colorScheme system - The 12 Step Color Wheel

This 12 step color wheel will provide the basic information needed
to grasp most color design challenges.

The basic principles of color theory and design are simple. The color wheel becomes a visual aid in helping us understand the principles of color.

It is also an excellent tool to help create harmonious color schemes for painting, interior decorating, and commercial design. It creates an orderly progression of color that helps us understand color balance and harmony.

Primary Colors

Our color wheel starts with the 3 primary colors, placed in an equilateral triangle.

The next aspect to the color wheel is creating the secondary colors. These colors are placed in triangles above the corresponding primary color combination. This system of color mixing is known as the subtractive process, because the resulting secondary color subtracts or absorbs even more waves from the white light than the first color did.

The Color Wheel Company Big Color Wheel  large color wheel The Color Wheel Company Big Color Wheel large color wheel

The Big Wheel is a classroom size color wheel. The wheel is 26 1/4 in. in diameter. Illustrates basic color mixing. Perfect for classrooms, demonstrations, or any other presentation. Easel not included.


Secondary Colors

Secondary or Complementary Colors: When any one primary color is mixed with another a secondary color effect is produced. 3 secondary colors are produced from the mixing of one primary color with another.

The secondary colors are:

  • orange  (mix red + yellow)
  • green   (mix yellow + blue)
  • violet    (mix blue + red)

These secondary colors are also known as complementary colors.

The final step to creating the 12 step color wheel will be to create a ring around the newly formed primary and secondary color form. Divided into 12 equal segments, the primary and secondary colors shall be repeated to their corresponding segment within the surrounding ring. This will leave a blank segment between every two colors. In these blank segments the tertiary colors will be created.


  Watson-Guptill Color Mixing Bible

All You'll Ever Need to Know About Mixing Pigments in Watercolor, Pastel, Crayon, Acrylic, and Oil Mixing colors accurately may be an art unto itself. In fact, many artists are discouraged by the time and expense it takes to mix and match colors, and achieve the right results. Even more frustrating is the vast range of colors available. Now there's a ready-to-use visual directory that takes all the guesswork out of mixing and matching colors, making every artist an expert Color Mixing Bible provides a basic color palette for each art medium, demonstrating an array of two-, three-, and four-color mixes, as well as offering full explanations of various paints and pigments.

 Watson-Guptill Color Mixing Bible  Color Mixing Bible

Tertiary Colors

Tertiary Colors: These colors are created when mixing one secondary and one primary color. i.e. blue + violet = blueviolet. Three or more separate colors are mixed (one primary and one secondary the combination of two primaries), and in our color wheel each tertiary color being created will be an equal combination of the two colors, left and right, surrounding an open segment.

The tertiary colors are: yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue violet, blue-green, and yellow-green.

The sequence of colors on the color wheel should resemble that of the rainbow.

We can now use our color wheel as the basis to understanding color and color combination techniques.




 Book Special
North Light Mastering Color: The Essentials of Color Illustrated with Oils  Mastering Color: The Essentials of Color Illustrated with Oils ISBN: 1581806353

North Light Mastering Color: The Essentials of Color Illustrated with Oils Mastering Color: The Essentials of Color Illustrated with Oils

In Mastering Color, you'll find an engaging and unique color workshop -- from the basics of selecting a palette to advanced instruction on capturing light and designing powerful compositions.

Color Learning Center Home
About Color 
How we see color
3 Step colorScheme System
  1. Understanding the 12 step color wheel
       Creating a 12 step color wheel.

  2. Basic principles of color
       Primary, secondary and tertiary colors   
       Tints and shades, value and hue, neutral grays

  3. Creating harmonious color schemes
        Using complementary and contrasting colors
        Using triadic colors to create balanced color schemes
    Using tetrads to create balanced color schemes

Create your own paints and glazes
Advanced color principles 
Coming Soon...
Historic color palettes


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