Join Jim Krause for an in-depth discussion in this video Finding palettes within the color wheel, part of Color for Design and Art.
- The color wheel is useful to designers and illustrators in at least a couple of really important ways. For one thing, it reminds us there are three primary colors, and that when primary colors are mixed, you get secondary colors. When primary and secondary colors are mixed, you get tertiaries. Another way that the color wheel helps designers and illustrators is by helping us brainstorm for ways of coming up with good-looking color schemes. How so? Well they serve as schematics that conveniently highlight different ways of combining colors.
Let me show you what I mean. Here are my five favorite color wheel-based palettes starting with monochromatic color schemes. Here's a color wheel, and here's one slice of it. The blue green slice. All you need is one slice of a color wheel to come up with a monochromatic color scheme, which are combinations of lighter, darker, brighter, and/or more muted versions of a single hue. Here are three different monochromatic schemes applied to an illustration.
Next, analogous color schemes. The word analogous means sequential, and this kind of palette is made from a sequence of between two and five neighboring hues. And keep in mind when looking at all the color schemes in this video that every spoke of every color wheel that's being used is being used as a placeholder for all the dark, light, bright, and muted versions of its color. Triadic palettes use colors that are equally spaced around the color wheel. These color schemes have a strong potential for expressing feelings of energy and diversity, since they feature colors that come from far apart locations on the wheel.
Complementary colors sit opposite each other on the wheel, and if you're looking for a palette made from just two slices of the color wheel, and you want that palette to be able to express itself with as much visual diversity as possible, then a complementary pair might be just what you're looking for. Now, I have to admit, this next one, this one's a favorite of mine. It's the split complementary palette. A split complementary palette is where you choose one color and then you pair it with the two colors on either side of its complement.
I'm going to show you what I mean. I'll start with a fairly bright orange, and I'll look across the color wheel for the orange's complement, blue. Then I'll select the two colors on either side of that complement. Blue green and blue violet. See how nicely a bright orange stands out against the muted shades of its split complements, and also notice how I've not only broken down the cool hues into multiple shades for this design, I've also used more than one version of the orange.
There's a lot going on here. Why do I like split complementary palettes so much? It's because I like the visual sophistication that you get when you're working with two colors that are closely related, you know. They visually agree with each other, and you combine them with a color with a completely opposing look from clear across the color wheel. This gives you conveyances of both agreement and dessent within a single color scheme, and that's what I see as this really intriguing and sophisticated dynamic.
If you'd like a handy reminder of all the color wheel palettes that we just talked about, download the printable PDF that goes with this video, and let this thing help you create your own functional and really good-looking color schemes.
Primarily aimed at designers and illustrators, the course leans heavily toward digital tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator, but concludes with some challenges using real-world media (inks and paints!), so members can get a solid understanding of mixing colors and what tools and combinations work best.
- Navigating the color wheel and color vocabulary
- Why a color's value is so important
- RGB vs. CMYK vs. spot
- Finding the perfect color
- Working with grays and browns
- Building a color palette
- Borrowing hues for palettes
- Establishing color hierarchies
- Fixing color problems
- Altering color in photos and illustrations
- Using texture with color
- Painting for learning and fun