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How to Use a Color Wheel - The Magic Of Color Theory

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The color wheel is one of the fundamental tools used by painters, illustrators, designers, and others in the visual arts. Every part of a traditional artist’s color wheel contains the necessary information that will enhance your skills as an artist.

As an artist, you know that color is one of the most significant elements of your work. But what about when you are not painting or drawing? The use of color is everywhere, and understanding how to use it can enhance your life in various ways. 

In this post, we are going to introduce you to the basics of color theory using the color wheel. With this newfound knowledge, you will be able to have a better understanding and use of color in your everyday life.

When choosing a piece of art because you want it to compliment your existing décor, not just because “you have to have it”, decide if the artwork needs to blend in or stand out. If it should blend in, now you need to select something that either is part of or complements your existing color scheme. 

If you are looking for something to stand out yet still create the visual experience you are looking for, then consider how it will contrast with your existing color scheme and how the size, shape, texture, and materials used all tie into the visual look you are trying to create. 

There are many ways to approach this, and we have found that people must tend to lean one way or another which makes it easier for them to make decisions as well as for me as an artist.

What is a color wheel?

A color wheel is a visual representation of the colors in the visible spectrum. It's a basic tool that every artist should have in their toolbox. The color wheel is divided into six simple hues: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. These hues are then further divided by their respective shades and tones. As you can see, the color wheel is a great way to visualize how colors interact with each other.

The history of the color wheel

A color wheel is an illustrative tool used to help us define colors and their relationships to one another, The first color wheel was created by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666. Newton observed that when light passes through a prism, it is dispersed into a spectrum of colors. 

He used this information to create a circular diagram that showed the relationships between the colors. This simple invention has been used by artists and designers for centuries to create harmonious color palettes and to manipulate colors in visual media.

How to use a color wheel

A color wheel is an arrangement of hues around a circle. Each hue represents one of the primary colors. These three hues are said to form the foundation of all other colors, as they can be combined with other hues to produce lighter or darker shades. 

The secondary colors (green, orange, and purple) are formed by combining two primary colors:

  • Red and yellow form orange

  • Blue and yellow form green

  • Blue and red form purple

Complementary colors are pairs of opposites: red and green, blue and orange, purple and yellow. 

The term "color wheel" is also commonly used in art to refer to a similar visual tool in which paint is arranged around a circle, assigned a number according to its hue, or used as a color scheme for a painting or piece of art. It can help you mix and match colors effectively and create harmonious color schemes. Here are a few tips on how to use a color wheel.

Create Color Schemes and Color Mixing

The color wheel gives a visual presentation of all color possibilities from the basics to the most turbulent shades. The wheel presents a variety of contrasting and harmonious relationships that can be used in graphic design, industrial design, and fashion.

A color wheel is helpful for artists to choose the right color scheme or color scheme. A color scheme is 3, 4, or even 5 colors chosen from the wheel. By consulting this wheel, one will be able to create harmony or contrast by applying some geometrical methods that allow choosing the distance between colors on a wheel. It will be easier for you to choose the right color schemes for your works.

Color Schemes

The color scheme of a design or piece can communicate a large amount of information very quickly.  Color meanings correspond with specific emotions and can combine to emphasize certain aspects of your designs.  A good grasp of color theory is necessary to produce solid concepts that are not just nice-looking sketches but also convey desired functionality and meaning.

Let’s examine each in more detail.

1. Monochromatic color

Monochromatic color schemes consist of a single color with varying shades and tints to produce a consistent look and feel. It often has the appearance of being very clean and polished. It also allows you to easily change the darkness and lightness of your colors.

Like the one shown here, create balance by consisting of similar tones. Using a single color scheme makes for a clean, consistent design.

2. Analogous

The Analogous color scheme is made from three or more colors. The next color on the color wheel after each main color is then used for accentuation. Generally, the main two colors will be dominant and will feature the same tone (i.e. see the image above for an Analogous scheme with three colors).

The Analogous structure is often used to create a color scheme. An analogous color scheme uses two or more neighboring colors on the color wheel, which results in a softer, calmer look. Analogous structures do not create high-contrast designs, so they are typically used to communicate a gentler mood.

