A color wheel is a collection of colors that are arranged in accordance with their chromatic relationship. The color wheel is also called a color circle, and consists of primary, secondary and tertiary colors. Most color wheels consist of 12 main divisions and include three each of primary and secondary colors, as well as six tertiary colors. Tertiary colors are the colors that are created from a mixture of primary and secondary colors. Other color wheels typically have either four or eight main colors.
Primary colors are colors that are in their most basic form. These colors do not have the ability to be created by mixing other colors, and include blue, red and yellow.
- Primary Colors
- Introduction to Color
Secondary colors are the colors that are formed when mixing two primary colors together. The secondary colors include orange, violet and green. Orange is achieved by mixing yellow and red; violet is achieved by mixing blue and red; and green is achieved by mixing yellow and blue.
- Primary, Secondary and Complementary Colors
- Secondary Colors and Color Schemes
Tertiary colors are the six colors that come from mixing primary and secondary colors. These colors include blue-green, blue-violet, yellow-green, yellow-orange, red-violet and red-orange.
- Tertiary Colors
- Tertiary Color Wheel
Complementary colors are those that are positioned on the direct opposite side of the color wheel from each other. For instance, red and green are complementary colors.
- Color Harmonies
- Complementary Colors
Analogous colors are the colors that are close to one another on the color wheel, and consist of primary, secondary and tertiary colors.
- Analogous Color Scheme
- Analogous Colors
The Color Wheel
The color wheel is able to be divided into visually passive or active ranges. When the active colors are beside the passive hues, they seem to advance. Likewise, the passive colors seem to recede when beside the active colors.
The relationship between colors is displayed as a color triangle or a color wheel.
- Color Relationships
- Interactive Color Relationships Player
The Painter’s Color Triangle
The colors that are involved in a painter’s color triangle are the colors that are learned as children. The primary colors are the same as the color wheel.
The Printer’s Color Triangle
The primary colors in a printer’s color triangle are yellow, cyan and magenta. These colors are used during the printing process.
- Theory of Color
- Color Reproduction (PDF)
Nine-Part Harmonic Triangle of Goethe
The colors that exist within this triangle include the three primary colors of the printer’s triangle, the secondary colors from those primaries and tertiary colors of dark neutrals.
- Color Mixing and Goethe's Triangle
- Goethe's Color Theory