Basic Color Theory
The following information is intended as a basic understanding of 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.
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.
Complementary Colors – Opposite each other on the color wheel. For instance the compliment of Blue is Orange, the compliment of Red is Green etc…
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.
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.
Analogous – Color Scheme is made by colors next to each other on the color wheel.
Monochromatic – Color Scheme is made from one color or hue with multiple values and intensities.
Warm colors – Represent a feeling of warmth or heat such as Red, Orange, and Yellow.
Cool Colors – Represent a feeling of coolness and chill, such as blue, blue green and violet.
Value Scale – The amount of light and dark that is shown. The less value the lighter it is.
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.
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.
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.
Originally posted in July 2013.