Colors Opposite on the Color Wheel

Color wheels can be confusing, but this article describes how to accurately find colors opposite on the color wheel.

What is a color wheel?

A color wheel is circle with colors around it, and sometimes inside it. The outside circle almost always represents the hues of various colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple).

The inside of the circle sometimes show the colors getting lighter or darker (the value). Other times, the inside of the circle shows varying chromas.

If you don’t know what these words mean yet, don’t panic! By the end of this article you will know all their definitions.

Master color with our extensive worksheets.

How It Works

colors opposite on the color wheel

In order to find the compliment of any color, use a color wheel as a guide. Whatever is directly across from a color is its opposite.

For example, directly across from blue on the color wheel is orange. The opposite of green is red. The opposite of yellow is purple, etc.

But what happens if your color isn’t exactly the same as the relatively few colors on this color wheel? Then what?

Ever wonder why black and white aren’t on the color wheel? This article explains why.

A Case Study: Blue

The opposite of blue on the color wheel is orange. That is the simple answer.

However, it can be more complex than that.

It really depends on what kind of blue you are looking to find the compliment of.

For example, if you are looking at a very light blue, then you need to find an orange of equal lightness for it to be a true opposite.

opposites on a color wheel

On the color wheel above, you can see that each color becomes lighter as it gets closer to the center of the circle. So if your blue is the lightest blue available, you want to match it with the color opposite of it that is also the lightest available.

Want to learn even more about color theory? Check out these free online color theory video tutorials.

But what about the “weird” blues?

Sometimes, the blue we are trying to find the opposite of is not such an obvious blue. Take blue jeans for example. They are blue, sure, but not as intense of a blue as what you see in the color wheel above.

Blue jeans are a neutralized blue. They are like a blueish grey. A little bit muddied in appearance. But still blue.

opposites on neutralized color wheel

On the color wheel above, you can see that there are three different versions of blue, Blue 1, Blue 2, and Blue 3.

Blue 1 is the most bluey blue. It is the most chromatic. But Blue 2 is still blue, just not as intense as Blue 1. And Blue 3 is the most neutralized of all, but still a blue.

So if you are looking at a blue, and trying to find blue’s opposite on a color wheel, you need to figure out how intense of a blue it is.

If it is a very intense blue, its compliment on the color wheel is a very intense orange.

If it is a neutralized blue, it’s complement on the color wheel is a neutralized orange.

Want to learn even more about the nuances of color? Follow along with these free color theory lessons.

Finding Colors with Confidence

I hope this article helps you to find colors with more confidence. Did you learn something new? Let me know in the comments below!

Did you know we offer extensive worksheets that teach realistic drawing and painting skills?

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. Good article here! (Suggestion: Please edit the word compliment and change the spelling to complement.) Otherwise, thank you for a truly wonderful lesson on color theory! – K.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *