Color Theory: A Beginner’s Guide to the Basics

Color Theory Terms

Color theory is the conceptual bedrock of any chromatic design activity. From artists and web designers to architects and photographers, understanding color is essential to any visual composition. However, the implementation of color in design can often seem esoteric and mysterious to the layman. Some visually pleasant color schemes just “look right” to the casual observer. However, color choice is rarely arbitrary. By learning the basics of color theory, anyone can gain a grasp of why certain hues and palettes work. Perhaps more importantly, any designer can learn which color combinations to avoid.

We recently published an article about the many web design tools available online for executing color theory in practice. Many of these great tools allow designers to automatically create color palettes based on sound principles of color theory. However, understanding the reasoning behind why certain colors compliment each other provides greater depth of knowledge. Once you learn color theory, you can appreciate any design with heightened perception. You won’t merely be able to enjoy a visual composition. Finally, you will understand why you enjoy it. Read on for a crash course in color theory, a critical component of any design education.

Essential Terms of Color Theory

Any logical exploration of color theory should begin with definitions of the basic terms used within this field of knowledge. Perhaps a good place to start is The Munsell Color System, which was a major development in the history of color theory and colorimetry. To the right, you will find a basic illustration of The Munsell Color System, which is a diagrammatic color space that specifies colors based on three mainfactors: hue, value, and chroma. When describing or identifying colors, these three terms form the foundation of understanding in the world of color theory.


The term “hue” refers to pigment in the realm of color theory. This technically defined as “the degree to which a stimulus can be described as similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow.” Hue can essentially be thought of as the basic color, tint, or shade as defined by the color wheel.


Value is synonymous with “lightness” when used in regard to color theory. This is basically a representation of variation in the perception of a color’s overall brightness. If the hue of a color is “blue”, then the value determines if the color description could be “light blue” (high value) or “dark blue” (low value).


Chroma, commonly referred to as “saturation”, refers to the perceived intensity of a specific color along the color wheel. A higher chroma will result in greater “colorfulness” or richness of the color as perceived by the end user. Lower chroma thus results in a more subtle, dull color.

The Color Wheel

Isaac Newton created the first “color circle” all the way back in 1666, and color theory has never been the same. While there is some debate about the correct ordering of hues along the color wheel, most popular variations can be considered logical and correct. To the right, you will find the basic modern color wheel most commonly used today. This breaks up color hues into primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors.

Primary Colors: Red, Yellow, and Blue

In classical color theory, primary colors are the three hues that cannot be formed by any combination of other colors. Thus, the defining element of primary colors is that they cannot be created by combining any other pigments on the color wheel.

Secondary Colors: Green, Orange, and Violet

Used in design and color theory just as often as primary colors, secondary colors can be created by mixing two primary colors together.

Tertiary Colors

There are six main tertiary colors on the modern color wheel. As defined by modern color theory, these are yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green. Each tertiary color has a hyphenated name because they are created by mixing one primary and one secondary color together.

Color Harmony

With an understanding of essential terms and the various hues defined by the color wheel, we can begin to employ color harmoniously. In color theory, harmony refers to different color combinations that can be utilized in an aesthetically pleasing manner. This is where color theory is finally put into practice through design and composition. You may have heard the term “complementary colors” before. However, this should not be confused with the idea of colors that “compliment” each other well. In color theory, “complementary” is a specific term referring to combined hues used in a design scheme.

Complementary Colors

A design with complementary colors employs two pigments that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel. By using two colors with the greatest visual contrast, each hue is made more vivid as a result. This simple form of color harmony is the most commonly understood in color theory and widely used in visual composition.

A subset of complementary color harmony is the “split-complementary” design. In contrast to complementary colors, this color scheme is defined by one of the two contrasting hues being split into analogous colors for greater color variation.

Triadic Colors

Color triads use three colors that are equidistant to one another on the color wheel. These designs are more complex than complementary colors but are based on the same principle. By employing 3 hues that are farthest away from each other on the color wheel, a striking visual contrast is created. Examples of color triads include primary colors and secondary colors.

Analogous Colors

Analogous, or related color harmonies, are defined by the implementation of one main “root” color and two or more colors that are close in proximity on the color wheel. This is a very basic and reliable way to create a visually appealing composition. Furthermore, analogous color designs can be combined with complementary colors and a myriad of other harmonies for diverse chromatic effects.

Armed with this basic knowledge, you can begin to understand the use of color in composition and design. If you have any comments or questions, please leave us a message below! You can also contact our expert design team for help with creating your own beautiful website color palettes.

Learn more and earn more by joining DesignStudio Network – the world’s first Personal Growth Platform for reliable professionals in the digital industry.


web design,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. February 15, 2024

    Hi there, every time i usded to check web site posts here early
    in the break of day, as i enjpy to learn more and more.

