Color Studies – Part 5 Color Schemes

By Sheri Doty


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Color Studies – Color Applications and Definitions

Part 5 – Color Schemes

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A Color Scheme is a select grouping of colors. Color Schemes can be made from the position of hues on both color wheels to produce Color Harmony.

Color Harmony 

Color Harmony refers to a pleasing arrangement of parts offering visual interest and a sense of order.

Color Discord 

A combination of unrelated and visually disturbing colors cause disharmony. Color discord can cause visual surprises that attract the attention of the viewer arousing an emotional response. A sense of unease is evoked in the viewer when discordant colors are used as a color scheme.

Direct Compliment – Complimentary colors are found at the opposite ends of the color wheel.


Split Compliment – Hues positioned on either side of the opposing compliment are called split compliments. Because a split compliment forms an Isosceles Triangle it can be called a triad.

Triad – Hues in an exact three way split on the color wheel make an Equilateral Triangle. The traditional primary colors of red, yellow, and blue are an example of a triad color scheme.

Tetrad or Double Compliment 

Square Tetrad – Two pairs of equidistant complimentary colors that are at the points of a square.

Rectangular Tetrad – Two pairs of complimentary colors that are at the points of a rectangle.

Analogous – Analogous hues are located near or next to each other on the color wheel. Analogous hues are within the same range of color spectrum.

Analogous Plus Compliment 

Monochromatic – Monochromatic describes variations of a single color in both value and intensity.

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