Select a single color on the wheel. Now, move directly across the wheel
in a straight line. The corresponding color is complementary. Complementary
colors "complete" each other. These color schemes are exercises
in opposites. In a sense, blue is the "opposite" of orange; violet
of yellow; green of red. In design, if a certain color is predominant the
best way to control that color is by using its complement. An over-abundance
of orange is offset by using blue; yellow is offset by violet and vice versa.
Many designers use a split-complementary method: after selecting the complement,
they move one spot to the left or right of it and use that color to contrast
the first color. Split complementaries are subtle and just as effective
in creating a balanced approach.
An analogous, or harmonious, color scheme involves using a color wheel.
Select a single color on the wheel. Now, move one spot to the left or right
of that color. The result will not be an overkill of a single color; instead,
it will promote color harmony. Analogous color schemes work well when it
would be difficult to truly "match" a color. These are the color
schemes found in nature. A field of grass, a sunset and an animal's fur
coat each demonstrate an analogous blending of similar colors, not a true
A triad color scheme organizes colors in regard to purity. Select a spot
on the color wheel, say red. To complete the triad, draw an equilateral
triangle. Wherever the points of the triangle meet, there is a relationship.
In regard to red, the other points meet at blue and yellow. Think about
it. Red, yellow and blue are primary colors. Now, starting at orange, trace
the equilateral triangle. The remaining two points are violet and green.
Orange, violet and green are secondary colors. As noted, this method creates
relationships based on purity of color. When trying to affect balance in
a design, consider a triad color scheme. If green is highly evident use
purple with it. Note, you do not have to use all three colors in the triad
to achieve the effect; two will do.