When doing art and craft, it can seem difficult to find colour combinations or colour harmonies where colours just go together.
You may not do much art and craft, but you might want to make a one off something that you can donate to the local fete or charity stall.
While it can take some time to figure out what colours go together, this post will help you decide what colour combinations you could use. You can also use these combinations in all your artistic creations – no matter what your artistic or creative level, or how often you get to create.
If you want to know more, we have written a post that provides a deeper understanding of these 10 main colour relationships, and how they can be used with colour temperature to make colour harmony.
The colour wheel clock
First, we have the colour wheel. This post will look at the colour wheel as a clock (where colour is grouped into clock positions), and not focus on what makes up those colours. We’ll look at the colour combinations you can choose. These colours are based on combinations of clock positions. Essentially, this post is about the colour family groups that can be placed side by side, or together – rather than mixed to make new colours.
The monochromatic colour relationship is presented when all the hues, shades, tones and tints of one colour family are used.
2. Analoguous 2
The next simple colour harmony is the analoguous colour relationship. In this relationship, two colours that sit beside each other on the colour wheel are combined to create a colour combination. For example, 12.00 o’clock and 1.00 o’clock are used together, or 1.00 o’clock and 2.00 o’clock.
3. Analoguous 3
Once again, like the analoguous 2 colour harmony, this relationship adds a third colour to the group. Say, 12.00 o’clock, 1.00 o’clock and 2 o’clock.
4. Analoguous 4
And again, analoguous 4 is the adding of another colour to the group. Say, you would have 12.00 o’clock, 1.00 o’clock, 2.00 o’clock and 3.00 o’clock.
5. Analoguous 5
Finally, while usually not included in the analoguous colour relationship, a fifth colour is added to the previous 4 colours that sit side by side on the colour wheel. In our examples, this would be 4.00 o’clock added to the 12.00 o’clock, 1.00 o’clock, 2.00 o’clock and 3.00 o’clock. This colour combination can be an issue when you are mixing warm and cool colours. We won’t go into warm and cool colours here, just so you know what you can place side by side to get pleasant colour harmony.
Now with the analoguous colours completed, let’s look at the complementary colour relationships.
Complementary colours are the colours that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. Be careful here, as the colours can be jarring when placed together. You might want to have less of one of the colours in your creation. In our example below, 12.00 o’clock (red) and 6.00 o’clock (green) are complementary colours. Think Christmas colours.
Next up, we have the split complementary colour relationship.
7. Split complementary colour combination
This colour relationship looks at two colours each on one side of a complementary colour. For example, you’ll see in the image below, the split complementary colour relationship uses the 6.00 o’clock (green) and 12.00 o’clock (red) complementary relationship. The split complementary relationship looks at two colours – both each side of the 6.00 o’clock position. These are 5.00 o’clock, and 7.00 o’clock positions.
8. Double Split Complementary (or Tetrad Rectangle)
The next colour relationship we will look at is the double split complementary (also know as the tetrad rectangle). In this relationship, a total of four colours are used. These are two colours on both of the two complementary colours. In our example below, you’ll see that the colours on either side of the 12.00 o’clock (red) position are used. These are the 11.00 o’clock and the 1.00 o’clock positions, as well as the two colours on either side of the 6.00 o’clock (green) position. These are 5.00 o’clock and 7.00 o’clock positions.
9. Tetrad Square
The tetrad square colour relationship looks at four colours that are two apart on the colour wheel. In our example below, this shows the 1.00 o’clock (2 and 3.00 o’clocks are the two spaces), 4.00 o’clock (5 and 6.00 o’clock are the next two spaces), 7.00 o’clock (8 and 9.00 o’clock are the next two spaces. The final colour is 10.00 o’clock (with 11 and 12.00 o’clock being the spaces).
The final colour relationship we will look at is the triad colour relationship. In this relationship, three colours four apart on the colour wheel are used. In our example below, you’ll see that 12.00 o’clock (with 1, 2 and 3.00 o’clock positions as spaces), 4.00 o’clock (with 5, 6, and 7 o’clock positions as spaces), and 8.00 o’clock (with 9, 10 and 11.00 o’clock as spaces).
After reading this post, you’ll know the colour relationships you can use to choose colours to use to make your art and craft. While you will still need to choose which, and how much of each colour group to use in your creations, this is a start.
We have drawing mediums already sorted into colour family groups
To help you to choose which colours might fit into each colour wheel clock position, we have already identified some drawing mediums (listed below), and sorted them into colour family group. As well as these posts linked below, on our learning portal, you can access interactive colour charts where you can search and sort these drawing mediums in their colour family groups.
Like this post? Save it to your colour harmonies pinterest board and refer back to it again and again.
This is an updated version of a post originally published on 10 June 2020, updated on 14 October 2020, and last updated on 5 August 2021.