Color scheme

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Celebration with fireworks over Miami, Florida on American Independence Day. Bank of America Tower is also lit with the red, white and blue color scheme. Miamifireworks.jpg
Celebration with fireworks over Miami, Florida on American Independence Day. Bank of America Tower is also lit with the red, white and blue color scheme.

In color theory, a color scheme is the choice of colors used in design for a range of media. For example, the "Achromatic" use of a white background with black text is an example of a basic and commonly default color scheme in web design.

In the visual arts, color theory or colour theory is a body of practical guidance to color mixing and the visual effects of a specific color combination. There are also definitions of colors based on the color wheel: primary color, secondary color, and tertiary color. Although color theory principles first appeared in the writings of Leone Battista Alberti and the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, a tradition of "colory theory" began in the 18th century, initially within a partisan controversy over Isaac Newton's theory of color and the nature of primary colors. From there it developed as an independent artistic tradition with only superficial reference to colorimetry and vision science.

A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specification in the form of a prototype, product or process. The verb to design expresses the process of developing a design. In some cases, the direct construction of an object without an explicit prior plan may also be considered to be a design activity. A design usually has to satisfy certain goals and constraints, may take into account aesthetic, functional, economic, or socio-political considerations, and is expected to interact with a certain environment. Major examples of designs include architectural blueprints, engineering drawings, business processes, circuit diagrams, and sewing patterns.

White color

White is the lightest color and is achromatic. It is the color of fresh snow, chalk and milk, and is the opposite of black. White objects fully reflect and scatter all the visible wavelengths of light. White on television and computer screens is created by a mixture of red, blue and green light.


Color schemes are used to create style and appeal. Colors that create an aesthetic feeling when used together will commonly accompany each other in color schemes. A basic color scheme will use two colors that look appealing together. More advanced color schemes involve several related colors in "Analogous" combination, for example, text with such colors as red, yellow, and orange arranged together on a black background in a magazine article. The addition of light blue creates an "Accented Analogous" color scheme.

Aesthetics Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty, and taste

Aesthetics, or esthetics : is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty and taste, with the creation or appreciation of beauty : a particular theory or conception of beauty or art : a particular taste for or approach to what is pleasing to the senses and especially sight.

Red Color

Red is the color at the end of the visible spectrum of light, next to orange and opposite violet. It has a dominant wavelength of approximately 625–740 nanometres. It is a primary color in the RGB color model and the CMYK color model, and is the complementary color of cyan. Reds range from the brilliant yellow-tinged scarlet and vermillion to bluish-red crimson, and vary in shade from the pale red pink to the dark red burgundy. The red sky at sunset results from Rayleigh scattering, while the red color of the Grand Canyon and other geological features is caused by hematite or red ochre, both forms of iron oxide. Iron oxide also gives the red color to the planet Mars. The red color of blood comes from protein hemoglobin, while ripe strawberries, red apples and reddish autumn leaves are colored by anthocyanins.

Yellow color

Yellow is the color between orange and green on the spectrum of visible light. It is evoked by light with a dominant wavelength of roughly 570–590 nm. It is a primary color in subtractive color systems, used in painting or color printing. In the RGB color model, used to create colors on television and computer screens, yellow is a secondary color made by combining red and green at equal intensity. Carotenoids give the characteristic yellow color to autumn leaves, corn, canaries, daffodils, and lemons, as well as egg yolks, buttercups, and bananas. They absorb light energy and protect plants from photodamage. Sunlight has a slight yellowish hue when sun is near a horizon, due to atmosphere scattering shorter wavelengths.

Color schemes can contain different "Monochromatic" shades of a single color; for example, a color scheme that mixes different shades of green, ranging from very light (white), to very neutral (gray), to very dark (black).

