๐Ÿค“EXTRA: Color Palette Practice

An optional, extra lesson on creating color palettes to practice design skills as well as calling colors.

Teacher Notes and Overview

This entirely optional lesson serves as an extra 'at bat' for students who need more practice using colors in either color mode. It's also an excellent time to discuss color palettes and strategic design strategies for people who crave more of an arts focus in the course.


Students will be able to:

  • Choose limited and effective color palettes to meet their design needs.

Suggested Duration

1 Period (~45 minutes)

NYS Standards

9-12.DL.1 Type proficiently on a keyboard.

9-12.DL.2 Communicate and work collaboratively with others using digital tools to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.


  • Color palette - in the digital world, refers to the full range of colors that can be displayed on a device screen or other interface

  • Primary Color - any of a group of colors from which all other colors can be obtained by mixing.

  • Secondary Color - a color resulting from the mixing of two primary colors.

  • Accent Color - are colors that are used for emphasis in a color scheme.

  • Complementary Colors - colors directly opposite each other in the color spectrum, such as red and green or blue and orange, that when combined in the right proportions, produce white light.

  • Analogous Colors - groups of three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, sharing a common color, with one being the dominant color, which tends to be a primary or secondary color, and a tertiary. Red, orange, and red-orange are examples.

Planning Notes and Materials

Planning NotesMaterials

The only new topics in this lesson are related to design and application of prior topics.

You donโ€™t need to print or make anything, but you might want to have some websites or art handy that your students would respond well to.


  • Color Palette Starter Code (Trinket)

  • Some Fine Art: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 (For reference: Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Frida Kahlo, Kehinde Willey, Olafur Eliasson, Mondrian, Amy Sherald, Jean-Michel Basquiat)



  • Color Palette Practice

  • Create a Colorful Design (Optional, Time Dependent)


  • Custom Emoji (Upcoming Mini Project)

  • Abstract Album Art (Upcoming Unit Project)

Do Now/Warm Up (~5 minutes)

Give each group of students an art piece from the resources above.

Ask them to:

  • Identify the 3-5 major color groups present in the image. (Ex; there might be a lot of BLUES or a lot of GOLDs. They donโ€™t need to list light gold, dark gold, etc unless itโ€™s a monochromatic piece.)

  • Decide which color appears the MOST and which appears the LEAST.

  • Is there anything else you notice about the colors in regards to hue and saturation?

You're looking for these answers (or will help guide students toward this thinking):

  • Few pieces use EVERY color available Most have a tone - muted, bright, etc.

  • If they use something outside the tone, it is minimal and used to draw attention.

  • Most have one predominant color and maybe some supporting colors.

You might want to ask questions like:

  • Where does your eye go?

  • What is the most interesting part of the image, based on color? Why is this interesting?

Creating a Color Palette (10 - 15 minutes)

Review what students just went over. It may be useful to pull up a website or two that have a definite color scheme (Youtube, Buzzfeed, etc) and demonstrate that these concepts are applied not just to fine art, but also to design.

Explain that as students begin using color in their work, they will need to start considering how to use color. Color can create mood, and it should also be used sparingly otherwise it will look like a headache.

Introduce Adobe Color Picker and briefly show students some of the different color options. (Located on the left) The RGB values are shown beneath each color, and palettes can be clicked/dragged customized.

After the introduction, students need an opportunity to practice and play. Ask students to make a copy of the Color Palette Starter Code (Trinket) and explain that they will be using Adobe Color Picker to choose a palette. They will then decide which color will be the most used in a design, followed by the second most used, and then the accent colors (at the bottom) which will be used sparingly.

Create a Colorful Design (15 - 20 minutes)

After giving students time to create their palettes, gather them back together and explain that they will now be doing their best to create a colorful design using the colors they've chosen. This design should be fairly loose - it's not about creating something that looks like anything, they're just arranging shapes in a way that satisfies them.

They should strive to stay true to the colors they chose and work to create a design where the colors are used in different amounts to make something that is pleasing to look at.

Wrap-Up (~5 minutes)

Give students the opportunity to share their work!

During the class period, circulate and prepare several students to share. They should put their projects on the board and share a struggle and a success from the project.

Prompt the class to aid in the struggle and celebrate the success, and as a teacher, simply facilitate.

If/When you collect this project, you may want students to answer questions like:

  1. Describe your color palette.

  2. Explain the mood or feeling associated with this color palette.

  3. What color did you primarily use? What colors did you use sparingly? Why?

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