A Color Theory Cheat Sheet

Wondering which colors to use for your yearbook theme, but not sure how to choose? Try your hand at a few basic color theory principles. Color theory is a guide to mixing colors, with certain principles dating all the way back to Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. Modern color theory that we use today was adapted from Sir Isaac Newton’s color wheel.

There are, of course, an endless amount of color combinations, but if you’re unsure which to choose, try one of these combinations from our quick and easy color theory guide.

Complementary colors are any two colors that sit directly across from each other on the color wheel. The combination of these colors creates a vibrant and energizing effect.

For a more soothing color combination, try two, three or four colors that appear together in a row on the color wheel.

A combination of triadic colors are any three shades that appear at equidistance apart from one another on the color wheel. This combination promises vibrance, but it’s best used when one of the colors is dominant and the other two are used as accents.

The split complementary color scheme is similar to the complementary scheme, except that rather than using a color directly opposite from another, it uses the two colors adjacent to it. This combination offers a lot of contrast without the tension of complementary colors.

Four colors that are equidistant from each other on the color wheel create a square color combination. This scheme can offer a balance of warm and cool tones, but like with triadic schemes, its best when one color is used dominantly.

Tetradic color schemes involve four colors arranged into two complementary pairs. The scheme involves one primary color, two complementary colors and a fourth color that highlights.

Now that you know a few ways to choose colors that are sure to look great together, try being adventurous when picking your next color palette. Enter the exact Hex formula of the colors you want to use, choose from the entire color spectrum or use the Eye Dropper tool in our app to match the color in a photo, background or art.

Your color options are endless!