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Understanding Colour Wheel

Understanding Colour Wheel

The color wheel visually demonstrates the connections between different colors. It usually consists of 12 segments, each representing a primary, secondary, or tertiary color.

Red, blue, and yellow are the primary colors. They serve as the fundamental elements for all other colors, as they cannot be formed by combining other colors.
Orange, green, and purple are secondary colors. These are produced by mixing equal parts of two primary colors. For instance, mixing red and yellow yields orange, combining blue and yellow creates green, and blending blue and red results in purple.

Tertiary colors arise from mixing a primary color with a secondary color. For example, yellow-orange is a mix of yellow and orange, blue-green is a combination of blue and green, and so forth.

Colour Schemes

Colour schemes are sensible arrangements of hues from the colour wheel.
A colour scheme's aesthetic effect is to evoke a sense of appeal and style.

  • Monochromatic

This color scheme employs various shades and tints of a single color. For instance, a monochromatic scheme featuring Red could incorporate Peach, Burgundy, and Crimson.

  • Analogous

This color scheme utilizes colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. For example, an analogous scheme with yellow might include orange, and red.
  • Complementary

This color scheme involves colors that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel. For example, a complementary scheme with blue might pair blue with orange.

  • Triadic

This color scheme consists of three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. For instance, a triadic scheme featuring blue could include blue, orange, and green.

Application in Art

By understanding the color wheel and its application, you can create visually pleasing or harmonious color and value balances in your work.

Let's explore some ways to use the color wheel in painting:

Color Schemes

The color wheel can help develop various color schemes for a painting. For example, a monochromatic color scheme uses different shades of the same color, an analogous color scheme uses colors adjacent to each other on the wheel. A complementary color scheme uses colors opposite each other on the wheel.

Harmonizing Colors

To harmonize colors in a painting, select colors that are close to each other on the color wheel. For instance, pairing a green object with a blue background can create a harmonious effect.

Creating Contrast

Create contrast by choosing colours that are opposite on the colour wheel. For example, placing a warm color like yellow next to a cool colour like violet can generate a striking contrast.

Adding Depth

You can add depth by using colours from opposite sides of the wheel, as warm colours tend to advance and cool colours tend to recede when placed next to each other.

Enhancing Emotion

Use the colour wheel to evoke specific emotions by selecting colours associated with those feelings. Colours like red and yellow can convey excitement and warmth, while colours like white and green can evoke calmness and serenity.



The color wheel serves as an indispensable tool for artists, providing a framework for understanding and utilizing the relationships between colors. 

By mastering the principles outlined here and experimenting with the color wheel in your painting practice, you can unlock a world of creativity and elevate your artwork to new heights. Embrace the power of color, and let it guide you on your artistic journey.

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