The Color Wheel
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The Color Wheel. History of Color. Colors are often symbolic. Let’s talk about what role color has played in different times in history. In China…. Yellow has religious significance and is still the Imperial color today!. In Greece and Rome…. Red was believed to have protective powers.

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The Color Wheel

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The Color Wheel

History of Color

  • Colors are often symbolic.

  • Let’s talk about what role color has played in different times in history.

In China…

  • Yellow has religious significance and is still the Imperial color today!

In Greece and Rome…

  • Red was believed to have protective powers.

  • Purple was restricted to use by nobility.

The Egyptians

  • Adorned walls of tombs and temples with brilliant colors of blue, tangerine, and green.

In the Italian Renaissance…

  • Colors were vibrant reds, greens, golds and blues.

In the Rococo period…

  • Tastes became very feminine, colors became less vibrant.

In 18th Century England…

  • There was great elegance. Colors were rich, showing a strong Chinese influence in the use of red and gold.

During the Victorian era…

  • There was great Eclecticism known for it’s abundance of “things”.

  • Colors were mostly dull reds, greens, browns, and mauves.

In the Early 20th Century…

  • Colors were Monochromatic. There were sleek surfaces and strong contrasts with black, gray, silver, brown, beige and white.

In the 1920’s…

  • All-white interiors became popular which gave way to delicate pastels with bright accents.

In the 1950’s..

  • Light colors were preferred.

  • However, American interest turned to Mexico and a shift to bright colors with bright contrasts.

The 1960’s


Crazy Man


And in the 1990’s…

  • Regal gold, blue, and red were used. Southwestern remained popular and Victorian was being revived.

  • Ivy league also becomes popular with forest greens and cranberry reds.

Where does color come from?

  • A ray of light is the source of all color.

  • Without light, color does not exist.

  • Light is broken down into colors of the spectrum. You can often see a variety of colors in a bright beam when you look at something like a rainbow.


  • Color can alter the appearance of form and space.

  • Color can affect our performance abilities and change our moods.


  • Pigments are substances that can be ground into fine powder and used for adding color to dyes and paints.

  • Pigments were originally derives from animal, mineral, and vegetable sources.

  • Examples:

    • Purple from shellfish

    • Red dye from the dried bodies of scale insects

The Color Wheel

  • The color wheel is a basic tool we use when working with colors.

  • It is based on the standard color theory known as Brewster/Prang.

  • In addition to the traditional color wheel, there are two color systems that are useful when more detailed colors are required.

    • The Munsell system:

      • Has 5 principles hues and 5 intermediate hues. A numbering system helps designers identify the exact hue they need.

    • The Ostwald system:

      • Made from pairs of complementary colors. The color circle has twenty-four hues.

The Color Wheel

  • There are 12 hues in the spectrum of color.

  • They are divided into three categories…

The Primary Colors

  • Red, Yellow, and Blue

  • These colors cannot be combined from mixing any colors together.

The Secondary Colors

  • Green, violet, and orange

  • Made by combining the Primary colors together.

The Tertiary Colors

  • Yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, red-orange, yellow-orange.

  • Made by combining a primary and a secondary hue.

  • Named by the Primary color first.


What color is your personality?

Laid back and carefree

Somewhat sheltered and innocent, or you wish you were

Words that describe you are shy, romantic, and feminine

Gentle, almost to the point of being weak

You have a calming effect on those around you and people who need a friend seek you out


Want to be part of the action and are quite impulsive

Outspoken, quick-tempered and intense

In a crowd you are dynamic and noticeable

Be careful you can become overbearing

Emotional, exciting and athletic

You give your opinion whether others agree with you or not

You live life to the fullest


Intellectual and drawn toward the new and modern.

