COLOR HARMONIES AND COLOR SCHEMES
COLOR HARMONY: a pleasing or congruent
arrangement of colors.
COLOR SCHEME: a conscious selection of colors
(often used to create an effect.)
NOTE: all harmonies are color schemes, while not
all color schemes are harmonies.
COLOR HARMONIES FALL INTO 2
RELATED HARMONIES: Comprised of colors
close to each other on the color wheel.
Monochromatic – True monochromatic harmonies
are comprised of a single hue along with its varying
values and intensities.
Analogous - Analogous harmonies are
comprised of two, three, four or five colors
which lie adjacent to each other on the
color wheel. They may be come with
varying values and intensities.
colors are present
In these two pictures?
Most harmonious: All cool or all warm color schemes.
Least harmonious: Those schemes which include yellow a
pivotal color(color that dominates).
CONTRASTING HARMONIES: Comprised of colors which
are widely separated on the color wheel. There are six (6)
contrasting color harmonies.
Double Split Complimentary
COMPLEMENTARY: comprised of two (2) colors
placed directly opposite each other on the color
wheel. ( When used in equal amount and intensities
they tend to emphasize each other.)
What complementary colors are
present in this costume rendering?
SPLIT COMPLIMENTARY: comprised of three (3) colors;
a designated color and two colors situated on each
side of its compliment.
What color combinations
Are used in the splitcomplementary color
harmony used in the
painting on the right?
Triadic: comprised of three (3) colors equidistant
on the color wheel. (It may be bold and dramatic
– in its most intense use it becomes overstimulating and kitsch.)
A subtler use of triads with varied
intensities and values.
Double Split-Complimentary: comprised of four
(4) colors . Instead of merely splitting up one of the
complements into the two colors next to it, both
complements are split.
A less graphic, or subtler use of double
Tetradic: comprised of four (4) colors equidistant
on the color wheel. (These schemes are most
pleasant if the colors are used in unequal
Above: tetrad using more intense
Right: tetrad using more tints, tones
Accented Neutral: Comprised of large areas of
neutral tones with small amounts of color as accent
(The neutrals are: white, black, and black and white
The accented neutral,
usually quite elegant, is
used to “feature”
something or someone.
Related to color harmony, color ranges
refer to the psychological effect of color.
There are two principal color ranges:
warm and cool
Typically, the warm color
range spans from yellow to
Typically the cool color
range spans from yellowgreen to violet.
Kitsch refers to “bad taste”. Meaning “worthless” in
German, kitsch is work that is shallow, pretentious,
gaudy, without substance, overly sentimental or
calculated to have popular appeal.
Although not part of color theory, in color use, it
generally refers to the use of high intensity (chroma
and/or saturation) colors, used pervasively, and
often indiscriminately, in a “composition”.
Usually used for flashy and dramatic contrast, kitsch
sells well on posters and post cards.
Essentially, Kitsch is a cheap visual trick.