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The Color Wheel & Color Mixing Basics.

Color theory and how to mix colors may sound like intimidating topics but I promise they can be broken down into a few simple basics! Learning about colors and their relationships will bring your art to a whole new level. Being able to mix your own hues will not only improve your art but help you save money on supplies too!


This is an amazingly handy tool! This color wheel visually breaks down what I'm going to cover and more. If you're looking to mix a specific color, this tool can help you get there and understand what you need to add to achieve it.


First things first...What is color?!

Color is described by 3 characteristics - Hue, Value and Intensity.

Hue - is where the color is located on the color wheel. (ex: red, blue, orange, green etc.)

Intensity or Saturation - is how rich or vivid the color is. High saturation is rich, low saturation is weak.

Value - is how light or dark it is on a scale of white to black.

Primary colors = Red, Blue and Yellow.

You might remember these from grade school or art class. These colors can't be made by mixing any other colors together. But! All other colors can be created from them, by mixing at different ratios and combinations. Pretty cool, right?

Secondary colors = Violet, Orange and Green.

Taking 2 primary colors and mixing them together will result in secondary colors.

Tertiary colors = Red violet, Blue violet, Yellow green, Blue green, Red orange and Yellow orange.

These 6 colors are achieved by mixing a primary and an adjacent secondary color.


Color Relationship Basics!


Analogous Colors are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. They are generally harmonious when used together.

Complementary Colors are directly opposite colors on the color wheel. (ex; blue and orange)

Split Complementary Colors are the 2 colors on either side of the complimentary color chosen. (as illustrated shown above)

Triad Colors are equally spaced around the color wheel.


Other helpful terms to know about color and for mixing:

Tint - color plus white.

Shade - color plus black.

Tone - color plus gray.

Warm (advancing) - Reds, Oranges, Yellows.

Cool (receding) - Blues, Greens and Violets.

Neutral Gray - balanced combination of white and black.

Monochromatic - using any tone, tint or shade of a single color.

Key color - predominant color in the color scheme of a piece or project.


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