Color Theory Basics: The Color Wheel

Color Wheel

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The world is filled with infinite shades of color, from a candy-apple-red sports car to a smoldering orange sunset to the crisp green of springtime grass. The popular color wheel simplifies the shades into 12 distinct colors to help illustrate the variations.

Arranged in a circle with 12 sections, the wheel presents a visual representation of the primary colors in the following order: blue, blue/green, green, yellow/green, yellow, yellow/orange, orange, red/orange, red, red/purple, purple, blue/purple. The colors are arranged in a chromatic sequence, with complementary shades opposite one another. These are all of the standalone colors that cannot be created by mixing other hues. Secondary and tertiary hues can then be created by mixing three primary colors (traditionally red, yellow, and blue).

The color wheel is further segmented into active and passive hues. Active colors (reds, oranges, yellows) will appear as more dominant when placed against passive shades, while the passive colors (purples, blues, greens) appear to recede when viewed near the active ones.

In our next post of Color Theory Basics, we’ll explore the art and science behind color combinations.

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