Art 1133 | Design II


Design II is a six hours studio course, a continued study of the fundamental elements and principles of design with an emphasis on the theory and application of color.

Below are descriptions of some of the assignments in the course with student work examples.

Gradation Collage Project

PROJECT: Through a process of collage, students will develop a piece that is largely based around the use of gradation. Areas of gradation within each collage will aim to address value, saturation, and use of at least one hue in the following ways. Gradations should aim to express:

  • A full range of VALUE (absolute black to absolute white)
  • A full range of SATURATION (from 0% - 100% saturated use of color)
  • Use of at least one HUE family (red, blue, green yellow, etc.).

colorful wreath of cutout roses in various colors of red, orange, yellow, pink on light blue backgroundpieces of paper cut out in various shades of blue in v shape, going up darker to lighter - female swimmer in center background of image is various shades of white and black in horizontal rows - with what looks like a curved shark fin in the waves - shark fin is in various shades of blue horizontallycircles cutout made into a circle in various colors of black, purple, blue, green laid out on newspaper cutout background

Translation of Motifs & Improvising with Color

MATERIALS – One chosen black and white photograph, illustration board, black construction paper, Color Aid paper, X-ACTO knives, ruler, rubber cement

what looks like a skylight connected to a colorful tirelines formed in shape/pattern - pink, brown, yellow, purple

Spatiality Through Color

This project serves as an inquiry into the kind of color use traditionally used to express spatiality in 2D representation. The kind of color use we will use will work hand in hand with 2D representational drawing concepts to convincingly create the effects of atmosphere and spatiality; those concepts being linear perspective, atmospheric perspective and diminution (see definitions).

In our experiences of the world around us, colors of shadows often contrast in terms of value, hue, saturation and temperature with the light that create them. In this way, we can generally assume that a highly-saturated warm light would create a less saturated cool shadow. Notice in the example (below) how the light red warmth of figurative elements in the foreground contrast with the darker cool blue qualities of elements in the background. This contrast helps achieve a feeling of spatiality, particularly when enforced by ideas of linear perspective and diminution.

PROJECT: On a piece of illustration board, establish a horizon line and areas from the foreground to background that represent diminution (start by representing these areas with contour at first). Create a figurative element that you will use repetitively as diminishing in space on a ground moving towards the horizon line. Develop a lighting scheme that addresses the ideas of natural color and aim to address a direction of light (ask yourself where is the light coming from). To establish a convincing sense of light, it may help to refer back to the complementary color-value scales (previous lesson and exercise dealing with use of contrast regarding value and color compliments; see examples below).

colorful squares of orange and yellow on green and blue backgroundteal rectangles on red/purple ground and skyred curved triangles on blue background

Color Harmony

The goal of this study is for the student to use a unique invented shape as a basis for a composition using figure/ground ambiguity, scale contrast, and overlapping shapes. A complementary or split commentary color scheme will be explored.

  1. Create 1-3 invented shapes that are not overly complex. The shapes can be curvilinear, rectilinear, or organic.
  2. Photocopy or draw your shape(s) in multiple sizes on Bristol board. Cut them out and use them as stencils for your composition.
  3. Cut your paper to the format required below and begin your composition. Overlap is required. Feel free to tilt or flip your stencils to create a more dynamic composition. The composition can be filled entirely with positive shapes if this doesn’t become too complex. Feel free to erase unnecessary lines to simplify the composition.
  4. You will use a complementary or split color scheme plus white to create all the colors you will need for this assignment. Your starting complementary or split complementary colors can vary in saturation and value.
  5. Mix these starting colors to develop a 12-color inventory. This color inventory should be broad in saturation and value levels. You will use this inventory as a guide for color placement.
  6. Figure out a color placement plan on your composition. At least 6 colors should be used. You can also make a photocopy of your current composition and test out color placement that way. You want the composition to feel balanced with color proportions that are harmonious.
  7. Mix all the colors you will be using and save them in a storage container.
  8. Fill in your composition leaving no white areas.

curvy colorful patterncurvy colorful patternstar and heart colorful patternpattern of lines and circles

Dualities: Creating Visual Tension

Project Description: You will create visual tension in a single composition based on your chosen duality. The composition must be abstract, meaning that you can use invented or pre-existing shapes. Avoid representation.

Your final piece will include the following:

  • 1 color palette per word
  • A sense of space
  • Area(s) of emphasis
  • Consider how rhythm, movement, balance, harmony/discord, texture, and shape affect the content of your
  • work


  • Bristol paper least 15”X20” (does not have to be rectangular in format)
  • Acrylic Paint + Paint supplies
  • Color Wheel for reference
  • Sketchbook

various images formed into one picture - road, curved track, flowerscolorful patternyellow, orange, red, purple circles with pattern on blue and black triangle pattern backgroundvarious curves with lighter lines on pink/red checked background

Collage Mimic

Using Color Aid Paper, design a 4 x 4” collage which includes an image, one texture, and one small object. Keep the design as flat as possible. Try to use thin textured materials like sandpaper, ribbon, etc. Use illustration board as the support and cover the entire surface. Next, paint a facsimile of the collage onto a second piece of 4 x 4” illustration board. Be critical of color, texture, shape, and image. Try to mimic everything precisely. Do the best you can when mixing colors. Be aware that acrylic colors may change as they dry (colors usually darken in value when they dry). Some hues may be difficult or impossible to match.

Image of aztec paper, a button, several pieces of ripped paper that is mimic-ed to the right.Image of torn paper, a strawberry, and a match that is mimic-ed to the right. Several torn pieces of paper and a bread clip that is mimic-ed to the right.

Color Collage Series

Cut out a square or rectangular section from each image that is no larger than 1 .” x 1 .” (it may be smaller). Next, cut 13 sheets of white construction paper in half. Mix, match, and paint 5 colors from each image on five sheets of construction paper. The five sheets of paper within each color usage should all be different. Start with monochromatic. Using the photographic image and between 5-7 rectangular or square pieces of painted paper, create a 7 x 9” collage. Do not use any irregular shapes. Only use squares or rectangles. Consider color placement and proportion and try to create a sense of balance through color placement. Glue the image and painted papers down with rubber cement on 9 x 11” illustration board.

Image collage of various shades of blue. One seciton appears to look like bubbles. Image collage of various shades of pink. One seciton appears to look like a flower. Image collage of various shades of purples, pinks, and oranges. One seciton appears to look like several flowers.

Color Interaction Series

1. Select one color and cut two ó x .’ pieces of Color Aid Paper. Place the two rectangles on different color backgrounds (full sheet) making the rectangles look as different as possible.

2. Select two colors that are similar but different. Cut a ó” x .” rectangle from each color. Place the rectangles on different color backgrounds trying to make the rectangles appear to be the same color.

3. Select two different colors of Color Aid Paper. Lay one sheet on top (perpendicular) of the second sheet. Pretend that the top paper is transparent. Select a third color paper that would result as the visual mixture between the top and bottom sheets of paper.

4. Select one sheet of Color Aid Paper. Cut 1/8’ strips 4” long. Make two X’s from four strips. Place the X’s on separate backgrounds. You must use colors that result in the following: when the X is on the left background color, it looks like the right background and when the X is on the right background color, it looks like the left background.

Color interaction study in which various strips of paper are set on top of color swatches, they appear to all be the same color because of the interaction with contrasting color. This interaction is seafoam green. Color interaction study in which various strips of paper are set on top of color swatches, they appear to all be the same color because of the interaction with contrasting color. This interaction is lime green. Color interaction study in which various strips of paper are set on top of color swatches, they appear to all be the same color because of the interaction with contrasting color. This interaction is blue.



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