Color theory 101

We, the Colorlovers, know best that color plays a vital role in everyday life. It communicates between us all the time, with no need for words or sounds. Color makes us notice some things more than others, and helps us differentiate important from irrelevant. Colors have also the ability to evoke emotions and make us feel good while wearing our fashion choice.



While talking about how certain colors work awesome together, in some of our previous articles, we were mentioning the color theory. What color theory explains is why some colors work well together, and some never will. This is very handy to know, whether you are a designer, redecorating your home or simply making everyday clothing combination. How does it work?


We learn about primary and secondary colors very early in school. Mixing primary colors (red, yellow and blue), we get secondary shades (orange, green and purple). Furthermore, mixing every shade next to one another we get the color wheel of gradient between basic colors. While exploring mixing colors, it's important to consider hue (the color), saturation (intensity of the color, from subtle to vibrant), and value (how bright/dark the color is, moving from white to black).



So how do we achieve color harmony, using ranges of hue, saturation and value?


The easiest style for harmonic palette is monochromatic, using only one color from the color wheel, and creating variations by using saturation and value. Monochromatic color palettes are 100% secure to work well, they always match.


An analogous color palette uses the colors which are next to each other in the color wheel, such as from blue to green. Playing with these you can get a variety of well mixed colors for your design.


Another style for mixing colors is complementary, using colors opposite from one another in the color wheel, such as blue and orange. To create interesting and refreshing palette, we again use lighter or darker shades of colors, and a different intensity.



Split complementary scheme uses the colors on either side of the complementary color, which uses the same contrast, except we have more colors to play with.


Triadic way of choosing color is to choose ones which are equally spaced on the color wheel. These color combinations are visually very effective and are to be used with caution ?


Tetradic color mixing is using four colors from the wheel, although the palette looks best if one color dominates, and others are used for details and as refreshment.


Other important thing to bare in mind when mixing colors is that there aren't two vibrant shades next to each other, colors used need to be easy for the eyes of the viewer. Keep browsing Colorlovers to find inspiration and palettes from our members and contributors!


About the author

Nina Petrov is an activist, poet, performer and mathematician. She communicates with the world mostly through words, movement and equations, but sometimes also by speaking very loudly. The only truth she could say about herself is that she keeps changing every day, never stops learning and interacting with her surroundings.


1 Comment
Showing 1 - 1 of 1 Comments
Hey! Good read! There have been volumes written on Color Theory, but, you present a simplified understanding which, for many people, is quite sufficient! Kudos!

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Search The Blog

Subscribe & Share

Our Latest Tweets

Attention #colourlovers: The first batch in the series "Color called #money" Let's discover the palettes of Ghanai…
about 8 hours ago
Tweet this ArticleFollow @COLOURlovers

Latest Blog Posts

//View More ›


Latest Colors

//View More ›

Latest Palettes

//View More ›

Latest Patterns

//View More ›