Colour Fundamentals Course

This colour fundamentals course focuses on colour theories and application strategies.

Colour has the capacity to convey meaning often more effectively than words. As a result, colour is often used strategically in art, applied design and the built environment for a number of reasons:

  • Attract/divert attention and create focus
  • Convey symbolic meaning
  • Contribute to mood and ambience
  • Encourage engagement
  • Support intuitive functioning, orientation and wayfinding strategies

Theories of Colour is a 12-week (3 hours/week) TEQSA-compliant colour fundamentals course. Principles and theories about colour are blended with practical exercises to enhance an interactive exploration of colour.

During this course, students create a Colour Journal which becomes their resource for colour knowledge, colour exploration and application and a valuable reference.

Key learning objectives of the course include:

  1. Examine and investigate sources of information about colour and colour theory.
  2. Distinguish between categories and attributes of colour as well as theories about primary, secondary and tertiary colour.
  3. Explore and investigate the attributes of colour (hue, tone and saturation) and their capacity to attract/divert attention, create focus, mood and ambience.
  4. Apply the attributes of colour (hue, tone and saturation) to achieve specific outcomes.
  5. Explore and apply key colour combination strategies to achieve specific outcomes.
  6. Explore and apply the three levels of colour symbolism
  7. Experiment with colour using a range of materials and equipment.
  8. Communicate concepts and ideas via colour application for specific outcomes.
  9. Review, reflect and seek feedback on colour application exercises.
  10. Build a source of reference (Colour Journal) that collates and illustrates theories of colour.

I developed and delivered Theories of Colour at the Faculty of Art & Design (formerly COFA), UNSW from 2008 to 2014. This course also informed the development of ‘Designing with Colour I’ and ‘Designing with Colour II’, two courses I developed and delivered at the Faculty of Architecture, Design & Planning, University of Sydney from 2010 to 2012;

This course was inspired by the colour curriculum of my alma mater, the Shillito Design School; which in turn inspired the colour curriculum at the School of Colour and Design, Sydney, where I taught briefly in 1999 prior to my PhD research.


  1. Rose White
    November 29, 2015 / 9:53 am

    I just wanted to say thank you for teaching this class. I really enjoyed it and will look at colour very differently from now on!

    • November 30, 2015 / 12:06 pm

      Thank you Rose and all the best with your career!

  2. Kevin Croll
    November 29, 2015 / 6:51 pm

    Thank you so much for the course, I am really glad I chose it. You made it enjoyable and informative, so thank you.

    • December 1, 2015 / 12:07 pm

      Thank you Kevin. It was great having you in the class and I really enjoyed your input.

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