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  • Writer's pictureJanet Federico

Review: Color Camp with Xhico


Marketing image for Color Camp with Xhico

I’ve been told that I have an instinctive touch with color. One of the comments I get most often is that people love the colorway I’ve chosen. The truth is that I’ve been flying blind and just choosing colors that speak to me. I love jewel tones and vibrant shades on dark backgrounds, so that is generally what I go with. That said, I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to understand color theory and make intentional color choices, not just hopeful guesses. 


Color plays a huge role in art. Use color well, and you can set a mood and a tone and tell a story with a few brush strokes. Use it incorrectly, and a great pattern can be instantly off-putting or jarring. Instinct and luck weren’t enough for me, so when Studio Xhico’s Winter Color Camp opened up, I jumped at the chance to learn more from a true expert. I happily paid my $347 and settled in to learn.


What the Course Gets Right


Interactivity

Color Camp is hands-down the most interactive course I’ve taken so far. Almost every lesson has an activity attached to it. In addition, with very few exceptions, Xhico’s exercises are analog. You mix paint and work on sketch paper. Xhico also reinforces his concepts along the way. The paint mixing you do in Module 1 will be used again in later modules, which is important for learner retention. 


Many of the courses out there for art and surface pattern design are mostly people spewing information on how to do something, but they don’t employ the techniques necessary to ensure students actually learn what is being taught. 


I discuss designing courses for learner retention in my quarterly newsletter, The Perch. Generally, it takes seven touches of a process to retain it. This understanding has been around for a very long time and is a tried-and-true marketing practice. I’ve employed this principle in my face-to-face corporate training for years with much success. 


Xhico doesn’t specifically enforce the rule of seven, but he reinforces his concepts more than any other teacher whose course I’ve taken to date.


Chunking of Content

Another thing Xhico gets right is the chunking of content. His modules average somewhere around 15-20 minutes. Generally speaking, humans have an active attention span for learning of 20 minutes, and within that, an activity or interaction with the material is recommended every eight minutes. This differs from a human’s attention span for watching a movie or reading a book. These both involve storytelling, which engages the mind and sustains the attention. When we are learning a new skill, we have to mix up learning with reinforcing the learning through activities or interactions such as a knowledge check, review, poll, or something along those lines. The vast majority of the Color Camp modules have an activity associated with them, and Xhico’s not afraid to tell you to pause the video and go do something. 


Style

This is a bit more elusive to discuss, but not every teacher does a good job presenting. Some drone on, bringing the old Ferris Bueller clips to mind, while others are so animated and perky that they annoy me and make me abandon the class. Xhico is personable, funny, and easy to listen to. 


He also knows his shit. You can tell you are learning from a true expert. He dropped so many golden nuggets of information that I had a hard time keeping up with all my note-taking. In the end, I decided that I would need to revisit the course again to truly internalize all of the content, most likely seven more times (see what I did there, LOL).


Cost 

The cost of this course is spot on. I paid $347, taking advantage of an $80 release day discount. As I’ve discussed before, when I evaluate cost, I ask the question, “What am I getting here that I can’t get anywhere else?” In this case, you can learn the basics of color theory for free in many places, but what you can’t get is Xhico’s experience applying color to the practice of surface design. Xhico’s knowledge and years of experience are priceless. To his credit, he didn’t attempt to price this at the same level as an Immersion or Leverage Your Art, but I do believe this is more than a masterclass. This course is a deep dive into color theory and application and is worth every penny.


Community

I’m not really a community participant. My schedule doesn’t allow me to take advantage of it fully, and trying to stay engaged often leads to overwhelm. I only posted once in Xhico’s community, but I received more community love and support than I have in any other class. Additionally, Xhico awards superlatives to his community members, which I think is fun.


What Could Be Improved


Pacing

Color Camp is marketed as a four-week course. When I signed up, I thought that meant I’d be able to complete it before I had to travel out of state for a conference that was four weeks away. With the release of Module 1, I knew very quickly I was not going to keep pace. The course has ten modules and 90 lessons (excluding bonuses and Live Q&As). Four weeks was never going to happen for me. 


