How to use a Colour Wheel

The colour wheel comes from colour theory, which is a set of “rules” regarding the pairing and use of colours. If you’ve ever tried to pair certain colours together that just don’t look good, but you can’t put you finger on why, these rules can help. An entire book can be written about colour theory, so we’ve summarized the types of colour combinations you can create using a colour wheel, for the purpose of choosing paint colours. You can pick a colour wheel up from any craft supply or art store like Michaels or DeSerres. You can also google “colour wheel” and use a digital version instead (like the photo to the left).

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1. Analogous Colour Combination

An analogous colour combination is made up of 3-5 different colours that are next to each other on the wheel. Analogous colour combinations are safe because they will always agree with each other. Contrast can be created with an analogous colour combination by using lighter and darker hues. For example, the house on the right has a light pink main colour and a darker pink trim colour, so that the trim stands out.

2. Triadic Colour Combination

Triadic colour combinations are created by using 3 colours that are equally spaced around the colour wheel. For example, yellow, blue and red. The colours in a triadic combination contrast one another, so using lighter, more pastel hues of the colour for a softer look. The house on the left has dark blue as the main colour, with a dark red, and pastel yellow.

3. Complementary Colours

Complementary colour combinations use 2 hues directly across from each other on the colour wheel. Example complementary colour combinations are violet and green or orange and blue. This colour combination can be very loud and energetic. In the photo on the tight, an earthy, dark shade of orange is paired with a bright blue. Toning down one of the colours in a complementary colour scheme can be easier on the eye.

4. Split Complementary Colours

A split complementary colour combination is a colour and the 2 colours next to it’s complementary colour. For example, for the colour Blue, it’s split complementary colours would be red-orange and yellow-orange. The yellow-orange door and red-orange chairs both complement the navy blue house.

5. Tetradic Colour Combination

Tetradic colour combinations are made up of 2 sets of complimentary colours, for example green-red and orange-blue. This colour combination is helpful in creating a variety of colours that do not compete for attention because they balance each other out. If you need help or advice when it comes to choosing colours, Alpha & Omega Painting offers free colour consultations.

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