Use of the phrase color scheme may also and commonly does refer to choice and use of colors used outside typical aesthetic media and context, although may still be used for purely aesthetic effect as well as for purely practical reasons. This most typically refers to color patterns and designs as seen on vehicles, particularly those used in the military when concerning color patterns and designs used for identification of friend or foe, identification of specific military units, or as camouflage. In hotel room designs, the relationship between preferences of color schemes and gender was detected. Male guests tend to prefer masculine color schemes, while female guests favor feminine color schemes [1] .

Vehicle Mobile machine that transports people, animals or cargo

A vehicle is a machine that transports people or cargo. Vehicles include wagons, bicycles, motor vehicles, railed vehicles, watercraft, amphibious vehicles, aircraft and spacecraft.

Military Organization primarily tasked with preparing for and conducting war

A military is a heavily-armed, highly organised force primarily intended for warfare, also known collectively as armed forces. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their distinct military uniform. It may consist of one or more military branches such as an Army, Navy, Air Force and in certain countries, Marines and Coast Guard. The main task of the military is usually defined as defence of the state and its interests against external armed threats.

Identification friend or foe electronic system used to positively identify friendly systems

Identification, friend or foe (IFF) is a radar-based identification system designed for command and control. It uses a transponder that listens for an interrogation signal and then sends a response that identifies the broadcaster. It enables military and civilian air traffic control interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator. IFF may be used by both military and civilian aircraft. IFF was first developed during the Second World War, with the arrival of radar, and several friendly fire incidents.

A color scheme in marketing is referred to as a trade dress and can sometimes be protected by trademark or trade dress laws, as is the pink color of Owens Corning fiberglass. [2]

Marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships. Marketing is the business process of creating relationships with and satisfying customers. With its focus on the customer, marketing is one of the primary components of business management.

Trade dress is a legal term of art that generally refers to characteristics of the visual appearance of a product or its packaging that signify the source of the product to consumers. Trade dress is a form of intellectual property.

Trademark Recognizable sign, design or expression which identifies products or services

A trademark is a type of intellectual property consisting of a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others, although trademarks used to identify services are usually called service marks. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organization, or any legal entity. A trademark may be located on a package, a label, a voucher, or on the product itself. For the sake of corporate identity, trademarks are often displayed on company buildings. It is legally recognized as a type of intellectual property.

Color schemes are often described in terms of logical combinations of colors on a color wheel. Different[ which? ] types of schemes are used. [3] [4] [5]

Color wheel abstract illustrative organization of color hues

A color wheel or color circle is an abstract illustrative organization of color hues around a circle, which shows the relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors etc.



Example of monochromatic color CPT-Websites-monochrome.svg
Example of monochromatic color

Monochromatic colors are all the colors (tints, tones, and shades) of a single hue. Monochromatic color schemes are derived from a single base hue, and extended using its shades, tones and tints (that is, a hue modified by the addition of black, gray (black + white) and white. As a result, the energy is more subtle and peaceful due to a lack of contrast of hue.

Hue Property of a color indicating balance of color perceived by the normal human eye

Hue is one of the main properties of a color, defined technically, as "the degree to which a stimulus can be described as similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow",. Hue can typically be represented quantitatively by a single number, often corresponding to an angular position around a central or neutral point or axis on a colorspace coordinate diagram or color wheel, or by its dominant wavelength or that of its complementary color. The other color appearance parameters are colorfulness, saturation, lightness, and brightness.


Chevreul's 1855 "chromatic diagram" based on the RYB color model, showing complementary colors and other relationships Chevreul's RYB chromatic diagram.png
Chevreul's 1855 "chromatic diagram" based on the RYB color model, showing complementary colors and other relationships

For the mixing of colored light, Newton's color wheel is often used to describe complementary colors, which are colors which cancel each other's hue to produce an achromatic (white, gray or black) light mixture. Newton offered as a conjecture that colors exactly opposite one another on the hue circle cancel out each other's hue; this concept was demonstrated more thoroughly in the 19th century.[ citation needed ]

A key assumption in Newton's hue circle was that the "fiery" or maximum saturated hues are located on the outer circumference of the circle, while achromatic white is at the center. Then the saturation of the mixture of two spectral hues was predicted by the straight line between them; the mixture of three colors was predicted by the "center of gravity" or centroid of three triangle points, and so on.

