Complimentary Colours. A Good Colour combination?

The Magic of Complimentary Colours
Scroll down for your FREE PDF download. How to mix Primaries, Secondaries and Tersiaries
How to use Complimentary Colors
  • Complementary Colors that are opposite each other on the colour wheel.   
  • They are pairs of colours based on different wavelengths.            
  • Example: red and green
  • Example: Traffic lights are high contract complementaries and one secondary.
  • The high contrast of complementary colours creates a vibrant look, especially when used at full saturation.

Claude Monet

Art Quote

"Color makes its impact from contrasts rather than from its inherent qualities....the primary colours seem more brilliant when they are in contrast with their complementary colours."

Claude Monet

The negative side of mixing complementaries
  • The negative side of mixing complementaries is then when mixed to a 50 – 50 ratio they will balance each other out and create dull grey.
  • The best mix is to take the darkest colour and then add the lighter colour to it in small increments.
  • For example: start with 100% Yellow + 2% Blue = Green.
  • Add more blue to go to a darker green. 
  • BUT!…it will give a much better and live grey and black than buying black paint and mixing with white.
Pro Tip
How to easily work out complimentary colours.
Take the  x 3 Primary colours, Yellow + Red  + Blue
Mix Primary + Primary (Yellow and Red) = Secondary
Of the three Primaries only Blue is unused. Blue is the complimentary of Orange!

You will always have to mix 2 primaries to get a secondary. The left over primary will always be the complimentary!

Green is made up from 2 Primaries – Yellow and Blue.
The unused colour is Red.
Red is the Complimentary of Green!

Make a Purple by mixing Blue and Red.
The left over Primary is…Yellow!
Yellow is the complimentary of Purple!
How to mix Complimentary Colours
  • In the painting of van Gogh’s bedroom, you have the very intense red of the bed sheet which contrasts against the dull green of the floor. You also have the intense orange of the bed frame which contrasts against the weaker blue of the walls and doors.
  • Two colours, placed side by side, will appear differently depending on which colours are used and what they are placed next to.
  • The effect of this interaction is called simultaneous contrast.
  • Simultaneous contrast is most intense when two complementary colours are juxtaposed directly next to each other.
  • For example, red placed directly next to a green, if you concentrate on the edge you will see a slight vibration.
  • Your eye doesn’t like resting on the edge. The two complementary colours in their purest, most saturated form don’t sit well together, however, if you want to try and focus your viewer gaze on a particular part of the painting a knowledge of the ‘attraction to the eye’ can be used to great effect…
Don't forget to claim your FREE PDF download. Scroll down for the download.
Related Reading
The Value of Color

Extremely light or extremely dark colors reveal less of their intrinsic hue; therefore, they are less able to act as color. An awareness of this is extremely important for painters who want to use color to express the luminosity of nature. … Continue reading...The Value of Color

Read More
Using good colour harmonies.

Analogous color schemes use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. They usually match well and create serene and comfortable designs. … Continue reading...Using good colour harmonies.

Read More
Color mixing tips

We are concerned not with the theory of color, but rather its practice. … Continue reading...Color mixing tips

Read More
Who was Vincent van Gogh
The greatest of the Post-Impressionists
Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch painter, generally considered to be the greatest after Rembrandt van Rijn, and one of the greatest of the Post-Impressionists. He sold only one artwork during his life, but in the century after his death he became perhaps the most recognized painter of all time.
Art forms: Drawing, Watercolor painting, Painting
Sibling: Theo van Gogh
Born: March 30, 1853, Zundert
Profession: Painter, Artist
It will automatically download to your selected downoload folder. You can also look under downloads in your menu bar.

This blog is packed full of fascinating content. You’ll find highbrow artist interviews, reviews, gallery and exhibition recommendations, plus news from around the art world.

If you’re a curious art enthusiast looking for an educational read, Google’s arts and culture blog will offer you just that.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,099 other subscribers

I have a story to tell... I tell mine, and our hearts connect.

Learn more about this writer and artist...

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,099 other subscribers

1 thought on “Complimentary Colours. A Good Colour combination?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.