High spirited, cheerful, and idealistic

Vivacious, extroverted and comedic

You have strong opinions and can be stubborn

You live by high standards and give sound advice


You are unique

Friendly and get along well with others

Radiate warmth and inspire those you are with

You tend to be social and drawn to groups of people

You are the hearth of the home and grateful for family and friends


You expect to be happy most of the time

Your personality is light, good and pure

You have a sense of innocence about you

You seek perfection and expect others to do the same, which sometimes make you appear cold


You are cautious, conservative and sensitive to the needs of others

Your basic need for harmony often thrusts you into the role of peacemaker

Words that best describe you are business-like, calm, and capable

You are a loyal, trustworthy friend, but expressing your emotions in a relationship is difficult for you


You are fresh, friendly and natural

You are persistent, well balanced and stable

The environment is important in your life and you like things basic to the point of being simple

As a friend you are frank, sensitive, affectionate and loyal


You are sensitive and need loving care and adoration form others, but you maintain your independence

Showing emotion difficult for you and others perceive you as self-centered

You have excellent taste and a mature outlook


You are creative!

You consider yourself unique and you set yourself apart from others

You are an artist at heart

Scheduling and mundane tasks bore you

You can frequently be found daydreaming and would actually prefer fantasy to reality

While you seek cultural events and luxury, you do not put yourself out to serve humanity

Many inventors claim purple as their favorite color


You are likely to be seen as stable and unchanging

You are self-disciplined, conscientious and dependable

You like the rugged outdoors and the ultra natural

You are warm, comfortable, intimate and accepting


You are sophisticated, mysterious and dramatic

You are dignified and keep to yourself

You may be unhappy with how things are, but aren’t quite certain how you can change existing circumstances

A young child who chooses black exclusively may be depressed


Clue in on Color


  • Cool Color

  • Moves away from you

  • Suggests respect, responsibility, authority

  • Needs a relief color

  • Tranquilizing

  • Elongate time

  • Favorite color

  • Poor color around food


  • Hot, exciting, stimulating

  • Highly emotional

  • Raises blood pressure, pulse and heart rate

  • Cellular reaction in heart and lungs

  • Stimulate appetite

  • Pay more

  • Lose track of time

  • Separate gender responses


  • Requires the most visual processing

  • Cheerful, warm, inviting

  • Stimulate memory

  • “Value for Money”

  • Loss of minor muscle control in elderly

  • Loose your temper quicker

  • Baby’s cry more


  • Peaceful, relaxation, serenity

  • Easiest for the eye to see

  • Fastest adjustment time

  • High socio-economic status

  • Natural

  • Cool color closest to warm


  • Mysterious

  • Positive and negative effects

  • Dignity, solemnity, formality

  • Mourning, sorrow, depression

  • Power, strong authority when combined with white

  • Limited positive response in décor

  • Reinforces the color it touches, powerful accent


  • Delicate, refined

  • Symbol of purity, chastity, cleanliness

  • All white feels empty or forced

  • Soften edges between colors

  • Encourages precision

  • Clarity, openness and brightness


  • Work longer

  • Creativity

  • More artistic

  • Chameleon

  • Needs accent colors

  • Strong prejudice against grey


  • Homelike, masculine

  • Warmth, snug, secure

  • Universal

  • Solidity

  • Listener

  • Positive food associations

  • Less intensive behavioral response

  • Needs natural associations and less yellow for a positive response.


  • Stronger versions are called purple

  • Uncertainty

  • Royalty, dignity

  • Women generally accept universally

  • Tire of the fastest

  • Seen as artistic and expressive


  • Sweet

  • Can be calming

  • Intensifies when applied

  • Feminine

  • Good accent clothing color


  • Declassifying

  • Informality

  • Stimulating

  • Inexpensive

  • Good around fast food

  • Shares some qualities of red, slightly reduced




  • red, yellow, blue, green, or any combination of

  • White, black and gray possess no hue


  • Black

  • White

  • Gray

Values of Hues

  • is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color.


  • The degree to which a color is mixed with black or is decreasingly illuminated

  • Gradation of darkness


  • A gradation of a color made by adding white to it to lessen its saturation.


  • adding gray to a pure hue


  • The brightness or dullness of a hue.

