Using the Color Wheel To
Create Stunning Combinations

      The color wheel or color circle is the basic tool in combining colors for your beading designs. The first circular color diagram was designed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666.

      An essential tool for bead and jewelry designers everywhere, the color wheel is constructed to help you see the relationships between different hues.

      The bases are three primary colors: red, blue and yellow. These are then combined to make the three secondary colors: orange, green, and purple. Finally, the remaining six colors on the wheel are known as tertiary colors and are mixes of the secondary colors, including such hues as red-orange and blue-green.

      color primary secondary tertiary

      Wherever there’s light, there’s color. White light contains all visible colors, which form an infinite spectrum that appears in the red-to-violent sequence, like the rainbow. The colour wheel represents this infinite spectrum with 12 basic hues.

      Constructed in an orderly progression, the color wheel is the range of visible light—represented by the 12 basic hues—formed into circle. It enables the user to visualize the sequence of color balance and harmony. The 12 basic hues are: Red, Red Orange, Orange, Yellow Orange, Yellow, Yellow Green, Green, Blue Green, Blue, Blue Violet, Violet, Red Violet.

color hue names

    Color Value

    Each hue is at a level of full saturation, or brightness. There is no black or white added. When the relative amount of white or black is added to a hue, the color has lightness and darkness, called value. To show value, the color wheel has more rings: two outer for dark shades and two inner for light tints.

    color the wheel

    The Color Wheel is a tool for understanding which colors go with what, helping you find the right ones for your design. It teaches color relationships by organizing colors in a circle so you can visualize how they relate to each other.

    Being able to use colors consciously and harmoniously can help you create spectacular results.


    Combining Colors

    Color combination is really the most important part of color theory and designing with colors, and also the hardest-- It always comes down to your personal judgement and how you look at colors. There are, however, some guidelines that can be used to make a color combination that is interesting and pleasing to the eye.

    No color stands alone. A color is always seen in the context of other colors. In fact, the effect of a color is determined by the light reflected from it, the colors that surround it; or the perspective of the person looking at it.

    No one color is “good” or “bad”. Rather, it’s one part of a composition that as a whole is pleasing or not.

    How you mix and match colors in your design is completely up to your personal tastes, which can be influenced by current trends, nature, or other factors! Color design is exciting, experiment with new color combinations to see how you like the look. The color wheel is designed so that virtually any colors you pick from it will look good together. Over the years, many variations of the basic design have been made, but the most common version is a wheel of 12 colors based on the RYB (or artistic) color model.

    Great color combinations don't just happen by accident - color theory, the science behind design - can be easily learned. If you find yourself making only jewelry in a single color scheme, pick up an inexpensive colour wheel (found at most art or hobby stores) and experiment with different combinations!

    Traditionally, there are a number of color combinations that are considered especially pleasing. These are called color harmonies or color schemes and they consist of two or more colors with a fixed relation in the color wheel.



    color combinations

    Color Schemes

    Color schemes are created using symmetrical shapes around the wheel, they make combinations that are balanced and harmonious. As the shapes rotate, the combinations change, but the spacing of the colors in each combination does not. It is the symmetrical spacing that consistently ensures a harmonious combination.

    There are 15 different color schemes with which to combine different colors:

      Monochromatic colors are all the hues (tints, tones and shades) of a single color.

      Analogous color scheme uses three to five colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel.

      Complementary color scheme is made of two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel

      Analogous-Complementary color scheme utilizes related hues lying adjacent on the color wheel with a hue directly opposite to these.

      Dual Complementary color scheme is made of two colors side by side and their two complementary colors opposite them on the color wheel.

      Near Complementary color scheme is combining your starting color with the color to the right or left of its Complement will produce more interesting two-color combination.

      Split Complementary color scheme uses a color plus the two colors adjacent to its complementary color.

      Triadic color scheme uses three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel.

      Modified triads are created by choosing three colors on the wheel, each with only one space separating them instead of the two spaces used to create complementary triads.

      Complementary Triads are formed by combining any two complements with one of the two available colors midway between them on the wheel.

      Rectangle Tetrads: The rectangle or tetradic color scheme uses four colors arranged into two complementary pairs forming a rectangle.

      Square Tetrads: The square color scheme is similar to the rectangle, but with all four colors spaced evenly around the color circle.

      Mulit-color (up to 12 colors): Use matching values from each color around the wheel.

      Neutral - shade of browns and tans ( a color is neutralized by mixing with its complement)

      Achromatic - No color, just shades of gray, black and white (grayscale)

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Learn how to design stunning bead jewelry using and experimenting with various color schemes.
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