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VCOM 51:: Color for Digital Design

About VCOM 51

Welcome to VCOM 51: Color for Digital Design; Spring 2012

In this class, we will explore as many answers as possible to the question: What is color?

To begin with, color is the least rational, most indeterminate and malleable, culturally relative tool in the designer and/or artist’s bag of tricks.

1. That’s not to say that there is nothing about color that can be stated with certainty. Our scientific understanding of color is definite, at least for physicists who study electromagnetic phenomena. Color in just a very tiny segment of the nearly infinite electromagnetic spectrum that falls between heat radiation (infra red) and the shorter wavelengths that begin with the ultraviolet region. For whatever reason, this is the section of the spectrum that life on earth evolved eyes to recognize. We feel that part of the spectrum that we call heat, but we see that part of the spectrum that we call light. “Color” is what we call the gradually shorter wavelengths of light that bridge the short section between infra red and ultraviolet. They start at red and pass through our “spectrum” (red, orange, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, violet) to violet.
2. As visual designers and visual communicators, we need to understand a little of the scientific properties of light and color. Physicists, biologists, and, especially in the last twenty to thirty years, neurologists have learned amazing things about color and our perception of it. These are things that any person asking to be taken seriously in contemporary society should be aware of, especially if we expect to make our living using color. But as visual communicators, we must focus our concentration on color’s more indefinite properties: how does color effect a person’s feelings toward an idea or thing, how does the use of color and the feelings this use inspires vary from culture to culture, or even sub-culture to sub-culture. Corollary to this are how the use of color has changed within a society over history.
3. Finally, we need to study not only how and why we add color to visual communication, but also the technical problems that must be overcome in order to reproduce our color ideas in a predictable and accurate way.
4. And this is compounded by the scientific fact that we see two kinds of colored light, direct and reflected. To further complicate the process, each kind of light uses a different “spectrum” and requires a different means of reproduction.

So, we will be touching on the scientific facts about color and the evolutionary facts of our color vision and how they are amplified and elaborated by the way our eyes and brains. We will spend time separating cultural from factual aspects of color. Hopefully, we will have an ethnically diverse class so that we can have first person experience of these cultural differences and how they can complicate visual communication. Finally, we will send most of our time exploring the use of color in assignments that focus on projects are common to most client based work in design.
The intent is to open each student and their work to the power and subtlety of color, thereby starting the student’s journey to an understanding of color and how to use it in a very personal, and viable way in the practice of visual communication.

1 hour lecture,  3 hours in-studio lab every Tuesday from 5:00 PM to 9:50 PM.

Class Meets: February 3 to May 18, 2012 / 12:00pm to 5:40pm

Click here to play the VCOM 51 Intro Video

Click this link to download class Syllabus: 51-SyllabusSpring12

The VCOM SERVER NAMING CONVENTION: we use this to name all our files, no exceptions, no ad libs: –¬† yourlastname_prjt#_shortname¬† – For example; if I was doing the first project, the Color Wheels Assignment, I would save it as “berendt_prjt1_clrwhl” and then trasfer it to my folder “berendt” in the vcom50 folder in the Fall 2010 folder on the VCOM server. If your last name is very long, shorten it. Don’t use initials unless another student has the same last name. Put the first initial after a hyphen after the last name. No nicknames, street names, pet names, or aliases. Keeping our class records in alphabetical order makes my task of grading much easier which makes me happy. Remember, a happy teacher generally grades his or her students higher than a teacher whose students are constantly not listening to nor following directions.

Any questions, e-mail me.

Cultural Differences in COLOR USAGE

Colors that are not what Western traditions expect: 2 Indian Wedding outfits, a traditional Japanese funeral, Chinese funeral colors, an image that needs no description, but could really use an excuse.

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