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Within the world of light and colour, the colour theory was framed. The colour theory is the set of basic rules for combining colours that are utilized in different disciplines including graphic design, painting, photography, among others.

In the colour theory, there are many aspects which will help you understand the way to combine colours. For your graphic design proficiency, a number of the important colour theories that might assist you to create amazing pieces are highlighted below.

Come have a glance …


The colour wheel is a chart that traces each primary, secondary, and tertiary colour, with their respective hues, tints, tones, and shades. This way, you can select your preferred colour schemes after discovering ways each colour relates to the colour next to it.

In choosing colours for a colour scheme, the colour wheel gives you the chance to make brighter, lighter, softer, and darker colours by mixing white, black, and grey with the first colours.

In this sense, the position of the colours is often laid out in degrees of angle (the full circle being 360º). Each primary colour would be located 120º from the other two and would be 180º from its complementary (exact opposite on the wheel). The analogous colours are those located at 60° from one another.

Investigations on the relationships of the colours with reference to their position on the colour wheel revealed that combining colours that border one another on the wheel has more harmony and correlation, while the mixture of various colours has more contrast.

Despite its limitations and basic inaccuracy, its simplicity and clarity make the concept of the colour wheel very useful in learning about colour treatment by designers.


Monochrome is the most elementary colour scheme, but ultimately effective. This uses just one dominant colour or different shades of an equivalent colour which helps to enhance one another. Monochromatic schemes look visually pleasing and intensify the emotional responses of the colour involved. Although, its difficulty arises when establishing certain separate elements.

Complementary colours are any two colours that are directly opposite one another on the colour wheel, like red and green also as red-purple and yellow-green. They help one another appear brighter because the complementary colours create a simultaneous contrast, the most important contrasts available on the colour wheel. You can mix them to make effective neutral tones or combine them to make shadows.

Complementary Split Colors: It is a variation of the complementary scheme. Complementary split colours have a base colour and the other two colours adjacent to its complement. Such a scheme is as contrasting because of the complementary scheme but has less tension. Divided and complementary colours are more harmonious, so beginners can easily apply them.

Analogous Colors: Analogous colours are ideally 2-3 colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel. They are often colour schemes that are found in nature. They’re harmonious and pleasing to the attention. While you employ analogous colours to seek out good colour combinations, confirm they possess enough contrast.

Triadic colours: Such colours are evenly spaced around the colour circle. These colours have a strong contrast and their appearance is quite dramatic. It isn’t easy to seek out harmony, so let one colour dominate and use the opposite two for accent.

Tetrahedral (or rectangular) colours: The oblong or tetrahedral colour scheme consists of 4 colours of two complementary pairs. The tetrahedral colour scheme works best if you let one colour be dominant.

Square colours: The square colour scheme is analogous to the rectangle, but with the four colours evenly spaced around the colour wheel. Also, there’s no need for a dominant colour, this scheme works best if all the colours are evenly balanced. For example: orange, yellow-green, blue and purple.


In design, colour is extremely subjective. What produces a reaction in one person can cause a really different reaction in another. The shades of colours are warm, cold and neutral colours, each with the various sensation and meaning it possesses. They are:

Warm Colors
Warm colours include red, orange, yellow, and variations of those three colours. They’re the colours of fireside, fallen leaves, sunrises and sunsets, which is generally energizing, passionate and positive.

Red and yellow are primary colours, with orange between these two. This means that warm colours aren’t obtained by combining a warm colour with a cold colour. Use warm colours in your designs to reflect passion, happiness, enthusiasm, and energy.

Cold colours
Cold colours include green, blue and purple, which are often more subdued than warm colours. They’re the colours of the night, the water, the character and are usually relaxing, peaceful and somewhat reserved.

Blue is the only primary colour in the cold spectrum, meaning that the other colours are obtained from the mixture of blue with a warm colour (yellow for green, red for purple). Greens take some attributes from yellow and purple takes some from red. Use cool colours in your designs to offer a sense of calmness or professionalism.

