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Color Theory Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

A cheat sheet to help you further understand color theory, color emotion, and the color wheel.

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Color theory is the collection of rules and guidelines which designers and artists use to commun­icate meanings and emotions with their audience through different color schemes. A good color sceme should compliment each color used, and feel well balanced.

The Color Wheel

In order to create such a color scheme, designers and artists use a color wheel. A Color wheel enables us to refer to extensive collected knowledge about how colors look when mixed, adjusted, etc. It also shows us what each color may mean as an emotion, or what kind of image it may portray in the viewers head.

Warm VS Cool

Aggressive (Warm) Colors
They are usually vivid and energetic, also normally emotio­nally exciting.
Receding (Cool) Colors
They give us an impression of calm, and create a soothing feeling. They remind us of cold water.

Color Wheel

Color Schemes


Color Categories

Primary Colors
Cannot be mixed from any other colors (red, yellow, blue)
Secondary Colors
Two primary colors mixed together (orange, green, violet)
Tertiary Colors
One primary and one secondary color mixed together (Warm: reds, oranges, yellows) (Cool: greens, blues, violets)
(Black, gray, white)
Colors that sit next to one another on the color wheel. These colors are harmon­ious. (E.g. purple, blue, green)


Another name for color
Color + White
Color + Gray
Color + Black
Key Color
Dominant color in a color scheme or mixture
Neutral Gray
Combin­ation of black and white
Intensity or Chroma
The brightness or dullness of a color
The lightness or darkness of a color