Basic Colour Theory for Beginners – The Colour Wheel

Basic Colour Theory for Beginners - The Colour WheelWhen learning basic colour theory for beginners, the colour wheel is vital in successful understanding colour basics and how colours relate to each other.

It saves you time, energy and money in mixing the wrong colours and helps you to really understand what colours you will be getting and how to mix them.

With a breakdown of how mixing one colour with one another works and what quantities you need to use on one side and the tints tones and shades on the other, it covers a lot of theory in a quick to view and use way in a small area.


Basic Colour Theory for Beginners – the Colour Wheel And How You Use it

The Colour Wheel for Artists

What is a Colour Wheel?

A colour wheel is a wheel containing various colours usually positioned in a specific way.  It was first invented by Sir Isaac Newton. It is the method traditionally used by artists to show the relationship between the different colours. The colour wheels can vary in their complexity and the shades they show. However, most standard colour wheels contain primary , secondary and tertiary colours.

the basic colour wheel

How does a Colour Wheel Work as a Tool for Artists?

It is a great tool that helps you learn to mix your colours by showing you what colours you get when you mix different amounts.  It also shows you how to mix tones, tints and shades. It can be used not only by beginners but any artist as a good solid reference guide.

Why do you as an Artist Need One?

The are many uses for the colour wheel.

It is important for you to know how to mix the colours yourself that you need when you paint.

By using it to mix your own paints you reduce the number of paint tubes you need to buy.  Which ones depends on who you ask and what you are painting.  However, as a basic guide a warm and cool red, blue and yellow plus white and burnt and raw sienna and umber is a good starting point.

Basic Colour Theory for Beginners – Basic Colour Mixing From Primary Colours

The Colour Wheel - Basic Colour Theory for ArtistsFrom only 3 primary blue, red and yellow you can mix twelve colours plus black.

The 3 Primary Colours

  1. Red
  2. Yellow
  3. Blue

The 3 Secondary Colours

The 3 secondary colours are then mixed from these to make:

  1. Green (Mix yellow +blue)
  2. Orange (red +yellow)
  3. Purple (red + blue)

Now Make the Tertiary Colours

These are made by mixing one of the colours from the primary along with one from the secondary section.

All these make up the 12 colours in the basic colour wheel.

Colour Theory Basics Video – Colour Theory Basics Explained

(The Colour Wheel start to 1.12 of the video)


How to Get Your Own Artists Colour Wheel. Should You Buy or Make it?

There are two ways to get your own colour wheel for artists.  The first is to buy it and the second is to make one.

Buy an Artists Colour Wheel

When you buy an artist’s colour wheel you get a pre-designed wheel like the one below.  It is a fantastic way to guide and help you with mixing and understanding colours no matter which medium you use.  I have a couple of these in various forms including the one below.

As you can see this one shows not only the main colour but all the variations as well and how mixing another will give you a new colour.  It uses both sides. One one side it shows you tint, tone and shade of your chosen colour. The side that is shown here, shows what happens when you add the colour to the top colour and the variations depending on how much colour you add.


You CanBuy a 9.25 inch Color Wheel Color Wheel for Artists on Amazon

How to Use This Colour Wheel Video

Why Make an Artists Colour Wheel?

As a beginner, it is well worth using the bought colour wheel to make your own colour wheel.  By using the wheel in this way it is a great way to learn basic colour theory for beginners and how to mix for yourself.





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