Neutral colours
Neutral colours often function as background designs. They’re frequently combined with lighter accent colours, but are often used alone and can make very sophisticated designs. The meanings and impressions of neutral colours are more determined by the colours that surround them than within the case of warm and cold colours.


Contrast within colour refers to colours with distinct characteristics, as against the harmony which is the affinity between colours.

One of the foremost basic uses of the concept of contrast occurs between warm, cold and neutral colours. By combining these groups, you’ll create a contrast between the temperature of your design that is effective enough to differentiate between them.

Also, deserving mention is the contrast between saturated and desaturated tones. This strategy is extremely good when you want your design to employ one colour and still like to value certain parts.

The seven kinds of colour contrast were investigated by Johannes Itten (1888 – 1967), a Swiss designer and professor at the Bauhaus. He elaborated the idea of the various sorts of contrasts that are produced using the characteristics of colours. This is collected in his book ‘Kunst der Farbe’ or ‘The Art of Color’.

There, Itten classified the seven types of contrasts consistent with their particular characteristics, their training value, their optical, expressive and constructive action:

  1. Colour contrast itself (or pure colours)
    This is represented by pure and luminous colours. it’s the mixture of highly saturated colours. The closer they get to the yellow, red and blue primaries, the more contrast there’ll be.
  2. Light-dark contrast (or brightness or value)
    They are modified according to the intensity of the lighting and lose their luminosity when mixed with white or black. It is a polar contrast that arises when colours with different luminosity or tonal value are juxtaposed.
  3. Warm-cold (or temperature) contrast
    The warmest colour is red-orange and the coldest being blue-green. The visual contrast increases as a function of the temperature difference between these colours. Consistent with this mix, a warm colour surrounded by cold colours will feel even warmer, and the other way around.
  4. The contrast of complementary colours
    They generate a static and solid effect. It consists of a mixture of two diametrically opposite colours within the colour circle. This way, the colours are perceived as more intense and vibrant to the attention. Combining two complements leads to a medium grey.
  5. Simultaneous contrast
    It is a sensation which our eye demands as it compliments itself. If you combine grey with reference to pure saturated colour, it generates a complementary tone. It not only occurs between grey and pure colour but also occurs between pure colours that aren’t totally complimentary.
  6. Qualitative contrast
    It is supported by the degree of saturation. Thus, we designate as qualitative. It is the opposition between a saturated and luminous colour and another dull colour without glare. The contrast becomes greater when a pure colour interacts with a neutral one.
  7. Quantitative contrast
    It is obtained by joining areas of various colours producing an outsized mass of colour and a smaller mass of another. To seek out the balance, you’ve got to understand that luminosity and size determine the expression force of colour. Additionally, to making visual effects, we will harmonize other contrasts like complementary contrast.


In colour theory, properties are those attributes that change and make each colour unique. There are three of those properties which includes; hue, saturation, and brightness.

The hue is that property that differentiates one colour from another and by which we designate the names of the colours; green, purple, red, etc. It refers to the trail that colour makes within the chromatic circle, acquiring nuances, like orange-red or greenish-yellow.

The Saturation represents the colour intensity or purity of a colour. In other words, it’s the lightness or darkness of a colour and is decided by the quantity of light (or a mixture of white) that colour has.

The saturation of colours changes as that colour has more or less grey. The greater the quantity of grey, the paler and fewer saturation; the less grey mix, the more intense and more saturation.

The value or brightness of a colour is that the relationship between the intensity of the sunshine stimulus – also referred to as luminance – and therefore the perceived sensation referred to as brilliance. For the colour of a particular hue and saturation, the brightness will increase because the luminosity reaches the attention.

At Jade Crystal Colours, we ensure that our designs conform to the standard needs of combining colours when designing, coupled with the needed skill to bring out your ideas and concepts.

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