LIS 523 - Color Theory
Some Basic Color Terms
Color in its purest (spectral) form.
Blackness or whiteness of a color.
Hue in proportion to gray of the same lightness.
Mixtures of hue and black.
Mixtures of a hue and white.
Mixtures of a hue and its complement or grays.
Color harmony is defined in terms of the color wheel,
which arranges colors on a circle,
with primary colors 120° apart.
There are two main versions of the color wheel,
depending on what are considered to be primary colors:
the traditional color wheel,
based on paint colors,
where the primaries are red, yellow, and blue;
- color wheels based
either on printer's primary colors of cyan, magenta, and yellow
or on their complements,
display screens' primary colors of red, green, and blue.
The following patterns of color harmony
are commonly recognized by color theorists.
A single hue with variation in lightness and saturation.
Opposites or near opposites on the color wheel.
3-5 colors that are neighbors on the color wheel.
Three colors spread fairly evenly on the color wheel.
- Split complementary.
and analogous on one side.
Picking a Color Scheme
A color may have various possible associations,
often based on what things of that color we encounter in everyday life.
Using a Thematic Image
One way of choosing a color scheme is to take an image
that seems to express the theme that you want to convey
and whose colors seem to accord with the theme,
and then to pick the few most prominent colors from the image.
For example, take this image
Using a color-picker tool in a photo-editing program,
we can identify the following representative colors
that might serve as the basis for a color scheme:
Last updated July 28, 2004.
This page maintained by
Prof. Tim Craven
E-mail (text/plain only): firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty of Information and
University of Western
Canada, N6A 5B7