The Ultimate Colour Combinations Cheat Sheet

Finding a correct colour combination is one of the most important steps in designing a stylish and holistic look. This is why I'm offering you this cheat sheet, so you’ll always hit the bullseye when choosing colours for your artwork.

Scheme № 1: A complementary combination

Complementary (also known as supplementary or contrasting) colours are colours that sit opposite of each other on the colour wheel. The combination of such colours creates a vivid and energizing effect, especially at maximum saturation.

Scheme № 2: The triad — a combination of three colours

A Triad is a combination of 3 colours that are equidistant from each other on the colour wheel. It produces a high contrast effect while preserving ’harmony.’ Such a composition looks vibrant even when you use pale and unsaturated colours.

Scheme № 3: An analogous combination

This is a combination of 2 to 5 (ideally 2 to 3) colours that are adjacent to each other on the colour wheel. It creates a calming, likeable impression. Here’s an example of combining analogous muted colors: yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green.

Scheme № 4: The split complementary combination

A variation on the complementary colour combination. In this case, you take one primary colour and two complementary ones (the colours that lie on both sides of the primary colour’s antipode on the colour wheel). The effect created by such a scheme is just as contrasting as the one before but slightly less intense. If you feel unconfident about using the complementary scheme, use the split complementary instead.

Scheme № 5: The tetrad — a combination of four colours

This is a scheme that includes one primary and two complementary colours, plus an additional colour that highlights the accents. An example: blue-green, blue-violet, orange-red, orange-yellow.