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How to Use a Color Wheel

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Color Wheel Simplified
How to Use a Color Wheel

How to Use a Color Wheel

© Janet Wickell

What Is a Color Wheel?

A color wheel is a chart that helps us understand the relationship between colors. A color wheel should not be the only resource you use to make color decisions, but it does help narrow the possibilities.

Forget about all the "rules" you've heard about colors that do and do not "match," because any color will work with any other color when we experiment with different variations of each. That's where a color wheel comes in handy.

Terms you'll hear when you use a color wheel.

Primary Colors

Blue, red and yellow are called primary colors because they are the basis for other colors. Mix them together in different ways and you can create every other color on the color wheel.

The three primary colors are arranged at equal distances from each other on the most commonly used (and most simple) color wheel, shown above.

Secondary Colors

The three secondary colors on a color wheel are located midway between the primary colors, right image. Secondary colors are created by mixing together equal amounts of nearby primary.

  • Green -- made from equal parts of blue and yellow
  • Orange -- made from equal parts of yellow and red
  • Violet -- made from equal parts of blue and red

 

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