Classification of Colors & the Color Wheel

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Classification of Colors & the Color Wheel

We can try to define the color, but it is necessary also to classify the colors to be able to compare them, to harmonize them, to oppose them as to make them alive, live radiantly side by side.

The Color Wheel
Today’s basic color wheel was developed by painters already in the 18th century. It starts with the 3 primary colors: yellow, red, and blue - the basis for mixing all other colors. If you mix these primary colors in equal parts, you'll get a neutral color, usually a murky gray.

Mixing any two primary colors, creates secondary color: yellow + blue = green, blue + red = purple, red + yellow = orange. This leaves each primary color with a complementary color (mixed from the other two primaries) directly opposite on the wheel: blue/orange, red/green, yellow/purple.

Mixing of primary and secondary colors is fascinating. This gives you all the fabulous hues around the color wheel, from greenish blues to yellowish greens. These are often called tertiary colors.

Contrasting: Contrasting colors sit opposite each other on the color wheel. Stronger colors can give a more dramatic look, whilst lighter shades tend to create a more subdued atmosphere.

Harmonizing: Colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel are known as harmonious colors. On their on, harmonious colors look very different but together they can create an elegant feel in any room.

Tonal: These are color variations of the same main color group on the color wheel. They can be used to create a room with a harmonious and relaxing feel.

Color is one of the most important aspects of interior design. You can have the most posh fabrics, lighting and furnishings, but only if your color scheme is right, will the entire design be harmonious. While color is a personal thing, there are rules for stunning color schemes.

Warm colors - on the red/yellow side of the color wheel – are popular for large spaces, making a room feel smaller and more cozy.

Cool colors - from purple to green - tend to be used more when decorating in small spaces, transforming a room larger, more spacious, relaxing, and cooler.

Color wheel contains also includes different tones of each color (how light or dark a color is). A color with white added = tint. A color with black added = shade.

In 19th century the 4-color primary model was developed. This system is very close to the way the human eye actually sees color, and it is influential in the color/paint industries still today.

Fast rules for using color
There are several ways a color wheel can be utilized. Sigma’s sophisticated NCS color chart gives endless combinations and ways to design success. In this context we will provide our readers with few basic tips that can be later complemented by further advice from Sigma’s interior designer.

'Sparks' of a complementary color in an environment that is dominated by its opposite, e.g. a drop of orange paint to liven up a blue room, or red-orange accessories, pictures or flowers.

Monochromatic color schemes combine hues from the same color families, consisting of a single (="mono") hue (="chroma") that is either left pure, or mixed with white, gray, or black. This scheme is easy to get right - and its very simplicity is the key to success. Thus a single color in different tones.

Analogous color accents combine hues that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, like bluish & yellowish greens, reddish & bluish purples. "Analogous" means bearing some resemblance or proportion, being similar to something else.

Whitish color family; a combination of different colors in same tone, in light tint. These are colors with low saturation and much white added. You can give some sparkle and depth by adding one of the colors in darker shade.