Xhico released a new module every other day or so during the week, and I quickly felt overwhelmed. I’m not a fan of drip pacing for reasons I’ve discussed in other reviews, and here again, I think if I’d gone in knowing that “four weeks” was really just about the live Q&As and then set my own pace for the material, I would have felt less overwhelmed, which would have enabled me to settle more quickly into my own learning cadence. 


Collateral

The biggest disappointment of the course was the lack of collateral. Color Camp provides a few basic downloads of some of the initial modules of basic color theory, but that is all. There are so many opportunities for collateral that would be a true value add to the course. A few that come to mind:

  • PDFs of the homework

  • A printable color wheel

  • A glossary of the terms he uses

  • Keyboard shortcuts for tools he goes over

The two instances I most wanted some downloadable collateral for were the lessons on Production Decisions and the Pantone Workarounds. These were definitely missed opportunities. 


Course Schedule

Xhico tells you upfront that he won’t be flooding your email box with reminders for live Q&As, which I respect. Also, there’s a sidebar in the course platform that provides the schedule and time. I have no bones to pick around not getting a zillion emails about the course, but a value add here would have been a course calendar that you could subscribe to. 


There is a cardinal rule in website design that applies to online course design, too. It’s a principle called “Don’t Make Me Think” put forth by Steve Krug. To sum up a highly consumable book, it comes down to not forcing your site visitor to think about how to interact with your website. Make it easy for them.


I believe this applies to online learning as well. I don’t want to have to think too hard about where to find information or how to participate in the course. I have enough cognitive load being devoted to learning the material. So, creating a course calendar to which I can subscribe lets me see the plan for the whole course, places the Q&As on my calendar, and allows me to not think about this in addition to everything else.


Accessibility

This was another area where the course faltered. At the commencement of the course, there were no subtitles at all. I wrote to Xhico and asked if he could add subtitles to the course. It took a few weeks, but he finally did. I give him a lot of credit for finding a solution, but it was a clunky one. To get the subtitles, you had to link out of the course, which also meant that your course progress was not being tracked. My hope is that he finds a more elegant solution to this in the future. The course appears to be hosted on Kajabi, which is what Leverage Your Art is hosted on, and Stacie Bloomfield has integrated subtitles and transcripts. 


As an artist with disabilities - I have low vision and mild hearing issues - I find the lack of accessibility a recurring theme I run into again and again. 


Lots of talking with No Visuals

There are a few times when Xhico falls into the same trap that many people do when presenting material online: leaving a static image on the screen and talking for several minutes. The worst example of this is in Module 6’s lesson on Calibration & CMS. The same image is left online for five minutes while Xhico talks. This is a sure way to lose your student’s attention. You want dynamic action on screen, even if that’s just you talking. That’s why you see so many “talking head” picture-in-picture tactics employed. While the image stays static, the teacher is talking and gesturing; it keeps your attention. 


Along with this, Xhico is discussing concepts of color. This is intrinsically visual, but there are times when he talks about something or describes how to do something but gives no visual example. This is fine for auditory learners but lets your visual learners down


MVP (Most Valuable Part)

For my money, the most valuable part of this course was the module where Xhico talked about reducing the number of colors in your artwork. This information is priceless for preparing your work for production. He shows you how to consider production costs and limitations that routinely arise in client work. I learned a lot in this module that I hadn’t considered, as I’m still relatively new to art licensing and have worked mostly with smaller companies. 


Verdict: Worth It

Overall, this course is worth the cost. The information Xhico conveys is a gold mine of information on not just the intricacies of color but also how to think about it and use it in your art practice. Color Camp is unique among the offerings out there. When I first began looking for a course on color, I came across a plethora of them. Color Camp is not the first one I took, but it is the best, and I highly recommend adding it to your roster.


 

Janet Federico, MBA, MFA is a licensed artist, award-winning author, and speaker from Washington, DC now based in the Midwest. Her art has been exhibited at the Wichita Art Museum, the Wilson K. Cadman Art Gallery, City Arts, and InterUrban Art House. Janet’s writing has been featured in Elephant Journal, Writer’s Digest, and The Mighty. Want more? Get Janet in your inbox.


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