3 Reasons to Learn About Color Theory

500X500_Beyond-the-Color-Chart-BootcampColor is critical to any successful design project, yet nailing the ideal color palette for a project is notoriously tough. Learning about color theory is a great way to perfect your use of color in your design work.

We’re thrilled to announce that one of our prestigious contributing writers, Jude Stewart, is teaching an upcoming course at HOW Design University.

In her Beyond the Color Chart Bootcamp, Jude will examine the nuances of color theory in design practice and guide you through five exciting exercises to help you improve your use of color in your work.

Which colors connote the ideal blend of feelings, attitude, outlook and timeliness suitable for your brand? This course will teach you to wield color more intelligently in your graphic design practice.

The week-long course begins October 20, 2014. As with all HOW U courses, you’ll get two weeks of access after the course ends, and you’ll be able to download and keep all of the course materials.

During HOW U’s Fall Sale, you can register for the Bootcamp for only $39.99 — 74% off the original price of tuition. Register here!

If you’re keen for a sneak peek at the course, here is the introduction to the course, written by Jude herself.

Why Learn About Color?

Why bother to learn more about color? Obviously you have an inkling of the reasons why, or you wouldn’t have signed up for this course. But let’s recap what you’ll hopefully learn this week, if nothing else to placate your boss.

Roy G. Biv

For this course, you’ll need Jude Stewart’s book, Roy G. Biv: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color, in which she unlocks a whole different way of looking at the world around us and brings it all vividly to life.

Reason 1: Many, if not most, design projects begin by formulating your color palette for the job. Every single time you’re reaching back into that same finite universe of color shades, seeking out a brand-new combination for your project. Since almost nobody is inventing new colors – more on why I say “almost” in a few – it’s up to designers like you to dig deeper and find fresh inspiration for this critical task. This week’s journey will hopefully recharge your sense of what colors can mean, surprise and delight you with uncanny stories and associations lurking within various colors, and hopefully inform your eye in advance of that next color palette you create.

Reason 2: the meanings of colors are hardly universal across cultures. This should come as a surprise to none of you, yet smart designers still make color mistakes on international projects all the time. I’m not interested here in a gossipy recital of those mistakes – they got lots of play in design circles already – but it will touch on color-associations in other cultures that might seem non-intuitive to us as North Americans. Color palettes across cultures should not only avoid obvious blunders, but also dig deeper into the rich array of associations individual cultures may “read” into a given shade.

Reason 3 is probably obvious to you. You turn to HOW U courses to be inspired, to recharge, to get exhilarated again about the job you tackle day after day. To accomplish that requires willfully estranging yourself from the known and familiar.

I really like this quote from Stephen Drucker, editor-in-chief of House Beautiful:

color is like sexIntrigued? Register for Jude’s Beyond the Color Chart Bootcamp to learn more. Plus, take 74% off tuition during HOW U’s Fall Sale!


Jude Stewart writes frequently about design and culture for Slate, The Believer, and Fast Company, among many other publications. Her first book, ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color, was published by Bloomsbury in 2013; her second book, a popular cultural history about patterns, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2015. She also blogs twice monthly about color and pattern as a contributing editor for Print.


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