Friday, June 24, 2011

Art 101


Whether you're trying to style an outfit or paint a few walls in your home, this post may help you make your outfit/ home stand out. With a quick lesson in the color wheel, you could easily make yourself and/or your home look bold and intriguing this summer. So....

Here’s how to use the color wheel to find unconventional color combinations that will set you apart from the rest of the crowd. 

1: Identifying Primary Colors
The elementary forehead-slapping-obvious first step. But identifying primary colors is in this guide for completeness sake. Here are the three primary colors:
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Yellow
Okay, that was Colors 101. Why does this matter? It helps to cross out the first list of conventional combinations. Don’t use any combination of primary colors if you want an unconventional color scheme. Any of the primary colors go well together, so no unconventional color combinations are possible here.

2: Identifying Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are when 2 primary colors are mixed. Again, pretty obvious, but knowing these will help in crossing off conventional color combinations. Here are the three secondary colors:
  • Purple (blue + red)
  • Orange (red + yellow)
  • Green (yellow + blue)
Time to cross off the next batch of no-good color combinations (since they’re so conventional). In this case, it’s any combination of a primary color with it’s opposite secondary color. They’re known as contrasting a.k.a. opposite colors. Contrasting colors are natural matches, as you can see by looking at the color wheel:
  • Blue and orange
  • Red and green
  • Yellow and purple
These are no good since they’re so conventional. Now onto step 3, which is where you can find your first two unconventional color combination opportunities.

3: 1st and 2nd Batches of Unconventional Color Combinations

The first batch of unconventional color combinations is any two secondary colors:
  1. Purple and orange
  2. Orange and green
  3. Green and purple
The second batch of unconventional color combinations is a primary color with a secondary color that’s next to it:
  1. Blue and green
  2. Blue and purple
  3. Red and purple
  4. Red and orange
  5. Yellow and orange
  6. Yellow and green
Those were only the first two batches of unconventional color combinations. Once the tertiary colors are identified, you’ll have another two batches with even more unconventional color combinations.

4: Identifying Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors are when primary and secondary colors are mixed. Here are the six tertiary colors:
  • Blue violet (blue + purple)
  • Red violet (purple + red)
  • Red orange (red + orange)
  • Yellow orange (orange + yellow)
  • Yellow green (yellow + green)
  • Blue green (green + blue)
Now that the tertiary colors are identified, the next two batches of unconventional color combinations can be found and used. Remember: we’re systematically using the color wheel. So now that all of the conventional combinations have been crossed off, you’re left with the final collection of unconventional ones. Process of elimination, baby.

5: 3rd and 4th Batches of Unconventional Color Combinations

The third batch of unconventional color combinations is a primary color with a tertiary color one step removed:
  1. Blue and red violet
  2. Blue and yellow green
  3. Red and blue violet
  4. Red and yellow orange
  5. Yellow and red orange
  6. Yellow and blue green
The fourth and biggest batch of unconventional color combinations is any two tertiary colors:
  1. Blue violet and red violet
  2. Blue violet and red orange
  3. Blue violet and yellow orange
  4. Blue violet and yellow green
  5. Blue violet and blue green
  6. Red violet and red orange
  7. Red violet and yellow orange
  8. Red violet and yellow green
  9. Red violet and blue green
  10. Red orange and yellow orange
  11. Red orange and yellow green
  12. Red orange and blue green
  13. Yellow orange and yellow green
  14. Yellow orange and blue green

Combining More Than Two Colors 

This is good and all, but what if you want to combine more than two colors (excluding the background color)?

Use the Color Wheel to Find Unconventional Color Combinations

 By using the color wheel to easily find and use unconventional color combinations, you can make your designs stand out. The process of elimination will help you cross out the conventional color combinations so all you’re left with is the unconventional ones. And since they’re all laid out in front of you, it’s easy to pick out which ones you want to use – rather than rely on trial and error.

To recap, here are the four batches of unconventional color combinations:
  1. Any two secondary colors
  2. A primary color with a secondary color that’s next to it
  3. A primary color with a tertiary color one step removed
  4. Any two tertiary colors 
Information from this post can be found at:

 Happy Styling!



  1. wow! amazing! thanks for the tips!

  2. My brother explained to me this once (he's a publicist and graphic designer) and it's great to have a very complete description with pics included! Now I won't forget this! :)

  3. wow! great lesson, i am going to try it!
    My Fashion Bug

  4. Such a great post, very explanatory and useful, I haven't read something like this in a long time!

    Keep this up!

    xo, Athena


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