The Color Wheel

Category: Education

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The Color Wheel:

The Color Wheel

What is the color wheel?:

What is the color wheel? The color wheel is a chart of colors of the visible spectrum that is used to show how colors relate to each other.

The History of the Color Wheel:

The History of the Color Wheel In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton’s experiments with light helped him begin his invention for the first color wheel when he passed a beam of sunlight through a prism.

The Spectrum:

The Spectrum The findings: All color is contained within white light. When light passes through a crystal prism, it is dispersed into the spectrum’s range of visible colors .

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Newton was able to show the natural sequence of color by joining the two ends of the color spectrum together.

The Modern Color Wheel:

The Modern Color Wheel The modern color wheel does not show the full gradation in the spectrum. It shows the whole thing broken up into 12 segments.

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In reality, the segments actually smear into one another so we have an infinite number of colors. INFINITE COLORS

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Some color wheels show the progression across the middle to a complete neutral in the middle.


Colors The color wheel is made up of three PRIMARY colors, three SECONDARY colors, and six TERTIARY colors.

The Three Primary Colors:

The Three Primary Colors You CANNOT make the three primary colors! You MUST buy them.

The Three Secondary Colors: :

The Three Secondary Colors: You make the secondary colors by mixing two of the primary colors together.

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What primary colors do you mix to make orange ? What primary colors do you mix to make green ? What primary colors do you mix to make violet ?

The Tertiary Colors:

The Tertiary Colors Tertiary colors are created by combining equal parts of the primary and secondary colors that are closest to their sides.

The Names of the Tertiary Colors:

The Names of the Tertiary Colors It is important to note that the primary color name comes first in the tertiary name. Red-violet Red-orange Yellow-green Yellow-orange Blue-violet Blue-green

Mixing Colors:

Mixing Colors You can mix any color of the rainbow by mixing with the three primary colors!


Tints Color + White= TINT


Shades Color + Black= SHADE


Tones Color + gray= TONE

Color Temperature:

Color Temperature Reds, oranges and yellows are considered warm colors. Blues, greens, and violets are considered cool colors .


WARM COLORS Warm colors are vivid and energetic, and tend to advance in space.


COOL COLORS Cool colors give an impression of calm, and create a soothing impression. Cool colors tend to retreat/recede in space.

Complimentary Colors:

Complimentary Colors Colors opposite of each other on the color wheel.

Split-Complementary Colors:

Split-Complementary Colors The split-complementary color scheme is a variation of the complementary color scheme. In addition to the base color, it uses the two colors adjacent to its complement.

Analogous Color Schemes:

Analogous Color Schemes These are colors next to each other on the color wheel. They usually create harmonious combinations.

Triadic Color Schemes:

Triadic Color Schemes A triadic color scheme uses colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel.

Monochromatic Color Schemes:

Monochromatic Color Schemes A monochromatic scheme involves one color mixed with a variety of tints, shades, and tones.


Instructions: You are going to create a color wheel based on Rose Windows as an inspiration.

What are Rose Windows?:

What are Rose Windows? A rose window (or Catherine window) is a term for a circular window, but is especially a term used for those found in churches of the Gothic architectural style.

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Rose windows are also called Catherine windows after Saint Catherine of Alexandria who was sentenced to be executed on a spiked wheel.

What kind of symmetry do Rose Windows have?:

What kind of symmetry do Rose Windows have? A. Radial Symmetry? Radial symmetry has a center and angle of rotation in which the elements are identical going around the center. B. Asymmetric Symmetry ? It is not identical on both sides of a central line C. Mirror Symmetry? There is a line of symmetry (the middle) and the elements are mirrored the same on both side of the line.

Creative Color Wheels:

Creative Color Wheels

On your color wheel, you will use the following format::

On your color wheel, you will use the following format: Each section will have a TINT AND SHADE of the color for that section of the color wheel, AND will have one piece done in the complementary color. I will show you examples from last year and then will demonstrate how to create one.