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The Fundamentals of Digital Color and Design


Sept 3 - Oct 11

Location: Online
Hours of Instruction: 36

Course Fee:



Register Now

Deadline is Aug 20.

Course Policies



This 6-week online course is the first in the Digital Design Certificate Program.  We welcome students who are looking to develop a solid foundation in design skill sets or professionals seeking to broaden their capabilities to join in with students enrolled in the full certificate program.

Course Description:

In the digital technology environment, with all of its 1's and 0's, the designer much have a comprehensive understanding of how color is generated and applied.  This course provides an overview of the binary numbers system, (don't worry, no heavy math...) and covers the fundamental aspects of color modes, including RGB for light-based projects and CMYK and flat colors for print projects.  It explains the basic layout characteristics of pixels and vector-based art, and demystifies the function and application of color channels, alpha channels, composite modes and other color adjustments. 

Students should anticipate three to five hours per week of study time in this course. The course has an asynchronous learning environment which means students do not have to log on to the course at specific times. However, the instructors may post deadlines for course projects or other assignments.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, students will have a thorough understanding of digital color systems.


Basic computer literacy and an interest in art and design for either personal or professional purposes.

Required Materials:

Students can use either a Mac or a PC. There are no required tools for this course, although Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects (any of the Creative Suite versions or the Creative Cloud) would be useful as a reference. All other resources will be provided.

View the necessary computer system requirements at

About the Instructor:

Instructor Photo: Rick HughesRick Hughes

Professor, Media Arts
University of Montana
Teaching areas: Digital Technology in the Arts, Photoshop

In the Fall of 1998 Rick helped initiate the integration of digital technology and the arts when he developed and taught the first Integrated Digital Art course at the University of Montana.  A year later he developed and began teaching the first Photoshop course, motion design course and web design course in the School.  Rick continued his busy teaching schedule while serving as Director of the School of Media Arts from 2006 through 2012 and for the past two years has served as Director of Academic Affairs for UMOnline. Currently he teaches in the Integrated Digital Media specialization. His primary research areas are online education and the artistic application of digital technology in the Arts.

  • School of Extended & Lifelong Learning
  • The University of Montana
  • 32 Campus Drive
  • Missoula, MT  59812
  • Phone: (406) 243-2900
  • Fax: (406) 243-2047
  • Email: