The Colour Wheel can help us understand the use of colour in
art, illustration and design.
The Colour-wheel shows primary, secondary,
tertiary, warm, cool and complimentary colours as used in colour theory when
painting. In painting these theories apply regardless of the media.
Often called a colour-wheel, colour circle or color-wheel
It may help to read this page
in conjunction with the 'Colour' and 'Colour
The three hands on the colour wheel 'clock' indicate the three Primary
colours. Red, Yellow, Blue.
In theory mixing two colours together, that two
of the hands on the colour wheel point at, will give the second colour, i.e. in
between the two hands or pointers.
These are referred to as the Secondary
colours. Yellow and Red will give an orange, as indicated. Blue and Yellow will
give a green and Red plus Blue will give purple.
This time the hands of the colour wheel 'clock' point to the
Secondary colours. These are Orange, Green, Violet/Purple. The colour either
side of the hand/pointer will be the colours used to make the Secondary
colour as explained above.
If you mix a Primary colour (Red, Yellow or Blue) with it's adjacent
Secondary colour on the colour wheel this will give a Tertiary colour,
classed as third in order. For example if you mixed the Primary colour
Yellow with the Secondary colour Orange, the Tertiary colour would be Yellow
These are the warm colours of the spectrum from red through orange
to yellow. You can use a small amount of a warm colour to warm the
temperature of a cool colour and vice versa. The warm colours tend to
come towards you, or feel closer to you, and come forward in a painting.
To see an example of this have a look at the warm colour of this painting. If you want the overall 'feel' or
colour temperature of the painting to be warm, then use colours within
this section of the colour wheel. An aspect to be aware of is that, the
colour within a painting can affect the viewer in many ways emotionally,
psychologically and mentally.
The cool colours of the colour wheel tend to go away from you, or feel
distant to you and recede in a painting. As with the warm colours, you can
use a cool colour to change the temperature of a warm colour, just use it's
opposite on the colour wheel. An aspect to be aware of is that, the colour
within a painting can affect the viewer in many ways emotionally,
psychologically and mentally.
To see an example of this have a look
at the cool colour of this painting.
Complementary colours are opposite each other on the
colour wheel, as shown by the hands on the colour-wheel to the left.
These same two colours that are opposite each other, when put side by
side, contrast with each other, in the viewers eye they appear to give
movement to the painting.
To see an example of this have a
look at the complementary colours used in this painting.
You can use the
complementary colour, of another colour, to dull and darken the original
colour instead of using black.
All design and artwork © Jacqui
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