Using Palettes to Create Visual Interest in Images

For the September teaching challenge, I'm teaching a class on manipulating palettes in designs and images using Photoshop and Illustrator.

Course Description

Enhance your designs by using color to create visual interest! In this course, you'll learn how to palletize images that inspire you and utilize palettes to make your designs more interesting and compelling. We'll cover:

  • Discovering inspirational color palettes.
  • Storing and managing palettes in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
  • Palletizing your designs using gradient mappings, match color, and replace color.

Class Project

Take a design you like and make it more interesting. Find three inspirational palettes and create three derivations of the original design that incorporate the new palettes in some way. For each sample, please include the inspiration image (with credits), the design (possibly with credit if you're borrowing), and the dominant palette you used to modify the design. Get playful with your use of color. Think about how the design felt before and after. What did changing the palette do?

  1. Find a design or photo whose content is interesting or inspires you. This will be the design that you’ll be color-editing.
  2. Find two or three palettes or images with palettes that intrigue or inspire you.
  3. If you picked inspirational images in the last step, reduce these images to fundamental palettes. Remember to keep things simple. If you’re planning on using a matching algorithm, you can probably skip this step, but it might be useful to practice getting palettes from images and saving them for future use in other projects.
  4. Use your palettes to alter the color in the base design or photo you selected in step 1.
  5. Consider the different options, how does having a larger palette affect the mood of the design? How do saturation and hue affect the design?
  6. Don’t be afraid to go back and edit the way you’re using the palette. For instance, if you have a palette with reds and greens and the technique you’re using is bringing the red to the foreground, try modifying the technique to bring other colors in the palette to the fore. How does this affect the mood (i.e. same palette but different dominant color)?
  7. Post your original design/photo here along with your derived palettes and recolorings. Add your notes to help catalyze a discussion on how color affects design.

Class Outline