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Colour Wheel

Colour Wheel
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Variations in hue, value intensity and temperature can result in millions of colours. Many systems of colour harmony have been developed to help artists make good choices. The simple Itten colour wheel to the left will illustrate these systems.

Adjacent colours in the spectrum are used in an analogous colour scheme. Adjacent colours often work well together but if too close in hue they can appear washed out or not have enough contrast. An example of an adjacent colour scheme could be red, orange and yellow.

Contrasting colours are separated from each other by other colours. They come from different segments of the colour wheel, the further apart the more contrast. Red from the warm half of the colour wheel contrasts with the green and blue from the cool half of the colour wheel. Contrasting colours that are directly opposite from each other on the colour wheel can be described as complementary colours.

Complementary colours are opposites and thus shown on the opposite sides of the colour wheel. When mixed they produce a neutral brown. When used in a composition, they become ideal partners: each increases the power of the other. For example, blue is a complementary colour to orange. When a pair of complementary colours are side by side they can sometimes cause visual vibration making them a less than desirable combination. When separate with other colours they can work together.