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Color Theory And Practical Tips - Part 1

colot tubes and brush

During my college days in the foundation year our very class on colors was about the color wheel, playing with primary colors (Red, Blue, Yellow) we had to create secondary and tertiary colors. The assignment looked simple but personally, it took a lot of re-dos! I was catching up with some old pals and remembered our struggle with making the color wheel which gave me the idea to write this blog. I hope you'll enjoy this.


Color theory is the theory that one can only understand by doing it practically!

It is the study of how colors interact and the principles that govern their visual harmony and impact. It is an intricate tapestry that weaves together science, art, and human perception. It allows us to communicate, evoke emotions, and appreciate the beauty surrounding us. From the delicate subtleties of monochromatic compositions to the bold and contrasting palettes of modern art, the spectrum of color theory offers endless possibilities for artists, designers, and enthusiasts alike.

The Three Pillars of Color Theory

1st Pillar: Color Wheel

Color wheel is the foundation of color theory, it is a circular representation of colors, organized in a way that demonstrates their relationships and interactions.

The primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) are pure colors that cannot be created by mixing other colors. Secondary colors (green, orange, and purple) are created by mixing equal parts of two primary colors, while tertiary colors are achieved by mixing primary and secondary colors in varying proportions. Understanding these relationships is crucial for creating color palettes that work harmoniously.

color wheel

2nd Pillar: Color Harmony

Color harmonies are combinations of colors that work well together and create a sense of balance and visual appeal. The color wheel serves as a guide for identifying different color harmonies, such as complementary, analogous, triadic, and split-complementary schemes. Each harmony has its own unique properties and can be used to evoke different moods and emotions in your illustrations.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are pairs of colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, such as red and green, blue and orange, or yellow and purple. When used together, complementary colors create a strong visual contrast and can be used to make elements stand out or create a sense of tension in your illustrations.

Analogous Colors

Analogous colors are groups of colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, such as blue, blue-green, and green. These color schemes create a harmonious and unified look, as they share similar undertones. Analogous colors can be used to create a sense of calmness or convey a specific mood in your illustrations.

Analogous Color wheel swatches and examples
Analogous Colors

Triadic Colors

Triadic color schemes involve using three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. For example, a triadic scheme could include yellow, blue, and red. This color harmony creates a vibrant and energetic look and can be used to add visual interest and dynamic contrast to your illustrations.

Triadic Color wheel swatches and examples
Triadic Colors

3rd Pillar: Color Attributes

Beyond the color wheel and harmony, understanding color attributes is crucial. These attributes include hue (the actual color), value (lightness or darkness), saturation (intensity or purity), and temperature (warm or cool). By skillfully manipulating these attributes, illustrators can influence the mood and perception of their artwork.

hue stauration and value example

Color theory is the stepping stone that allows you to grow as an artist, In part 2 of the blog I'll be sharing in-depth details. The more you explore this theory in practice and understand the relationships between colors you get the most out of it. Practically practicing the color wheel, color harmonies, and color attribute empowers you to make informed color choices in your illustrations and helps you create unique palettes which can create a sense of visual balance, enhance the storytelling, and evoke specific emotions in your artwork.



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