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PRIMARY, SECONDARY AND COMPLEMENTARY COLOURS

V. Ryan 2002 - 2009

 

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When presenting a design or an idea your choice of colours is very important. Many surveys  have been carried out on the general public to find out what people like. The findings suggest that very young children like bright, vibrant colours (reds, yellows and oranges etc...) whilst older people like more gentle or sophisticated colours and tones such as shades of blue. It is very important for a designer to understand the way colours are put together/created as this may help in the selection of the right colour scheme for a particular age group. Next time you pass a poster look closely at the colours - the designer has considered them very carefully.

   

Primary Colours - These are colours that cannot be created through the mixing of other colours. They are colours in their own right. The three primary colours can be seen below RED - YELLOW - BLUE.

   

   

Primary colours can be mixed together to produce SECONDARY COLOURS. The table below shows the combination required to produce secondary colours.

 
 
 
SUMMARY
 
YELLOW

+

BLUE

=

GREEN
BLUE + RED = PURPLE
RED + YELLOW = ORANGE
   
 

 

 

 The colour wheel can be seen below and this can be used to help remember primary and secondary colours. The secondary colours are in between the primary colours - for example - between red and blue is purple. Quite simply, mixing the primary colours of red and blue paint together will produce the secondary colour purple.

 
 

An important rule of the colour wheel is that colours opposite to each other on the colour wheel usually work well together as a colour scheme. These are known as COMPLEMENTARY COLOURS. Do you agree?

   

1. Try mixing yellow and blue paint together. What colour did they make? Was this what you expected?

2. Use purple and yellow paint alongside each other. Do think these complementary colours work well together? Explain your answer.

3. What are your favourite colours ? Why are they your favourite?

4. Ask 50 people at random the following question: 'What is your favourite colour'? Draw a pictogram to represent the results.

   
 
   

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