colorScheme system - Basic Color Principles


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"We all know that success is harder than failure."

--Frank Gehry






Basic principles of color
How we see color
Primary, secondary and tertiary colors
Basic Terminology; Tints and shades, value and hue, neutral grays

Understanding a few simple color principles can result in successful color combinations for any project. Useful for interior design projects, decorative painting techniques, fine art painting, graphic design or illustration techniques, understanding color combinations can be easy and fun.

Primary colors

Primary Colors: The primary colors consist of 3 unique colors, red-yellow-blue. When mixing these 3 colors hues, at least in theory, all the other hues of the color wheel, including black can be created.

Color Associations:

Primaries red, blue, yellow. The ultimate contrast of hue and the greatest luminosity. Primaries express fundamental qualities, folk art, embroidery, costumes, etc. They are exuberant, decorative, tonic, vigorous, decisive.

Red- emotional and active, danger, love, warmth, life
Blue- passive, soft, cool, watery
Yellow- warm, vibrant, the closest to light and warmth


Secondary or Complementary colors


Secondary Colors

When any one primary color is mixed with another a secondary color effect is produced. 3 secondary colors are produced from the mixing of one primary color with another. These colors are orange-green-violet.

These secondary colors are also known as complementary colors.

Orange is a secondary color.
A color effect combination of
red and yellow.


Color Associations:

Secondaries: green, orange, violet The second most contrast of hue, the intensity of colors diminishes as hues are further away from the primaries.

Blending complementary colors to create harmonious, neutral tones.

Tertiary Colors

These colors are created when mixing one secondary and one primary color. i.e. blue + violet = blueviolet. Three or more separate colors are mixed (one primary and one secondary – the combination of two primaries), and in our color wheel each tertiary color being created will be an equal combination of the two colors , left and right, surrounding an open segment.
The tertiary colors are, yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue violet, blue-green, and yellow-green.

Color Associations:

Mixing the primaries and the secondaries to create tertiary colors. Cosmic universality, celestial, medieval manuscripts, stained glass, other religious art.

Tertiary colors have less distinctive color contrasts and often imply the concrete, mundane, and earthly simplicity.

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