It is the staple of every art class, you have seen it on the wall behind your art teacher’s head in fifth grade art, you’ve seen it when you dabbled in doodling on MS paint…it is a wheel of colors arranged from warm to cool…but what is it exactly? And what is it for?
What is it?
- Primary colors are your basic red, blue, and yellow.
- Secondary colors are the colors you get when you mix one primary color to another. Green (blue and yellow), Orange (red and yellow), Purple (blue and red).
- Tertiary colors are the colors you get when you mix one primary color with one secondary color. These are usually the colors with the two colors for names. Red-violet, yellow-green, blue-green, etc.
The color wheel is important in establishing color harmony
Complementary colors are colors that complement each other. You can tell if two colors complement each other when you see that they are across one another on the color wheel.
Analogous colors are any three colors which are side by side on a 12 part color wheel. Yellow green, yellow, and yellow-orange are an example, one color usually predominates, usually a primary color.
What is it for?
Again, a color wheel is important in establishing color harmony. When you organize the colors on a wheel, it makes for an easier time in pairing up colors and to see if those colors will harmonize with each other.
Harmony is a defined as a pleasing arrangement of parts. So, visual harmony means something that should be pleasing to the eye. Normally you would think ‘meh, who cares’ and just go on mixing colors however you like, pairing one favorite color to another whenever you decorate the house or put on clothes, regardless of their place on the color wheel.
But color harmony is important in many more ways than you know. Color harmony delivers a sense of visual interest and order.
But hey, you’re a rebel. You don’t like being told what to do, and by a silly little color wheel! You are a lone wolf and you have no need of harmony. Bah!
Ah but you do. You need a basic knowledge of this; entire industries depend on color harmony.
The fashion industry depends on color harmony. The need to be deadly specific on the colors because they work all the time (obviously) with clothes. And they work with textures too, and how those things go along with certain colors, how one color would go along with another, or how together they might evoke something reminiscent of a certain theme they would have in mind. The may have to create and entire line of clothes out of one basic color, say, purple, but of course one can only do so much with one color, and that is where the knowledge of a color wheel–and color harmony–comes in, because they would have to exhaust all the colors that look good with purple, other hues of purple that would look good with each other and so on…all the while achieving color harmony.
But why is this color harmony so important?
Because without it, it would become boring, or chaotic even. It will not engage the viewer.
But what does the viewer care anyway? You want to go let your flag fly, wherever faction that is.
Another industry that relies on color harmony is advertising. One part of advertising is called branding, wherein they establish a brand, of a company, of an institution, etc. Branding is forming a name, an identity, an archetype in which the viewers, all potential consumers of course, could rest assuredly say ‘hey, my brain loves this brand.’
Brand logos are the perfect examples. Now, imagine all of the logos that you know, of your favourite carbonated drinks, your favourite fast food places etc. do you see the colors used in those logos? Yes? They are simple and pleasing are they not? That is a result of many many many weeks of deliberation. They have to be nitpicky about which exact color to use, with which and against what. These logos need harmony because they need to be pleasing to the eye. They need to reach out to as many consumers as possible. It needs to be stimulating because the human brain will reject under stimulating information. It rejects what it does not want and could not understand. And if they do that, honestly, they may not want to buy anything that comes out of your brand. Why would they bother?
Article by George Shaw
This article was written by George Shaw, a veteran guest blogger who occasionally works with Colortex Inc., a fabric and textile dyeing company.