The first assignment of my last semester in college: design a color.
Of course, “design” really means pick any color, then explain and argue for its use. Where and how is it applied? Why is it useful? What other colors is it compatible with, and what is its effect?
I hereby introduce: Resonant Fathom, C|75 M|83 Y|55 K|74
“Purple?” my friends exclaim, “Why, who would have guessed! We are ever so shocked.”
Yes, yes, you are so very funny. Choosing purple was not hard. Arguing for its use in graphic and architectural design was a bit more challenging. You see, purple is not a very well loved color in the design world. In fact, early on in the design course we watched a short video explaining one particular art studio’s color choices, and at the mention of purple, a demonic voice accompanied scrolling text that read “PURPLE IS NOT APPROPRIATE IN ANY CONTEXT, AND IS NEVER USED”. I kid you not.
So, challenge accepted! I began by researching royal purple dyes, with the intention of designing a purple so deep and so dark that it gave the impression of staring into a large vat of Tyrian dye. There began all the meta-type questions this class hoped we would pursue. Can color alone achieve depth? Weight? How can color interact with texture to enhance certain qualities? What is the very essence of color perception and how can we use it effectively in design?
This was broken into four phases, each with a different focus: a pamphlet (introduction); graphic design (interiors); a short movie (city/landscape); and painting an object (application.)
The initial exercise was as much deciding on a color as it was exploring the color itself, in my case including aspects such as the balance between red and blue; light and dark; saturated and unsaturated.
It also included understanding how powerfully influenced a color is by its context; on a white background, resonant fathom appears incredibly dark, almost black. Placed on a black background however, the color appears quite bright and vibrant. It’s an important reminder to consider our surroundings, since almost never do we experience a color by itself, removed from any context.
Once our color was selected and argued for, we were tasked with assembling a full palette around it. I chose a set of colors with similar saturation and vibrancy, taking inspiration from ripe berries with the addition of black and white in order to bring a full range to my color. To display our palette, we made a graphic that would ideally explain how our colors would be used – the proportions to each other, color adjacencies, maybe even what colors are dominant vs. accent colors.
My graphic uses a cornucopia as a backdrop gathering the colors together. The colors are shown both with adjacencies and in a linear sequence, both of which are used in the second half of this segment’s assignment.
We were given a line drawing and told to treat it as a sort of paint-by-number, applying our color palette to an interior setting. Along the columns I use the colors in a continuous blend; everywhere else I focused on high contrast “popping” moments, like purple and gold, dark blue and white.
Phase three’s assignment was a short, 60-second movie dealing with the application of color within the landscape. My intention was to take a monochromatic, snow-covered landscape, show purple dye pouring, filling up the screen, and then the landscape emerging in richer and darker and more vibrant shades of purple. It looks beautiful in my head; maybe someday when I have stronger video-editing skills it will look beautiful on the screen as well. 😉
The final assignment was to paint an object and develop accompanying graphic instructions. I painted the interior of a glass bowl, used the material to give the color some added depth since you’re viewing the color/paint through the glass instead of directly. I also experimented with layering the purple and golden orange paint, using the lighter, more energetic color on the inside to give the impression of energy flowing out of the bowl.
So there you have it! And if you needed further proof that this exploration was personally meaningful, just wait and see what my wedding colors are. Once I’ve caught up on my academic posts, those are some of the exciting design posts you can look forward to next!