The Basic Guide to the Colour Theory

colours Theory

Our whole world constitute a wide array of colours. People define things because of their choice of colours. Everything from their food to clothes to vehicles etc. is based on the selection of colours. Although, there are some people who have good colour judgement, and they apply it in their lifestyle naturally. The rest can study and use the colour theory models to apply them in their general life. Colour theory is the general rules and regulations guide for the use of colours in any art and design. It aims to establish a good feel and effective communication thorough a design. In terms of delivery, it aims at providing satisfaction at visual and psychological level. For example, artists can set a cool scene using a blue colour or can create an ambience of elegance by using the warm colours. By understanding the colour theory, artists combine the colours and create harmony in the designs.
A Quick Sneak Peak from History
Colour theory first appeared in the principles of Leone Battista Albert (c. 1435) and from the notebook of Leonardo Da Vinci (c.1490). Later in the 18th century, Sir Isaac Newton, in his books optiks (1704) showed the world the primary colours and created his own colour wheel. These studies explain the colours and how different combinations can be used to create an appeal in any design. Modern colour theory is based in the Newton’s colour wheel comprising the primary, secondary and tertiary colour.
The Colour Wheel
The colour wheel or the colour circle is used to illustrate the organisation of the hues. The wheel represents the relation between the primary, secondary and tertiary colours. In a colour wheel the primary colours i.e. Red, Yellow, and Blue (painter’s primary) are equally placed at the colour wheel forming an equilateral triangle. The middle section represents the mixtures of the primary colours. A typical model of colour wheel includes the primary as RGB with intermediary secondaries like green, orange, violet or purple. The rest forms a mixture of primary and secondary called tertiary colours, which comprises Green-Yellow, Yellow-Orange, Orange-Red, Red-Violet, Purple-Blue and Blue-Green.
Cool and Warm Colours
The colour wheel is divided into two parts of colours being called the warm colours and the cool colours.
Warm colours are vivid, energetic and can be easily spotted in the nature, for example, Red.
Cool colours illustrate calmness, coolness and create a soothing experience, for example Blue.
Colour Harmonies

The colour wheel comprises colours, which are used to create a design. There are specific colour schemes acquired from the colour wheel, which can be directly implemented in the design.
Analogous Colour Scheme

This type of scheme uses the colours that are adjacent to one another. As the colours are matching, these aid in creating a calm and peace designs. Being found in the nature, these come out pleasing to the viewer’s eyes.
Example: Orange and Yellow or shades of Green.
Complementary Colour Scheme

This scheme comprises with the colours present on the opposite end of the colour wheel. A vibrant look is achieved with this scheme especially when used in full hue saturation. Artists tend to find difficulties in balancing them and without appropriate caution; an artist can create a jarring design. The trick is to use these lies in the less quantity of the colour and it helps in separating content and makes them to stand out.
Example- Blue with Orange, Red with Green
Split Complementary Colour Scheme

This scheme is just a slight variation of the complementary scheme. In addition to the base colour, it uses the other two adjacent colours that are its complement. These bring a strong visual contrast just like complementary but the advantage lies in having a less tension in a design. These are recommended to the beginners so that they can easily design.
Example- Blue, Yellow-Orange and Blue, Red-Orange.
Triadic Colour Scheme

Evenly spread colour on the colour wheel forming a triangle constitutes a triadic colour scheme. This scheme is quite vibrant even when unsaturated hue value is used. Artist must be careful while using this scheme because it can be difficult to balance. The trick is to use one colour in dominance and the later in support.
Example- Red with Yellow with Blue
Tetradic/ Double Complementary Colour Scheme

In this scheme, four colours are arranged in the same fashion as the complementary scheme forming a rectangle. This provides various types of possibilities and different variations. If used correctly, it can bring a unique kind of balance in a design. Also it works best, when one colour is applied with dominance and others in support.
Example- Blue and Orange coupled with Yellow and Violet.
Square Colour Scheme

This scheme is very much similar to the rectangle scheme that comprises four colours. As the name suggests these four colours are used in a square form in the colour wheel. The artist needs to pay attention while applying colours as this colour scheme conflicts with the use of both warm and cool colours.

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