Type of colors

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Color is the product of light. A ray of white light passing through a prism is separated into the colors seen in a rainbow. If a room is dark no color is seen. A color is seen on an object or surface because light bounces off the surface reflecting a particular light wave.

Colors of the rainbow are always arranged in the same order because of the length of the individual light rays. Remember, we see a rainbow because of light breaking down through the rain drops (sort of like a prism).

The spectrum is the colors of the rainbow arranged in their natural order: Red – Orange – Yellow – Green – Blue – Indigo – Violet.

Scientists investigate the properties of color whereas artists explore its effects. Color in art can be used in many different ways. Some artists are fascinated by the effects of light; some are interested in the symbolic meaning of color; and some use color to express their emotions.

In short, color theory in art could be summed up by three words: Light, Symbol and Emotion.

Constructed in an orderly progression, the color wheel is the range of visible light—represented by the 12 basic hues—formed into circle. It enables the user to visualize the sequence of color balance and harmony. The 12 basic hues are: Red, Red Orange, Orange, Yellow Orange, Yellow, Yellow Green, Green, Blue Green, Blue, Blue Violet, Violet, and Red Violet.

Color Value

Each hue is at a level of full saturation, or brightness. There is no black or white added. When the relative amount of white or black is added to a hue, the color has lightness and darkness, called value. To show value, the color wheel has more rings: two outer for dark shades and two inner for light tints.

The Color Wheel is a tool for understanding which colors go with what, helping you find the right ones for your design. It teaches color relationships by organizing colors in a circle so you can visualize how they relate to each other.

Being able to use colors consciously and harmoniously can help you create spectacular results.

Combining Colors

Color combination is really the most important part of color theory and designing with colors, and also the hardest– It always comes down to your personal judgement and how you look at colors. There are, however, some guidelines that can be used to make a color combination that is interesting and pleasing to the eye.

No color stands alone. A color is always seen in the context of other colors. In fact, the effect of a color is determined by the light reflected from it, the colors that surround it; or the perspective of the person looking at it.

No one color is “good” or “bad”. Rather, it’s one part of a composition that as a whole is pleasing or not.

How you mix and match colors in your design is completely up to your personal tastes, which can be influenced by current trends, nature, or other factors! Color design is exciting, experiment with new color combinations to see how you like the look. The color wheel is designed so that virtually any colors you pick from it will look good together. Over the years, many variations of the basic design have been made, but the most common version is a wheel of 12 colors based on the RYB (or artistic) color model.

Great color combinations don’t just happen by accident – color theory, the science behind design – can be easily learned. If you find yourself making only jewelry in a single color scheme, pick up an inexpensive colour wheel (found at most art or hobby stores) and experiment with different combinations!

Traditionally, there are a number of color combinations that are considered especially pleasing. These are called color harmonies or color schemes and they consist of two or more colors with a fixed relation in the color wheel.

Color Schemes

Color schemes are created using symmetrical shapes around the wheel, they make combinations that are balanced and harmonious. As the shapes rotate, the combinations change, but the spacing of the colors in each combination does not. It is the symmetrical spacing that consistently ensures a harmonious combination.

There are 15 different color schemes with which to combine different colors:

Monochromatic colors are all the hues (tints, tones and shades) of a single color.

Monochromatic colors are all the hues (tints, tones and shades) of a single color.

Mono-chromatic color schemes are derived from a single base color, and extended using its shades, tones and tints (that is, a color modified by the addition of black, gray and white). As a result, the energy is more subtle and peaceful due to a lack of color contrast.

This palette has the dark, medium and light values of a single color. It has no color depth, but it provides the contrast of dark, medium and light that’s important to good design.

This color scheme is probably the easiest to work with. It uses variations in value and intensity of only one color in your design, you could also incorporate some black, white or neutral colors or even metal such as silver, gold or copper accents to add interest and depth.

To add contrast and excitement to your designs when using all the same color (pink, for example) try using different types of stones, crystals, glass or natural material. In this example the bracelet is comprised of freshwater pearls, rose quartz, rhodonite, pink opal, and beautiful lamp work beads. While the beads are in the same color family, mixing the texture, shape and size makes this piece more interesting.
Analogous color scheme uses three to five colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. An analogous color scheme uses three to five colors and their tints and shadings that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. They tend to live harmoniously because they are relatives to each other.

All of the colors share a common hue, for example, red-violet, red, and red-orange. The presentation and feeling is similar to a monochromatic scheme with a larger assortment of hues from which to choose.

They usually match well and create serene and comfortable designs. Analogous palettes are rich and always easy to work with.

With this color scheme, one color is usually the dominant one, while the others serve as an accent to the dominant color.

Although you are limited in colors when using this scheme that does not mean your pieces have to be boring. Just vary the intensity (how dull or bright a color is) and value (how light or dark a color is), you could also mix texture, shape and size to make your pieces more interesting and pleasing to the eye.

Analogous color schemes are often found in nature and are harmonious and pleasing to the eye. If ever in doubt about what looks good, look to nature. The color combinations are breathtakingly beautiful and are in full harmony.

