Color schemes

Colors have great power if used correctly. The palette that you choose may bring harmony to the design or it may ruin it. The colors chosen for the design form a color scheme. They are used to create style and appeal or to convey a certain mood. A basic color scheme may be composed of two colors that look appealing together.

Color is one of the most important things in design and art. Finding a good color palette is not easy, in fact sometimes it can be a real struggle. Even experienced designers may find it difficult. But it is worth the effort - by selecting the right color palette, you can achieve visual balance. If you do it wrong and the colors may seem to clash. Planning a successful combination has to be backed up with the understanding of basic color relationships.

The color wheel and color schemes

To understand the ideas behind color schemes we need to comprehend the color wheel first (also referred to as a color circle). It is a circular color diagram introduced by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666, a visual representation of color hues arranged circularly according to their chromatic relationship.

Color wheel is a starting point for combining colors. Color schemes are just logical combinations made using the wheel. It is an easy way to visualize the relationships between colors.

Types of color schemes

Monochromatic color scheme

This scheme is composed of different tints, shades of tones of the same color. These color schemes are relatively easy to use and comprehend. They can be very effective but some designers may look for greater diversity of hues. You can explore them with out tool.

Analogous color scheme

These are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. They usually match quite well. We can find a lot of examples of this scheme in the natural world.

Complementary color scheme

Colors located across from each other on a color wheel, for example: blue and orange, yellow and purple. They usually create a vibrant look due to high contrast between them. A palette of this sort is great for emphasizing element that need to stand out, for instance a call to action buttons.

Split-Complementary color scheme

A variation of the complementary color scheme. It is composed of the base color and two colors adjacent to its complement. That gives it strong visual contrast but without the tension of the complementary color scheme.

Triadic color scheme

This scheme is made of colors that are evenly spaced along the color wheel. A vibrant palette is produced.

Tetradic color scheme

This scheme is composed of four colors comprising of two complementary pairs.