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Click the Wheel of Colours to spin it and see which one you land on! The wheel is also fully editable so that it may be tailored to your own needs.

The wheel of colours, also known as the colour wheel picker, is a fundamental tool in the world of design and visual arts. It serves as a visual representation of the relationship between primary, secondary, and tertiary colours, making it an invaluable resource for artists, designers, and anyone who works with colours. Let's delve into the history and structure of the wheel of colours as well as discuss practical applications and ways to harness its potential in your creative projects.

Background to the Colour Wheel

The concept of a wheel of colours dates back to antiquity. The Greek philosopher Aristotle was among the first to explore the relationships between colours, theorising that they were created through the mixture of light and dark. His ideas laid the groundwork for the development of colour theory.

It was Sir Isaac Newton, however, who first constructed a colour wheel in 1666. After observing the dispersion of white light into a spectrum of colours through a prism, he arranged these colours in a circle to demonstrate the relationships between them. This led to the creation of the first colour wheel, a tool that has been adapted and refined throughout history.

Understanding the Wheel of Colours

The modern colour wheel consists of three primary colour groups: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Let's take a closer look at each group and their respective colours.

Primary Colours

The primary colours are red, blue, and yellow. These colours are considered the base colours, as they cannot be created by mixing other colours. Every other colour on the wheel can be formed through the combination of primary colours in varying proportions.

Secondary Colours

Secondary colours are formed by mixing equal parts of two primary colours. These include green (a mix of blue and yellow), orange (a mix of red and yellow), and purple (a mix of blue and red).

Tertiary Colours

Tertiary colours are created by mixing equal parts of a primary colour and an adjacent secondary colour. There are six tertiary colours: red-orange (vermilion), red-purple (magenta), blue-purple (violet), blue-green (teal), yellow-green (chartreuse) and yellow-orange (amber). You can see all of the above colours on the wheel of colours above. Spin the wheel (by clicking anywhere on it) to return one of these colours at random.

Colour Relationships and Harmonies

One of the primary benefits of the colour wheel is its ability to demonstrate the relationships between colours. By understanding these relationships, designers and artists can create visually appealing and harmonious colour schemes. Some of the most common colour relationships include:

Complementary Colours

Complementary colours are positioned directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. When used together, these colours create a striking contrast, making them a popular choice for creating visual interest. Examples of complementary colour pairs include blue and orange, red and green, and yellow and purple.

Analogous Colours

Analogous colours are adjacent to each other on the colour wheel. These colours often share a common hue and create a harmonious, soothing effect when used together. Examples of analogous colour schemes include blue-green, blue, and blue-purple or red, red-orange, and orange.

Triadic Colours

Triadic colours are evenly spaced around the colour wheel, forming an equilateral triangle. This colour scheme offers a balance of contrast and harmony, making it a versatile choice for designers. An example of a triadic colour scheme is the combination of red, blue, and yellow.

Split Complementary Colours

A split complementary colour scheme involves selecting a base colour and the two colours adjacent to its complement. This arrangement offers a similar level of contrast to a complementary colour scheme but with a greater variety of colours. An example of a split complementary scheme is red, blue-green, and yellow-green.

Practical Applications of the Colour Wheel

Now that we have a better understanding of the colour wheel, let's explore some practical applications and ways to use this essential design tool in your creative projects.

Graphic Design

The colour wheel is a vital resource for graphic designers, allowing them to create visually appealing designs with harmonious colour schemes. By selecting colours based on their relationships on the wheel, designers can ensure their projects have a cohesive and professional appearance. This is especially important when creating branding materials, such as logos, business cards, and websites.

Interior Design

Interior designers often use the colour wheel to create harmonious and visually pleasing spaces. By understanding the relationships between colours, designers can create environments that evoke specific emotions or atmospheres. For example, a complementary colour scheme can create a bold, high-contrast look, while an analogous colour scheme can create a more calming, serene environment.

Fashion Design

Fashion designers also rely on the colour wheel to create visually appealing garments and accessories. By understanding colour relationships, they can develop cohesive collections with a unified colour palette. This can help fashion designers create pieces that can be easily mixed and matched, providing versatility in a wardrobe.

Painting and Fine Arts

Artists working in painting and other fine arts can use the colour wheel to develop harmonious and visually engaging compositions. By understanding colour theory and the relationships between colours, artists can create dynamic contrasts or subtle, nuanced colour transitions. Additionally, the colour wheel can be a valuable tool for teaching and learning colour-mixing techniques.

Photography and Filmmaking

Photographers and filmmakers can use the colour wheel to enhance the visual appeal of their work. By understanding colour relationships, they can create images with striking contrasts or harmonious colour schemes. This can be achieved through set design, wardrobe choices, or post-production techniques, such as colour grading.

Why Use the Wheel of Colours?

The wheel of colours is an indispensable tool in the world of design and visual arts. By understanding the relationships between colours and the various colour harmonies, artists, designers, and creative professionals can create visually appealing and cohesive works. Whether you're a graphic designer, interior designer, fashion designer, painter, photographer, or filmmaker, the colour wheel is an essential resource that can help you elevate your projects and harness the power of colour in your creative endeavours.

Wheel of Colours