The Color Wheel

The color wheel becomes a visual aid in helping us understand the principles of color.
It is also an excellent tool to help create harmonious color schemes for painting, interior decorating , and commercial design. It creates an orderly progression of color that helps us understand color balance and harmony.

Primary Colors.

In the middle of the color wheel we place an equilateral triangle containing the 3 primary colors:
yellow, blue and red.
Primary colors on the color wheel

These are the three basic colors that are used to mix all hues.

Secondary or Complementary Colors

When any one primary color is mixed with another a secondary color effect is produced.
By taking two primaries and mixing them together will result the opposite of the third primary color or it's 'complementary' color.
3 secondary colors are produced from the mixing of one primary color with another and they are:
• orange (mix red + yellow)
green (mix yellow + blue)
violet (mix blue + red)

Secondary colors on the color wheel
The next step to create the 12 step color wheel is to draw a ring around the newly formed primary and secondary color form. Divided into 12 equal segments, the primary and secondary colors will be repeated to their corresponding segments within the surrounding ring. This will leave a blank segment between every two colors. In these blank segments the tertiary colors will be created.

Tertiary Colors

These colors are created when mixing one secondary and one primary color. i.e. blue + violet = blueviolet. Three or more separate colors are mixed (one primary and one secondary – the combination of two primaries), and in our color wheel each tertiary color being created will be an equal combination of the two colors, left and right, surrounding an open segment.
The tertiary colors are: yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue violet, blue-green, and yellow-green.
The painter's color wheel
We can now use our color wheel as the basis to understanding color and color combination techniques.


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