Understanding the color wheel

Written by Bruce Hughes on . Posted in Apps

Color theory is essential for graphic design. When used properly, color can help you create a stunning effect, not to mention that it is a central part of any design. Unfortunately, the importance of color in design is often overlooked and designers work with color wheels without properly understanding their purpose and applications. The color wheel was developed to help people understand the relationship between colors, mainly to see which colors are complementary to each other. Graphic designers use the color wheel Photoshop offers to play with color and create sensational effects as well as modify photos and pictures more easily. Choosing a color scheme for your new project is probably the most important and difficult decision you need to make, because color influences the way in which people perceive and interpret the design you create and the message you wish to transmit. This is why understanding the color wheel and its uses is essential for a graphic designer especially in the beginning. Without laying out the foundation, the skills you develop over the years while working in Photoshop will eventually suffer a setback.

What are color models?


There are three primary colors: red, blue and yellow. Mixing any two would result in secondary colors such as purple and orange, while mixing a primary and secondary color will result in tertiary colors. Color wheels have various models of colors and RGB (red green blue) is the most common one. This additive color model defines color spaces by using the red, green and blue, which are considered primary colors in the digital world. CMYK is another popular color model, which is a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This model is used to improve print quality. Last, but not least is the HSB or HSV model, which is based on color properties: hue, saturation and brightness or value. Hue is the color type or nuance, which can range from 0 to 360°, saturation refers to the intensity of the color and the brightness or value is the luminosity of the color.


Choosing the right color scheme


You should choose your color scheme depending on what you wish to achieve with your design and what message you wish to communicate. Color will influence people and decisions, so a great color scheme choice can make the difference between a very attractive and successful design and a mediocre one. The first thing you should keep in mind is that color should be used in moderation. Using too many colors will only make the design look tacky and confuse the audience. In design, simplicity and impact should be your goals. Therefore, you need to come up with a color scheme limited to three or four colors. Keep in mind that different colors portray different things, so choose blue, if you wish to depict confidence and calmness or yellow for happiness and curiosity.