Color Theory and Ideational Concepts Syllabus

Color Theory and Ideational Concepts
FDMA 2200, CRN 3414,3415
Spring 2024 M, W, 2:00- 3:50

Lauren Addario
Instructor Media Arts & Technology
New Mexico Highlands University
Office Hours: Tuesdays 12:00 – 1:00. Wednesday 10:00-11:00, Thursdays 2:00 -3:00 over Zoom

Phone: 505-454-3239

Catalog Description of Course:
In the fields of Media Arts (MART), the art of ideational concepting using, arranging and designing with color to communicate important worded and visual messages is one of many important skills expected of an entry-level visual communicator. As future communication designers/graphic designers, videographers, typographers, filmmakers, etc. you will be expected to be adept in the nuanced art of choosing, organizing and arranging appropriate and meaningful colors within all aspects of these related fields of visual communication.

Course Pre-requisites:  None

No textbook required (but this textbook is recommended): Joseph Albers, The Interaction of Color, Yale University Press, ISBN
9780300179354, Publication Date, 2013

General Objectives:
General Objectives of the Course are:
1) Develop and demonstrate proficiency in basic color theory, color analysis and color control in reflected and projected color.
2) Develop and demonstrate proficiency in controlling emotional/intellectual communication through the understanding and manipulation of color systems.
3) Develop an understanding of the psychology of color and apply its theories to design problems.
4) Explore numerous concepts and ideational/iterative experimentations that apply basic theories of color.

 Specific Objectives:
At the conclusion of this course, students should be able to:
1) Understand and apply color principles: value, saturation/de-saturation, primary, secondary, tertiary, chromatic grays, earth tones, monochromatic, analogous, complimentary, split-complimentary, tints, shades and tones for reflected and projected color.
2) Understand and apply psychology of color and cultural influences upon color within basic conceptual problems within color exploration.
3) Understand the semiotics (meanings) of color theory and application in image development.
4) Understand and apply basic software skills using Adobe Illustrator for vector graphic illustration.
5) Understand and create basic graphic abstract stylization skills with each of several color problems using graphic software.
6) Understand and apply conceptual/ideational methodologies: (abstraction, deconstruction, substitution, forced connections, metaphor, context alteration, juxtaposition, paradox etc. in the development of color solutions.

Major Topics:
Major topics to be studied include:
1) Basic color theory
2) Historical and cultural influences on color
3) Psychology of color
4) Conceptual/idea development

Instructional Methods and Techniques:
Instructional methods/techniques to be used will include:
1) Guest lectures/demonstrations
2) Visual presentations
3) Conceptual experimentations/development
4) Comprehensive Critiques/analysis

Assignments for the course:
Assignments for students in the course will include:
1) Value, saturation, de-saturation, chromatic grays, natural tones, simultaneous contrast
2) Color wheel, tints, shades and tones
3) Analogous, monochromatic, complimentary, split-complimentary, double-split complimentary studies.
4) Psychology of Color
5) Vector graphic abstract illustration/stylization
6) Capstone color project.


99-100 A+
94-98 A
90-93 A-
86-89 B+
84-85 B
80-83 B-
75-79 C+
70-74 C
60-69 D
50-59 F

Your grade will be determined by the following formula

60% – Class participation, assignments, and homework

20% – Midterm = (50% written midterm + 50% midterm Project)

20% – Final = (50% written final + 50% Final Project)

Attendance and behavior: Media Arts Department

Cell phones and texting are not permitted. Failure to recognize this policy will result in a grade reduction. If you are sick or have to miss class, you are responsible for finding out the assignment from a classmate or the instructor and you are responsible for coming to the next class with any missed work completed. Students CANNOT miss critique. If final critique is missed you will fail the class.
4 absences = final grade is dropped one full letter grade
5 absences = final grade is dropped two full letter grades
6 absences = final grade is dropped three full letter grades
7 absences = final grade is an F
3 tardies =1 absence
Leaving class early or arriving late will count as a tardy. This applies to not being on task, not having your materials in class, or taking long breaks during class time.

 Academic Integrity

This course follows the Highlands Student Academic Integrity Policy as described in the catalog. New Mexico Highlands University students are expected to maintain integrity through honesty and responsibility in all their academic work. Examples of academic dishonesty include: Plagiarism, Cheating, Collusion, Facilitation, Fabrication, Multiple Submissions, and Falsification of Records. Penalties may range from a reduced grade on an individual assignment to a failing grade in the class. Students may also be flagged for major cases of academic dishonesty, and multiple flaggings of academic dishonesty may result in suspension (2 flags) or expulsion (3 flags). For additional information and more detailed definitions of academic dishonesty, please see the Student Academic Integrity Policy in the catalog and/or student handbook.

Accessibility Statement

In accordance with federal law, it is university policy to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you believe that you have a physical, learning, or psychological disability that requires an academic accommodation, contact the Coordinator of Disability Services by phone at (505) 454-3250, via e-mail at, schedule a Zoom appointment, or visit Room 250 of the Lora Shields building on the Las Vegas campus. If you need the document upon which this notice appears in an alternative format, you may also contact the Coordinator of Disability Service.

Title IX
Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender are Civil Rights offenses subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you are encouraged to contact the Center for Advocacy, Resources, Education, & Support (HU-CARES) located in the Student Union Building at 800 National Ave in Suite 328.  If you have questions or need to speak to someone regarding a concern, please call HU-CARES at 505-454-3445 or email HU-CARES can support you in various ways, regardless if you want to report to police or not. All services are confidential, student-centered, and free for all NMHU students, including center campuses.

Additional resources available to you include:

  • Student Health Center Main Campus-(Counseling) 505-454-3218
  • HU-CARES After-Hours Crisis Line 505-795-3665 (Available 24/7)
  • Campus Police 505-454-3278
  • NMHU Dean of Students 505-454-3020
  • Director of Compliance and Title IX Coordinator 505-454-3363; 505-429-6888;
  • NM Crisis & Access Line (Professional Counselors available 24/7) 1-855-662-7474

Center students are encouraged to contact HU-CARES for resources near the center campuses.