Basic Color Wheel Information
One of the most important things about colors is how they relate to one another. Colors can compliment and enhance one another, or they can detract and clash with one another. This effect is governed by well understood color principles, which means that even if you have no taste, you can at least use tried and tested methods to help you determine which colors go together.
A color wheel is a tool which lays out colors according to their relationship to one another. It starts out with the three basic colors, Red, Green, and Blue. These colors are then mixed together in varying levels, to create the many shades which lie between them on the wheel. In this way a color wheel takes every possible variation and lays them out in a gradient.
Analogous and Complimentary Colors
The color wheel is useful because it gives you an easy way of understanding which colors go well together. Colors which are next to one another on the color wheel are analogous. These will be similar to one another, and will generally work well together. Colors opposite from one another are complimentary. These colors work well when one is dominant, and the other acts as an accent, contrasting off of it.
Three Color Designs
When three colors are used, there are actually three different arrangements on the color wheel, which can give you a matching pattern. The first is to select three colors which are right next to one another on the wheel. This is generally done by making the central color primary, and having its flanks play a supporting role.
Another complimentary color pattern is to sue three colors which are an equal distance from one another on the color wheel. This creates a scheme in which all three colors balance one another out with their contrasts, and in which a harmonious effect can emerge.
The third tertiary scheme is to use the colors to the right and left of your main colors direct compliment. These two colors balance one another out, to create a harmony similar to a contrasting two part color scheme
Four Part Color Designs
When using four colors you have to be careful, as you are getting into a very complex design. Generally on the color wheel, a four part harmony is produced by colors which are an equal distance apart. However, you have to be careful, as deciding how much of each color to use is a very exact process.
You should probably try and find examples of spaces which use your four colors successfully, to help guide you on your path. This can be done by flipping through design and home living books. Another place to find matching colors is in the designs on wall paper and in fabric.
The color wheel is an invaluable tool for selecting the right color. It will tell you which matches are potentially good, and which may present problems. However the final look of the space will still have to be decided by personal taste, so you should always test your colors out before committing to them.