Four-Scheme Series

Art 2600 / Greg Clayton

Several projects are assigned as "four-design sets" or "four-scheme series".

In these projects, you will conceive of four or more different, but well-related color schemes and then apply those schemes to four different designs. The assigned color constraints will vary from project-to-project, and semester-to-semester.

However, there are several approaches to successfully creating these four designs. This page provides examples and comments on some of prior solutions.

Concept Alternatives: Four Designs — One Whole

Explore ways of involving color-variety into your concept.
Below are suggested strategies, but there may be more options still — conceive and create them!


Option1: Varied Color Schemes applied to a single design:

Create four versions of the same shape-design, varying color relationships only.
(this option may not be allowed on some projects — so be sure to confirm that it is OK before proceeding)

These designs are identical, except for color scheme. (more than 4 required due to limited number of colors in these schemes.) These four space designs are identical, except for color variations.

Option2: Four Designs from a set or series.

Four related design differing primarily, but not only in color scheme. Each of these designs should be planned as a part of the whole set — each design is meant to work with the others.

Example Concepts:
A series of four billboards, a series of four product ads
Four different package designs for related products.
Four different interior designs offering solutions for the same space. Be sure to vary some furnishings and accessories as well as colors and finishes.
A four-panel painting (not a tryptich, but a quadrich?)
A web site with (at least) four pages, each having a unique color scheme but all pages being well-related to the others.
An annimation which cycles through four episodes or scenes (think "Disney Fantasia")



Option3: A single complex design, with four regions.

Four different "parts" or regions of a single large and/or complex design.

Example Concepts:
A painting might have four distinct areas — each with its own color scheme.
A CD packaging insert with (at least) four different panels/pages.
An interior project involving four different rooms or spaces, each formally related to each other, but each with its own color scheme.




Final Design Examples

There are many ways to complete this assignment. You may work with designs appropriate to your field of study — fine art, graphic design, interior design, interactive media, etc.


Here Four color schemes are integrated into one design/painting.

Each section of the painting has its own color scheme (two analogous schemes & two complementary-based schemes.) The schemes are based on the Nature Study project.

The four schemes share several colors in common, which serves to unify the painting as a whole.
(+all share a dominant middle chroma)
(+left and right designs share a dominant value of ~4, while the top and bottom share a dominant value of ~6)

The pattern of leaves is similar throughout the composition, though the leaves, shapes and contrast vary along with the colors. The outer shape echoes the natural contours and shapes of the leaves within the design.


Here are four separate paintings conceived to work as one whole design. The schemes are based on the nature study project.


Each painting has is own scheme. (this series was based on autumn nature colors, using complementary and analogous schemes.)



Each painting shares some colors, some hues and some values with the other paintings.

The designs are obviously similar in imagery and form.

The designs flow or continue from one design to the other.
(idea: is it possible to create individual designs that could be rearranged into other positions and yet still "flow" from one to the next?)

  Here four line drawings are rendered with distinct color schemes.
Some colors cross over from one color concept to the other.

The four areas of this design overlap, but each circular region has its own scheme, while all schemes work well together.

The schemes are based on the complement mix project.

  The schemes, here, were based on plates 10, 11, 12 & 13 — neutral and neutral with single-hue schemes.

Here a series of four designs (post cards? postage stamps?) offer related but distinctly different designs.

In this assignment, the schemes were: neutral,
chromatic neutral,
monochromatic with neutral,
neutral with hiChroma accent

  These four package/sack designs vary hues and schemes well (the green/blue-green design is not clearly related to the others...but its a nice design, nevertheless)

These four simple spaces still need their color schemes more fully integrated, but the basic concept works well.

Colored pencil - on - marker is a handy way to explore and present interior alternatives.

This package design solution involves more than 4 designs since the designs each use only a few colors. (fewer than the project specs.)

Adobe Illustrator CS5 has some very handy tools for altering color schemes — do you know how to explore 30 schemes in 30 minutes?

Do you know how to set up structured schemes using to download those schemes directly into Illustrator?

  This solution uses watercolor washes on paper strips along with dyed or colored strings to create a sort of layered weaving. Each section has its own colors.
  This CD-cover design has 4 distinct regions — 4 color schemes. Each scheme re-uses at least some colors from the other schemes.

Here complementary and split-complementary variations were used for different panels of this case.

Here a simple interior is explored via different schemes. The client now has alternatives.

Each scheme uses at least one color from the other schemes.




  This portrait group reuses basic values, as well as reintroducing hues in both dominant and subordinate roles.


Alternatives and Suggestions

Glossary | Color Theory Assignments | Course Schedule |


Greg Clayton
Design Foundations I
Design Foundations II

Senior Seminar

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