Colour system

Colour system

Throughout history, humans have been creating system for identifying and organising colour.

The colour wheel is the basic tool for combining colours. The colour wheel is designed so that virtually any colours you pick from it will look good together. Over the years, many variations of the basic design have been made, but the most common version is a wheel of 12 colours based on the RYB (or artistic) colour model.


02 Colour system color-wheel-300

Traditionally, there are a number of colour combinations that are considered especially pleasing. These are called colour harmonies or colour chords and they consist of two or more colours with a fixed relation in the colour wheel.

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Colours

PRIMARY COLOURS are red, yellow and blue.

SECONDARY COLOURS (green, orange and purple) are created by mixing two primary colours.

TERTIARY COLOURS are created by mixing primary and secondary colours.

Properties of Colour

The scientific description of colour includes all of the relevant properties of a colour subjectively and objectively. The subjective description includes the hue, saturation, and lightness or brightness of a colour.

HUE refers to what is commonly called colour, i.e., red, green, blue-green, orange, etc.

SATURATION refers to the richness of a hue as compared to a grey of the same brightness; this is also known as chroma.

VALUE measures the brightness of an opaque object on a scale from dim to bright or from black to white.

02 Colour system-hue-value-saturation

Colour Temperature

Colour, inherently, has temperature. Colour can be described as being warm (reds, oranges, yellows) or cold (blues, greens). Neutrals (whites, greys) also have ranges of temperatures.Whites can shift in tone from cool to warm, and the change in temperature can enhance and tie together a colour scheme. Greys, too, have temperature. In the Pantone colour system, cool greys tend toward blue, while warm greys gradate toward brown.

14 colourtemperature

14 colourtemperature01 14 colourtemperature02

Colour Schemes

Colour schemes are the result of turning colour combinations into a set of rules for an interior palette. Grounded in colour theory, the designer can creatively select and organize colour in harmonious combinations. In the abstract-that is, when colour is not tied to a material-there are six “classic” combinations of colour: monochromatic, analogous, complementary, split complementary, triadic, and tetradic. The examples below use a full-saturation colour wheel, but the designer can vary both saturation and brightness.

14 colourscheme


Colour in the making, Black dot publishing, UK,2013

Color and how to use it, 2010,By William F.Powel


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