  • One may lower the intensity by adding white or black

Lower the Intensity

  • Adding black

  • Adding white

  • Adding the complementary color

    • Opposite on the color wheel

Graying a color

  • Add a small amount of its complement

Warm and Cool Colors

Warm Colors

  • Yellow-green to red

  • Advancing- make objects look larger or closer than they really are

Cool Colors

  • Green to red-violet

  • Receding- objects seems larger and farther away

Color Schemes

Color Scheme:

  • A combination of colors selected for a room design in order to create a mood or set a tone

    • Provides guidelines for designing successfully with color

    • Color schemes look best when one color dominates


Types of Color Schemes

1. Neutral

2. Monochromatic

3. Analogous

4. Complementary

5. Split-Complementary

6. Triad

1. Neutral

•Neutral color schemes can be easier to live with than with vibrant color schemes.

•Often used as background colors in rooms because they blend well with other colors

•Touches of accent colors are usually added for interest

2. Monochromatic

  • Tints and shades of one color on the color wheel


  • 3 to 5 hues next to each other on the color wheel

4. Complement

  • Two colors that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel.

5. Split Complement

  • Three colors, they combine one color with the two colors on each side of its complement

6. Triad

  • Three colors that are equal distance apart on the color wheel.

Red Color Scheme

Yellow Color Scheme

Blue Color Scheme

Green Color Scheme

Orange Color Scheme

Purple Color Scheme

HGTV Hot Colors for 2005

The Purples

Browns and Naturals


The Trippy Tints

Pantone Fall 2005 Colors

Color Forecast For


Interior Color Forecast


Color Forcast

  • Techno Color

  • It’s a brave–and beautiful—new world.Techno-Color explodes with bold and bright environmentally friendly hues that enhance your color and design possibilities. The daring colors of this collection dance across any canvas creating dimension and luminescence.

  • Gauntlet Gray SW 7019 Hep Green SW 6704 Reflecting Pool SW 6486

  • Zany Pink SW 6858 Ruby Shade SW 6572 Zircon SW 7667

Local Momentum

  • Putting a local spin on the color wheel.Local Momentum is about embracing the world around you. Raw natural materials and handmadeitems by local artisans are crafted together to make this look. So wherever you live, your home will feel connected to the experience you get every time you step outside

Wool Skein SW 6148 Black Fox SW 7020 Lemon Verbena SW 7726    Grandiose SW 6404 Aqua-Sphere SW 7613 Mesa Tan SW7695

Conscious Luxury

  • Conscious Luxury takes earth-friendly inspiration and gives it an exotic twist. Mineral hues, such as mother of pearl and warm metallic shades, combine earthy sensibility with refined taste. Imagine wrapping yourself in the finest silks and cashmeres shaded with natural flower and root dyes.

Steamed Milk SW 7554 Celestial SW 6808 Plummy SW 6558 Plum Dandy SW 6284 Constant Coral SW 6325 Insightful Rose SW 6023

Global Tapestry

  • Enticing Red SW 6600

  • Gambol Gold SW 6690

  • Basket Beige SW 6143

  • Alexandrite SW 0060

  • Tigereye SW 6362

  • Umber SW 6146

  • One world. One palette. Endless inspiration.Global Tapestry brings color influences from many lands and weaves them together into a brilliant tapestry. Earth-inspired colors from India and Asia blend seamlessly with those of Latin America giving you a whole world of inspiration.


What is Pantone?

  • Color matching system

  • Standardized colors in the CMYK process.

  • The CMYK process is a method of printing color by using four inks—cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Pantone Color of the Year 2009

  • PANTONE videos

Sample Board of an Interior Color Scheme

Accent color

Neutral Color


What happens if you have no color scheme?

Color Scheme and Mandalas

  • Try to make your design with only three colors

    • A three color combination is a good starting point.

    • This is enough to create variation and visual interest.

Apply the 60 - 30 - 10 Rule for Success

  • You should not use equal amounts of the three colors.

  • An old designer's rule is to divide the colors into percentages of 60, 30, and 10.

Need more colors?

  • Sometimes a design require more than three colors.

  • Use shades and tints of your main colors.

Just for Fun…

Do you see a Dalmatian?

In this pipe you will also see a woman

Do you see a rabbit or a duck?

What do you see besides a man? Two people kissing?

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