Dissecting Design Monday

Today I am going to talk about a really simple design tool but one that is often overlooked.  The color wheel.


This circular color picture is designed to help you choose colors that will go together beautifully.

The basics of the color wheel show primary colors (red, yellow, blue)

secondary colors which are created by mixing 2 primary colors. (purple, orange and green)

There are 6 more colors called tertiary colors which are created by mixing primary and secondary colors.

To create harmonious color combinations here are a few color schemes to try:

Complementary Colors

Colors that are opposite from each other on the color wheel are “complementary” colors.  Red/Green, Purple/Yellow, Blue/Orange are examples but don’t forget the tertiary colors as well.  These combinations are high in contrast and create a bright and vibrant look.  When you want something to really stand out, try this combination.

Analogous Colors

These colors are found next to each other on the color wheel and match well.  These colors are often found in nature and are very harmonious.  They lend a very serene and pleasing look to a design.  A good rule to add contrast is to use black or white in the design.

Triadic Colors

These colors are evenly spaced around the color wheel in the shape of a triangle.  They are usually very vibrant color combos even when using softer, more pastel colors.  Often artists will use one color as the main and the other two as accents.


I use the color wheel often without thinking about it.  If you dissect layouts you really like or stand out, there is usually one of these color schemes happening in them.

For this layout I used  bright pink and yellow.  Now this isn’t a typical contrasting color combination but it is close.  The pink is definitely more on the magenta side which has more purple in it then a regular pink.  Hence the yellow/magenta combo is very close to a traditional yellow/purple combination.  These two colors together really pop.  The reason why?  Their placement to each other on the color wheel.

Here is something fun to check out.


It will generate random color combinations.  There is also lots of information on color theory for you if you would like to know more.

Hope this simple lesson helps you when picking color combinations.

Tuesday Inspiration - Autumn Colours
Gallery Spotting and a Scrap Lift


  1. Laurie

    Wow, thanks for the reminder. Very inspirational.

  2. Korbyn may

    Fun website!!! I may challenge myself to do a LO based on the random color generator and see what happens! Thank you for the inspiration.

  3. AnnaB

    I love this Denise…! There is actually more colour inspiration coming up on the blog tomorrow! 🙂

  4. Mandy

    Beautiful layout! I often overlook the color wheel and will have to give it a go.Thank you for the inspiration!

  5. ellen s

    This is cool..beautiful.

  6. Crystal

    Thanks for the link, I used to use this all the time when I did web design and forgot all about the site! And that layout is gorgeous!!

  7. sherry c

    Beautiful layout! Just looking at the color wheel gets me inspired!


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