Intro to Graphic Design: Expressing Emotion with Color Theory

Dominic Flask, Independent Designer and Illustrator

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12 Lessons (1h 33m)
    • 1. Introduction

      Examples from lesson.doc
      ExamplesLinks.png
      5:42
    • 2. Color Terminology

      ColorTerminology.ai
      16:25
    • 3. Color Interaction

      11:58
    • 4. Generating Ideas

      7:01
    • 5. Gathering Inspiration

      5:40
    • 6. Sketching Ideas

      7:07
    • 7. The Context of Color

      6:45
    • 8. Building a Color Palette

      7:40
    • 9. Expanding A Color Palette

      6:42
    • 10. Reviewing and Editing Colors

      5:51
    • 11. Build Consistency and Depth

      11:19
    • 12. Explore Design on Skillshare

      0:37
99 students are watching this class

Project Description

Create four images that express emotions through the use of color

Color Theory

  1. Study color and learn the terminology

    Colors are all around us and often people can actually perceive color in different ways. In order to communicate about color we need to know and understand the terminology. Research the Science of Color and view the second and third videos about color terminology and interaction.

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  2. Generate ideas

    Go through a quick mind mapping exercise, as demonstrated in the second video, to help you generate ideas and then select the emotions you want to represent. Select 2-3 solid ideas to create sketches for.

    Here’s a sample of a mind map I made recently for a direct mail promotion, totally unrelated to this course, but you can see the stream of consciousness and how I pull ideas out of it:

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  3. Find references and inspiration

    One of the best parts of the project! Dig up things that you find inspiring. A particular artists’ work, advertisements from your favorite magazine, that killer new poster you saw the other day, anything at all that strikes your fancy. Don’t overthink it. Sites like Designspiration, Pinterest, FFFOUND and Dribbble are good resources, but the best place to look is in real life. Look through books, magazines, outdoors in nature, wherever you can find colors that you like. Using online and offline sources gather at least 25 images you find inspiring. I like to collect things in Pinterest boards.

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  4. Choose your emotions

    The final visuals for your project are totally open-ended, however each one must represent a specific emotion in a series of at least four visuals (feel free to do more if it makes sense with your concept). Emoticons or Character Illustrations are good choices, but you might challenge yourself and do something more specific (The Emotions of Wes Anderson Films) or personal (The Emotions of My Marriage).

     

    There are List of Emotions out there, but feel free to just choose them from this list:

    Anger
    Calm
    Confident
    Confused
    Despair
    Envy
    Excitement
    Fear
    Happy
    Hate
    Hope
    Jealousy
    Joy
    Lonely
    Love
    Mad
    Shy
    Surprise
    Terror
    Tired
    Worried 

The Context of Color

  1. Learn what colors mean

    I’ve always found it interesting that Red can mean both Love and Hate. Two emotions on totally opposite ends of the spectrum but on the same end of the color spectrum. Did you know that purple stands for both royalty and penitence? Colors can also mean different things depending on their culture and context. Spend some time on Google and Wikipedia researching the meaning of colors, write down how it applies to the emotions you’re trying to convey. Also, look up some colors you might have never heard of (quick, what color is Harlequin?).

    I came across this photo of a vintage color chart two days before class starts, a perfect reference. But keep in mind there are other meanings of color out there:

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    Photo lovingly stolen from the Instagram feed of Aaron Draplin.

  2. Sketch ideas

    Take the best ideas from your mind map and start to do some sketching for them. It’s okay to be loose and non-professional. Just get the ideas out on paper. Sketching is an idea generation process too so keep building on your sketches. Post them to your project for feedback.

    Here’s a sample of a quick sketch I did for some holiday themed graphics, I normally sketch in pencil or pen and then add color in the computer, but don’t be afraid to get out those crayons!

     

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  3. Build your color palette

    Time to crack open the computer. For this step I’ll be showing you how I build palettes in Illustrator and some tests that you can use to see how your palette will hold up as you start to create your images. Identify what kind of color palette you want to use and about how many colors you want to use overall in each image.

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  4. Explore two emotions

    Start applying your color palette to your sketches and ideas in the computer. See how the colors start to come together and how they react when in use. Explore a few different color treatments to see how your reaction and emotions might change or be enhanced through the application of color. Make sure you view the video too see some quick ways to edit, change and build your palette.

Expanding Color Possibilities

  1. Expanding a color palette

    Depending on how you are crafting your visual representations of your selected emotions you may or may not need to add more variation to your color palette. But the likelihood is that to keep things consistent yet have enough variety to maintain interest you’ll probably want to expand your palette just a little bit moving forward. Explore adding neutrals or grays. Try adding a few extra shades or tints of your current colors or explore adding 1-3 additional colors.

    Here’s a sample of an initial palette and an expanded version that I used in this project.

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  2. Create all four of your emotions

    Now that you have an expanded color palette, your ideas settled on and your first few initial emotions drafts go ahead and finish out the rest of the emotions in your series of images. Make sure you’re taking into account feedback from other users and proactively thinking about how to continue tightening the screws of your visuals. Where is there room for improvement? How do you maintain consistency? How do you add variety to keep it interesting? Keep pushing.

  3. Build Consistency and Add Depth

    In the final stages of your project you should look at adding depth to your color palettes by adding things like texture or shading to polish your emotion visuals. This may or may not apply to your specific project, but it’s always worth exploring. Watch the video on color in Photoshop and explore adding the next level of visual information to your images.

    You can download my AI and Photoshop files that I use in the final video at this Dropbox link:
    http://www.dropbox.com/s/vozhgjfdkqe2jaa/WagonArtwork.zip

Additional Resources

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