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Basic Color Theory

Basic Color theory has many different definitions. However, there are two basic areas of color theory that are most important: The color wheel and color harmony

The Color Wheel

The color wheel is formed in a circle, and based on red, yellow and blue. Both scientists and artists alike have created many different variations of this concept. However, any color wheel which presents a logically arranged sequence of colors is a valid option.

Primary Colors: Red, yellow and blue

In traditional color theory (used in paint and pigments), primary colors are the 3 pigment colors that cannot be formed by any combination of other colors. All other colors are derived from these 3 hues.

Secondary Colors: Green, orange and purple

These are the colors formed by mixing the primary colors.

Tertiary Colors: Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green

These are the colors formed by mixing a primary and a secondary color. That’s why the hue is a two word name, such as blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange.

Color Harmony

Color harmony just means a pleasing arrangement of colors. It engages the viewer and creates a sense of order, and balance. When something is not harmonious, it can be boring or chaotic. The human brain rejects what it cannot organize. Color harmony delivers visual interest and a sense of order.

How can we achieve color harmony? There are many theories for harmony. Here are two simple ways you can insure you are choosing a harmonious color palette.

  1. Create a color scheme based on analogous colors.

Analogous colors are any three colors which are side by side on a 12 part color wheel, such as yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange.

  1. Choose a color scheme based on complementary colors

Complementary colors are any two colors which are directly opposite each other, such as red and green and red-purple and yellow-green. These opposing colors create maximum contrast and maximum stability.

This is something to keep in mind when getting your website built. Obviously we don’t expect you to be an expert is color combinations and figure everything out yourself. Our designers on staff have great experience with this and can point you in the right direction.