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color schemes


by JuliannaKunstler.com

color wheel

Concepts to learn:

  • dominant color
  • monochromatic color scheme
  • complimentary color scheme
  • triadic color schemes
  • analogous color scheme
  • triptych
  • hue / shade / tone / tint

what is triptych?

A triptych is a series of three paintings or carved panels intended to be displayed together.

Originated in Ancient Rome, triptychs became a popular form of altar pieces for Early Christian churches

Triptych, Mosan, Belgium, c. 1156–58.
The Morgan Library & MuseumNew York City

Triptych icon of the Feodorovskaya Mother of God

Traditionally two of the panels were attached to the central one by hinges and folded over it, to show two different paintings on the back.

In modern art, you can use any media to create a triptych, including painting, drawing, relief carving, collages, photography, graphic design, etc.

© User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons
A triptych of the seed heads of a Great Willowherb

digital art

Credit: Staermose Posters 

Shapes and dimensions can vary, but there has to be an order or logic to why you are using these dimensions. Usually, you have all 3 images have the same height. Width can be the same for all 3 pieces, or at least the side panels are the same width. Remember, the 3 pieces will be displayed together - they should look like they belong together.

Here are some examples:

triptych layouts

Unity (principle of Design) should be applied to triptych. That means that all panels have to share some properties: color scheme, repeated elements or variations of elements, common theme, background or anything that will make these three panels look like they belong together:



triptych design


step 1: drawing

drawing design

Get a 15" x 10" illustration board.

Divide it into 3 parts (5" wide each)

drawing design

Start with drawing vertical lines with a permanent marker. Approximately 9 - 10 vertical lines per panel. (Do not outline the pencil lines - these are the cut lines).

Start at the top edge or slightly below. The lines do not have to go all the way down to the bottom edge.

You can brake some of the lines. Hold the marker at a slight angle and draw the lines slowly - this way you will get a consistent thickness of the lines.

drawing design

Next step is to unite the three panels together by drawing a few lines across all three of them.

A good number is 3.

Make them curve too...

drawing design

Now work at drawing one panel at a time.

Draw short horizontal lines (straight and curved) between 2, 3, 4 or 5 vertical lines:

drawing design

Before you start painting - cut the panels:


mix paint

Next part is very important. You pick a DOMINANT COLOR.

(I chose blue-green in this example).

Use this color for all 3 panels. So mix plenty of it.

choosing colors:

color schemes

panel 1 - Complimentary color scheme (blue-green and red-orange in this example)

panel 2 - Monochromatic color scheme (values of blue-green in this example)

panel 3 - color scheme of your choice (triadic with 1 split in this example: blue-green, yellow, purple)

monochromatic color scheme


Start painting the middle panel (Monochromatic color scheme).


All you need is your dominant color that you mixed plus Black and White.

paint monochromatic

Fill in the shapes in the panel. More variety of values you have - the better.

Don't forget to include sections of pure color, then tints, shades and tones.

Stay within the lines.


After the paint dries - go over the lines with a Sharpie again.

mix shades

central panel

complementary color scheme


Use complementary colors for the next panel.

Mix an opposite color and paint in the sections of different values of the two complementary colors.

complementary colors

I used: blue-green and red-orange

left panel
Content for class "step" Goes Here

triadic color scheme

Repeat the same steps with the last panel.

Choose one of the options: split 1, split 2, or split 3.

For example:


triadic (split 1)


triadic (split 2)


triadic (split 3)


I chose 2-split triadic color scheme

blue-green, yellow, and purple

triadic colors

Mix the colors that you are going to use for the last panel.

Paint in the same way that you painted the other two panels.

when done:

color schemes designs

When done - arrange them on a black board 1/2" apart.

Please include your worksheet with your notes indicating the color schemes you used and particular colors.