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"The color wheel demonstrates how colors visually relate to each other."

The color wheel is a representation of the way we perceive light. It is a tool to demonstrate relationships between colors. Understanding its principles will give you some foundational knowledge to begin designing beautiful color schemes like a pro.

Primary Colors

Light is comprised of the color spectrum. In essence, this spectrum is what you see in the rainbow that emerges after a mid summer storm.

It's amazing that this splash of color is built upon only three fundamental colors or hues. They are called the primary colors because they exist alone and are not created by the mixing of any other colors. They are red, blue and yellow. These colors lie an equal distance apart on the color wheel.

Secondary Colors

The colors created when mixing any two primary colors are called the secondary colors.

Secondary Colors

An example of this would be the color green – an equal combination of the two primary colors yellow and blue. Using this approach, you may have guessed the other secondary colors are orange (red plus yellow) and purple (blue plus red)

Tertiary Colors

This mixing process can be extended further to create the tertiary (third level) colors. Sometimes these are also called the intermediate colors.

Tertiary Colors

These hues result when combining equal parts of one primary color with one secondary color. For example, a blue-purple hue emerges from combining the primary color blue with the secondary color purple.

The color wheel demonstrates how the different hues visually relate to one another.

Tints, Shades and Tones

Various degrees of color depth (color strength) can be created by adding white or black to a particular hue. This causes them to take on a slightly different flavor from the starting color...sort of like fine tuning it.

Color Shades

Color Tints

Add only white to create a tint of a particular color. The color pink is really just a tint of red, for example.

Add only black to a color to create a shade of that color.

Add various degrees of both black and white (gray) to a color to create a tone of that color.

The elements of color related to the colour wheel also play a role in perceptions of space when you consider color schemes and color psychology in the mix. These important aspects play a key role too and should be considered as part of planning your room's overall look and feel.

If you don't already own a color wheel, I recommend purchasing one like the one shown on the left to have on hand as your color scheme guide for all current and future projects.

Return from the Color Wheel back to the Interior Design Color page.

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