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  • Writer's pictureEleganceredefinedbysejal

What is a colour wheel?

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

Ever wondered how do fashion designers find the perfect colour combination for you?

They use what is called the colour theory. This theory is a combination of art and science of colours that determines what colours look good together.

The colour wheel was invented in 1666 by Isaac Newton. The colour wheel is the basis of colour theory, because it shows the relationship between various colours.

What is a colour wheel?

In simple terms, colour wheel is a visual arrangement of 12 hues in natural value order. Brewster’s wheel amongst all is the most simple to understand with lighter values on top and darker values at the bottom.

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Colours on the wheel:

Colour wheel is made of 12 hues with its tints, tones and shades.

Three primary hues as we all know: namely, RED, BLUE, YELLOW –cannot be obtained by mixing any other hue.

Secondary hues of ORANGE, GREEN, VIOLET- are obtained by mixing of primary hues.

Tertiary hues of Yellow-orange, Yellow –green, Blue –green, Blue-violet, Red-violet, and Red-orange – are obtained by mixing one primary and one secondary hue.

What else is on the colour wheel?

1. Warm and cool hues

2. Colour schemes

3. Pure colours

4. Dark shades

5. Light tints

6. Soft muted colours -Tones

7. Bright colours

Why use colour wheel?

Each individual - man or woman have their own personal unique colouring of their skin colour, undertone, overtone, eyes colour , hair colour and even teeth colour in some cases. The wheel is used to match up your colouring with that of the colours on the wheel.

To determine the best colours for an individual to wear, you need to first understand and evaluate-

1. The VALUE, i.e. the darkness /lightness of the skin, hair and eyes.

2. The INTENSITY of your personal colouring .

3. The warm or cool undertones of your skin .

Now let’s talk about the same 3 dimensions on the colour wheel.

What are warm hues and cool hues on the wheel?

Colour wheel is divide into warm hues and cool hues where warm ones are on the left side of the wheel and the cool ones are on the right side of the wheel.

Warmer hues on the colour wheel are the reds, oranges, yellows

and their tints/tones/shades.

Cooler hues on the colour wheel are the blues, greens, violets

and their tints/tones/shades.

Also most warmer hue can also become relatively cooler by addition of cooler hues on the wheel and the cooler hues can become relatively warmer on the wheel.

For example,

Take a Red. With an addition of warm yellow in it, it can lean towards rust which is relatively warmer than red .

And if we add cool blue to red, it will lean towards violet/magenta which is relatively cooler than red.

Lady on the left side has a skin with warm undertone and is wearing warm hues whereas the lady on the right has a cool undertone and is wearing cool hues.


The wheel is with bright intensity and the same would be used matching your own intensity. In case of an individual having softer intensity, the brightness has to be reduced accordingly. has to be


Values on the wheel are arranged where in, it begins from inner circle as the darkest shade and going outwards towards the lightest tints.


There are more than 10000 colours and these are just a few on the wheel for us to understand.


Once you evaluate your personal three dimensions of your skin/hair/eye value, skin intensity and your warm /cool undertone, you can now match them up with the colour range on the wheel for the Value, Intensity and the hue of your personal colouring.

1. You can use brightness/softness from the wheel.

2. You can see and use the warm hues or cool hues .

3. You can use the light/medium /dark values on the wheel.

4. You can determine which colour schemes are apt for you.

(To understand more on Value and Intensity, do read my next blog on


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