    My website

  2. is tonic greens fda approved February 16, 2024

    This page truly has all of the information I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  3. space 978 สล็อต February 16, 2024

    We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your web site offered us with valuable info to work on.
    You’ve done a formidable job and our whole community
    will be thankful to you.

  4. fitspresso amazon February 16, 2024

    These are truly enormous ideas in regarding blogging.
    You have touched some pleasant things here. Any way keep up wrinting.

  5. February 16, 2024

    Good day very nice website!! Guy .. Excellent .. Wonderful ..
    I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds additionally?
    I’m satisfied to find numerous useful info right here within the post,
    we want develop extra techniques on this regard, thanks for sharing.
    . . . . .

    Also visit myy website:

  6. Indian food February 16, 2024

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems
    as though you relied on the video to make your point. You clearly know what
    youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting
    videos to your blog when you could be giving us something
    informative to read?

  7. Malibu February 17, 2024

    If you are going for most excellent contents like I do,
    only visit this web page all the time as it presents quality contents, thanks

  8. transfer aeroporto porto seguro trancoso February 17, 2024

    When some one searches for his vital thing, thus he/she needs to
    be available that in detail, so that thing is maintained
    over here.

  9. dollar indonesia February 17, 2024

    It’s an amazing paragraph in favor of all the online viewers; they will obtain advantage from it I am sure.

  10. oreo 5d February 17, 2024

    If some one desires to be updated with most recent technologies therefore he must
    be go to see this web page and be up to date every day.

  11. mawarslot daftar February 17, 2024

    I visited many websites but the audio feature for audio songs present
    at this website is really wonderful.

  12. February 17, 2024

    Your means of explaining the whole thing in this post is really fastidious,
    every one be capable of without difficulty understand it, Thanks a

  13. February 17, 2024

    It is the best time to make some plans for the future and it is
    time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I want to suggest you few
    interesting things or tips. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this
    article. I want to read even more things about it!

  14. February 17, 2024

    Hi there outstanding website! Does running a blog like this take a massive amount
    work? I’ve absolutely no expertise in programming however I had been hoping
    to start my own blog in the near future. Anyhow,
    if you have any recommendations or techniques for new blog owners please share.
    I know this is off topic but I simply wanted to ask.
    Thanks a lot!

  15. chicago history gift February 18, 2024

    Thanks for your marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it,
    you are a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will
    eventually come back from now on. I want to encourage that you continue your great writing, have
    a nice evening!

  16. فیلم سکسی February 18, 2024

    you’re truly a excellent webmaster. The site loading speed
    is amazing. It seems that you are doing any distinctive trick.
    Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve performed a magnificent process in this matter!

  17. Penyekapan jogja February 18, 2024

    Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a blog web site?
    The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered
    bright clear idea

  18. February 18, 2024

    What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious familiarity on the
    topic of unexpected feelings.

  19. garasipoker February 18, 2024

    Thanks for sharing such a pleasant opinion, post is good,
    thats why i have read it completely

  20. mension88 February 18, 2024

    This piece of writing will assist the internet viewers for setting up new website or even a blog
    from start to end.

  21. m88 February 19, 2024

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.

    I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous
    blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  22. slot nexus engine gacor February 19, 2024

    Hi, of course this post is actually nice and I have learned lot of things from it about blogging.

  23. February 19, 2024

    May I simply just say what a relief to discover someone who actually knows what they’re discussing online.
    You actually understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    A lot more people need to read this and understand this side of the story.
    It’s surprising you’re not more popular because you certainly possess the gift.

  24. toko backlink February 19, 2024

    Asking questions are in fact pleasant thing if you are not understanding
    anything totally, except this piece of writing offers nice understanding yet.

  25. pet shop February 20, 2024

    If you desire to take much from this paragraph then you have to apply such
    strategies to your won blog.

  26. Situs Koitoto February 20, 2024

    I’m gone to tell my little brother, that he should also go to see this weblog on regular basis to take updated from latest news.

  27. February 20, 2024

    Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot
    drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now broken and she
    has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  28. February 20, 2024

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog
    that’s both equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you’ve hit
    the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about.
    I’m very happy I came across this in my hunt for something
    regarding this.

  29. pelangiqq February 20, 2024

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your site is very useful.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  30. February 20, 2024

    My brother suggested I may like this website. He was once totally right.

    This post truly made my day. You cann’t consider simply how much time I had spent
    for this information! Thank you!

  31. pokerpelangi February 20, 2024

    Thank you for the good writeup. It in reality was a entertainment account it.
    Look advanced to far delivered agreeable from you!
    By the way, how could we be in contact?