Split-Complementary: The split-complementary (also called 'Compound Harmony') color scheme is a variation of the complementary color scheme. In addition to the base color, it uses the two "Analogous" colors adjacent to its complement. Split-complementary color scheme has the same strong visual contrast as the complementary color scheme, but has less pressure.


Any color that lacks strong chromatic content is said to be 'unsaturated, achromatic, or near neutral'. Pure achromatic colors include black, white and all grays; near neutrals include browns, tans, pastels and darker colors. Near neutrals can be of any hue or lightness.

Neutrals are obtained by mixing pure colors with white, black or gray, or by mixing two complementary colors. In color theory, neutral colors are colors easily modified by adjacent more saturated colors and they appear to take on the hue complementary to the saturated color. Next to a bright red couch, a gray wall will appear distinctly greenish.

Black and white have long been known to combine well with almost any other colors; black decreases the apparent saturation or brightness of colors paired with it, and white shows off all hues to equal effect. [6]


Analogous colors (also called Dominance Harmony) color scheme are groups of colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, with one being the dominant color, which tends to be a primary or secondary color, and two on either side complementing, which tend to be tertiary.

The term analogous refers to the having analogy, or corresponding to something in particular. An analogous color scheme creates a rich, monochromatic look. It’s best used with either warm or cool colors, creating a look that has a certain temperature as well as proper color harmony. While this is true, the scheme also lacks contrast and is less vibrant than complementary schemes.[ citation needed ]

Red, reddish-orange, orange, yellow-orange is one example of a set of analogous colors.

Accented analogous

An accented analogous complementary scheme utilizes related hues lying adjacent on the color wheel with a hue directly opposite to these. This direct complement becomes the accent color, used to create a dominant color grouping of three similar colors accented with the direct complement (or the near complement) of one of them. The complementary accent color creates an interesting contrast against the dominant color grouping. This scheme is frequently used to put a warm accent color with a cool analogous color pallet, or a cool accent color with a warm pallet.


Example of a triadic color scheme Triadic colors.png
Example of a triadic color scheme

The triadic color scheme uses three colors equally spaced around the color wheel. The easiest way to place them on the wheel is by using a triangle of equal sides. Triadic color schemes tend to be quite vibrant, even when using pale or unsaturated versions of hues, offers a higher degree of contrast while at the same time retains the color harmony. This scheme is very popular among artists because it offers strong visual contrast while retaining balance, and color richness. The triadic scheme is not as contrasting as the complementary scheme, but it is easier to accomplish balance and harmony with these colors.

The primary colors are an example of a triadic color scheme.


The tetradic (double complementary) colors scheme is the richest of all the schemes because it uses four colors arranged into two complementary color pairs. This scheme is hard to harmonize and requires a color to be dominant or subdue the colors; if all four colors are used in equal amounts, the scheme may look unbalanced.


The rectangle color scheme uses four colors arranged into two complementary pairs and offers plenty of possibilities for variation. Rectangle color schemes work best when one color is dominant.


The square color scheme is similar to the rectangle, but with all four colors spaced evenly around the color circle. Square color schemes works best when all colors are evenly balanced.


The term polychromatic means having several colors.

It is used to describe light that exhibits more than one color, which also means that it contains radiation of more than one wavelength. The study of polychromatics is particularly useful in the production of diffraction gratings.

See also

Related Research Articles

Magenta color visible between red and purple; subtractive (CMY) primary color

Magenta is a color that is variously defined as purplish-red, reddish-purple or mauvish-crimson. On color wheels of the RGB (additive) and CMY (subtractive) color models, it is located midway between red and blue. It is one of the four colors of ink used in color printing by an inkjet printer, along with yellow, black, and cyan, to make all the other colors. The tone of magenta used in printing is called "printer's magenta".

