Aaaah! The Color Wheel! Some artists get totally freaked out when someone mentions Color Theory or using a Color Wheel. This is perfectly normal, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Color Theory and using the Color wheel is actually quite simple. A bit long to explain, so we will be breaking it up into a couple of posts, but once you get it, you get it forever. To show how easy it is, let’s jump right in!

I do recommend you go and get a color wheel. I’m sure you’ve seen them in the art stores sitting there on a hanger or a shelf. You’ve looked at them and wondered what on earth they are used for. A lot of artists and designers use them to determine color combinations, what a color would look like darker or lighter, or if its complement were mixed into it. It also has color theory terms and definitions on it front and back.

The small ones tend to run $5 or $6, and the large ones are about $10 or $11, or sometimes you can borrow one from a friend. You can get them at almost any arts supply store. The color wheel can help you learn the relationship that colors have to one another, and can be a great help when mixing your own colors. This is a great visual aide for color mixing, and choosing color themes for your projects.

There are 3 wheels on the color wheel that you turn to get different information. A central wheel that has all the colors printed on it. The side one wheel has a gray scale, which is helpful if you need to know if a color is dark, medium, or light, and mixing information. The side two wheel has color theory information.

Side One of the Color Wheel:
Side One of the Color Wheel

“How to use a color wheel” (Yep, it’s printed in plain English right on the front.) “Select a color on the outside wheel. Align it with a color on the inside wheel. The mixture will appear in the window.” (Note: not all shades of the same color of paint look the same, nor do they mix the same. Your end product may not look exactly like the mixture in the window.)
Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Warm and Cool colors
Hue, tint, tone, shade, Key color, Neutral gray, intensity or chroma, and value
Gray Scale: 10% black to 100% black
Colors with what happens if you add red, yellow, blue, white and black to them.

Side Two of the Color Wheel:
Side Two of the Color Wheel

“How to use the Color Relationships Wheel” (Yep, it’s printed right on the back.) “Turn the dial so the arrow points to a Pure color in the outer row. Color Relationships are shown using the diagram in the center.”
Mono-Chromatic, Analogous, Achromatic, Color and Light, Color and Distance
Complementary Colors, Split Complements, Diad, Triad, Tetrad
Illustration of Color Relationships
How the color looks when you add a Tint, Tone, and Shade
Diagrams to find complementary split complementary, triad, and tetrad of colors

I know a lot of these terms sound way out there to you, but they’re not. We will be discussing these Color Theory terms next week, and I promise you won’t be too confused when we are through with that post.

Hopefully Helpful,