Wheel of Colors: Guide to Combining Colors

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If you've ever needed to re-decorate your apartment or to dress cool for an event, you probably noticed how important color combination is. After all, all interior designers, stylists, and artists use the color wheel to understand which go well together and which don't.

Color theory is incredibly important if you're doing any task involving various colors. It's a skill that will come in handy in many situations, so we've decided to look closer into color theory, ways to read the color wheel, and ways to choose the right color palette for you.

Short Summary

What Is the Wheel of Colors?

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The color wheel is a very straightforward method for choosing paint colors and determining complementary tones. By breaking the spectrum into 12 fundamental hues—three primary, three secondary, and six tertiary—the wheel simplifies the understanding of color connections. Yellow-green is one of the six tertiary colors created by combining a primary and a secondary color. The color wheel theory, with its hundreds of permutations, may be a useful tool for many situations in your life.

Primary Colors

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The three primary hues of the wheel are yellow, blue, and red. Since these colors are pure, no other color can be made from them; instead, all other colors are made from them and are often referred to as new colors in the wheel.

Secondary Colors

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Purple, green, and orange are the three secondary colors of the wheel. Because these colors are created by combining equal portions of two main colors, they fall between the primaries on the color wheel.

Tertiary Colors

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The main color and the secondary color next to it on the color wheel are combined to create tertiary colors. The resultant colors get less vibrant with each mixing (primary with primary, then primary with secondary). The six tertiary colors in the wheel are:

How to Use the Color Wheels

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The segmentation of the color wheel is a useful tool for color mixing and creating palettes with different levels of contrast. The color wheel may be used to create four typical kinds of color schemes.

1. Monochromatic Color Scheme

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Tone-on-tone monochromatic color schemes create a delicate palette by using several tints (adding white) and shades (adding black) of a single hue. Consider light blue, navy, and sky blue for monochromatic colors. To make a space stand out, use a range of textures and hues in addition to a monochrome palette. A pink color scheme incorporates a variety of shades, from blush to rosy, while staying true to the pink wedge of the color wheel.

2. Analogous Color Scheme

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For a vibrant yet calming atmosphere, an analogous palette provides contrast and incorporates hues next to each other on the color wheel, such as orange, yellow, and green. Because they have the same basic color, adjacent hues complement each other effectively.

Choose one hue from the wheel spinner to be the focal point of the space or your outfit. Select one, two, or three hues as accent colors. Vibrant fuchsia may be used in accessories, while a dusty purple could serve as the main tone in a similar blue, purple, and fuchsia motif.

3. Complementary Color Scheme

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Any area will seem more energized when two colors, like orange and blue, are used right next to each other on the color wheel. Due to their visual balancing properties, these complimentary hues complement one another beautifully, which can be seen right away in the wheel spinner. A vivid orange hue provides brightness and warmth to counterbalance the rich cobalt blue.

Preserving dominance of one hue over the other is crucial. Orange acts as an accent color, with blue taking center stage as the wall color. To create a unified effect, the two colors are used on other components in the room.

4. Triadic Color Scheme

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A triad uses three colors that are evenly mixed and spaced apart on the color wheel. These colors are turquoise, fuchsia, and yellow-orange, and their aim is to produce an intriguing palette. This mixture creates a color scheme with striking contrasts and harmonious hues.

These colorful designs are effective because they create a joyful and stimulating environment. To produce contrast or to lessen the brightness, use the three colors in different tints and tones. For example, a living room may include rich orange and green hues with hints of a third color, such as a pastel couch.

Warm And Cool Colors of the Wheel

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Color influences mood and emotional reactions. Greens have a calming effect, while yellows are energizing. Vibrant reds are bold and passionate, yet soft pink, or a pink tinge, is seen as delicate and charming. Oranges are warm and inviting, purples are sensual and ethereal, and blues are peaceful and tranquil. Purple is a very complicated hue.

