Color Wheel

Figure 1: The Color Wheel
In developing an artwork, artist sometimes use color theory . To get consistent results, the color wheel is used in color theory as a way of arranging colors so that artists can use the information in a systematic way . 

Allow this post to tell you the very basic introduction to color theory and the color wheel. There are many types of color theories out there and they each serve a different purpose and medium, but let us focus on what is useful for those who paint and draw.

As shown in Figure 1, the color wheel is arranged in a way where colors similar to each other sit next to each other on the wheel. We will tackle this later on.

Primary Colors

The three colors: red, yellow and blue are the foundation the color wheel is built. These colors are called the primary colors. These first three colors when mixed together will create the rest of the colors on the wheel. If you were to mix all the primaries together, the result is black (Refer to Figure 2).

Figure 2: Primary Colors
Secondary Colors

The first colors to be created when mixing two of the primary colors together are called secondary colors. Yellow + blue = green, yellow + red = orange, blue + red = purple. Secondary colors are important because each one is a complimentary color to a primary color. Figure 3 is an example of a color wheel using just the secondary colors on the outside ring.
Figure 3: Secondary Colors
 Tertiary Colors

In the simplest of terms, tertiary colors are all the rest of the colors that can be created. To define or describe tertiary colors, these are the colors created when mixing a primary and a secondary color together or two secondary colors together. Below is an example of a color wheel with only tertiary colors on the outside ring.

Figure 4: Tertiary Colors
The Color Wheel 

Finally we have an example of a twelve step color wheel. I have included the previous charts of primary’s and secondary’s to show how the wheel is created. First the primary colors are laid down. Then the secondary colors are mixed and laid down in the proper place on the wheel, which is midway between the placements of the primary colors. Then using the primary and secondary colors, the tertiary colors are mixed and laid down in the position on the wheel based on the hue relationship to other colors. It belongs between the colors that it is most similar to.

Later we can look at some other important elements of the color wheel and how the wheel can be used in developing color composition.

Figure 5: Color Wheel
Twelve Step Color Wheel

Below is a sample of a twelve step color wheel. Try making one, using just the primary colors. Start by making as many transitions in color you are comfortable doing. Maybe start by creating a color wheel of just the primary and secondary colors. Then move up to a twelve step color wheel. You can then take this even further and create as many steps in color you would like.
Figure 6: The 12 Steps Color Wheel


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