  32. February 20, 2024

    Hey! I know this is somewhat off topic but I
    was wondering which blog platform are you using
    for this site? I’m getting tired of WordPress because I’ve had
    issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform.
    I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  33. wisata terbaik February 20, 2024

    I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your site?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could
    a little more in the way of content so people could
    connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 pictures.

    Maybe you could space it out better?

  34. what does male enhancement mean February 20, 2024

    Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and
    i was just curious if you get a lot of spam comments?
    If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any support
    is very much appreciated.

  35. LINK LGO4D February 21, 2024

    I just couldn’t go away your site before
    suggesting that I really loved the standard info an individual supply for your visitors?

    Is going to be back often to check up on new posts

  36. February 21, 2024

    It is appropriate time to make a few plans for the longer term and it’s time to be happy.
    I’ve learn this submit and if I may just I wish to suggest you some interesting things or advice.
    Maybe you could write next articles regarding this article.
    I want to read more things about it!

  37. link situs February 21, 2024

    Your style is really unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff
    from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this site.

  38. Hasil Pemilu February 21, 2024

    Marvelous, what a blog it is! This weblog presents helpful
    information to us, keep it up.

  39. radar138 February 21, 2024

    Great post. I was checking continuously this weblog and I’m impressed!

    Extremely useful info specially the remaining section 🙂
    I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this certain info for
    a very lengthy time. Thanks and best of luck.

  40. prodentim medical reviews February 21, 2024

    Hello all, here every one is sharing such experience, therefore it’s fastidious to read this webpage,
    and I used to go to see this web site all the time.

  41. supplements for male enhancement February 22, 2024

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It
    truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

  42. dinosaur maze activity book February 22, 2024

    I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  43. radar138 February 22, 2024

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to
    this excellent blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your
    RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will
    share this blog with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

  44. bento188 February 22, 2024

    Thanks for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and
    I am waiting for your next write ups thank you once again.

  45. iblbet February 22, 2024

    What’s up, for all time i used to check weblog posts here in the early hours in the break
    of day, because i like to learn more and more.

  46. 三重県 ペット火葬 February 22, 2024

    I wanted to thank you for this good read!! I certainly enjoyed every little bit of it.
    I’ve got you book marked to look at new stuff you post…

  47. zmäkčovač vody February 22, 2024

    Pretty component of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account
    your weblog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing for your feeds or even I success you get admission to consistently

  48. February 22, 2024

    I’m really impressed with your writing talents and also with the
    format for your blog. Is this a paid topic or did you customize it your self?
    Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a great weblog like this one today..

  49. خرید اکانت کالاف دیوتی موبایل February 23, 2024

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer
    for your site. You have some really good posts and I feel I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some
    articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please send me an e-mail if interested. Regards!

  50. Buy Shrooms Online February 23, 2024

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme.

    Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do
    it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out where u
    got this from. thanks

  51. February 23, 2024

    Hello there, You have done an incredible job. I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to my
    friends. I am sure they’ll be benefited from this web site.

  52. lg aircond installation near me February 23, 2024

    We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your website offered us with useful information to work
    on. You’ve performed a formidable process and our whole community
    shall be thankful to you.

  53. February 23, 2024

    Incredible points. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the great

  54. dewatogel February 23, 2024

    This site was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me.

  55. Woodland Hills February 23, 2024

    Why viewers still use to read news papers when in this technological world everything is presented on web?

  56. game online February 23, 2024

    Asking questions are actually nice thing if you are
    not understanding something entirely, but this paragraph offers good understanding even.

  57. Tech startup books February 23, 2024

    I do trust all the ideas you’ve offered to your post.
    They are really convincing and can definitely work.

    Still, the posts are too brief for beginners.
    May just you please lengthen them a bit from subsequent time?
    Thanks for the post.

  58. lemacau February 24, 2024

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable
    for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire
    out a designer to create your theme? Excellent work!

  59. jednorázové elektronické cigarety February 24, 2024

    I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for excellent information I was looking for this information for my

  60. koitoto login February 24, 2024

    What i don’t understood is in truth how you are not really a
    lot more neatly-preferred than you may be now.

    You’re very intelligent. You know thus significantly in relation to this matter, made me for my part imagine it
    from a lot of various angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated unless it is one
    thing to accomplish with Girl gaga! Your individual stuffs nice.

    All the time deal with it up!

  61. Link Alternatif Koitoto February 24, 2024

    I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your website.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it
    much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer
    to create your theme? Outstanding work!

  62. PMG88 February 24, 2024

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Well written!

