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Color is a form of nonverbal communication. It is based on our emotions. We never experience color the same. By combining colors we can achieve that goal. There are various color schemes by which we find a combination that workse.


What are color schemes and how important are they for graphic design?

Knowledge of these schemes is of great importance for graphic design.


Choice of colors

In order to make the choice of the right color more precise and faster, the following sciences were created: Color theory and Color psychology. So color schemes are there to help us make the right choice in a wide range of colors. 

Colors are mixed to create new colors, also colors can be paired to create visually pleasing combinations. Fortunately, you don't have to sit for hours and try every color combination to find the one that looks good. You can use tried and tested color schemes to find the combination that works.

Essential concepts 

In order to better understand colors and color schemes, we will refer you to important concepts.

  • The Color Wheel is an illustrative diagram showing 12 colors in a circle, and is used to represent the relationship of each color to each other.
  • Hue refers to pure, saturated colors.
  • Tint is achieved by installing white elements for lighting and desaturation of one shade. Shade colors are often much calmer than saturated ones.
  • Tones are achieved by adding a shade of gray, by dampening the overall intensity.
  • Shades are achieved by adding black parts to one shade, creating a darker shade.
  • Saturation refers to the total intensity. A pure shade is more saturated than a shade or tone.
  • Value refers to the general level of lighting or dimming. A lighter shade has more values ​​than a darker one.

Basic colors

The primary colors are the "original" colors, which are red, yellow and blue. You cannot get any of these colors by mixing other colors.

This powerful triad shapes the foundations of color theory as we know it. These three pigments are the basis in building a wide range of colors. In combination, they create secondary and tertiary colors, together with all the shades in between.


Secondary colors

Secondary colors are formed from an equal mixture of two separate primary colors. The yellow and blue mixture create green. The yellow and red mixture creates orange, and the blue and red mixture creates purple.

On the color wheel, the secondary colors are in the middle and at the same distance from the two primary colors used to create the scent. The secondary groups are grouped into a triad that creates an inverted equilateral triangle.


Tertiary colors

Tertiary colors are created by combining adjacent primary and secondary shades.

Monochrome color scheme

Monochrome color schemes focus on one color, variations of that shade are often used.


Complementary color scheme

Complementary colors exist on opposite sides of the color. One color is usually the primary color and the other is the secondary color.

The main complementary colors are usually blue and orange, red and green as well as yellow and purple.


Analog color scheme

Analog colors consist of a group of three colors that border each other within color dots.

This color scheme starts with the basic shade and continues with two adjacent shades. The word "analog" means closely related, so that the combinations of these shades have a harmonious appeal.


Triad color scheme

The triad consists of three colors that are placed equal to each other on the color wheel, making a triangle. Triad color schemes can contain three primary, secondary, or tertiary colors.

As with other color schemes, avoid using all three shades in a fully saturated state. Enter a hint of white, gray or black to make your color scheme pleasing to the eye.


Double complementary (tetrad) color scheme

A double complementary or tetrad color scheme uses two pairs of complementary colors in its scheme.

Split-complementary color schemes

Complementary color schemes that complement each other may look similar to complementary schemes, but this combination includes two adjacent shades of color complement, such as yellow paired with blue and red-violet.

This color scheme has a similar visual appeal as complementary schemes, but without intensity.

The right color combination

Finding the ideal color combination is a job that requires research and experimentation with tones, shades, values ​​and all color components. With the help of these basic color schemes, you will find it easier to choose the right color combinations.



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Made by Vladimir Bojić - Senior Graphic Designer @Digitizer

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