Anna Hergert, Art & Design

Decyphering Design: Part V b – Color continued

Once more with feeling – the topic at hand continues to be COLOR! When I composed the previous blog post focusing on color I realized that it was becoming rather wordy. I decided to cover some basic color theory in a post all by itself. Let’s begin with a term we are all familiar with:

Primary Colors are three colors from which all other colors can theoretically be mixed. The primaries of pigments are traditionally presented as red, yellow, and blue.

A Secondary Color is a color that results from mixing two primary colors, such as red + blue = violet; blue + yellow = green; red + yellow = orange.

In contrast, neutral colors are achieved by mixing a complimentary color with a secondary color. Here are several examples: red + green = dark brown; blue + orange = earth brown; etc.

The achromatic color scheme refers to a lack of color, such as a composition that uses black, gray or white.

The complementary color scheme is comprised of two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. This scheme looks best when you put a warm color against a cool color, for example, red versus green-blue. The complementary scheme is intrinsically high-contrast. When using the complementary scheme, it is important to choose a dominant color and use its complementary color for accents. When using one color for the background and its complementary color to highlight important elements, you will get color dominance combined with sharp color contrast.

The split-complementary color scheme is a variation of the standard complementary scheme. It uses a color and the two colors adjacent to its complementary. This provides high contrast without the strong tension of the complementary scheme.

The monochromatic color scheme uses variations in lightness and saturation of a single color. This scheme looks clean and elegant. Monochromatic colors go well together, producing a soothing effect. The monochromatic scheme is very soothing, especially when using blue or green hues.

Analogous colors are colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. Some examples are green, yellow green, and yellow or red, orange and yellow. Analogous color schemes are often found in nature and are pleasing to the eye. The combination of these colors give a bright and cheery effect in the area, and are able to accommodate many changing moods. When using the analogous color scheme, it is important to ensure that there is one hue as the main color.

The tetradic (double complementary) scheme is the richest of all color schemes because it uses four colors arranged into two complementary color pairs. This scheme is hard to harmonize; if all four colors are used in equal amounts. The scheme may look unbalanced, it is advisable for the artist to select a dominant color or subdue the colors altogether.

The triadic color scheme uses three colors equally spaced around the color wheel. This scheme is a favorite among artists as it offers strong visual contrast while retaining balance, and color richness. The triadic scheme is not as contrasting as the complementary scheme, but it looks more balanced and harmonious. Color combination examples: yellow, red & blue; violet, orange & green; red-orange, blue-violet & yellow-green.

As I mentioned before: To study color and understanding its attributes fully is not accomplished in one or two days. The best way to experience the above mentioned concepts is to “play” on a regular basis – pull out your fabric and thread stash and begin to identify and combine the various color concepts introduced here.

We shall move on to the design element of Texture on Sunday. Till then, color yourself a rainbow!


Bibliography for today’s post:

Itten, Johannes; The Color Star; Van Nostrand Reinhold Publishing; New York.
ISBN 0-442-24304-9

Menz, Deb; Color Works; Interweave Press, Loveland, CO; 2004                            ISBN 978-1-931499-47-7

Personal watercolor studies.

This entry was published on October 25, 2012 at 6:04 am. It’s filed under Art, Creativity Update, Design, Studio / Workshop / Creative Space Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

9 thoughts on “Decyphering Design: Part V b – Color continued

  1. Pingback: A Thought About Evergreen Content | Anna Hergert, Art & Design

  2. Thank you for sharing about Itten!


  3. Hi Anna,
    I have not played this way for a long time . I think you have inspired me to do just that !
    Thanks .


  4. This is a great article! I am going to be referring to this again and again. Thanks Anna!


    • You are welcome, Jody!


      • Anna – I am so sorry to not be commenting on the subject at hand here but I am making your bookcover (dryer sheets) and am at the part where you said you used a “metallic soft cord” -YLI brand inside of the ogee shapes. Could you tell me what weight it is,maybe needle suggestion, or another brand of corded thread suggestion. Also, I have a Janome machine – don’t think it has a tension screw to loosen??Obviously, I haven’t worked a great deal with different threads, metallic, etc. so this is a new experience for me. By the way, I am having a lot of fun making this!!


      • Gwen, it is not a problem to post a question, however, since this topic does not pertain to the topic on hand I will email you personally with a detailed answer.


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