What is Color Theory? A Helpful Guide you need to Understand and know Your Watercolors Better

Have you ever wondered “What is Color Theory?”

“Why should I know about it?”

“Isn’t it technical stuff?“

Does it really have any benefits for me, I am just an artist who paints?”

Color theory has nothing scary or technical about it! In fact it is more fun and beautiful to explore! There is not only “Art” but “Science” behind Colors!

A Helpful Guide you need to Understand and know Your Watercolors Better

We all know that Red Color represents bold, something hot, even anger and danger. Similarly Blue represents more calm, composed and serene and soothing feels. In order to understand your colors better you must play around with them, experiment with them and understand their symbolism.

“I think we all need to be able to dream in all colors.”

Victor J. Glover
What is Color Theory? A Helpful Guide you need to Understand and know Your Watercolors Better

What is Color Theory?

Color theory will help you know your colors, how to mix your colors and how to use your colors. It is basically the study of how colors relate to each other, work with each other, or not work with each other, how they are used to create visual interest, harmony and contrast.

Colors can be used to draw attention, create contrast, create interest and evoke emotions.

Therefore to use and understand colors efficiently, it is essential to consider the emotional impact of the colors, the way that different colors interact with each other, and the role that color plays in the composition as a whole.

Color theory also includes the study of color harmonies, which are color combinations that are aesthetically pleasing and create a sense of balance and unity in a design. Knowing these basics can help the artist create beautiful paintings, sometimes this quality is inherent but sometimes one must learn it to use the colors effectively. For example, Complementary, analogous, and triadic color schemes go well together. Let’s learn about these terms in the next part.

Being familiar with colors theory is not a theoretical blabber it is in fact more of a Creative process.

What is Color Theory?

Although this is more subjective so you can either paint keeping your perspective in mind or the perspective of the one for who you are painting. For example one might like bold contrasting colors while another may prefer muted tones. You can’t say which is more beautiful!

Color theory: 3 Main Characteristics of Colors

  • Hue – Simply the Colors like Red, Yellow, Pink etc.
  • Value – Lightness and darkness of color, like how it will appear in shade and in darkness
  • Intensity – Means the Saturation, whether a color is bright or dull, you can reduce intensity by adding water and increase it by adding black or grey to a color.

The Color Wheel

Unquestionably Color wheel can help you in understanding the terms used by artists’ better! It is a visual representation of the relationships between different colors.

So in color theory, the color wheel is a basic tool used to understand color relationships.

Here are the basic Color Terms used by Artists’• 

 Primary Colors – Red, Yellow & Blue• 

 Secondary Colors- Orange, Green & Violet• 

 Tertiary Colors – The ones you get by mixing a Primary with a Secondary• 

 Warm Colors – E.g. Red, Yellow, Orange• 

 Cool Colors – E.g. Green , Blue, Purple• Complimentary or Contrasting Colors – Colors on the Opposite side of the wheel• 

 Monochrome – Same Color different values•

 Analogous – Any 3-4 Neighbouring colors on the color wheel• 

 Browns, Grey & Black – Mix a Primary color and a secondary color or Any Two secondary colors• 

 Triadic Colors– Any three Colors evenly spaced on the wheel e.g.. the primary or the secondary• 

 Tint- Shade made by adding white• Tone – How dark or Light a Color is•

 Shade- Pure Color – E.g. Red, Yellow, Green etc.

You can grab my FREE GUIDE in which I have explained these terms even better and in detail along with charts.

10 benefits of Learning about Color Theory

We already discussed about what is color theory now let’s have a look at ten reasons how Color Theory can help you to become a better Artist!

1. Inspiration: Color theory inspires the Artist to come up with new and creative color combinations in their artwork.

2. Problem-Solving: By understanding of Color Theory the Artist can better answer questions like what colors to use for a specific topic or client, what is working, what is not working, what will look good etc.

3. Increased Confidence: Artists can feel more confident in their color choices by gaining a deeper understanding of color and its role in art.

4. Versatility: Understanding color relationships and harmonies will allow the artists to experiment with new color mixes and trying new color combinations, this will make their work more flexible and versatile.

5. Improved Color Mixing: Understanding color relationships and how to mix different hues can help artists mix any shade with ease and accuracy!

6. Better Composition: Color theory can guide artists in creating more visually appealing and effective compositions.

7. Professionalism: Knowledge of color theory is a sign of professionalism and mastery in the field of art, and can help artists stand out from the competition.

8.Cohesiveness: Understanding color will make the paintings look more cohesive and unified.

9. Emotional Impact: Knowledge of color associations and meanings can help artists use color to evoke specific emotions and increase the impact of their artwork as per their own style or a client’s requirement.

10. Help save Money: Understanding the colors better will help the artist mix any color they like so they don’t have to buy a plethora of expensive tube available out there!


In conclusion, understanding the basics of color theory is a very important for an Artist. Its importance lies in the fact that color has the power to evoke emotions and convey messages. By studying color relationships and harmonies, and understanding the emotional and cultural associations of color artists can use color more effectively to achieve their desired results.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned artist, incorporating color theory into your practice can help you become a better artist overall, it can help you become more professional, make you versatile and enhance your creativity in so many ways!

If want to go more in depth for even a clearer understanding of these terms, knowing about color charts, then check out this FREE Guide!

Until next time,

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