Color Theory Continued: Color Schemes

color theory continued: color schemes

Last week we talked about the basics of color theory. This week let's get into the nitty-gritty a little bit and talk about color schemes.

Color Schemes are a combination of colors that create a mood or psychological reaction. When considering a color scheme, the use of a color wheel will prove to be helpful as you begin to select the colors you need for a project. A basic color wheel will feature twelve colors, three primary (red, yellow, and blue), three secondary (green, orange, and purple), and six tertiary (yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, and yellow-green).


As shown in the image above, half of the wheel can be attributed to cool colors. Red-violet to green is often considered to be cooling colors, while red to yellow-green are considered warm.

When searching for complementary colors, that is colors that complement each other, these colors can be found by selecting colors directly across from each other. For example, red-violet and yellow-green are complementary colors, as are red and green, and red-orange, and blue-green. The use of complementary colors is useful in a project when you are trying to create high contrast.

Analogous colors can bring harmony to a piece. These colors can be found selecting one dominant color than the two colors on either side of the color. For example, if orange is the dominant color, red-orange and yellow-orange become analogous colors. However, if yellow-orange was the dominant color, orange and yellow would complete the trio.

A triadic scheme is that of three colors equally spaced throughout the wheel. That would mean each color of the triadic scheme would be separated by three colors. The primary colors, red, yellow, and blue create a triadic scheme. green, violet, and orange is another example of a triadic scheme.

Split-complimentary colors are made up of one base color and the two colors on each side of its complementary color. With a base color of yellow, its split complementary colors include blue-violet and red-violet. green’s split complementary colors include red-violet and red-orange.

The tetradic color scheme consists of two pairs of complementary colors. blue-green, red-orange, yellow, and violet create a tetradic color scheme, as does blue, orange, green, and red.

A square color scheme is similar to a tetradic scheme except that the colors are evenly spaced throughout the wheel. Red, green, yellow-orange, and blue-violet create a square color scheme. Another example would be violet, yellow, orange, and blue.



DecoArt. Color Theory Basics: The Color Wheel. n.d.



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