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Sailing Through the Sea of Colors: Unleash the Thrilling Potential of Color to Supercharge Your Storytelling with Cátia Chien

Creative Lab Syllabus


Ever felt lost in a sea of colors, struggling to choose the perfect palette for your picture book illustrations? Say goodbye to uncertainty in this exhilarating color workshop. Join us for an immersive journey where we'll dissect mesmerizing examples from picture books, film, and animation, unlocking the art of assigning meaning to color for storytelling magic. We'll explore color themes, mood crafting, style infusion, symbolism, contrast, and more – all part of the enchanting language of color. As a participant, you'll put these concepts into action, creating your own color keys for your story. By the workshop's end, you’ll have learned how to wield color like a storytelling sorcerer, crafting a vivid emotional arc that elevates your picture book work.

Prerequisites and Advanced Preparation:

This Creative Lab is beneficial for all artists, whether you work primarily in traditional media or digital. However, because of time limitations, we are completing the color key assignment digitally so please ensure you arrive with a basic understanding of digital painting, along with your preferred digital tools – be it a laptop, iPad, or Wacom tablet. The software of your choice is welcome; I'll be using Photoshop for the demo, but use what you're comfortable with. To make the most of this enriching experience, we recommend coming prepared with finalized sketches and value studies from any of your ongoing picture book projects. Have them scanned and ready for digital coloring; it'll set the stage for a productive workshop. Lastly, bring along any references that resonate with your story's tone – whether they are photos, film stills, or artwork from other sources. Let's make this a creatively inspiring journey together!" 


  • Introduction (5 minutes)
  • Big picture Color Symbolism ( 5 minutes)
  • Character/Setting/Tone/Theme (10 minutes)
  • Emotional Arc (15 minutes)
  • Color script/Color study/Color keys (15 minutes) 
  • Demo (15 minutes)
  • Coffee/snack/stretch/bathroom break (10 minutes)
  • Color key Assignment Part I: create 3-5 color keys (30 minutes)
  • Sharing, discussion, and Q&A (15 minutes)
  • Color key Assignment Part II: revise and continue (30 minutes)
  • Sharing, discussion, and Q&A (15 minutes)
  • Final Q&A (10 minutes)


  • Participants will:
  • Study How Colors Enhance Stories in Film, Animation, and Picture Book
  • Craft Emotional Journeys with Color
  • Uncover Color Symbolism, Mood, Tone and Atmosphere
  • Explore Themes Through Color
  • Learn to Create Color Keys
  • Establish a Consistent Visual Style with a Color Language
  • Overcome Color Choice Challenges
  • Select Colors for Characters Create Unique Settings and Time Periods with Color


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