Munsell color system

In colorimetry, the Munsell color system is a color space that specifies colors based on three properties of color: hue, value (lightness), and chroma. It was created by Professor Albert H. Munsell in the first decade of the 20th century and adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the official color system for soil research in the 1930s.

Monochrome shades of one color; describes paintings, drawings, design, or photographs in one color or values of one color, having only one colour

A monochromic image is composed of one color. The term monochrome comes from the Ancient Greek: μονόχρωμος, romanized: monochromos, lit. 'having one color'.

Complementary colors pairs of colors which, when combined, cancel each other out

Complementary colors are pairs of colors which, when combined or mixed, cancel each other out by producing a grayscale color like white or black. When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those two colors. Complementary colors may also be called "opposite colors."

Subtractive color mixing of paints, dyes, inks, and natural colorants

Subtractive color, or "subtractive color mixing", predicts the spectral power distribution of light after it passes through successive layers of partially absorbing media. This idealized model is the essential principle of how dyes and inks are used in color printing and photography where the perception of color is elicited after white light passes through microscopic "stacks" of partially absorbing media allowing some wavelengths of light to reach the eye and not others.

Dominant wavelength any monochromatic spectral light that evokes the corresponding opposite perception of hue

In color science, the dominant wavelength are ways of characterizing any light mixture in terms of the monochromatic spectral light that evokes an identical perception of hue. For a given physical light mixture, the dominant and complementary wavelengths are not entirely fixed, but vary according to the illuminating light's precise color, called the white point, due to the color constancy of vision.

Choropleth map

A choropleth map is a thematic map in which areas are shaded or patterned in proportion to the measurement of the statistical variable being displayed on the map, such as population density or per-capita income.

A color model is an abstract mathematical model describing the way colors can be represented as tuples of numbers, typically as three or four values or color components. When this model is associated with a precise description of how the components are to be interpreted, the resulting set of colors is called "color space." This section describes ways in which human color vision can be modeled.

The Abney effect describes the perceived hue shift that occurs when white light is added to a monochromatic light source.

Color solid the three-dimensional representation of a color model

A color solid is the three-dimensional representation of a color model, an analog of the two-dimensional color wheel. The added spatial dimension allows a color solid to depict an added dimension of color variation. Whereas a two-dimensional color wheel typically depicts the variables of hue and lightness, a color solid adds the variable of colorfulness, allowing the solid to depict all conceivable colors in an organized three-dimensional structure.

Monochromatic color colour of a single hue

Monochromatic colors are all the colors of a single hue.

In color theory, color harmony refers to the property that certain aesthetically pleasing color combinations have. These combinations create pleasing contrasts and consonances that are said to be harmonious. These combinations can be of complementary colors, split-complementary colors, color triads, or analogous colors. Color harmony has been a topic of extensive study throughout history, but only since the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution has it seen extensive codification. Artists and designers make use of these harmonies in order to achieve certain moods or aesthetics.

Tints and shades a mixture of a color with white or black

In color theory, a tint is a mixture of a color with white, which reduces darkness, while a shade is a mixture with black, which increases darkness. Both processes affect the resulting color mixture's relative lightness. A tone is produced either by mixing a color with grey, or by both tinting and shading. Mixing a color with any neutral color reduces the chroma, or colorfulness, while the hue remains unchanged.

Shades of gray Variations of the color gray

Variations of gray or grey include achromatic grayscale shades, which lie exactly between white and black, and nearby colors with low colorfulness. A selection of a number of these various colors is shown below.

This article provides introductory information about the RGB, HSV, and HSL color models from a computer graphics perspective. An introduction to colors is also provided to support the main discussion.

Analogous colors

Analogous colors are groups of three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, sharing a common color, with one being the dominant color, which tends to be a primary or secondary color, and a tertiary. Red, orange, and red-orange are examples.


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