The six basic techniques for creating color schemes

Creating variety in color is an art of infinite nuance. As with any good form of art, however, the basics of creating color schemes can be drilled down into a relatively simple skill set. From this groundwork, you may expand your own creativity.
The purpose of learning the basics is to learn the natural harmony of color. Complex nuance forms the icing on the cake, but color follows these basic tenants at all times –
  • Opposing and assembling colors – Certain colors oppose or build upon each other. Studying the color wheel can help familiarize you with the basic color sets that have been shown to bring certain emotions and aesthetics out of a combination.
  • The use of neutral colors – Brown, beige, navy and gray meld your other colors to each other and create harmony between shades and different frequencies of light that might otherwise have trouble occupying the same space.
  • Black and white – Light plays a pivotal role in the harmony of the colors you use within a piece. White tends to illuminate the rest of the set (increased intensity), and black tends to blur the other colors you use (moderating intensity).
Once you know these basic rules of harmony, the next step is learning how to create harmonious color schemes within your own look. The monochromatic approach uses a single color shade or tinted of various values to generate harmony. Further, six techniques give us the basic tenants that run through all artistic schematics. They are Complementary, Analogous, Triadic, Split-Complementary, Tetradic Gold Rectangle and Square (four colors).

Complementary

ColorsSchemesComplementary

Complementary colors are basically opposite colors on the color wheel mentioned above. Use these combinations when you want to create a high impact. These colors naturally draw the eye and are most effective when they are used judiciously on the most important items of your outfit.
Photo: In Style
ColorWheelSchemesViolet&Yellow020918-street-style-1
Complementary colors: Violet + Yellow + Black & White = Chic

Analogous

ColorsSchemesAnalogous

This low-contrast combination of colors produce an almost monochromatic look but is more dynamic. Contrary to complementary colors, analogous colors generate a sense of calm. Look to any three neighboring colors on the color wheel if you want to create this effect. However, the balance between the three colors you choose is very important. In most cases, one color is chosen as the central thematic while the other two serve as support. Note: You can also go for diad schemes, which are combinations of two colors located two steps apart on the color wheel, skipping the color in between.

Triadic

ColorsSchemesTriad

Colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel are known as triadic. They will form a triangle if linked with a straight line. Triadic colors give a balance between the attention-getting Complementary color scheme and the calming effect of Analogous colors. It is also recommended here to pick one color as the primary theme and use the other two as complements.

Split-Complementary

ColorsSchemesSplitComplementary

If you choose a base color with two supporting colors directly opposite on the color wheel, the result is a slightly more demure version of the loud Complementary style. This is a less risky choice than a pure Complementary schematic and may be used if you wish to draw less attention at first glance.

Tetradic Gold Rectangle

ColorsSchemesTetrad

Instead of using three colors on the color wheel for a particular schematic, the tetradic gold rectangle uses four. More color means an opportunity for a richer, deeper tone, but only if the colors are employed properly. In the Tetradic Gold Rectangle, the four colors are arranged into two complementary pairs and balanced between the group of two and again between the larger groups. If a straight line is drawn between the four colors in a Tetradic Gold Rectangle, a rectangle is formed.

Square

ColorsSchemesSquare

Similar to the Tetradic Gold Rectangle, the Square color schematic uses four colors. However, the colors chosen are spaced evenly around the color wheel. A straight line drawn here to attach the colors forms a perfect square.
These colors tend to be evenly warm and cold, requiring a practiced hand when balancing the look. Because the colors themselves are balanced, the artist often has to create imbalance in order to achieve a particular effect. Tip: Pay particular attention to the cut of the garment and favor asymmetrical designs. As with most of the other schemes, the Square works best if one of the colors is chosen as the dominant force while the other three are supplements.
Easy to learn, a lifetime to master – these six techniques will certainly begin your journey into a better understanding of color. Although these techniques are called “basic,” they tend to last a lifetime!
Credit illustration: Color wheel – TigerColor.com
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61 Comments

  1. Wow! I won’t be able to get dressed tomorrow, for fear of not putting the right colors together! In that case, I declare tomorrow naked day!! (Ok, not really, but I will go with all black to be safe!) 😉💚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oooooh no — The objectif of my post was to encourage people to embrace colors and not to be afraid to mix and match. Besides, you live with colorful flowers and critters, you need to show your own colors my friend. All black is okay, but even better if you wear it with colorful accessories! A blue bandana or casquette with a tan belt perhaps… That would be lovely with your blond hair. 💚

