Using colour as an (additional) element of basic design

When we compare pure black, white and grey compositions along with the same composition done with colours, there is a significant change in the overall character of the composition. Each composition has a background and a foreground, focal point, sense of direction, rhythm and balance. When the same composition is done by using colours instead of grey, black and white tones, invariably the focal point gets shifted and effect of the three-dimensional character changes drastically (three-dimensional character reduces and it makes the composition flat). It is interesting to learn and analyse this visual shift of priorities by comparing the same composition in black and white and using visual colours.


Actual Exercise

Students are asked to choose any of the compositions (self-made, or borrowed) and render it with the achromatic tones that are black white and various tones of grey. A second composition should now be generated keeping the line skeleton the same and applying various colours to replace the grey tones. Students should compare both compositions simultaneously and fill up the table of visual analysis by the side of it indicating a shift in the percentage of visual priority.


Design Application


The retrospective analysis


On observation, students will experience the following changes in the character of the composition when there is an introduction of colour as an element. Students will realize the strength of colour as an element in design. They will also judiciously understand when to chose a coloured composition over a chromatic composition.

Following are some of the obvious effects student should visually sense in this assignment.

  • Shift of focal point
  • Loss of depth
  • Loss of homogeneity and experience of fragmentation
  • Shift of figure ground relationship
  • Existence of multiple focal points
  • Introduction of rhythm
  • Increase of visual appeal
  • Introduction to symbolism
  • Loss of movement or dynamic aspects


For more details contact - Ar. Shirish Sukhatme
| Workshop | Theory | Slide Gallery |
| Home | About the author | Endorsements | Query | Contact | Feedback |