The Color Wheel
Primary Colors are used in paint and pigments and they are the three pigment colors that can’t be mixed or formed by any combination of other colors.
These are the colors formed by mixing the primary colors.
These are the colors formed by mixing a primary and a secondary color. That’s why the hue is a two-word name, such as blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange.
Color harmony is when colors are placed together and they’re pleasing to the eye. It engages the viewer and it creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When something is not harmonious, it’s either boring or chaotic. When something looks boring or chaotic, you’re not going to get your audiences attention.
There are three color schemes that make color harmony; analogous colors, complementary colors, and a color scheme based on nature.
Analogous colors are any three colors that are side-by-side on a 12-part color wheel.
Complementary colors are any two colors that are directly opposite of each other. Opposing colors create maximum contrast and maximum stability.
Nature provides a perfect departure point for color harmony. In the image above, red yellow and green is not normally a color combination many people will choose but in nature, the colors look beautiful and harmonious.
Color context is how color behaves in relation to other colors in an area. In example A, the two example swatches are the same color but when put into different surrounding colors, they appear to be different. In example B, the two example swatches are slightly different in color but when put into different surrounding colors, they appear to be more similar.
Additive Color System vs. Subtractive Color System
There are two types of color. Color that you can touch like the surface of an object like an apple or the green of grass and there’s color you can’t touch such as a beam of red light and the colors produced from your computer monitor.
Colors generated by light are from the Additive Color System. Scientists recognize the light primaries of red, green and blue. When combines, red and green light rays make yellow, blue and green produce cyan, and red and blue make magenta. However, when red, green and blue are combined, they create white (light). You see this color system every single day on your phone screen, computer screen and your television screen. When you’re watching your favorite show on Netflix, you’re watching tiny red, green and blue light pixels combining to make the colors you see appear clear to you from watching in the distance. I remember when I was little, I used to look really close at the TV and see all of the different colors. It was so cool!
Many artists recognize red, yellow and blue as the three basic primary colors. These colors are the most pure, which means that they can’t be created by mixing any other colors. Secondary hues are the result of mixing any of the two primaries. Tertiary colors result from mixing the secondary hues. In the Subtractive Color System, when all of the colors are combined, they create black.
In the print industry, cyan, magenta, yellow and black are used as the primary colors. If you look at a printed page with a magnifying glass, there is a chance you might notice tiny little dots of cyan, magenta, yellow or black layered on top of each other to make the colors you see from far away.
The Psychology of Color
Check out this color matching game!