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a wonderful post. A great and interesting read and much of the info is useful to me as an artist too. I will remember this next time I want to combine different flowers in a composition. I was aware of the opposite complementary colot.urs e.g red and green but not the other combinations. I probably use them subconsciously but without knowing why they look right. Hugs😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Darren. So happy that you find it useful. Such a pleasant comment, especially coming from a talented artist like you. I’m so inspired by your artwork. Sending you a huge hug my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely comment. Thank you Shreya. I love these Kaftans too. If I could get my hands on one of them it would certainly take me for a ride over the rainbow! Thanks for stopping by my site and have a lovely day.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Alison. Just start by adding one or two colors to your neutral. Gradually, you might want to include patterns, more colors and details. Try it first then you’ll decide if it works for you or not. Have fun.

      Like

  3. Very interesting one Dominique 🙌Being creative with colors is really bae😍with fashion and thanks for the encouragement 🤗liked the color charts😍Really enjoyed the way you presented it.Great series on color!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Totally love this post, since I really love to wear colors a lot! My favorite combination is the triadic one, though I often en up wearing either color schemes from the Tetradic Gold Rectangle or Square. I just love mixing colors (must be the artist in me 😉 ) and being bold is my motto. 😀 But every once in a while, I also like wearing a pure black outfit, only highlighted by a bit of colorful jewelry. 😉
    Have a wonderful day, mon amie! xoxo ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Sarah. Almost no one wear now a day color schemes from Tetradic Gold Rectangle or Square. I spent hours trying to find street style images online that were not dated. I could only find a few. I must have a split personality 😀 as one day I love mixing and matching colorful clothing and patterns and the next day I’m all about monochrome or analogous color schemes. In any case, I like it to be comfortable and elegant though. I really don’t like the clown effect. Wishing you a creative day my friend. Again, thank you so much for the beautiful gift you have sent me. You are awesome! 😍

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Then I must have a split personality as well! LOL! 😀 And I´m with you on not liking the clown effect! Being rather small in stature I´m always afraid of looking like a child should I overdo it with the colors and patterns 😂
      Have a fantastic weekend, dear friend! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for stoping by. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you. Want to know why I like colors so much? My son is color blind and he only sees some contrasting combinations. It is one of the reasons I started to wear colorful clothing. I just did not want him to see the world in black and white.

      Like

    1. The easiest way to introduce color to your look is to combine two colors located two steps apart on the color wheel. You just have to skip the color in between. With this tip you won’t look like you got dress in the dark. BTW, work out clothing can be colorful too. 😍

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Congrats to you Brigida for this well deserved award. Thank you for nominated me. I’m touched that you thought of me and very honoured. I’m behind my award thank you posts so please be patient with me… 😊 Speak to you soon.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Rebonjour Imelda. Il y a un coeur avec ton nom sur la page Facebook, mais pas de commentaire. As-tu appuyé sur le button “Send”? J’oublie parfois moi-même de le faire. À bientôt.

      Like

  5. Je crois bien que je l’avais écrit sur le site. Mais parfois on dirait qu’il faut s’assurer qu’il est parti. Genre peser deux fois sur send…
    Donc en substance je te disais que c’est un superbe post! Très étonnant pour la néophyte que je suis. Parfoos je vois des tenues superbes mais je me dis que je n’aurais jamais osé cette harmonisation de couleur. Ça me dépasse. .. Là je vois ce qu’il y a à la base de ces combinaisons sophistiquées. Je ne my oserais jamais de peur de commettre la gaffe du siecle 😄!
    Je pensais a la robe rose d’Emma: chaussures grises là je comprends, mais le sac bleu là je suis in peu perdue. Comme tu vois j’en arrache avec le concept😢 … jai enregistré ce post pour le relire . Le photos sont un atoits enormes au texte.

    Merci et a plus! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merci encore pour ton gentil message Imelda. Bien sûr que le sac sera joli avec la robe d’Emma. Celle-ci n’est pas rose mais rouge coquelicot avec du blanc, du noir et du gris. La pochette est vert menthe. Une sandale métallique complètera la tenue parfaitement. Une association de couleurs idéale pour célébrer un mariage en mai! Emma sera magnifique et élégante.

      Like

    1. Hello Aditi. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comment. Congrats for your two peer-reviewed research papers that got published. I know it is tough to get funds and to be publish so you have the right to be proud! Hope to speak to you soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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