Color Harmonies

Color harmonies establish relationships between colors. As the name suggests, color harmonies include hues that work well with each other on a visual level. There are six basic color harmonies and these include analogous, complementary, split complementary, triadic, tetradic and the square.

Analogous Color Scheme

The analogous color scheme includes colors that sit next to each other on the wheel. This scheme is used to create serenity, harmony and calmness. Analogous colors are pleasing to the eye. The key is to have enough contrast between colors to make the composition more interesting. One color can be dominant while the other color is supportive. Analogous color schemes are often found in nature. An example of analogous is blue-green, green and yellow-green.

Complementary Color Scheme

The complementary color scheme includes two colors that are directly opposite each other on the wheel. Compliments include red and green, orange and blue, yellow and violet. Complementary colors have high contrast and can be vibrant. When used the right way, this scheme can help certain elements stand out. Otherwise, it can become very displeasing to the eye.

Split Complementary Color Scheme

The split complimentary scheme is similar to the complementary scheme. Here, you can take a base color, such as yellow, and pair it with two colors that are adjacent to its complement, which is purple. This scheme will then include yellow, blue-violet and red-violet. With split complementary schemes, you can get high contrast and less visual tension compared to complimentary schemes. Split complementary colors are easier to balance than complementary colors.

Triadic Color Scheme

A triadic color scheme is achieved by creating an equilateral triangle on the wheel. The colors at the points are the scheme. These colors are evenly spaced out on the wheel. A triadic scheme can include unsaturated versions of a hue, but can still be very vibrant and active. The triadic color scheme is the easiest to balance.

Tetradic Color Scheme

The tetradic color scheme uses a rectangle and its corners as indicators of which colors to pair. In other words, you will have two pairs of complementary colors. An example of a tetradic scheme is red, orange, green and blue. This scheme offers variation. It also has a good balance of warm colors and cool colors. The tetradic scheme is the hardest to balance.

Square Color Scheme

The square color scheme is similar to tetradic. The difference is that the four colors in a square scheme are evenly spaced out on the color wheel. Again, you will have two pairs of complimentary colors, but this time they will be further away from each other on the wheel. This makes it easier to balance compared to tetradic colors. An example of a square scheme is red-violet, orange, yellow-green, and blue.