Certain colors are categorized as warm or cold due to associations. Cool colors include blues, greens, and violets; warm colors are reds, oranges, and yellows. We identify cold colors with the sky, water, and flora and warm colors with the warmth of the sun and fire.

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For a well-balanced effect, don't restrict your color scheme to only warm or cold colors. Include pieces that give contrast but let one take center stage and define the overall mood of the space.

If you feel confident in color combinations that you typically opt for and want to try something new, spin the wheel and choose random colors, and then start to customize the entire palette.

Color Theory Models in the Wheel

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A color model is a system that uses numerical numbers to help represent a specific color. These models serve to create color harmonies in space, art, or clothing. Using the color picker before you engage in your projects can save you time and ensure you're considering the best color combinations.

Designers may develop the ideal color scheme and communicate the intended message using color theory. For example, they can portray a sense of peace with gentle light blues and subtle green accents or elegance with rich purples and golds. Knowing the theory about colors is essential for drawing attention with striking combinations or creating a relaxing ambiance.

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If you're not skilled in designing color combinations and using the wheel as a tool, you should avoid random rotation or try to spin the wheel, as color theory is based on certain rules and principles. Instead, choose one of the options below.

Red Blue Green

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The RGB (red, green, blue) color model serves as the basis for all designs that are exhibited on a screen. The foundation of this color model is derived from how colors are seen by humans and how light interacts with their eyes. We may combine these "additive colors" with the variety of colors we see in the color picker.

Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, And Key (CMYK)

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The CMYK paradigm serves as the basis for all design, and it forms one of the basic principles of the color wheel. These so-called "subtractive colors" absorb light at wavelengths that more closely resemble the pigments present in actual paint.

Hue, Saturation, And Lightness (HSL)

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This represents the hues on the color wheel. Consider it a spectrum contained within a whole circle. Hue has a complicated description, but fundamentally, it relates to the colors on the color wheel. Traveling around the 360-degree circle that is the color wheel reveals many hues.

Saturation, the brightness or intensity of a color, conveys the color's purity and richness. A hue at its maximum saturation may be seen on the outside of the color wheel. The color grows less vibrant as you move near the circle's center. We add black and white to lessen the intensity of the hues (e.g., gray).

The amount of black or white we combine into a color depends on its lightness. Adding more black may create a deeper, darker palette, and adding more white can create pastel hues.


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When talking about the wheel of colors, consider the emotions that particular colors bring out in you. Do they feel chilly and soothing or radiate a rising temperature? These warm and cool colors can be evenly split over the color wheel, with purple, green, and blue on the cool side and orange, red, and yellow on the warm side.

When utilizing a color wheel picker, consider the mood you wish to portray in your artwork and select colors from the side of the wheel that corresponds with this emotion. Now that you are more knowledgeable about the fundamentals of color theory and how to use different shades of the color wheel, it is time to use your creative ideas and create beautiful designs.

Spin the wheel and get inspired with a random color that you probably wouldn't choose straight away as your primary color, and think about the features of your project to decide on the other shades besides the base color.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Primary Colors, And What Are Secondary Colors in the Wheel?

The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. In the color theory, these colors are also referred to as RYB colors. Secondary colors are created by combining these three colors, leading to orange, purple, and green. When it comes to warm and cool colors, warm colors are red, orange, and yellow, while green, blue, and purple are referred to as cool colors.

How to Use the Color Wheel?

The best way to use a color wheel is to choose one color from the wheel colors. Whether it's for your design projects or something else, understanding how different colors communicate is essential to creating beautiful designs, art, or anything else. If you're experienced, you can even spin the wheel to decide your primary color and the different colors that will accompany the primary one. The great thing about the wheel spinner is that it is a completely free tool available to everyone.

What Are the Three Primary Colors in the Wheel of Colors?

When talking about the primary colors, it's important to know there are three of them: blue, yellow, and red. When you choose a certain primary color, it's essential to choose its supportive colors from the wheel as well.