As a designer, I feel understanding some basic colour theory can go a long way in helping you apply colour in your design and make your interiors truly your own. Whether it is furniture colour, wall colour or flooring, colour can truly work to anchor your space. The other great thing about colour is it can be so personal.
Let’s go back to the beginning and look at the basics of colour.
In kindergarten, we learned our primary colours: red, yellow and blue. Primaries are described as the foundation colours – in part because they cannot be created from any other colours.
Then we have secondary colours: green, orange and purple. Secondary colours are made by mixing primary colours.
- Yellow + blue = green
Red + yellow = orange
Blue + red= purple
Next there are tertiary colours – red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-green, yellow-orange and orange-red. Tertiary colours are made by combining secondary colours. The names I gave above I would class as the ‘technical’ names for the colours, but we know them by many names! Open fan deck of paint chips and you’ll find every colour you can think of – all of which are formed by combining our primary and secondary colours (and of course, adding greys, blacks and whites).
But wait! There is more! To describe colour with reasonable accuracy, three basic properties are used to identify the quality of a colour.
HUE by definition, is the name of a colour in its purest form (red, blue, yellow, green, etc). It further means that no black or white have been added to it. It is the true pigmented colour – primary, secondary or tertiary.
VALUE designates the darkness or lightness of the hue. Usually expressed by three methods: shade, tone, or tint
- Shade Shades are created by the addition of black to the hue (it darkens the hue)
Tone Tones are created by adding grey. Depending on the value of the grey, it can either lighten or darken the hue. NOTE A grey scale is very common in most colour systems. Generally, most are comprised of nine steps – referred to as the “Achromatic Scale”.
Tint Tints are created by adding white, thus lightening the hue.
CHROMA is described as the degree of strength or purity of the a colour. Also refers to the saturation or amount of pigment and how the colour is perceived by the viewer.
- High Chroma Pure, ultimate vividness.
Low Chroma Washed out, less intense.
In design, we apply colour schemes to a design. Generally, I base most of mine off a typical 12 point colour wheel. A colour wheel is very helpful when trying to figure out your colours. I picked mine up for a few dollars at a sewing store. Quilt shops and art supply stores will likely have them too.
One good thing about having a colour wheel is on the back of most of the ones I’ve seen and used, they have all this information for you.
Typical Colour Schemes:
- Monochromatic consists of different values (tints and shades) of one single colour
Analogous colours that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel
Complimentary colours that are opposite each other on the color wheel
Triadic A color scheme in which 3 colors of equidistant distribution on the color wheel are used
Split complimentary colour scheme that includes a main colour and the two colours on each side of its complementary (opposite) colour on the colour wheel. These are the colours that are one hue and two equally spaced from its complement
Tetrad Tetrads (or quadrads) are any four colors with a logical relationship on the color wheel, such as double complements (also referred to as double complimentary)
Neutrals are also a potential colour scheme – meaning colours not found on the wheel - like beige, browns & greys. When I studied, we generally referred to this type of scheme as monochromatic but with the surge in popularity of design; I think it was splintered off because you can combine more than one neutral in a palette.
How was that for a crash course in colour theory? Don’t worry, I won’t leave you stranded! This week, because this is our twelfth week of the We-Design-Day series and because I think the work needs more colour, I’m very pleased to sponsor a very special give-away!
How would you like a $50 gift certificate for paint from Benjamin Moore paints? Want more – there is! In addition to the gift certificate, I’m also offering a private colour consultation for the winner! If you’re local to me, I’ll come to your house and help you out… But don’t fear – if you live far, far away from my Northern home, we can still have our one-on-one colour consultation via email or phone!
To enter, just leave a comment and be sure that I can contact you via your blog or an email link on your profile. If you rather, you can email your entry to brennansbest at g mail dot com. Hurry and enter – the contest closes next Tuesday (February 22) at midnight Mountain standard time.
This contest is being proudly sponsored by Blue Door Interiors Inc. Check us out on Facebook and "Like" our Facebook page and we'll enter your name again in our draw!