Glossary Term: Color wheel

  • 14 Mar 2010 09:37
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Color wheels show how visible colors are related. Primary, secondary, and intermediate colors are organized on a circular chart. Color wheels help artists remember how to mix and think about pigments.

Color wheels are based on color theory, which is based on the physics of light. There are two common types of color: additive color and subtractive color.

Additive color refers to the mixing of colors of light. Example 1 shows how the light from red, green and blue flashlights would appear if shone on a dark wall. The three primaries in light are red, blue, and green. When all of the colors of the spectrum are combined, they add up to white light.

The color wheels below are examples of subtractive color. Subtractive color refers to the mixing of colors of pigment, such as paint or the ink in your computer's printer. This type of color is what is used in the art and design world. When learning basic color theory, students typically use familiar colors like red, yellow, and blue. Printers' primaries—yellow, cyan, and magenta—are typically used by professional designers and printing presses.

Example 2 illustrates subtractive color by showing how primary colors mix on a piece of white paper. 

Here are some common color wheels based on subtractive color and familiar colors like red, blue and yellow:

 

 

Color wheel with primary  and secondary colors
Color wheel with primary and secondary colors
Color wheel with primary, secondary  and intermediate (or tertiary) colors
Color wheel with primary, secondary and intermediate (or tertiary) colors
Another color wheel with primary,  secondary and intermediate (or tertiary) colors
Another color wheel with primary, secondary and intermediate (or tertiary) colors

 


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Sandra Espinet By, Sandra Espinet
Hey, I’m Shandra Espinet - one of the writers for Sanford. We are enthusiastic about house on our site, and we like to discuss our expertise and study with you. We aspire to bring the definitive reference for all things related to home decorating.
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