Understand Colors with Color Wheel

Understand Colors with Color Wheel

A ‘color wheel’ is a very good way of understanding color. It’s often used to explain how colors are related. A color wheel can seem quite complex, but here we’re only interested in color used in home decorating. So we’ll be using a very simple version of color wheel which has enough information for our purposes.


Primary Colors

All colors are made up from three Primary Colors – Red, Blue and Yellow. All colors are derived from these. You can see them labeled on the diagram.

(In case you’re wondering, these are the same colors used in ink for color printers, although the exact shades and names are slightly different. They are often called Magenta, Cyan and Yellow.)

Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are made by mixing two Primary colors. Orange is from Red and Yellow, Green is from Yellow and Blue, and Violet is from Blue and Red.

Tertiary Colors

These are made by mixing a Primary color with an adjacent Secondary color. Turquoise is a mixture of blue and green, lime-green a mixture of green and yellow, and crimson is a mixture of violet and red. The other three tertiary colors (red-orange, yellow-orange and blue-violet) don’t have any recognized names.

How colors relate to one another
Complimentary Colors

These are the colors which are opposite each other on the wheel – Red and Green, Blue and Orange, etc. They are least like one another. They contrast with each other, and when paired together produce visually stimulating effects. They give a sense of activity and movement to a room.

Harmonizing Colors

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