Using Color to Create Eye-Catching Designs

An Introduction to Color Theory

For the longest time, I thought I was missing something when it came to colors. But color theory and using colors is pretty simple.

Colors can affect moods, attract attention, or make statements. You can use color to invigorate or to sedate. By selecting the right color scheme, you create a specific mood. Color can be your most powerful design element if you learn to use it effectively.

Color WheelThe Color Wheel

The color wheel is a way to organize colors around a circle.

The first circular color diagram was designed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666.

Color schemes are logical combinations of colors on the color wheel. Color schemes create a certain style or feeling.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors

In the RYB color model, the primary colors are red, yellow and blue.
Three secondary colors (green, orange, and purple) are created by mixing two primary colors.
Six tertiary colors are created by mixing primary and secondary colors.

Warm and Cool ColorsCool and warm colors

The color wheel can be divided into warm and cool colors.
are those that create a sense of warmth, such as red, orange, and yellow.
are just the opposite and create a sense of calm. Greens, blues, and purples are examples of cool colors.
White, black, brown, and gray are considered to be neutral.

Tints, Shades, and Tones

If a color is made lighter by adding white, the result is called a tint. If black is added, the darker version is called a shade. And if gray is added, the result is a different tone.

Color Harmonies

Basic techniques for creating color schemes


Complementary Color Schemes

Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel are considered to be complementary colors (example: red and green).
The high contrast of complementary colors creates a vibrant look especially when used at full saturation. Be careful using this color scheme because it can be too exciting.
Complementary color schemes are tricky to use in large doses, but work well when you want something to stand out.


Analogous Colors

Analogous Color Schemes

Analogous color schemes use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. They usually match well and create serene and comfortable designs.
Analogous color schemes are often found in nature and are harmonious and pleasing to the eye.
Make sure you have enough contrast when choosing an analogous color scheme.
Choose one color to dominate and a second to support. The third color is used (along with black, white, or gray) as an accent.


TriadicTriadic color scheme

A triadic color scheme uses three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel.

To use a triadic harmony successfully, the colors need to be carefully balanced. As in the analogous color scheme, let one color dominate and use the two others for accent.



 Split Complementary

Split-Complementary color scheme

The split-complementary color scheme uses a combination of a base color and two analogous colors, which are adjacent to its complement. This color scheme has strong visual contrast, like a complementary color scheme, but has less tension.
The split-complimentary color scheme is often a good choice for beginners, because it is difficult to make mistakes.

rectangle color scheme

Rectangle (tetradic) color scheme

The rectangle or tetradic color scheme uses four colors arranged into two complementary pairs. This rich color scheme offers plenty of possibilities for variation.

Let one color be dominant in this color scheme.

Pay attention to the balance between warm and cool colors in your design.


square color schemeSquare Color Scheme

The square color scheme is similar to the rectangle, but with all four colors spaced evenly around the color circle.
Square color schemes works best if you let one color be dominant.
You should also pay attention to the balance between warm and cool colors in your design.




These color schemes work great for creating jewelry and jewelry components. Because glass pallets are limited, you’ll have to use these schemes liberally. A friend of my son’s, who is an art student, told me very succinctly to work with either warm or cool colors. If you want to make your piece pop, then add the opposite to make it distinctive. For example, if you use blues and greens, which are cool colors, use yellow to make the set pop.

Let me know which colors you prefer to work with!

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About LeahBeads 21 Articles
Leah has been working with all types of glass since 2000. She loves sharing her knowledge and helping people experience the thrill of glass beadmaking. She also runs and competes in triathlons when she's not at the torch.

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