Color Class

April 30, 2021

If you are struggling with choosing colors a great way to help guide you is get some basic knowledge of color theory. Get ready to go down the educational path.

We preface this article with the fact that the nice thing about design is that there are no laws. There may be some guidelines that will help but sometimes something just works.

You’ve probably seen a color wheel, maybe even played with one as a younger you. There are three classifications.

  • Primary – Red, Yellow, Blue, they are the 3 that all other colors are made from.
  • Secondary – Orange, Purple, Green, these are the three colors created from adding two primary colors together. Side note that will come up later is that these will also be directly across the wheel from the three primaries.
  • Tertiary – Yellow-Orange, Yellow-Green, Blue-Green, Blue-Purple, Red-Purple, and Red-Orange the six tertiary colors on the color wheel are made from mixing a primary color and a secondary color

Then we have hue, tint, tone, and shade.

  • Hue – refers to the origin of the colors we can see. Primary, Secondary colors and often tertiary colors are considered hues
  • Tint – refers to any hue or mixture of pure colors to which white is added. Pastel colors are generally tinted colors. Tinted color remains the same color, but it is paler than the original.
  • Tone – is a hue or mixture of pure colors to which only pure gray is added (equal amounts of black and white). Adding gray to a color will make the intensity much duller.
  • Shade is a hue or mixture of pure colors to which only black is added. It contains no white or gray. Shade darkens the color, but the hue remains the same.

Now that the foundation has been built its time for the scheming. There are 3 main ones and you can mix and match as well and combine them to.

Color Next – fancy term = analogous. Analogous colors sit directly to the left and right of a color on the wheel. These are harmonious colors and ideal for monochromatic (hue-centric) schemes.

Color Opposite – fancy term = complementary. This is the color sitting directly across from a color on the wheel. Each color has exactly one, highly contrasting, complementary color. These are generally employed as accent colors.

Don’t have a simple term for this one but it’s called triadic. These three colors create, amazinginly, a triangle on the color wheel. This is a bold, colorful, scheme that can still easily remain balanced.

With all that knowledge now you can play around with all of it. You can see how color schemes have been implemented throughout your life. Los Angeles Lakers colors are color opposite, Christmas is color opposite. One of our personal favorites for homes is a color scheme like color next + opposite, which could look like (Purple + Blue Purple) + Yellow. Just like this one…

With the scheme in place you can then play with tones, hues, shades.

What is your favorite? What color schemes are you seeing in your everyday life?

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