A Basic Color Wheel… the first step to unlocking the mysteries of color


You’ve probably seen a version of the Basic Color Wheel millions of times.

But how many people really understand how it works?

It looks surprisingly simple and obvious. So obviously simple in fact, that most people overlook its potential to unlock the mysteries of using color effectively.

The whole subject of color is tricky. It seems the more you learn about color, the deeper and broader the subject becomes.

Did you know?  Working with color is NOT an exact science.

When we see blue, it’s merely an interpretation our brain makes of the way light bounces off an object. Scientifically, the light bounces in measurable ways. We’re all hard-wired to see that blue pretty much the same way.

But the experience of blue is purely subjective. Our personal and emotional response to blue varies from person to person. They’re shaped by our culture, memories, past exposure and mental associations. If this psychological aspect fascinates you as it does me, there’s lots more about the Meanings of Color here.

What does a Basic Color Wheel do ?

A Primary Color Wheel blends both scientific theory and subjective preferences. It’s simply a tool to help you choose Color Schemes and paint colors with confidence.

Our human brains react to different Hues, Tints, Tones and Shades in surprisingly predictable ways. We can all tell when a color scheme just doesn’t look right.

But why does it clash ?

One major myth about creating harmonious color schemes is – ‘It just comes naturally to some people.’ Some people may be more naturally inclined, but even they benefit from understanding the color wheel. Most artists I know use one all the time.

Creative people don’t usually like rules… but you need to understand the rules to know how to break them.

A basic color wheel is exquisitely logical – yet leaves the door wide open for personal interpretation. In other words it’s the perfect tool to avoid jarring clash.

Start learning how to create harmonious color combinations right here.

Have fun while you learn to unlock the secrets of the Basic Color Wheel.

Bonus !  Here are some free goodies to help you learn.

1.   Download these Free Printable Color Wheels to use as reference.

2.   Print out several of the free templates on standard white 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper.

3.   Get your paints out. Keep it simple like watercolor, poster paints or acrylic.

4.   Test out all the various color combinations on these blank color wheels.

5.    Be sure to keep them for reference. Yes, even the ones you think are mistakes.

There are no mistakes – only experience !

Table of Contents

So with that in mind, let’s begin by walking you through a few color terms and key concepts.

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Colors What are they?

Hues, Tints, Shades and Tones What’s the difference?

Download Printable Color Wheels Yours FREE to practice creating your own circle of colors.

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