drawing Drawing Tutorial

Introduction to Colour Theory

Ever find your art lacking that pop, or somehow unnatural looking? It might be the colours! In this tutorial I will show you the basics to color theory and how to create harmony amongst your colours.

Tutorial category: drawing  
Tutorial type:
Submitted by:
Tools used: Applies to all digital and traditional media arts.




Step 1

This is a very basic traditional colour wheel consisting of the primary colours (red, yellow, and blue), secondary colours (orange, green, and purple), and tertiary colors (red-orange, orange-yellow, yellow-green, green-blue, blue-purple, purple-red). From this wheel we will learn the basics on how to combine colours in a variety of ways.


Step 2

Before we move on we need to know the difference between warm and cool colours. Red, orange, and yellow are considered to be warm colours. Purple, blue, and green are considered to be cool colours.



Step 3

The most easiest way to select colours is by selecting colours across from each other on the wheel. This is known as a complementary harmony. Complementary colours work well when you want to draw more attention to something (for example your character's eyes).


Step 4

Selecting a colour and two colours beside it's complement is known as a split-complementary harmony. This is a good harmony to first use when just beginning with colour theory because it is hard to mess up.


Step 5

Another easy way to select colours is by selecting colours beside each other on the wheel. This is known as an analogous harmony. Be careful not to choose too many colors because this will wreck the harmony.



Step 6

Colours that are evenly spaced around the colour wheel are a triadic harmony. This harmony is usually quite vibrant.


Step 7

When you select two colours along with their complements this is a tetradic harmony. This harmony is difficult to balance and is the most vibrant of the colour harmonies. It is usually better if you let only one colour dominate. Also pay attention to the balance between warm and cool colours. Imbalance in warm and cool colours often wrecks this harmony.


Step 8

That's all there is to it! Make sure to play around with colours and find schemes you like. You might have noticed in the tutorial some colours were darkened or desaturated a bit. Sometimes a colour may be too vibrant or unnatural in your colour scheme and you'll want to dull it a bit to balance the colours. When in doubt go with what looks right or what looks the best.

97 online members & visitors
See who's online
Follow us on:
RateMyDrawings on FacebookRateMyDrawings on YouTube RateMyDrawings on Twitter

About RateMyDrawings Terms & Conditions Advertise on RMD Privacy Policy Donate Behavior Guide

Mixart New Media LLC. Online Art Communities
As creators of drawings, you own the rights to your own drawings. Respect copyright protected artwork.
More information in our Terms and Copyright Policy.