What is a color scheme

What is meant by a color harmony and which color schemes are harmonious

The concept of color harmony is easy to explain: it is an attempt to create balanced color combinations that are pleasant to look at.

Put simply, this means that you use colors that match each other. A color wheel can be used to determine which colors harmonize well with each other.

Let's look at the different harmonies and compare how these combinations can be chosen.

Monochromatic color harmony

In a monochromatic color scheme, the colors you use are all gradations of one and the same hue.

If all the colors in a picture come from a single color family, the motif appears coherent. The effect on the viewer is basically calming, as the colors in the work do not play against each other.

Of course, a monochrome color harmony does not automatically lead to a calm picture. A painting with many shades of bright color can look very hectic.

Complementary color harmony

Example of complementary harmony: green and red

A complementary color harmony is probably the most popular type in advertising. Complementary colors are used to emphasize contrast and create drama.

Complementary colors are a pair of colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.

The key to using complementary harmonies is to make sure the colors stand out but don't overwhelm the viewer.

Partly complementary color harmony

Example of partially complementary harmony: red, blue-green, yellow-green

Partially complementary harmony is similar to complementary harmony. But instead of focusing on two colors of a complementary pair, this variant includes three colors. One base color and two colors that are on the color wheel directly next to the complementary color of the base color.

An example would be a combination of red, teal, and yellow-green.

This type of color harmony is an often preferred alternative to complementary color harmony, because although there is still a great contrast, the result is not as tense.

Analog color harmony

What is meant is the use of colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. This harmony tends to create a calm and serene atmosphere. This form is often found in nature, where neighboring colors of the green spectrum appear.

When choosing this color harmony, it is important to ensure that there is enough contrast to create some demarcation between the colors. Choosing one dominant and two subordinate colors helps.

Triadic color scheme

A triadic color scheme consists of three colors, each equally spaced on the color wheel. Purple, orange, and green form a triad, as do red, blue, and yellow.

Since the colors in such a triad are so different in terms of hue and brightness, their compositions are usually very vivid. Therefore, careful consideration must be given to how the three colors are balanced.

A best practice to do this is to highlight one of the colors and use the other two as accents.

Tetradic color scheme

A tetradic color scheme uses a choice of four colors made up of two complementary pairs. This is a popular color scheme because it offers so many variations.

Tetradic color harmonies work best when two warm and two cold colors are used. In addition, it is best to choose one of the four colors as dominant in order not to overwhelm the viewer with too many colors of equal importance. A little compositional skill is required here.

Square color scheme

Like the tetradic, the square color scheme uses four colors. The difference is that each of the four colors is equally spaced on the color wheel.

The result is similar, however, since two pairs of colors are also used in the square color harmony.

Conclusion on color harmony in art

As with the other aspects of color theory, you can rely on color harmonies to take better photos or paint paintings.

Depending on your objective, you should, however, make sure to weaken the effects of a certain harmony by weighting the proportions of individual colors or to steer them in a certain direction.