Lesson Goals:

Students can define various color terminology.
Students should be able to name and identify various color harmonies in artworks.
Students should be able to describe the emotional qualities of color and how certain color harmonies will impact an artwork.

Harmony can be defined as a pleasing arrangement of parts, whether it be music, poetry, color, or even an ice cream sundae.

In visual experiences, harmony is something that is pleasing to the eye. It engages the viewer and it creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When something is not harmonious, it's either boring or chaotic. At one extreme is a visual experience that is so bland that the viewer is not engaged. The human brain will reject under-stimulating information. At the other extreme is a visual experience that is so overdone, so chaotic that the viewer can't stand to look at it. The human brain rejects what it can not organize, what it can not understand. The visual task requires that we present a logical structure. Color harmony delivers visual interest and a sense of order.
Part 1: To see about the psychology of color, please interact with the following site:

Part 2: To read about color terms, visit this site:

Part 3: Please visit this website to learn more about Color Harmonies:
Another simple, interactive color wheel can be found here:
If you want to challenge yourself, try this color matching quiz (thanks, Hamoun, for sharing this!)

Part 4: Optical Illusions in Color

More color resources

There are websites out there that produce palettes of colors as extracted from photographs. These are great resources to use if you are looking to see colors in action.
Here are a couple of them:

Adobe's Kuler has an interface that works directly with Illustrator and can import the colors into the program...

The Assignment:

1. You will go online and find examples of graphic design work (posters, advertisements, illustrations, logos, etc) that use the various types color harmonies. Click HERE to see my example. NOTE: MY example has more than what you need, only use it to refer to for formatting.

2. When you find an artwork that has a specific color scheme, you will copy it to a folder on your desktop called "color theory". You should then rename the files with the harmony that they contain (analogous 1, analogous 2, etc.)

Please find the following-

1 example of a cool scheme (GBV)

1 example of a warm scheme (ROY)

2 complementary schemes (across the wheel- YV, BO, RG, OY/BV, etc.)

2 split complementary schemes (base color, it uses the two colors adjacent to its complement. R,BG,YG, etc)

2 triad schemes (equally spaced across the color wheel- OGV, RYB, OY/GB/RV, etc.)

2 analogous schemes (colors adjacent to one another- OYG, YGB, GB/B/BV, etc)

2 Monochromatic schemes (tints and shades of one color)

1 shades (color plus black)

1 tints (color plus white)

1 tones (muted/neutral gray tones)

1 high intensity (brightest colors)

Tips for searching:

Do all of your searching through Google Images.
if you expand the search bar on the left side of the window, you can search by color (only one though!)
Search for things like "music posters", "logos", "graphic design", "illustration", "book cover design", or you can check out some of the websites below.

Some websites to find images:
-click on vintage or children's illustrations, you can also search by color.

What you will do next-

•Create a new print document in Illustrator, letter size, portrait orientation.

•Activate your rulers and grid.

•Type "Color Harmonies" at the top of the page along with your name.

•You will then begin to organize your found images into categories- primary, secondary, intermediate, analogous, complementary, triad, tints, shades, neutral and high intensity.

•To bring them into the document, find them on your desktop and drag them in. MAKE SURE TO CLICK EMBED TO GET RID OF THE RED X.

•Keep all of the images arranged in a line and of similar size.

•To grab the colors from the images, you will use the eyedropper tool. Create a shape with the shape tool and copy it 3-4 times for each image.

•Then, select a shape and then using the eyedropper tool, click on a color within the artwork as a sample. Do this for all of the shapes. Each artwork should have 3-4 colors beneath it, illustrating the color harmony.

•Finally, please label each type of harmony with the following information:
-Cool Colors recede and are calming.
-Warm Colors advance and are energetic
-Analogous colors: 3 colors next to one another on the color wheel. They are soothing to look at.
-Triadic colors are colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel. They are exciting and energetic, yet still balanced.
-Complementary colors are across from one another on the color wheel. They have the most contrast and can be very intense and loud.
-Split complementary colors are a variation of complements, using the base color and the two colors adjacent to its complement. They are intense but more subdued than complements.
-Tints: color + white. These are calm and quiet.
-Shades: color + black. Often these colors are very rich and deep- they can be mysterious or scary.
-Tones: color + gray. These colors are neutral and calm.
-Monochromatic: many shades of one color. They are calm and balanced.
-High Intensity: Colors are pure and very bright. They are very energetic and jump off the page.