The Color Wheel


Selecting a color has not always been something that was achieved with just a few clicks. Color had to be collected from pigments of the earth and then dyed into fabric. You had to collect the berries to make the purple-ish/reds or dirt to get a brown. Color, binds the creative realm together be it graphic design, photography, interior design, textile design, transportation design etc. Of course you can take pictures in black & white or make a logo black with greys but the colors are where we can experience emotion. That emotion ties us to the image, art, design or product. The colors bring the brand, the curtains, the rug, the subject, the foreground or the background to life.

Do you just start picking colors and hope for the best or is there more science at work? In order to make your color picking easier there are several different color relationships that will help you along the way. These are the basic fundamentals of color wheel.


Primary colors are the basis of the color spectrum. With these three colors, you can create any other color in the spectrum. Red, Yellow & Blue. This is a bold and powerful color scheme when used together.


Secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors together. They lie opposite of the primary colors on the color wheel. Green, Violet & Orange. These colors are very bold like primary colors, when used together.


The colors in-between the secondary & primary colors are what make up the tertiary colors. You can create these colors by mixing one primary color and one secondary color. Using tertiary colors as a color scheme is very bright and vibrant.


Monochromatic color schemes use a single hue (green above) and then use various tints and shades of that original color. They are very low in contrast but can be used very easily because of their simplistic nature.


Analogous colors are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. One of the colors is dominate while the others are accents for the main color. These schemes are easy to create and have unity and consistency.


Clash color schemes pair a first color with a second to the left or right of it’s color wheel compliment. Clash colors are VERY bold and have high contrast. The more colors you add the harder it is to make clash colors work effectively.


Split complementary colors are created by taking the colors directly beside your original colors compliment. (purple above so yellow is purples compliment) Split complementary colors can be very difficult to make work correctly. Try using one color as the main color and the other two as accent colors.


Neutral colors are a mix of a hue and its compliment and is sometimes mixed with black. These colors schemes are not bright and commanding but they can be calm & effective.


Tertiary triads are a set of three tertiary colors that are equal distance from each other on the color wheel. Tertiary triads are some of the least recognizable color schemes. They are very vibrant and comfortable to the eye.

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