Graphic Design Basics
Lesson 8

Color wheel basics

Graphic design course - Canva Design School - Color wheel basics
Graphic design course - Canva Design School - Tints and shades
Up Next - Lesson 9
Tints and shades


Let's look at complimentary, analagous and triadic color schemes in this activity.
  • Understand the color wheel, looking at primary and secondary colors
  • Learn about complementary, analogous and triad color relationships

Color, my favorite subject!
There’s so much to cover on this topic.

But let’s start with a refresher on the basics.
The color wheel helps us to visualize the relationships between colors.

So we can see which look good together and which don’t.

Color harmony.

So, what I want to try to do is match the message. Because colors have inherent meaning in them.
Whether we know it or not, it’s really imbued into our culture what colors mean.

So really understanding the meaning behind each color is really helpful.
It also means different things in other cultures as well, so that’s really good to know.

Then identifying the hero color for the design, so picking a main color.

If I’m designing a Valentine’s Day card, I might want to go with a classic pink, a magenta color.
I want it to be really energetic so I’m gonna tone up the saturation a little bit and make it really bright.

Then, secondly, I want to find complementary colors to match that hero color.

Remember learning about primary colors at school?
Primary colors are mixed to make secondary colors.
Secondary are mixed to make tertiary colors.

And all together they form the wonderful color wheel.

Here is where color harmony steps in.

It uses the wheel to illustrate harmonious combos with funky names like analogous, complimentary and triad.
Analogous colors sit next to each other on the wheel.
Complementary colors sit opposite each other on the wheel.
If contrast is what you’re after, so you can’t go wrong with this approach.

If you’re feeling bold, branch out further and try a split complementary, or triadic.

That’s your basic rainbow covered. More on color in our next episode!

Graphic Design Basics Lessons

01 – Design to communicate
02 – Moodboard magic
03 – Practise proximity
04 – Ace alignment
05 – What the font!?
06 – Opposites attract
07 – Make it pop!
08 – Color wheel basics
09 – Tints and shades
10 – Color combos
11 – Photo love
12 – Share and publish