A color wheel is a circular graph used to visually demonstrate the relationships among colors. According to Sarah Lowengard in “The Creation of Color in Eighteenth-Century Europe,” Isaac Newton is considered the inventor of the modern form of the color wheel, though earlier examples exist.
The color wheel is an easy-to-use reference tool to understand the relationships between colors and color theory.
History - The color wheel was developed by Isaac Newton around 1704. He used a prism to split the colors in sunlight and then linked the color spectrum together in a circle to create the first color wheel.
Color Theory - Color Theory is a set of principles artists and designers used to create visually harmonious color combination.
Terminology - There are three basic groups of colors that make up the color spectrum: primary, secondary and tertiary colors. Analogous colors are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel; complementary colors are colors that are across from each other on the color wheel.
Primary Colors - Primary colors are red, yellow and blue. These are the most basic pigments, and they can be mixed together to form any color.
Secondary Colors - Secondary colors are green, orange and purple. Mixing the adjacent primary colors together forms these colors.
Tertiary Colors - Tertiary colors are formed by mixing a primary and secondary color together. They have two-word names like yellow-green or red-orange.