The Color Wheel, Part 1 + An Announcement!

Are you ready for another Tips and Tricks post? These are quickly becoming my favorite posts to make up, because I get to make fun things like this:

It’s a Distress Ink Color Wheel! As you may know, I’m just a few months away from graduating with my B.A. in Graphic Design, and I’m a chart lover to the very core. I love to organize, categories and make lists. My left brain is a very big part of my creativity, and I love it.

On a recent video tutorial, I mentioned that I used colors that were next to one another on the color wheel. I recieved several questions about what I was implying, and this made me realize that I owe you a little lesson in color. Trust me, it will be quick and painless. :)

But first, I thought it would be fun to make your own color chart. You’ll need the your distress inks (I used all off the 36 standard colors plus the 12 seasonal colors here), a 3/4″ circle punch (5/8″ or 1/2″ would work as well on this chart) and the will to get your fingers a little inky. Here’s the pdf you can print onto white cardstock and adhere your circles to. It’s sized for 8.5″ by 11″, so it cuts off the two outermost circles (you don’t need them anyways). If this bothers you, you can print out the chart from the 11″ by 14″ PDF version on a large format printer. Do what works best for you!

Let me stress that this is an imperfect chart. The colors aren’t perfectly spaced, the main 12 colors use several of the limited edition colors, and there simply are not enough colors to completely fill the chart. This is all okay! It’s about seeing your colors in a new way. You can also punch circles of other inks you have and practice arranging them on the chart. You don’t have to stick to the Distress Inks.

The chart also leaves out several distress colors that don’t quite “fit” because of their neutrality (they would normally in the the middle of the chart, but this looks prettier). Just think of these as your neutral colors that’ll go with just about anything. These colors are: antique linen, black soot, brushed corduroy, forest moss, frayed burlap, gathered twigs, iced spruce, old paper, pumice stone, tea dye, vintage photo, walnut stain and weathered wood.

The Color Wheel: An Introduction

[CLICK HERE for Part Two about color relationships!]

Now, forget everything about Distress Inks. We’re talking color here, and it doesn’t matter what inks or paper or anything you use. Just the colors matter. :)

First, let me introduce you to the standard 12-color wheel. (This is the exact same as the circle of inks on the chart with the bold line around it.) This is the basis of most color theory.

Remember, this is an exercise in understanding and not perfection. If you were to make this chart using computer colors and exact math, it would look a little different. That’s okay! So how did these colors come to be? Why these colors, and why does it have to be arranged this way? Well, here’s why:

These are the primary colors. You’ve probably been working with these since you were a toddler: the basics red, yellow and blue.

When you combine each of these colors, you get what we call secondary colors. So red and yellow combine to make orange, yellow and blue combine to make green, and blue and red combine to make violet.

See? That’s easy enough. Now we just combine each of the colors next to one another – one primary and one secondary – to create tertiary colors. Red and orange combine to make red-orange, orange and yellow combine to make yellow-orange and so on. ***Note that when a color is mixed so that has even amounts of each color, you say the primary color first.

Now that you have this part down, we can move on to color schemes next week! So make a chart of your own and see if you can categories the inks and paper you have on hand into a pretty color chart. I’d love to see your results! Remember, not everything falls perfectly into one of these 12 colors – sometimes there are mixtures that fall in between. That’s okay! It’s all part of the process. :)

[CLICK HERE for Part Two of color theory about color relationships!]

Introducing… Design Principles!

So you’ve seen me mention a couple times that I’m working on a big project. Well, this is it. I’m not going to give away all of my secrets quite yet, but I can finally tell you a little about my newest designchild.

Inspiration University: Design Principles will take place here on my website and will be an interactive class. It’ll be a combination of my Tips and Tricks posts with a little bit of the feel of No-Stress Distress Inks with some new, fun things like guest designers, giveaways and private galleries for class participants. There will be lots of videos, lots of examples and lots of community love.

I hope you’re getting excited! I know there will be a ton of questions, so I’ll divulge more details about the class soon. Feel free to ask away in the comments, and then look out for a post around the 9th or 10th for more details about Design Principles.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Back to work for me. Lots to do, lots to do! :D



Filed under Tutorials

22 Responses to The Color Wheel, Part 1 + An Announcement!

  1. Nice tut! I like seeing the colors like that. Your new class sounds fun- I’m looking forward to learning more :)

  2. Great tutorial, and thanks for the awesome color wheel PDF! I’m excited to learn more about the class!!!

  3. AWESOME! This is a fabulous tutorial and your course sounds amazing! I’ve always wanted to have a better understanding of design principles. I refer people to your No Stress Distress tutorials all the time. I can’t wait to find out more, and I hope you have badge for our blogs so we can help you promote it. :-)

  4. Barb Ghigliotty

    Hi Britta ~
    What a fabulous idea! It’s something that has not been offered in other classes, and I can’t think of a better artist to do it than you!
    I majored in science, so I really appreciate any help in the arts…it doesn’t come naturally for me. So, thank you…and thanks so much for the color chart! I’ve already learned so much from this post!

    Looking forward to more info on your class ~ Have a great week :-)

  5. Mandee

    Thanks so much. I really appreciate the color wheel. I have downloaded it and yes I have a wide format printer – one of my treasures. I enjoy your videos so please keep them coming. Mandee

  6. This is wonderful!!! I am so excited for you and can not wait for more info! I will definitely take this class!

  7. SOunds fabulous! thanks for explaining the colour wheel further (I knew of it and how it worked, but not how it ‘came to be’ ) VERY cool :)

    Thanks sweetie! can’t wait for the class x

  8. You explain it SO well!!! So well, that this is exactly how I’m going to explain the tertiary colors to my students–which is the one that’s a bit more difficult for them to get. Thanks for the PDF!!! And oh my gosh, you’re an answer to my prayers! I’ve been wanting to take some design classes and thought I would take a couple at a community college or something, but no need for that anymore! I’m going to take the class with you!!! SO exciting!!! You go girl!! (;

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  10. LauraJane

    Thanks for the color wheel idea!
    I’ve never been to university…. yours sounds most INTERESTING!
    Looking forward to hearing more about are a very good instructor:)

  11. Hey Britta, I’m so excited about your online course! (I also can’t wait to see who the guest designers are!)

  12. Charissa

    Oh so excited about your online course!! And the color wheel is awesome. I just printed it so I can get to mapping my inks (and figure out which ones I still need to buy!)

  13. Mary M.

    Love your color wheel, and I’m so excited about the design class! I’ve been interested in design principles for a while so this will be the perfect (read:fun!) way for me to learn. =)

  14. Pingback: Color Wheel, Part 2: Color Relationships | Britta Swiderski Creative

  15. Tina Keyes

    This is the perfect way to describe the color wheel – Thanks for sharing!

  16. Thank you for the tutorial…Thanks for sharing

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  20. Bukky

    Pinned this last year when you first posted it, and just got around to using it last night! For someone who loves color but doesn’t have a natural eye for color theory/placement etc. this was sooooo helpful in using distress inks to make some card backgrounds. Following the rules of the color wheel I easily came up with multiple color combos because of your distress color wheel. Thanks for putting in the work then so I could use it now and in the future Britta!

  21. Karen L K

    Thanks so much for this information. I haven’t even finished going over it and I really like this info, it is a huge help to me.

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