Elements of Design: Color

Visitor in this mission you are going to explore one of the seven Elements of Art--COLOR.

ACCEPT the mission to learn more.

Color is the ultimate tool for symbolic communication. The decisions you make about color should be made with great care to ensure the success of your design piece.

In your designs you should think about the mood you want to convey. Color can evoke moods and emotion. It can also help to identify an important element in your layout as well as relay the message of your communication. For example, you could use a colored frame around a group of images to let your reader know that all of those images belong together. You could also use red to convey an important piece of textual information.

Although color can make a layout more dynamic, it is important to consider why you want to use color and what you would like the color to achieve. Think about what colors are most appropriate to your message and your audience.

Color can be used in a variety of ways as a designer:

  • Make important text a different color than the rest of the copy.
  • Use a bright color to tell the reader where to look first.
  • Use bright colors together to help create a feeling of excitement.
  • Repeat a color from an image and use it with corresponding type or as a background to help unify the layout.
  • Color code a document (such as a training manual) with large amounts of text to help organize the piece.
  • Use an appropriate color to help differentiate parts of a chart or graph.
  • Use colors such as pastels to create a soothing mood, or more bright colors to create excitement.

Watch this overview from PBS Digital Studios of how color is used in a variety of artwork.


Many individuals are comfortable simply applying color in their designs based on what they feel "looks good." However, what you may feel looks good has everything to do with personal aesthetics and not (necessarily) anything to do with good design.

Why is that important? Because it can make the difference between a design that sells and a design that sucks. Never choose colors based on what you feel "looks good." Always choose colors based on color theory.

In addition, here are some resources to help you get started with Color Theory. As always, this just a starting point and there is always more info to be found on-line for the curious.

Some of you might not think this is important. You'd be wrong!

Wow, that was A LOT of information, but ... Color is REALLY important. It is going to be a big part of your grade for almost every project.

If you are comfortable with the color wheel and color harmonies, COMPLETE the mission.

The Shape Builder Tool is very powerful. Even Cap didn't realize the power of the Shape Builder Tool until he started creating the tutorials to teach you Groms. He was still using the Pathfinder Tool when the Shape Builder Tool makes everything so much smoother.

Follow along with Cap as he demonstrates the power--AND the simplicity--of the Shape Builder Tool.

Visitor just imagine all of the cool designs you can create with that little tool.


Great job following along with Cap to learn how to use the Shape Builder Tools. Now it is time to show Cap what you have learned about Color Theory by creating FOUR Spirographs using the Shape Builder Tools.

Download Starter File

  • Create FOUR unique patterns--ONE in each quadrant--using Shapes and the Shape Builder Tool.
  • Use DIFFERENT shapes (hexagon, square, etc.) to create each Spirograph.
  • Using Color Harmonies and Adobe Color, color each of your Spirographs with a different color scheme from below:
    • Monochromatic
    • Analogous
    • Triad
    • Complimentary

Before clicking MASTER, you must Document Mastery.

Once you have submitted your Behance Project to Canvas, MASTER the mission.

Not too shabby Visitor. Keep up the good work. We have covered a lot in a short amount of time.

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