Color Themes

Color Theory – Basics 101

Color Theory – Basics 101

I will try my best to keep this as simple as possible and not bog you down with technical information.

In this lesson we will look at the  basics of mixing colors and how the color wheel works. We will take a glance at the Primary, Second and intermediate colors, also touch up on Hues, Tones, Tints and Shades. Once you have a better understanding of these elements you can start to see how colors work with one another.

What is a color wheel? …. A color wheel or color circle is the organization of color hues around a circle, which shows the relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors  Understanding the basic of a color wheel is the foundation to picking complimentary colors.

There are 12 basic hues to a color wheel.

Primary Colors
There are three primary colors, Yellow, Blue and Red. These three colors are the hues that in theory can be mixed to make all the other colors.


Secondary Colors
By mixing two of the primary colors together you create a secondary color. There are three secondary colors, Purple, Green and Orange.
Example: Red + Blue = Violet


Tertiary Colors
By combining  primary and secondary colors together you create a tertiary (intermediate ) color. There are six tertiary colors.
Example: Yellow (Primary) + Orange (Secondary) = Warm Yellow (Tertiary)


So no we have the 12 Hues of a color wheel, the very basics!

There are four Elements to a color wheel, Hues, Tints, Tones and Shades. Theses are created by taking the basic 12 Hues and blending them with one of the Achromatic colors.

Achromatic Colors
Black,  White, Grey

A hue is the purest or brightest form of a color. Hues are colors that have not been mixed with white, grey or black.

A tint is a hue that has been mixed with white.

A tone is a hue that has been mixed with grey.

A shade is a hue that has been mixed with black

4 blends

So does it work! In theory yes! in practice lets see…

Here I have taken 7 bright Hues, as you can see they work well together.. Bright, cheerful and warm. Great for children’s color schemes


Here I worked up 7 Tints, as you can see they take a pastel effect, soft, mellow and calming..  great for babies and spring color schemes


Here I worked up 7 Shades, they have taken on a dark, rich,  jewel like effect. Great for masculine, sensual color schemes

Here I worked up a sample in the tone shades, they would take on a muted, vintage feel.

I hope you have found the basics useful, understanding the theory behind the colors will help make those important color choices for your next project. But dont rush off to the yarn store yet!

Here is a useful Color Wheel Printable for your crochet folders

Homework 🙂
Going back to the 12 colors of the wheel.. I want you to look around your surrounding and see if you can find 12 objects/items that match the 12 hues of the color wheel. You can not use yarn. Arrange them in a wheel and snap a photo and head over to the Pippin Crochet Club to enter this weeks giveaway (giveaway will end January 11th 2019)  …

Next in the series…..
Color Theory 102 – Blends, Gradients and Ombre
Color Theory 103 – Color Harmony
Color Theory 104 – Exploring Colors
Color Theory 105 – Presentation is key

7 thoughts on “Color Theory – Basics 101”

  1. I found the part about the hues, shades, tints and tones very helpful thanks! I knew about the rest but now it makes more sense! Thank you!


  2. I’ve always worked from the basic colour wheel but never knew how to go about the hues, tones, tints & shades. Excellent explanation well done & thank you x


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