We all may have at minimum some basic idea about how the color wheel works. At least if we are working in the art field we certainly should. One good theory to have a grasp on is understanding how to use color harmony. If you lack experience or knowledge with color harmony your work could appear bland and boring. Or, not using wise color choices your composition could turn out chaotic and will be hard for the brain to process it properly. You may not even know or recognize this if you aren’t aware of what color harmony is all about.
Color harmony like all color theory is quite involved. I will attempt to teach you at least the basic premise in this commentary.
Starting from the beginning, we all learned in school (hopefully) about primary (red, yellow, blue), secondary (orange, green and violet), and tertiary colors (red-orange, yellow-green, and so on. These make up the traditional color wheel. The color wheel isn’t set up haphazardly. It was created by Sir Isaac Newton and helps us understand how colors work together.
There are four qualities for colors on the color wheel.
- The first is hue. This is simply the color position around the wheel, and its brightest and purest version of that color.
- Next is This can also be known as intensity and chroma. This tells us how vibrant a color is. A desaturated color is grayed out and dull while a saturated color is vibrant and strong.
- Then we have This tells us how dark or light a color is. You can add shades of that color by adding black, or tints by adding white, or also add tone by adding gray.
- Finally, we have The color wheel can be split into warm colors and cool colors.
By working with all four of these elements we can find a myriad of variation of the 12 main colors on the wheel. You may create a monochromatic color by taking one color and adding tints, tones or shades to create a group of colors from that one.
To create a strong contrast in your image use color compliments which is using two colors opposite on the color wheel. A split complimentary color scheme can be created by using two color compliments and one nearby color. This keeps the high contrast of complimentary color scheme but adds more variety. Of course you can use tints, tones and shades here to create even more colors from this scheme.
A triadic color scheme used three different colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel like a triangle. The tetradic color scheme is made up as two sets of complimentary colors used together as one palette. Here is best to focus on one color and use the rest as contrasting accents.
As I said, this is very basic but can be involved. I will finish this commentary in tomorrows posts.