Colour Schemes using the Chromatic Circle

Since last week we reviewed the colours, a quick guide, in which we showed the main qualities of each, it is time to take a step further and delve into the colour harmonies or colour schemes.

We have talked many times about range of colours and combinations you can make with them. Depending on what each colour represent. The main thing is to choose a colour to start and, of course, have a clear choice of that colour.

As you all know, red is the colour of Silo Creativo, so we will base all examples on this colour.

Colour harmonies

It is easy to match colours through what they represent. We know the feelings they represent; it is not the same to use red than blue, and the combination of them will be very different if we use green and yellow… If we want to talk about warmth but from a new perfective, we can combine orange and brown, but if we seek to attract attention, we better use the combination of orange with purple. As we have said repeatedly, we must know each colour to combine them (Come on, one last look at the quick guide before you start! )

But there are certain times when it is hard to play with colours through what they represent. We are not sure whether this colour combination is good for what we want.

Therefore, there is a tool that makes the colour combination much easier: the chromatic circle. Here we can see represented each of the colours so it can be a useful guide to trace the main combinations between them.

We can combine the colours as we want, but the harmonies of colours can help us to do it easier. When we talk about harmonies, we must remember that they are general colour combinations through which we can play with different colours

The main harmonies are:
• Monochrome
• Complementary
• Triadic
• Tetradic
• Analog

Depending on the effect we want to create, we will have to opt for one of them. It is not the same if I want to create contrast or what we want is soft … Let’s see them!

NOTE: Remember that we will see it starting from the red, but that all combinations are valid for all colours of the chromatic circle. In each of the combinations we will take the red and its pure combinations varying the tone and intensity of them to get the range of colours that best fits with what we seek.

Monochrome combination

As its name suggests, this range of colour will be based on a single colour. But do not be wrong, it is not at all a boring range. We choose a colour we like and from there, we can go up and down the saturation obtaining different shades.

Besides being very simple to do (always remember that they are based on a colour and not two or three similar colours) they can be very useful to represent a particular state of mind or a project that highlights one colour.


The only thing to note is that this is a range in which there is no contrast, so if you’re looking for contrast this is not your range. Either way, a good option may be to use a monochromatic palette and inserting a contrasting colour, as discussed below, a colour of its analog harmony.

Complementary combination

It is the perfect range of colours if you are looking for contrast. Complementary colours are those located on opposite sides on the chromatic circle. For example the complement of blue is yellow, of green is magenta and of red el cyan. Using these palettes can be a good item if you are looking for attention; they are not good colors to go unnoticed.

Complementary colours are widely used in advertising, producing high contrast that results in a call to action.

complementary-range-colourCombination of triadic colours

They are built with three families of colours that are evenly spaced on the chromatic circle (see illustration.) These combinations maintain the contrast of complementary colour combinations, while they create the harmony these colours do not have.

The best use of this combination is to take a dominant colour and use it more than the other colours. These colours are strength and vibrant.


Combination tetradic colours

It is known as double complementary colour scheme, as it uses 4 colour families, two pairs of complementary colours. This results in very vibrant and high contrast and intensity combinations.

It is a harmonious composition, but the only downside is that by holding more varieties of colours, its use is also more complicated than the others. Thus, we can do a good work by taking one predominant colour.


Combination analogous colours

This colour scheme uses three or more families place next to each other on the chromatic circle. It is a colour scheme that we can find in nature which makes it comfortable and calm.

It creates more contrast than monochromatic schemes, but not as much as complementary colours. When this range is used, it is best to take a dominant colour, a colour of the range of the first colour, and a colour to complement and create contrast.


With these guidelines will be no range of colour you cannot beat! Remember that the important thing is to experiment, and above all to know what we want to achieve with our colours.

Once we have the colours from which we begin, pure colours, we can go by changing contrast, intensity … to the tone of colour that best suits what we are looking for.

If we want to make a triad of analogous colours and these are green, greenish yellow and blue, we know that there will be many possible combinations with these tones, as it is not the same porcelain and cobalt blue or emerald and green bottle.

So with the choice of a triad we are opening a range of possibilities and here is where we must choose the one that best fits our project!

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