Thursday, 27 June 2013

Basic Colour Wheel - Decorating/Design Combinations

Learning the Colour Wheel is one of the first steps for art design or interior decorating. (I would like to say that I am not an expert, I am just sharing the information I learned and hope it will benefit anyone trying to decorate their own home or anyone that has an interest or hobby in the arts and crafts areas.) This information is especially useful for any beginners.

Blue - Red - Yellow are the primary colours.  Green - Purple - Orange are the secondary colours.

Secondary colours are made by mixing the two primary colours together. You can see this on the wheel clearly as the secondary colours are between the two colours that make it, for example: Blue + Yellow = Green / Yellow + Red = Orange/ Red + Blue = Purple.

On the wheel, we can see the opposite colours are situated across from each other. Blue is the opposite of Orange, Red the opposite of Green and Yellow the opposite of Purple. In terms of design/decorating, using opposite colours makes things stand out more and get noticed more. Here they are again arranged differently:

For decorating choosing three colours that combine well is best for an overall look. A good combination of colours to use are the ones that have a triangular formation within the circle. These colours compliment each other nicely.

1. Green, Orange and Purple.
2. Red, Blue and Yellow.
Another set of three colours that go nicely together are three next to each other in the circle. Red - Purple - Blue is one, Yellow - Green - Blue another, Green - Yellow - Orange and so on. Here are some examples of three colour combinations:
In this picture you can see the first set, Green, Orange and Purple is a triangular combination and the other two examples are three colours next to each other on the Colour Wheel.

Outside of the Colour Wheel we encounter more colours. Black is considered a shade and is used to darken colours. White is a tint and lightens colours. These two colours should work with all other colours.

Brown and Grey are neutral colours, meaning they go nicely with most other colours. Grey by the way, is a great colour to bring out any other colours you use with it. Grey makes the other colours 'pop'.

This basic knowledge can help when choosing what colours you want put together. Keep in mind this works for all the shades of the colours, as Pink is just a White + Red, so you can follow the guidelines for Red and Peach is White + Orange, so follow Orange guidelines, and so on.

Here is the basic Colour Wheel tinted with white to create pastel colours. You simply follow the same rules as above as they are the same colours, just lighter. The same rules apply when you darken the colours as well.

Here are three colour combinations in the same colours as the sets above just different shades to give you a further idea of how these can work.
So, these are just some very basic suggestions that can be used when making colour choices. I hope you find this helpful. :-)


  1. Thanks kathleen very helpful for color challenged people like myself!

    1. You're welcome, Alyson. Glad it is helpful. :-)