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The Guide to Colour Theory

Planning a colourful project like a crochet blanket from The Patchwork Heart blog? In a muddle over the colours you want to choose for it? Fear not! With our helpful guide to colour theory, we’ll explain how hues work together and help you discover the perfect colour palette for your project.

 

The Stylecraft Special DK Turquoise Blanket Colour Pack is perfect for trying out new colour combinations. Inspired by Heather herself, this assorted Colour Pack includes 12 balls of the best-selling Stylecraft Special DK, including TurquoiseLipstick and Fondant!

 

Whether you want a soothing, harmonious look for your home or a dramatic contrast to make your accessories ‘pop’, this colour wheel will show you everything you need to know.

 

A colour wheel is a circular image split into sectors detailing the relationship between colours. These include your primary colours, secondary colours and complementary shades.

However, it wasn’t always quite so simple. It is believed that the first theories surrounding colour were by Greek philosopher, Aristotle. He maintained that the ‘principal’ colours were black and white and that all other colours were derived from one of four elements: air, earth, fire and water.

 

Aristotle/Leon Battista Alberti

In 1435, Italian architect, Leon Battista Alberti wrote a piece opposing Aristotle’s philosophical approach, demoting black and white to non-colours. ‘Through the mixing of colours infinite other colours are born, but there are only four true colours – as there are four elements – from which more and more other kinds of colours may be thus created. Red is the colour of fire, blue of the air, green of the water, and of the earth grey and ash.’ As we move further on, following the discovery of the colour spectrum, Sir Isaac Newton is believed to have attributed the very first colour wheel by arranging red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet in a natural evolution on a rotating disk.

 

Sir Isaac Newton/Claude Boutet

This circular diagram became the model for many colour systems throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, which included Claude Boutet’s painter’s circle of 1708, which was probably the first to be based on Newton’s circle.
However, shaping the colour wheel into what we know today was Michel Eugène Chevreul’s Law of Simultaneous Colour Contrast in 1839. He concluded that the three primary colours were red, yellow, and blue and that all other colours could be created through various combinations of these primary colours. So, whether you're after a high colour contrast or a serene and comfortable design, take a look at our examples below:


Choose a colour, then select the shade opposite on the colour wheel for a beautiful combination.

 

Deramores Baby DK Patterns 1001 & 1008

 

Choose a colour, then select the two shades that lay either side on the colour wheel for a harmonious look.

 

Deramores Baby DK Patterns 1007 & 1010


Choose a colour, then go to its opposite on the colour wheel and choose the two colours either side for a striking mix of shades.

Image sources: thepatchworkheart.co.uk, butdoesitfloat.com, colorsystem.com, gutenberg-e.org, webexhibits.org