Color Wheel Basics, Schemes, and Dimensions

Knowing the basics of colors can really help you when you're trying to figure out colors for your house. For example, if you are doing a living room makeover and you are trying to tie your furniture, walls, window treatments, pillows, rugs, accessories, etc. together, it's very helpful to understand which colors work well together.

I'm going to show you a basic color wheel and how it works, as well as explain color schemes and color dimensions.

The basic color wheel consists of these 12 colors: yellow, yellow-orange, orange, red-orange, red, red-violet, violet, blue-violet, blue, blue-green, green, yellow-green.

It is split into these 3 main groups:

Primary colors: Yellow, red, blue. No other colors can be mixed to make these colors.

Secondary colors: Green, orange, violet. Mixing the primary colors will get you these 3 colors.

Tertiary colors: Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-green. Mixing the primary and secondary colors next to it will get these 6 colors.

So now you might be wondering why these are significant. The way you put these colors together can be classified as color schemes. There are a variety of ways to do this.

Monochromatic: 1 color in a variety of shades.

Analogous: 2 to 6 colors that are next to each other on the wheel.

Complimentary: colors that are opposite each other on the wheel.  

Triad: Any 3 colors that make a triangle on the wheel.

Also, there are different dimensions to a color. A hue is a pure color that you can find on the color wheel. If you add white to that pure color, you will get a tint of it. If you add black, a shade. And if you add gray, you will get a tone.

Another dimension of color is the saturation of it. Saturation is how pure the hue is. Colors on the wheel are 100% pure, or fully saturated. The less saturated they are, the duller they look.

Using this knowledge, it is a lot easier to see why certain colors go well together. In our example of a living room, we could use an analogous color scheme with a variety of color dimensions to get a perfect look. See the different tints, shades, and tones of blues and greens? Also notice that blues, greens, and even yellows are next to each other on the color wheel.
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  1. This is an awesome post! I have always knew a little about the color wheel but apparently not enough to understand it. I guess I have been using the words shade hue tint and tone, wrong.... I am pinning this if you don't mind.

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