Every crafter should have a color wheel in his or her tool box. It was only recently that I learned what a valuable tool this is, especially when scrapbooking. The color wheel might look a little bit intimidating but in actuality, it makes color selection super easy. I mean, that is what it is designed to do! In this post, I’m going to mainly discuss using a color wheel for scrapbooking, but the same color principles apply any time you are selecting colors for any type of project. Let’s just go over the basics.
The wheel has holes where you can see a piece of fabric or paper through it right next to your color swatches. This will help you gauge which section of the wheel to start with if you already know one color you want to use. The center rotates to provide the other colors that will work best with your selected starting color. You can choose new colors for your color story based on color combinations, color contrast, or color balance. I will explain each of these in detail below.
COLOR COMBINATIONS – monochromatic
Select a single color section from the color wheel. This wheel provides 7 colors in each section. Add neutrals to the color scheme if you like. This color story tends to work best with simple photos with simple colors such as sepia toned or black-and-white.
COLOR COMBINATIONS – analogous
Colors that are next to one another or in close proximity on the color wheel are considered analogous. The colors always coordinate with one another because they share similar hue and saturation values. Choose between 2-4 analogous colors for a pleasing color scheme. Analogous colors are great for setting a mood. Reds, oranges and yellows create an exciting mood that would be perfect for a summer vacation spread. Blues, purples and greens are more calming and might be great for a Christmas Eve spread.
COLOR COMBINATIONS – complementary
Colors found directly opposite one another on the color wheel such as red/green, yellow/purple, or orange/blue are called complementary. The secret to using this color story is to use them in unequal proportions. In other words, use a lot of one of the colors on your page and accent with the other. Adding a neutral will also make your colors pop even more.
COLOR COMBINATIONS – triadic and quadratic
Triadic color combos are found at the tips of the triangles on your color wheel. The isoscles (all sides equal length) triangle will produce trendier color combinations. You can use 2 or 3 colors from the triadic selections.
Quadratic color combos are found at the tips of the square and rectangle. Here, the rectangle will provide the trendier color selection.
COLOR CONTRAST – color dominance
Whenever you pick a combo of colors using your wheel, you will notice some colors on your scrapbook page (or within your painting, quilt, etc.) before others. That’s because some colors will dominate your scheme. In general, warm colors dominate and cool colors recede. So a bright red umbrella in the front of a dull, rainy background will catch your eye first. If you use a dominate color as a background or a whole lot of it, it can overwhelm your photos, so be aware when using them.
COLOR CONTRAST – rule for cool colors
The lightest and brightest colors will stand out the most on your scrapbook page, if there is not a dominant/warm color present in the design.
COLOR CONTRAST – rule for monochromatic colors
The color used in the smallest amount will create the contrast on the page and will therefore become the dominant color.
It’s easiest to use 3 colors when planning your scrapbook pages. Use one as the background, one as the supporting color (mats) and one as the accent color (words, enhancements, etc.). The coolest color in your trio will make the best background because it will tend to recede. The warmest color is the best selection for your accents.
DISCLAIMER: This is a very basic introduction to the color wheel and color theory. I am not a fine artist or an art teacher nor do I play one on the internet. I just wanted to share some tips with you all to get you started thinking about how you can use the color wheel to help you discover more color choices and combinations.