Color is a fundamental element of our lives. Understanding how to use it for visual communication in a variety of contexts is essential for designers and artists. This course is about learning how to use color, not only to create more effective designs, but also to tell a story. Illustrator, professor, and author Mary Jane Begin explains how color intertwines with brand identity, how it affects the mood of a piece and directs the viewer’s attention to areas of interest, and how it can connect images or create space between elements. She removes the mystery surrounding the color wheel and color relationships; shows how to layer, mix, and digitally alter color; and use light to integrate temperature, translucency, and contrast.

These lessons are applicable to a number of fields, including graphic design, photography, and illustration, and both traditional and digital media. Dive in and get a fresh look at color that is sure to revitalize your creativity and your work.

Topics include:

  • Understanding why color is essential for you as an artist, designer, or human being
  • Storytelling with color
  • Understanding brand identity and color language
  • Reviewing the history of color usage, from print to digital
  • Working with the color wheel
  • Understanding value, saturation, and temperature
  • Seeing through color: opaque, translucent, and transparent
  • Creating contrast
  • Exploring depth of field
  • Seeing complementary relationships in light
  • Achieving harmony and discord in a palette
  • Understanding color blindness

Foundations of Color
With: Mary Jane Begin


Artist at Work: Tertiary Colors
Explore tertiary color, the neutral browns and greys that make vibrant colors pop and subtle paintings possible.

Artist at Work: Playing with Space
Learn to add the illusion of depth to your artwork with the effective use of color and contrast.

Artist at Work: Textures
Add visual texture to your artwork with color, pattern, and a variety of brush strokes. Break up repetitive strokes and static blocks of color for more dynamic images.

Artist at Work: Color as Shape
Break an image down into its basic shapes and learn how to effectively compose a drawing or painting.

Artist at Work: Creating a Visual Hierarchy
Learn to use tone, color, and glazing to establish a visual hierarchy in your artwork and designs.

Artist at Work: Complementary Colors
An award-winning illustrator sits down at the drawing board to explain how complementary colors can make your artwork and designs more compelling and vibrant.

Foundations of Color
Learn the properties of color, and how to use it to tell stories, create moods, draw attention, and add new possibilities to your creative toolbox.