3. Complementary

Complementary colors are always a safe bet when it comes to color schemes. Complementary colors are two colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. 

For example, red and green, or purple and yellow. Because they are complementary, they are naturally drawn to each other. They create a high-contrast look that is both bold and timeless. If you're looking to create a color scheme for your next design project, start with complementary colors.

4. Split Complementary

A color scheme is a set of colors that are used together to create a visually appealing design. There are many different schemes to choose from, but one of our favorites is the split complementary color scheme. This scheme uses three colors – a primary color, plus its two split complements. 

For example, blue is the primary color, and its split complements are orange and yellow. To create a split complementary color scheme, you’d use blue as the main color, with orange and yellow as the secondary colors. This scheme is very versatile because it’s harmonious and has high contrast at the same time. It’s also very easy to mix and match different colors in this scheme.

5. Triadic

A triadic color scheme uses three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. This color harmony is often vibrant and eye-catching. Because triadic color schemes involve three colors, these can be used in a wide variety of applications. You can use them in your wardrobe, in your home décor, or even when painting your nails. 

When using triadic color schemes, it's important to consider the saturation and brightness of the colors. You'll want to use colors that are all within the same range to create a cohesive look. Our Clare Cat Eye Sunglasses in Blue Ivy are the perfect accessory for adding a pop of color to any outfit.

6. Square

A color square is a great way to explore color combinations. Simply select four colors and mix them in the square. You can create different color schemes by varying the amount of each color you use. It will give you a good sense of how each color works with the others. 

Plus, it's a really fun way to experiment with different shades and combinations. Our featured product, the Marquise Pendant, is the perfect accessory to show off your hand-crafted color schemes.

What Is Color Theory?

As an artist, you know that color is one of the most important elements of your work. But what about when you're not painting or drawing? The use of color is everywhere, and understanding how to use it can enhance your life in various ways. 

In this post, we'll introduce you to the basics of color theory using the color wheel. With this newfound knowledge, you'll be able to better understand and use color in your everyday life.

Understanding color theory

Color theory can help any designer, whether a fine artist or graphic designer, create harmonious color combinations. Since painting began, artists and designers have been "eyeballing" color combinations. 

Color theory is the science behind it all, bringing logic and rule-based structure to what before was an intuitive process – and creating a systematic method for creating beautiful color combinations in any design project.

Color theory can make the difference between creating a masterpiece or a mess! Major artists and designers use color theory to make visually striking works of art. As an example, a triadic color scheme involves three evenly-spaced colors on the color wheel and that will yield a bold combination. 

Meanwhile, a tetradic color Scheme involves four colors evenly spaced out on the color wheel and can work if you want to use a dominant color with supporting accent colors.

It is the study of the properties of color and how they are used to create certain desired effects. It encompasses everything from the physics of light to the psychology of perception. 

Understanding color theory can help you choose colors that achieve the look you want for your brand or product. It can also help you understand why some color combinations work well together and others do not.

Modern color theory

Color theory is the study of how color affects objects and the surrounding space. It's a complex topic that has evolved over the centuries, and many different theories exist.

The modern color wheel was developed in the 18th century by a French artist named Johannes Itten. His wheel breaks color down into three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) and three secondary colors (green, orange, and purple). From there, it's possible to create any color imaginable by combining these six colors.

Designers’ color theory challenges

Designers always challenge the color wheel, experimenting with new color combinations and pushing the boundaries of what's considered "acceptable." This can sometimes lead to some pretty wild results, but it's also how we get those groundbreaking new color combinations that we see in fashion week shows and catalogs.

It's also how we end up with new takes on old classics, like the ever-popular black and white pairing. There's always something new to learn in the world of color theory, so don't be afraid to experiment with different combinations and see what works best for you.


In the end, though, if you aim to please everyone, you ultimately please no one, Gonzalez says. He suggests finding your target audience and testing your color schemes with your audience. By understanding the basics of color theory, you can use colors to create an emotional response in others, evoke a certain mood, or enhance your own personal style. 

Color is one of the most fundamental elements of design, and with a little bit of knowledge about how to use a color wheel, you can use it to your advantage in any project. We hope that this article will help you enough to gather basic knowledge of the color wheel. Yet if you have any queries, you can contact us on UIHUT

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