Monday, June 9, 2014

Using a Colour Wheel Part 1 - Split Complementary

Hi OTR friends, Fiona with you today to share some cards I've created and some knowledge about colour wheels.

People often ask me "How do you know what colours to use?". So I thought I'd begin a series of tutorials on the use of colour. The first one is all about "Split Complementary" colours. Now don't freak out about the word, it's just the technical name for it. It pretty much just means a trio of colours on the colour wheel. You'll be an expert before you know it!

I've created a card to show how to use a "Split Complementary" colour combination and how combining  particular colours can make your creation really pop! You can apply this technique to any project.

Before you do though, you need to have a little bit of knowledge about colour wheels. Not much ...... just a little bit. Below is a picture of a colour wheel.

I have one printed out, laminated and on my studio table at all times. I don't tend to refer to it much any more but when I first started scrapping, particularly once I began adding mixed media techniques to my work, I referred to it often!

It's made up of three types of colours.

  • Primary (colours that CAN'T be made using any other colour)

  • Secondary (the colours made mixing the two primary colours either side of it. Blue and Yellow make Green)

  • Tertiary (the colours made by mixing the Primary and Secondary colours either side of it. Blue and Green make Blue-Green).
Now, a "Split Complementary" colour combination begins with identifying the "Complimentary" combination. This means the colours exactly opposite each other on the colour wheel. I've chosen Blue and Orange as an example.

The "Split Complementary" combination is the two colours either side of the opposite (Complementary) base colour you choose. In this case I decided to go with Orange as my base colour. So my "Split" colours are Blue Violet and Blue Green as they are either side of the opposite to my base colour, Blue.

Once this has been done, you can combine any of those three colours any way you feel will suit your project.

Blue Violet with Blue Green

Orange with Blue green

As you can see, both combinations work really well. I think I will give combining all three colours a go next time. It feels odd but trust the colour wheel. It's never wrong LOL.

I hope this has been helpful. Next tutorial I'll go into identifying "Triadic" colours using the colour wheel. In the mean time enjoy combining this new technique of "Split Complementary" colour schemes that you have learnt today. Post your creations on our Face Book sight HERE and share how the technique worked for you. 

TIP: Always add black and white as neutral colours to any of your colour combinations to help the colours really stand out.

Happy creating


  1. Clever! Interesting & wow! It works....those cards are amazing:):) Thanks for sharing your knowledge:):):)

  2. Thanks for the info on color wheels! I've seen it before-I can't remember the "rules". I'm copying it this time to use in future!!
    Your cards turned out great! Love the purple & teal the best!!

  3. Brilliant, I will be printing a color wheel to have in my craftroom. Thanks so much.

  4. Thanks for sharing Fiona, I must get mine out and have it nearby.

  5. Love this Fiona, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us

  6. Thanks guys. I'm glad you're getting something out of it. I'd forgotten all about this stuff until the other day when my mum reminded me! Can't wait to share the next part xx

  7. Thanks Fiona. Ive never really known how to use a colour wheel. Now I can start :) look forward to the next tutorial

  8. This is awesome, Fiona! I know the basics of the color wheel, but this is awesome and can help so much with choosing colors. And your projects rock!