Color makes a design come alive.

It can attract attention, set a mood, and even influence our emotions and perceptions.But sometimes it can be hard to know where to start when choosing a color palette for your design project.

According to color theory, harmonious color combinations use any two colors opposite each other on the color wheel, any three colors equally spaced around the color wheel forming a triangle, or any four colors forming a rectangle (actually, two pairs of colors opposite each other). The harmonious color combinations are called color schemes – sometimes the term ‘color harmonies’ is also used. Color schemes remain harmonious regardless of the rotation angle.

Complementary colors are any two colors opposite each other on the wheel. For example, blue and orange, or red and green.

These create a high contrast, so use them when you want something to stand out. Ideally, use one color as background and the other as accents. Alternately, you can use tints and shades here; a lighter tint of blue contrasted against a darker orange, for example.

Split complementary colors use three colors. The scheme takes one color and matches it with the two colors adjacent to its complementary color. For example, blue, yellow-orange and red-orange.

This scheme is ideal for beginners because it is difficult to mess up. That’s because you get contrasting colors, but they aren’t as diametrically opposite as complementary colors, says Tiger Color.

Analogous colors are any three colors next to each other on the wheel. For example, orange, yellow-orange, and yellow.

With analogous colors, it’s best to avoid hues as they can be jarring. Instead, focus on tints of analogous colors. Another tip Color Wheel Pro shares is to avoid combining warm and cool colors in this scheme.

Triadic colors are any three colors that are equally apart on the color wheel. For example, red, yellow and blue.

The Triadic scheme is also high-contrast, but more balanced than complementary colors. The trick here, Decor Love says, is to let one color dominate and accent with the other two.

Tetradic or double complementary colors uses four colors together, in the form of two sets of complementary colors. For example, blue and orange is paired with yellow and violet.

Learn the Basics of Color Theory to Know What Looks Good