Basic Color Theory

The following information is intended as a basic understanding of color theory for creatives.

Color Theory For Creatives

Basic Color Wheel

Primary Colors – Red, Yellow and Blue are the basics of  color mixing. They can not be made on their own. From these three colors all the other colors are created.

Secondary Colors – Violet, Green, and Orange are the colors that are created secondly by mixing the primary colors together.

Color Theory For Creatives

Examples of  – Subtractive Color Theory  / Additive Color Theory

Subtractive Color – If you add its three primaries (Red, Green, Blue), the end result is white.

Additive Color – When the primaries cyan, magenta and yellow are mixed the end result is black. This is the color theory we are using here.

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Color Schemes

Color Theory For Creatives
Complementary Colors –  Opposite each other on the color wheel. For instance the compliment of Blue is Orange, the compliment of Red is Green etc…

Color Theory For Creatives

Split Complementary –  Made by using a color AND the two colors next to its compliment. Such as by using Red, and then using Yellow and Blue.

Color Theory For Creatives

Triadic Color – Schemes are made by any three colors that appear an equal distant from each other on the color wheel, such as Red, Yellow, and Blue.

Color Theory For Creatives

Analogous – Color Scheme is made by colors next to each other on the color wheel.

Color Theory For Creatives

Monochromatic – Color Scheme is made from one color or hue with multiple values and intensities.

Color Theory For Creatives
Warm colors – Represent a feeling of warmth or heat such as Red, Orange, and Yellow.

Color Theory For Creatives

Cool Colors – Represent a feeling of coolness and chill, such as blue, blue green and violet.
Color Theory For Creatives

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Value Scale – The amount of light and dark that is shown. The less value the lighter it is.

Color Theory For Creatives Color Theory For Creatives

Contrast – The difference in values. The strongest contrast can be seen by placing the two extremes next to each other. When two lesser extremes are next to each other they are said to have low contrast. The closer they are in value, the lower they are in contrast.

Color Theory For Creatives

Tints – Created by adding White to a value. In the case of hand-coloring a print the white would generally be added by using the paper and having a transparent color wash.

Color Theory For Creatives
Tones – Created by adding Black to a value. In the case of hand-coloring the artist will either add a bit of black to the color or use the existing shades of grey already in the image.

Elements of Design

Originally posted in July 2013.

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