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Color Wheel and How to Mix Colors

The color wheel is a circle "chart" which organizes colors. The primary focus of the color wheel shows how colors are related. We can see the relationship of colors from their placement across from each other, and similar or related colors that are next to each other.

Use of the Color Wheel

Primary colors used by artists are typically red, yellow and blue. They are coded as RYB color models. However, there are color scientists and psychologists who often use a color circle with primary colors of red, green and blue as their reference.

Confusing sometimes, but a color wheel and a color circle are used for different purposes. At times the term color circle and color wheel are used interchangeably. However, certain industries use a particular version based on the needs of their industry or field of study.

For instance, in the digital world there are different forms of primary and secondary colors. There is a "new" family of hues and shading that typically may not be on the color wheel.
star shapes color wheel

Primary Colors

Colors are made from three very basic primary colors -- Red, Yellow, and Blue.

These three colors cannot be made from any other colors.

Secondary Colors

Now that we have red, yellow and blue we can make more colors. This is all basic information, but I like to mention it because I found that many of us may have forgotten this.

The secondary colors are green, orange and purple. These three colors are made by mixing the primary colors.

To make green, mix blue and yellow together. Orange is made by mixing red and yellow. And purple is made by mixing red and blue together. And so we have a beautiful rainbow of colors all from red, yellow and blue.

Complimentary Colors

The complimentary colors are those colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. If you are looking at the color wheel you will see that violet and yellow are opposite each other, therefore they are complimentary colors. This is a great way to find out if your new blouse will match that skirt you bought last month!

Another example of complimentary colors are red and green; and blue and orange.

Warm and Cool Colors

Warm colors are typically yellows, reds, and oranges. The cool colors are typically blues, greens and violets. And what we know as neutral colors are black, white and grays.

More Than Meets the Eye

This brief explanation is just to refresh your memory. Most of us know this color information, but it is important to refresh your memory bank with this as those who are color deficient do not see all these colors as we do.

Color deficiency can be either seeing no color at all, or only the ability to see colors that are primary or pure color without any pigments.

I will be adding a child-friendly color wheel and color charts that will provide additional information.

Please feel free to contact me at if you would like to add other helpful information, or if you have any questions.

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