Now that you have had a chance to look at a Color Wheel, let’s discuss the Color Theory terms and their definitions. Some of these are on the color wheel. It may be very useful for you to have a physical color wheel in front of you when you read this post. I will provide pictures, but there’s nothing like have the real thing in your hands.

To make this a little easier to digest, I am going to break this down into 3 posts. This week will be basic terms, next week will be intermediate terms, and the week after that will be advanced terms. This does not mean that if you are a beginner to art that you should only read the basic terms. Oh no! You should really read all of them. The hardest theory will be looking at a distant mountain. Not so tough!

Color Wheel Side One:
Color Wheel Side One

Color Wheel Side Two:
Color Wheel Side Two

Color Theory Vocabulary List:

This list in tandem with a color wheel will give you a good understanding of basic color theory. These terms are from the book Color by: Paul Zelanski & Mary Pat Fisher. I do recommend it.

Basics Terms:

7 Visible Colors: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet (ROY G BIV)

Primary Colors – Red, Yellow, Blue

Secondary Colors – Orange, Green, Violet

Tertiary Colors – Red-Orange, Orange-Yellow, Yellow-Green, Green-Blue, Blue-Violet, Violet-Red

Analogous – Hues lying next to each other on the color wheel.
Ex: Red and Red-Orange are analogous to each other.

Complementary – Colors that lye opposite each other on the color wheel.
Ex 1: Red/Green, Yellow/Violet, Blue/Orange
Ex 2: Red will look most saturated against green.
Ex 3: The result of mixing complements is a middle value color (brown or grey).

Split Complementary – A color combination whereby a hue is used with the hues lying to either side of its direct complementary.
Ex: Red/Yellow-Green and Blue-Green.

Double Complement – A color combination in which hues adjacent to each other on the color wheel are used with their respective complementary.
Ex: Red and Red-Orange/Green and Blue-Green

Triad Color Scheme – The use of three colors equally spaced from each other on a color wheel.
Ex: Orange, green, violet

Warm – Red-Violet through Yellow (see color wheel)

Cool – Yellow-Green through Violet (see color wheel)

The 3 Properties of Color: Hue, value, and saturation

Value – Lightness or darkness of a color.

Hue – The name of a color, where it’s placed on the color wheel.

Saturation – intensity or purity of a color.
Ex: A dull color can be made to appear more saturated when placed next to a dull color.

Next week we will tackle the intermediate terms.

Hopefully Helpful,