, communicating thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Correct use of color can take your project to the next level of professionalism and help your work make a much stronger connection with your audience.

Before you can become a skilled craftsman in the application of color, you must have a firm understanding of color theory. You need to know what colors exist, how they relate to each other, and how to review and discuss the use of color so you can build effective and beautiful color palettes in everything that you create.

What You'll Learn

In this class you will learn how to build and use effective color palettes in order to convey a sense of emotion to your audience. You will use color to express a series of different emotions in order to study how color can affect perception. You will learn tips and tricks on building effective and expansive color palettes as well as ways to edit and control color in both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. We'll cover:

  • Color Theory. We'll start with the bare bones of color theory, talk about terminology, look at different ways of creating color, and discuss how to build a color palette.
  • The Context of Color. We'll look at some of the meaning behind color and how to use color that supports what you're trying to convey.
  • Expanding Your Palette. In the final section, we'll take a look at some tips and tricks for polishing your use of color in a project, all while expanding and adding depth to your palette.

What You'll Make

For this class you'll create a series of images that express different emotions. You can choose which emotions you want to portray, or you can choose from a suggested list. We'll work with a set size of 600 x 600 pixels, but the content is up to you. Want to illustrate the emotions of different flavors of popsicles? Awesome! Want to create a set of icons showing the different emotions of R2D2? Great! We'll talk about the best way to use color in any and every scenario.

Student Project by Lavinia Ungureanu

More Information

To make the most out of this class you will need only a basic understanding of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

Level: Beginner

School: Design

Related Subjects: Illustration, Adobe Illustrator, Color Theory, Adobe Photoshop, Graphic Design

At a Glance

  • 11 Video Lessons (1h 32m)
  • 3.7K Students
  • 93% Positive Reviews (43)
  • Self-Paced Online Class

About the Teacher

Dominic Flask

Dominic Flask

Independent Designer and Illustrator

I have an MFA in Graphic Design and am an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Wichita State University. I strive to use color as both an illustrative tool and a vehicle for conve...

93% Positive Reviews

Pola Lisowicz

Pola Lisowicz

That was really helpful! From colors explenation to Illustrator's tips. Thanks!

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