Color wheel

Combining colors harmoniously... For some people, it's natural; for others, it's a bit harder... Yet, for modelling or fimo paste, or to make a table decoration, we often have to make a color choice. Is it about taste? Maybe not... What if mere rules existed? The aim of this section is to give you some easy tips which may help you... hopefully they will make you dare to try new mixtures

Making colors

  • Primary colors : the 3 essential colors which can't be created from other colors. 

couleurs primaires

 They are called : primary yellow, primary blue or cyan and primary red or magenta.

Couleurs secondaires

  • Secondary colors : all combinations of colors (3) from mixing two primary colors.
    • Violet = blue + red
    • Green = blue + yellow
    • Orange = yelllow +red   
  • Tertiary colors : a mixture with equal quantities of a primary color and of a secondary color.
    • Turquoise = 1 green + 1 blue = 3/2 blue + 1/2 yellow
    • Bluebell (indigo/blue-violet) = 1 violet +1 blue = 3/2 blue + 1/2 red
    • Sulfur (or green Chartreuse or greenish-yellow) = 1 green + 1 yellow = 3/2 yellow + 1/2 blue
    • Saffron (or orange-yellow) = 1 orange + 1 yellow = 3/2 yellow + 1/2 red
    • Nasturtium (or scarlet or red-orange) =1 orange + 1 red = 3/2 red + 1/2 yellow
    • Garnet-red  (or crimson or red-violet) = 1 violet + 1 red = 3/2 red + 1/2 blue

Couleurs tertiaires

  • Shades 
    • Shades are obtained by mixing a color with more or less white : degrading the color.
    • Shades can also be obtained by mixing a color with more or less black : darkening the color. Ex : purple is a mixture between violet and black.
    • In both examples, the colors mixed with black or white are less vivid.

teintes de couleursNuances de couleur

  • Black's special case :
  • it can be obtained :
    • Mixing 3 primary colors
    • Mixing a color with its complementary color
    • Combining colors

The chromatic circle

  • The basic chromatic circle (or chromatic wheel) shows the sequence of the primary, secondary and tertiary colors with more or less intermediate colors.
  • With this circle, you will easily find the best combination of 2, 3 or 4 colors, tone on tone, harmonious combination or combination of contrasts, big principles in combining colors.
  • To make it easier, we suggest to upload a .pdf document which represents the chromatic circle with various combinations in a smaller circle. All you have to do is to cut up these 2 circles and to attach them in the middle with a brace. télécharger un pdf en couleur

cercle chromatique

Tone on tone

  • This is about adapting one color with lighter tones (more white) and/or darker (more black).
  • This is the easiest range to do, but be careful with monotony!
  • We talk about a monochromatic combine.

Colors harmony

  • This is about combining nearby colors on the chromatic circle.
  • They help to create stimulating contrasts, and to keep a harmony.
  • We talk about combining similar colors.

Examples :

safran jaune soufre

saffron / yellow / sulfur

capucine magenta grenat

bellflower / magenta / garnet-red





Color contrasts

  • The simple combination of 2 complementary colors
    • The complementary color of another color is the one which is completely on the opposite side of the chromatic circle.
    • By putting a color next to its complementary color, the color seems brighter than it is.
    • Complementary colors are harmonized. Why? Because our eye naturally looks for the 3 primary colors.
    • Tricks to determine the complementarity of a color : 
      • Put the color on a sheet of white paper to find its complementary color.
      • Stare at it for one minute.
      • Remove it and look at the sheet of paper : the complementary color will appear!

association contraste couleurs

Example : in the combination yellow + violet, the eye sees the yellow color and finds magenta, cyan, and violet. 

 jaune   violet

Other examples : 

orange cyan

orange / cyan

magenta vert

magenta / green





  • Combination with the triange of complementary colors
    • It includes one color and two colors that surround its complementary color on the chromatic circle.
    • It's also harmonious because it contains each primary color.

association couleurs complémentaires

Example : in the combination yellow + garnet-red + bellflower, there is yellow and indirectly magenta (in the garnet-red) and cyan (in bellflower).
jaune grenat campanule

Other examples :

campanule turquoise orange

bellflower / turquoise / orange

magenta violet soufre

magenta / violet / sulfur





  • Equilateral triangle combination on a chromatic circle
    • It is always about a mixture of red, yellow and blue.
    • That's why these various combinations are often used in kids' worlds.  

association couleurs

Examples : 

jaune magenta cyan

yellow / magenta / cyan 

orange violet vert

orange / violet / green 






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