One of the first things to learn when it comes to your art journey is the understanding of color theory.

Color theory is the technique use to create combinations of colors.

Before we dive deeper let’s go over colors.

Primary Colors consist of red, yellow and blue. These colors are considered primary because they can not be created by mixing other colors.

Primary Colors on the color wheel

Color Theory for beginners

Secondary colors are green orange and purple. They are created from the combination of red, yellow and blue.

Secondary Colors

Color Theory for beginners

When all of the six colors are combine they make a color wheel.

Color Theory for beginners

Now that we have a color wheel consisting of primary and secondary colors, we can now expand on this by learning about the relationship between the colors.

Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors expand on the color wheel because they are colors that are mixed from primary and secondary colors.

Color Theory for Beginners Color Wheel
Yellow Green would be a tertiary color because it is created when mixed with yellow and green

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors site directly opposite from each other on the color wheel. For example, orange is opposite of blue so they complement each other. Understanding complementary colors is also great to understand especially when it comes to painting. When it comes to complementary colors if you were to mix them they would mute each other or turn brown. Brown is a beautiful color but if you are trying to create a color that isn’t brown it’s best to mix colors that aren’t complementary of each other.

Color Theory for Beginners

Triadic Colors

Triadic colors are colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. Figure 1 shows that orange-yellow, green-blue and red-purple are evenly spaced around the color wheel.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3

Analogous Colors

Analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel. In figure 2, blue, blue-purple and violet are right next to each other.

Monochromatic Colors

Monochromatic colors are color schemes that consists of a variation of a colors, tint, shades and tones. In figure 3, you can see how blue-green changes once white, gray and black is mixed with it.

Tints is a color mixed with white.

Tones are colors mixed with gray.

Shades are colors mixed with black.

Color Temperature

Colors can be compared to temperatures. Red, orange often represent warmth so they are considered warm colors.

Blues, greens and purples are cool colors.

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Color theory is the technique of understanding colors and how they work with one another. There are primary colors that include red, blue and yellow. These colors cannot be created from mixing colors. Secondary colors are colors that are made from the mixture of red, blue and yellow.

Colors can be complementary of one another, triadic and monochromatic. They are even compared to warmth and cool colors.

I know this may be a lot to take in so I have created a color theory cheat sheet that you can download here.

Would you like to learn more about color theory. Check out the color theory 101 workbook. A 15 page interactive workbook that goes over primary, secondary and more. Get your printable copy by clicking on the images below.

Color Theory 101 Interactive Workbook now available on the shop page!
Color Theory 101 Workbook

Happy Creating!