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Understanding color, part 1


This is day five of a four-week unit plan that helps students learn the basic terminology, functions and foundations of design. Topics covered include typography, color, grids, formatting, spacing, measurements and modular design.



  • Students will identify the four basic categories of type.
  • Students will learn and recite definitions of design terms.
  • Students will know how to read and apply measurements.
  • Students will know how to format type using common design language.
  • Students will know the basic concepts of color application, purpose and use.
  • Students will learn and practice how to work within a grid using appropriate spacing and modular design strategies in Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will create layouts using different column grids using Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will learn and practice how to place, size, crop, edit and apply a stroke to photos using Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will learn and practice how to place, size and format headlines and body copy using Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will learn and practice how to use the various tools and functions of Adobe InDesign that are critical to layout presentation.


Common Core State Standards




Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context.


Analyze how the text structures information or ideas into categories or hierarchies, demonstrating understanding of the information or ideas.


Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.


Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.



This is day five of a four-week unit if class meets daily (55 minutes/class). Adjustments can be made accordingly.



Slideshow: Color basics






Lesson step-by-step

1. Journal: Bell assignment —10 minutes

Students should journal to this prompt: What is your favorite color? Why do you like it the best? How does it make you feel when you are wearing it? What other colors do you normally combine with it?

Discussion – Make a list of the various colors students like, what other colors they pair them with, and how they make them feel.


2. Main instruction—20 minutes

Review the “Color Basics” slideshow encouraging students to participate by asking them to provide examples as much as possible.


3. Type & color assignment—20 minutes (this will be finished in class tomorrow)

Using Appropriate typefaces and/or arrangement and manipulation, illustrate six of the words below using Adobe InDesign.

  • Fever
  • Confused
  • Fancy
  • Happy
  • Angry
  • Hungry
  • Lonely
  • Drunk
  • Proper
  • Uncomfortable
  1. Focus on visually expressing the words through type designs that connote the meaning of each word. You also may stylize, letterspace and/or manipulate typefaces as you see fit (i.e. sizing, tracking, kerning, scaling, coloring, tinting, etc.).
  2. You may not incorporate art elements (i.e. illustrations or photos downloaded from the internet or otherwise) among your type designs. Color is OK as well as various tints and shades.
  3. Bottom line, your objective is to make the words look or feel like what they say.
  4. Fit three words to one page – thus you’ll create a two-page document. Save your work to an appropriate place so they can be accessed again tomorrow.

4. Clean up—5 minutes