The tetradic colour scheme makes use of a combination of four colours, which sit opposite each other on the colour wheel in two complementary pairs.
This is a rich color scheme which offers plenty of possibilities for variation, but it can be hard to balance. You need to be aware of the warm/cool balance as well as avoiding the pure chroma and work with a similar tint or shade of all four colours instead.
The split complementary scheme is similar to the complementary scheme, but instead of using the colour directly opposite, it uses the two colours on either side. This creates a softer, more harmonious colour scheme than the straight complementary, with less tension as it is not as extreme.
The triadic color scheme makes use of a combination of three colours that are equally spaced around the colour wheel. This scheme is popular all over the design world (including patterned paper designers!) because it offers strong visual contrast while retaining balance, and colour richness. The triadic colour scheme is softer than the complementary scheme, and is easier to balance.
Like many of these combinations, the triadic scheme can work more effectively when one colour is dominant and the other two are accents, although as you can see from the layouts below, it also works harmoniously when all three colours are fairly equally weighted.
Analogous colours are any colours that sit next to each other on the colour wheel. They create gentle, harmonious colour schemes that reflect those found in nature. These soft schemes are pleasing to the eye and are guaranteed to match beautifully, but as Danielle notes below, where the colours share similar hue and saturation they can lack the punch and contrast of a more dramatic scheme.
Complementary colours are those which sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. Each one is actually made up of each of the primary colours - red sits opposite green which is made from blue and yellow; yellow sits opposite purple which is made from blue and red and blue sits opposite orange which is made from red and yellow.
When placed next to each other, these colours make the other appear brighter and more vibrant. This means you have to be careful how you use them, but they are certainly useful when you want to make something stand out as they create a strong contrast.
No need to adjust your monitors – this week we’re dealing with achromatic colour!
Achromatic colour is that which technically has zero saturation and therefore no hue, such as neutral greys, white or black. Simply it means ‘without colour’. Though it can be an effective colour scheme, it can very easily look dull. Using an achromatic scheme with just one bright colour or the pop of a colour photograph however can be dramatic. Lou and Jane demonstrate some fabulous examples of an achromatic colour scheme below.
Scientifically speaking, monochromatic light refers to light of a narrow frequency. Similarly, monochromatic colour schemes use variations in lightness and saturation of a single or narrow section of the colour wheel. Monochrome schemes are, perhaps, the simplest to create as they’re all taken from the same hue, but they can, in turn, be overwhelming or even boring, depending on the colour chosen.
No other colour scheme depends so much on the mood created by a single colour as a monochromatic scheme. Blue is peaceful and calming, yellow projects happiness, green symbolises both nature or jealousy and so on.
The downfall with a monochrome colour scheme is that it can sometimes lack brilliance and contrast, but the upside is that a contrasting photograph will ‘pop’ beautifully against a single colour background.
This week we’re exploring the changes in mood and perception that can be produced simply by the ‘temperature’ of the colours you choose to use. As you can see above, the colour wheel can be split pretty well down the middle into warm and cool colours. Warm colours are created from red hues (red/orange/yellow). They are vivid and energetic, have a visual effect of appearing closer to the view and usually create a sense of warmth.
Cool colours are created from blue hues (blue/cyan/green). In contrast they recede from the viewer and are known to have a calming effect.