The Color Wheel

In the first tutorial, I discussed the differences between Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary colors. In this tutorial, we'll explore the color wheel and how it relates to the way Red, Blue, and Green are numerically seen by the computer.

First, let's look at the RGB Color Wheel we've created (below). This is the same as the CMY Color Wheel, just at a different angle.

Now let's look at the colors in their RGB numerical equivalents:

Color Red Value Green Value Blue Value
Red 255 0 0
Green 0 255 0
Blue 0 0 255
Yellow 255 255 0
Cyan 0 255 255
Magenta 255 0 255
Orange 255 128 0
Yellow-Green 128 255 0
Cyan-Green 0 255 128
Cyan-Blue 0 128 255
Blue-Magenta 128 0 255
Red-Magenta 255 0 128

One thing that you notice is a specific pattern as follows:

Primary = Color + zero value + zero value
Secondary = Color + Color + zero value
Tertiary = Color + 1/2 Color + zero value

The next concept I am going to introduce is the difference between Hue and Saturation. If you look at the color wheel, you'll notice that the color is pure at the outer edges, and turns to white toward the middle. This is Saturation. As the color progresses toward the center, the less Saturated it is. As it moves out toward the outer edge of the circle, it is said to be more saturated, until it reaches it's pure form. All the above numerical values for the colors found on the Color Wheel are for the pure form of the color. I used white at the center and formed a gradient between the two.

As for Hue? Well that's an easy one. It's simply another name for Color. They are entirely interchangeable.

What does this all mean? well, not much yet, except that it gives you a basis to work from. If you can understand the Color Wheel, you are one step closer to finding a good way to combine colors.

The above illustration shows the relationship between Hue and Saturation on the Color Wheel.

There is still a lot more to explore before we can successfully combine the colors together. In a future tutorial, I will look at some other aspects of Color and show how Color is 3 dimensional.