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Color Theory

The Color Wheel

If you’ve taken an art class, it’s likely that you’ve been introduced to the color wheel. This is a tool used by artists and designers to visualize the relationship between colors.

It’s comprised of three color groups: primary, secondary and tertiary.

Primary colors are comprised of red, blue and yellow. These are equidistant to each other on the wheel, forming a triangle. They are also the basis for all other colors on the wheel.

Secondary colors are created by mixing two primary colors, forming green, orange and purple.

The third and final group of colors are considered to be tertiary and are formed when mixing a secondary and primary. These usually result in a two-word name, such as:

  • Red-orange (Vermillion)
  • Yellow-orange (Amber)
  • Yellow-green (Chartreuse)
  • Blue-green (Teal)
  • Blue-purple (Violet)
  • Red-purple (Magenta)

As you begin to select colors to use in your design projects, the color wheel will be vital in determining which colors pair well together.

Instructions

Review the diagrams of the color wheel. Move on to the next exercise when you're ready!

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