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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.
The saturation of a color, also referred to as chroma or vibrancy, is the colorfulness or perceived intensity of a specific color. Saturation is just as important as the value in constructing an image. Like value, it's important to control the range of vibrant to neutral colors in the composition of a piece. Vibrancy can also provide a focal point, act as a messenger for meaning, and create a more primal reaction in human beings than value alone.
The poster for the Clermont Lounge uses value, quantity of color, saturation, and texture contrast, to start the eye at the top and move it back and forth, like a pinball machine. Down to the base of the poster. The large circular shape of red with contrasting green, is a color combination repeated throughout the post. But is most intense at the top of the piece, and reduced as we move down to the bottom of the type and the image. The additional texture of the hat, dark value of the heads against the red circle at the top, also help to force the viewer to look there, even in a vibrantly colorful piece as this.
Let's look at this poster SSPOT, which uses one of the complements of orange, a mean green, to provide contrast and focus on the names of the bands. The value contrast with the dark hair pulls the viewer's eye up and then over to the date, as the yellow pops in the field of red, less so than the green but still with distinction. The eye follows the vertical shape of type to the next body of text, then finally to the right-hand corner. And hopefully, vertically again to the needs of the bands, it's designed to be read counter-clockwise.
An interesting choice that likely reflects something about the artist and their music. The colors are vibrant overall, but still demonstrates a hierarchy, with the names of the bands standing out most. And some competition with the logo, but being a large quantity of color seems to win the battle. Both of these posters use vibrancy at the revved up end of the scale. But what if we turned the vibrancy volume way down? Neutral is the lack of chroma in a color. If a color's lacking in vibrancy, it's considered neutral.
How do you react to the images then? I wonder if the sense of the music or the tone of the event has changed. Remember, the color is telling us something about the vitality of the music and the experience. Without it, the message changes. We associate vibrancy of color with energy and life. Take a look at this painting of two strawberries, like a young healthy couple in love, they look welcoming and delicious. But turn the volume down on them alone or the whole painting, and they seem not so young, not so delicious.
They look like life has drained away As human beings, we respond to vibrancy of color as a sign of life and are drawn to it. If you use saturation to pull the eye to a specific spot in image, or to have, impart meaning, or simply to kick up the energy level and vitality, you're trying to express an image, then you're using saturation successfully. So go ahead, take a bite out of life and express yourself with vibrancy.
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