You may sometimes look at a quilt and wonder, “Why did the quilter use THOSE colors?”
Granted, some color choices are personal preference, but with color wheel in hand, you are equipped to tackle harmonious color schemes. (You DO want your colors “pleasing to the eye,” don’t you?)
There are three basic color schemes: Achromatic, Monochromatic, and Polychromatic.
Achromatic Color Schemes
This is a color scheme without a color. Achromatic color schemes use only Black, White, and shades of Gray:
Monochromatic Color Schemes
A monochromatic color scheme uses a single color and its Tints, Tones, and Shades:
Polychromatic Color Schemes
Polychromatic color schemes use multiple colors. They can be broken down as follows.
Complementary Color Schemes:
A Complementary color scheme uses two colors directly opposite each other on the color wheel:
There are six pairs of complementary colors on the color wheel (proceeding clockwise):
Analogous Color Schemes:
An Analogous color scheme uses two or three colors that lie next to each other on the color wheel:
There are twelve three-color analogous schemes on the color wheel (proceeding clockwise):
Triangular Color Schemes:
A Triangular color scheme uses three colors spaced equidistant from each other on the color wheel:
There are four triangular color schemes on the color wheel (proceeding clockwise):
Split Complementary Color Schemes:
A Split Complementary color scheme combines the Complementary and Triangular color schemes. Instead of using the color directly opposite, it uses the two colors to either side of the complementary color:
There are twelve split complementary color schemes on the color wheel (proceeding clockwise):
Analogous Complementary Color Schemes:
An Analogous Complementary color scheme combines the Analogous and Complementary color schemes. Think of it as adding the missing complementary color to the Split Complementary color scheme.
There are twelve analogous complementary color schemes on the color wheel (proceeding clockwise):
Square Color Schemes:
A Square color scheme uses four colors spaced equidistant from each other on the color wheel:
There are three square color schemes on the color wheel (proceeding clockwise):
Rectangular Color Schemes:
A Rectangular color scheme is similar to a Square color scheme, though the four colors are not spaced equidistant from each other on the color wheel:
There are six rectangular color schemes on the color wheel (proceeding clockwise):
Now it’s time to turn Color Theory into Color Practice. Choosing harmonious color schemes gets easier the more you do it.
Next up: a few more pointers.