Y’all, I’ve been reading essays on color theory and thinking about color in embroidery design. And I noticed that there’s a missing piece in nearly all the online discussions I could find. Such a big hole, in fact, that I had to make my own color wheel because I couldn’t find one online (it’s pretty standard in art classes, though). I’m talking about the tertiary colors. Lots of folks know the standard secondary color wheel (the middle wheel below: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple), but tell me: where is BROWN?!?! Brown is a color. That wheel is clearly incomplete! I present to you the full color wheel:
The inner wheel contains the primary colors (red, yellow, blue). The middle wheel includes the secondary colors, created by mixing two primary colors (for instance green = yellow + blue). The outer wheel includes the tertiary colors, created by mixing THREE primary colors. I will now quote my Expert Artist Consultant (hi mom!):
“Tertiary colors are those wonderfully subtle shades of mud. Browns, gray browns, yellow grays, gray greens, olive, blue gray, purple grays, maroon. All these colors are made by combining all three primary colors in varying degrees. For example, Red + (Lots of Yellow) + (a little bit of blue) = browns. Depending on how much and which yellow, red, and blue you use you will get anything from a deep maroon, to rusty brown, to gold, to tans.”
This applies to all colors:
- Blue + (Lots of Red) + (a little bit of yellow) = various shades of grey
- Yellow + (Lots of Blue) + (a little bit of red) = olive greens
Or you can mix two secondary colors:
- purple + green = (red + blue) + (blue + yellow) = greys and slates
If you take a look at the tertiary color wheel, you can see the different shades of greys you can get with varying proportions of purple and green.
So, don’t restrict yourself to the secondary color wheel! You may be distorting your color palette if you are using it as a basis for embroidery design. There are tons of tertiary colors missing – and out of sight, out of mind. I will be talking more about color and embroidery design in the future. I have a whole series of posts in mind!
Anyway, here are some blank color wheel diagrams you can download if you want to try it out yourself with embroidery, photoshop, paints, pastels, or whatever (format: pdf, png). Experiment away! Changing mixing proportions or using powder blue will create different versions of the color wheel. And feel free to use a copy of my own color wheel – just leave my blog address on there.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, I’M TURNING TWENTY-EIGHT!!!!!