Complementary color scheme is made of two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. The complementary color scheme is made of two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel to create maximum contrast. This scheme looks best when you put a warm color against a cool color.

The color directly opposite your starting color is called its complement and is used as an accent. A primary color will always be opposite a secondary color. Tertiary colors are always opposite each other.

Proving the rule that opposites attract, these pairings can always be found at opposite ends from each other on a color wheel. When put together, they bring out the best in each other, making both colors look cleaner and brighter than if either were mixed with, say, a neutral gray or a different shade of the same hue.

Analogous-Complementary color scheme utilizes related hues lying adjacent on the color wheel with a hue directly opposite to these. An analogous complementary scheme utilizes related hues lying adjacent on the color wheel with a hue directly opposite to these.

This direct complement becomes the accent color. Or, choose a near complement (one on either side of the direct complement of the middle analogous color

You have now created a dominant color grouping of three similar colors accented with the direct complement (or the near complement) of one of them. The complementary accent color creates and interesting contrast against the dominant color grouping.

This scheme looks best when you put a warm accent color with a cool analogous color pallet or a cool accent color with a warm pallet. As you can see in the examples below the accent colors add that extra pizazz to the designs.

Dual Complementary color scheme is made of two colors side by side and their two complementary colors opposite them on the color wheel. Dual Complementary color scheme consists of two colors side by side and their two complementary colors opposite them on the color wheel.

This color scheme uses two adjacent hues and their opposites. it uses four colors arranged into two complementary color pairs. This scheme is hard to harmonize; if all four colors are used in equal amounts, the scheme may look unbalanced, so you should choose a color to be dominant or subdue the colors.

Near Complementary color scheme is combining your starting color with the color to the right or left of its Complement will produce more interesting two-color combination. Near complementary color scheme is similar to a complimentary scheme but with more exciting results.

Combining your starting color with the color to the right or left of its Complement will produce more interesting two-color combination.

For example instead of the true complement of violet and yellow try violet and yellow-orange or violet and yellow-green.

Or instead of the red and green complementary color scheme, try red and yellow-green (olive) or light red (pink) and light blue-green (turquoise).

When put together, near complements bring out the best in each other, making both colors look cleaner and brighter than if either were mixed with, say, a neutral gray or a different shade of the same hue.

Split Complementary color scheme uses a color plus the two colors adjacent to its complementary color. The split complementary color scheme is a variation of the complementary color scheme. In addition to the base color, it uses the two colors adjacent to its complement.

The two colors on either side of the complement plus the starting color contains at least a Tertiary color, so they always have a certain amount of sophistication.

This is a great scheme to use to choose a high-contrast three-color palette.

This color scheme has the same strong visual contrast as the complementary color scheme, but has less tension.

The split-complimentary color scheme is often a good choice for beginners, because it is difficult to mess up.

Triadic color scheme uses three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. A triadic color scheme uses three colors that are equally spaced from each other on the color wheel. This is a very easy color scheme to implement because the colors naturally look good together and provide a comfortable amount of visual contrast.

Combining every fourth color on the color wheel forms four balanced three-color combinations – a bright and youthful primary Triad, a more subtle triad made up of the secondary colors, and two triads using all tertiary colors which form more sophisticated, fashion-oriented combinations.

Triad color harmonies tend to be quite vibrant, even if you use pale or unsaturated versions of your hues.

This scheme produces strong contrast but still retains harmony. To use a triadic harmony successfully, the colors should be carefully balanced – let one color dominate and use the two others for accent.

Tertiary triads – pastels
The possibilities are nearly infinite. For example, change the value and/or saturation of any or all of the colors in a tertiary triad, it is still a tertiary scheme, but you’ve altered the mood. Your choices depend on your communication goals.

Modified triads are created by choosing three colors on the wheel, each with only one space separating them instead of the two spaces used to create complementary triads. Modified triad color schemes are created by choosing three colors on the wheel, each with only one space separating them instead of the two spaces used to create complementary triads.

Because their colors are closer together on the wheel, these triads are more subdued than complementary triads.

These color schemes are similar to analogous schemes, but show slightly more contrast. The contrast occurs because the colors at either end of the arc are farther apart than the outer colors of a three-color analogous arc.

Complementary Triads are formed by combining any two complements with one of the two available colors midway between them on the wheel.

Rectangle Tetrads: The rectangle or tetradic color scheme uses four colors arranged into two complementary pairs forming a rectangle.

Square Tetrads: The square color scheme is similar to the rectangle, but with all four colors spaced evenly around the color circle. Square Tetradic color schemes always make a bold statement since they combine a pair of Primary/Secondary colors with a pair of Tertiary colors. The square color scheme is similar to the rectangle, but with all four colors spaced evenly around the color circle. (Because a square tetrad is comprised of two pairs of complementary colors, it is also known as a double-complementary scheme.)

You should also pay attention to the balance between warm and cool colors in your design.

Mulit-color (up to 12 colors): Use matching values from each color around the wheel.

Neutral – shade of browns and tans (a color is neutralized by mixing with its complement)

Achromatic – No color, just shades of gray, black and white (grayscale)