  63. kapakbet February 24, 2024

    Hi, this weekend is pleasant for me, for the reason that this time i am reading this impressive educational piece of writing
    here at my residence.

  64. palingdasarbanget February 25, 2024

    I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish.

    nonetheless, you command get bought an impatience over that you wish be delivering the following.
    unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly
    the same nearly very often inside case you shield this

  65. hero4d February 25, 2024

    I got this web page from my friend who informed me
    regarding this web site and now this time
    I am browsing this web site and reading very informative content at this place.

  66. sugar defender walmart price February 25, 2024

    I want to to thank you for this excellent read!!
    I certainly loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to look
    at new things you post…

  67. handwriting note book February 25, 2024

    Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the challenges.

    It was truly informative. Your website is extremely helpful.
    Thanks for sharing!

  68. February 26, 2024

    I every time used to read paragraph in news papers but now as I am a user of net therefore from now
    I am using net for articles, thanks to web.

  69. moderná posteľ February 26, 2024

    My spouse and I stumbled over here different website and thought I might as well check things out.
    I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to finding
    out about your web page yet again.

  70. kurz virtuálnej asistentky February 26, 2024

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!

  71. pijat panggilan gading Serpong February 26, 2024

    Hello would you mind letting me know which webhost you’re using?
    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different browsers
    and I must say this blog loads a lot faster
    then most. Can you recommend a good hosting provider at a fair price?
    Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!

  72. 白金 賃貸 February 26, 2024

    May I just say what a relief to find an individual who genuinely knows what they are discussing over the internet.
    You certainly realize how to bring an issue to light and make it
    important. More and more people have to look at this and understand this side of the story.

    I was surprised that you’re not more popular because you definitely possess the gift.

  73. Vanity Tops February 26, 2024

    Incredible story there. What happened after?

  74. ratuqq February 26, 2024

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
    I don’t know who you are but definitely you’re going
    to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉

  75. dewapokerqq February 26, 2024

    Simply wish to say your article is as astounding. The clearness in your publish
    is simply spectacular and that i can assume you are an expert in this subject.

    Fine together with your permission allow me to take hold of your feed to
    keep updated with forthcoming post. Thank you
    one million and please continue the gratifying work.

  76. emakqq February 27, 2024

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Thank you for providing these details.

  77. logikaqq February 27, 2024

    Hey! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my
    new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!

    Keep up the great work!

  78. jepangqq February 27, 2024

    Hi, I check your blog like every week. Your humoristic style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!

  79. gocengqq February 27, 2024

    Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem together with your
    web site in web explorer, might test this?
    IE nonetheless is the market chief and a large portion of
    folks will leave out your magnificent writing because of this problem.

  80. asikqq February 27, 2024

    I every time emailed this blog post page to all my friends, because if like to read it after that
    my links will too.

  81. bundapoker February 27, 2024

    Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the challenges.
    It was truly informative. Your site is very useful.
    Thanks for sharing!

  82. bonusqq February 27, 2024

    hello there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up something
    new from right here. I did however expertise some technical points
    using this website, since I experienced to reload the site lots of times previous to I could get it to load properly.
    I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I am
    complaining, but slow loading instances times will sometimes affect
    your placement in google and can damage your high quality score if advertising and marketing
    with Adwords. Well I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail
    and can look out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content.
    Make sure you update this again soon.

  83. ahliqq February 27, 2024

    Genuinely when someone doesn’t understand afterward its
    up to other people that they will help, so here it occurs.

  84. murahqq February 27, 2024

    Howdy would you mind letting me know which hosting company
    you’re utilizing? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different web
    browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most.
    Can you recommend a good internet hosting provider at a reasonable price?
    Thank you, I appreciate it!

  85. rekening777 February 27, 2024

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering
    if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my
    newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a
    plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some
    experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything.
    I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  86. Calculus and Statistics Classes February 27, 2024

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now
    each time a comment is added I get three emails with the same comment.

    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?

  87. February 28, 2024

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Very well written!

  88. como instalar Xbox Game Bar no Windows 10 February 28, 2024

    Great blog here! Also your site loads up very fast!
    What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link
    to your host? I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  89. cali bud February 28, 2024

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
    Look advanced to far added agreeable from you!
    However, how can we communicate?

  90. fitspresso supplement reviews February 28, 2024

    I’m curious to find out what blog platform you happen to be
    utilizing? I’m having some small security problems with my
    latest website and I would like to find something more risk-free.
    Do you have any solutions?

  91. PURAVIVE February 29, 2024

    Hello i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i read this post i thought i could also create comment
    due to this brilliant article.

  92. cebanqq February 29, 2024

    Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed!
    Very useful info particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot.
    I was looking for this certain info for a very long time.

    Thank you and best of luck.