4. Color Combinations

There are harmonious color combinations that are popularly used among graphic designers for posters and publications and also in cartoons. Many of these combinations can be broken down into the following color schemes.

1. Complementary

As we studied in the previous chapter, complementary colors are opposite to each other on color wheel.

The use of complimentary colors can make an artwork look vibrant. However, this combination is difficult to use because this combination can also result in a tacky and jarring appearance. You need to be careful how to use them especially in large doses.

2. Analogous

Analogous is the three color combinations right next to each other on the color wheel. This color scheme creates a balanced and serene look.

You can find analogous color schemes in nature. We find it harmonious and pleasing. When using this color scheme, make sure that you pick colors with enough tonal contrast from each other. Otherwise, the colors will start look too similar.

For a successful design, you want to choose one color to be dominate, the second color to support and the third color to accent.

3. Split-complimentary

Instead of using colors on the opposite side of the wheel, Split-complimentary color schemes use a color and two colors adjacent of its complimentary color.

As a variation of the complimentary color scheme, this color scheme can give a sense of vibrant visual contrast but with much less tension.

This color scheme is easy to use because it is hard to mess up its harmony.

4. Triad

A triad color scheme uses three colors that are spaced evenly on the color wheel.

For a successful design in this color scheme, use one color as the dominant color and other two as accent colors.

5. Rectangle (tetradic) and Square Color Scheme

Rectangle (tetradic) and square color scheme uses four colors which can also be grouped as two sets of complimentary colors. When colors are connected by lines, rectangle color schemes form a rectangle and square color schemes form a square on the color wheel as you can see in the images on the left.

For a successful design in these color schemes, make sure to use one color as the dominant color and the others as accent colors.

When using rectangle or square color schemes, pay attention to the balance between cool and warm colors in the design. Warm colors and cool colors can carry different moods and emotions in the composition.

Samples: Color schemes used in different designs

Complimentary Color Scheme, source: https://graphicmama.com/blog/the-best-color-combinations-to-try-in-2020/
Rectangle Color Scheme, source: https://uxplanet.org/design-tips-how-to-create-illustrations-for-it-blog-87d4a7d9405d
Split-Complimentary Color Scheme, source: https://www.behance.net/MariaShishova
Analogous Color Scheme, source: https://www.behance.net/gallery/86124977/2020-Design-Trends
Analogous Color Scheme interior design, source: https://www.thespruce.com/analogous-color-schemes-for-the-bedroom-350527
Complimentary Color Scheme, source: https://zevendesign.com/color-harmony-hulk-wears-purple-pants/

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