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choosing colors

color wheel & color schemes
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Choosing colors for your coloring project - books or prints. How to use color schemes. Color Theory basics.

In this tutorial:

  • Color wheel.
    Why do we need to use it?
  • Color schemes.
    What color combinations work best together?
  • How to use color to emphasize an element?
  • What color schemes work best for backgrounds?

color theory

light and color

Color is the way we see light reflected from a surface or refracted through a prism.

Colors that we see in nature are reflections of light on the surfaces around us.
For example: a green surface absorbs all visible light except green.

color wheel

All colors are arranged in a spectrum. This arrangement is called Color Wheel.

We use Color Wheel as a reference for color mixing and choosing color schemes.

Position of each color is defined by the colors next to it.

primary colors

primary colors

There are three primary colors:




These colors make up the rest of the colors in the Color Wheel.

These colors cannot be made by mixing any other colors.

These colors are spread out evenly in the color wheel.

secondary colors

primary and secondary colors

Secondary colors can be created by mixing primary colors.

Secondary colors are:




mix red and yellowmix yellow and bluemix red and blue

intermediate (tertiary) colors

tertiary colors

These are the colors that you get by mixing a primary and a secondary colors.

For example:

  • red-orange = red + orange
  • red-violet = red + purple
  • yellow-orange = yellow + orange
  • yellow-green = yellow + green
  • blue-green = blue + green
  • blue-violet = blue + purple
intermediate colorsintermediate colorsintermediate colorsintermediate colorsintermediate colorsintermediate colors
color wheel

Color wheel include all value variations of colors (shades, tones, and tints)

More information about Color Theory you can find in the presentation below. It also includes information about color values, how to mix colors, how to create Brown color, etc.



color wheel

Color wheel

color schemes

Color schemes

color schemes

Color scheme is a set of colors (color combination) that is used in a design or an artwork to achieve certain goals. Color schemes are used to create style, appeal, and an aesthetic feeling.

monochromatic color schememonochromatic design

monochromatic - variations (shades and tones) of just one color

Works great for backgrounds, for creating depth in the picture, etc.

coloring background with blue flowers

If one color is so dominant that it overpowers small areas of other colors - it is still considered a monochromatic.

analogous color schemeanalogous design

analogous - variations of 3-4 similar colors - colors that are next to each other in the color wheel

Also, good for backdrops, the areas that do not need a strong contrast.

If you want to add a contrast to that color scheme - use value contrast (light/dark).

blue-green design coloring

Analogous colors can be very vibrant and colorful, but at the same time they so fit together.

complementary color schemecomplementary design

complementary - variations of the opposite colors

That's the color scheme you want to use if you need to create a biggest color contrast possible. Complementary colors, when placed next to each other, both look their brightest.

That also applied to their dark and light variations.

You can achieve different effects by choosing different color schemes for your design.

For example:

Complementary color scheme is a unique one - there is a trick with complementary colors that you need to know:

  • When complementary colors are placed next to each other - they "complement" each other and make each other look their brightest and most vibrant.
  • When same colors are mixed with each other - they "kill" each others vibrancy and become brown!!!
two color schemes coloring

Compare left and right sides:

Orange flowers on the left are complementary to blue background - that makes them stand out and be the focus of the design.

Yellow-blue-green flowers on the right are analogous colors - they do not create much drama or contrast.

split complementary

Knowing complimentary colors is helpful when you want to emphasize something or create a contrast.

There are also variations of this scheme, like split complementary color scheme - where instead of using a direct opposite color, you can use the two colors right next to it.

split complementary coloring

This design is based on three colors:




Which makes it a perfect example of a split complementary color scheme.

triadic (split 1) - variations of any 3 colors that are separated by one color in the color wheel

triadic (split 2) - variations of any 3 colors that are separated by two colors in the color wheel

triadic (split 3) - variations of any 3 colors that are evenly spaced in the color wheel

background coloring

If the colors are similar in tones - triadic color scheme can be quite settled and colorful enough to create interest.

If the colors are more pure and bright - you can create a lot of drama with it.

choosing colors