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We can thank Sir Isaac Newton for creating the very useful tool known as the Color Wheel. He demonstrated that light alone was responsible for perceptional color, and devised the first color wheel in 1666 as a circular diagram for understanding a color system in an organized fashion. Since then, there have been many variations created and much debate about color theory. But our focus on just one color wheel that presents the colors clearly. The color wheel is an organizational tool that helps make the basic categories of color easier to understand.
As a graph, it make the different types of color clear and can help you as a first point of reference in deciding on a pallet. This diagram demonstrates the three basic categories of colors. Primary, secondary and tertiary. A primary color is a color that cannot be made by mixing other colors. And like prime numbers, cannot be broken down further. They are the source of other colors. Primaries are blue, red and yellow.
A secondary color is color made by mixing two primaries. Secondary colors are orange, green and purple. Complementary colors are any two colors that are opposite on the color wheel, such as red and green, blue and orange, purple and yellow. All secondary colors are complements of one another as well. A tertiary color is made by mixing either one primary and one secondary on the opposite side of the color wheel, or three primaries, or two secondary colors.
Tertiary colors are variations of browns and grays. The color wheel is a useful guide for understanding color and the basic breakdown each color type. It's an organizational tool only, and should provide a framework for thinking about colors in categories that will help you use color more effectively.
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