Thursday, 9 August 2012

Lesson Idea: creating colour palettes

Colour is something which important in all of the art and design pathways, so I like to spend a lesson within each project creating colour palettes. My tutorial uses Illustrator so if you've got it I recommend getting your students to create palettes this way - if not you could use a colour palette generator or browse the great pre-made palettes Wear Palettes, colour mankindKuler and ColourLovers. I think it's really important to spend a session focusing on colour as it allows the students a bit of time to really consider how their primary research can influence their final outcome. 

quick note: I tend to place the lesson just after initial ideas as by this stage students should have a good breadth of primary/secondary imagery already in their sketchbooks - it can also be a good idea to set a homework task the lesson before asking them to take 10-20 images of 'colour' relevant to their intended outcome. 

Starter: What is a colour palette? (5-15 mins)
Not all students will be familiar with what a colour palette is so it's good to start with a few visuals. I usually use examples from wear palettes or colour mankind as that's what we're aiming to end up with by the end of the session! You'll know your class best so you can open up a bit of a discussion around colour and colour inspiration here if you like! Once you've shown some examples a great activity is to get students to work in pairs with an image* and some paint swatches (you can pick these up for free from places like B&Q and Homebase, we always like to keep a stash in our cupboards!) and get them to create a handmade colour palette for the image with a limit of 4 colours.
* I like to use images from still life set ups we've worked from earlier in the project if possible! If not I find images online or in magazines  

Main: Creating the colour palette!
Before you get stuck in creating the palette your students will need to gather their imagery. I get students to select 3-5 images from their sketchbook or online focusing more on the colour than the content of the image.  They should make sure in this time that images are scanned/ready to go on the computer. Once the imagery is ready they can get started creating their palettes using the tutorial below... 

Plenary: Print and Review
Get students to work in the pair they were in at the start of the lesson and review the colour palettes they've made. They should do this by presenting the colour palette they like best and justifying how it relates to their project - their partner should question this and make suggestions for improvements and give opinion on how successful they feel the colour selection is in relation to the theme of the project. Notes for the feedback could be made straight onto the print out and put into sketchbooks afterwards! 

Extension tasks will vary depending on what sort of project or what course you are delivering this lesson on. I've used it in Fine Art, Textile and Graphics lessons so here's a few of my suggestions for those courses, although I'm sure there's tons more things you could try! Fine Art, experiment in chosen medium, e.g paint, and attempt mix and colour match the colours, then work on to photocopies of preliminary sketches using the colours or print a sheet of each of the colours from palette and collage onto a preliminary sketch. Textiles, aim to source fabric/thread/bead/yarn swatches to recreate colour palette in textile form. Graphics, use the colour palette created in illustrator to re-colour a piece of digital work or work up design ideas/sketches further using the colour palette created. 

So that's my ideas for a colour palette lesson! As always if you use any of our ideas in your lessons we'd love to hear how you got on or see examples of your students work!
- Claire 

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