Colour theory, learning, Lessons, Videos

Lesson in Colour theory

Colour theory……what is it exactly? and how can you use it effectively and to your advantage when painting and creating art? Well recently I have been on a mission to find out more and I wanted to share some images and videos that have helped me understand it that I think will be of help to others. Having a good understanding of colour theory can help you when mixing colours for your art, craft or even other professions like hairdressing and interior design.

Colour theory wheel
Colour wheel showing the primary, secondary and tertiary colours

The Basics

There are 3 primary colours red, blue and yellow. You cannot ‘make’ the primary colours. All colours are made from a combination of these 3 colours (which is why its really useful to know about colour theory!). From the primary colours, you can make the 3 secondary colours which are made by:

Red + Yellow = Orange

Yellow + Blue = Green

Blue + Red= Violet

You can mix any colour of the rainbow, by using the 3 primaries in varying quantities.

Colour theory basics
Colour wheels showing what primary, secondary and tertiary colours are and where they belong


How to neutralise colours/ or make a neutral brown:

Red neutralises Green (and vice versa)

Blue neutralises Orange (and vice versa)

Yellow neutralises Violet (and vice versa)

Colour theory wheel
Colour wheel showing the complementary colours and how these can be mixed together to ‘neutralise’ one another. We do this to either enhance or minimise a colours presence.

These colour combinations are also known as complementary colours (red+ green, yellow+violet, blue+orange). We use complementary colours to either enhance or minimise a colours presence.


If you mix red with green (depending on the individual shade/tint of colour) they will neutralise each other and you will get a neutral brown. That is, a brown with no tone. If you mix red and green together in unequal quantities you will get either a warm brown (if more red is added than green) or a cool brown (if more green is added than red), as to get a neutral brown, the quantities of each colour must be the same, otherwise one colour will dominate over the other.

Other images that are helpful…….

Colour theory chart


Colour wheel showing tint, shade, tone, hue

Colour theory wheel

Pocket colour wheel
Pocket colour wheel, showing the front (on left) and the back (on right)

If you want a visual aid that will help you to understand colour theory more and also help you when mixing colours, get a colour wheel. They are easy to use and will last a log time if you look after them, plus you can purchase the pocket colour wheel as pictured above from Amazon here. The pocket colour wheels are a good size and cost less than £5! A very useful item that doesn’t cost too much and will help you in your art or craft when mixing colours.

I have included some good Youtube videos below that show colour theory in more depth should you want more information than what is listed here.

Hope this has helped you!


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