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How many complementary color schemes are there?

 

It’s the end of my week here at QUILTsocial and I’ve only touched on a couple of the different color schemes provided by the color wheel. We learned a ton of other information though which will be very useful in picking fabrics and creating contrast in our quilts. Today is no exception in that I’ll be talking further about the color wheel and another color scheme called the complementary color scheme. So have you ever wondered just how many complementary color schemes are there?

I guess it’s time to find out but first I’m going to talk about warm and cool colors as they will lead us right into the discussion about complementary color schemes.

Warm & Cool Colors

The color wheel when divided in half has either warm or cool colors.

Wheel divided into warm and cool
Wheel divided into warm and cool

 

 

Warm or cool – which one are you drawn to?  

I have to say that the cool colors always catch my eye before the warm colors do. Looking in my stash I have far more cool fabrics than warm fabrics. Having said this, we are a product of our environment.

When I was living in the Australian Outback and living in the red dirt I was drawn more to the warm colors in my quilt-making but not in the clothing I wore. Now that I’m back in Canada I tend to use more cool fabrics again.

What is a warm color?

Warm colors tend to have a suggestion of red, yellow or orange undertones to them. On the color wheel they make up the half ranging from red to yellow-green.

The perfect example of warm colors are the colors we associate with autumn – rust, orange, yellow, gold, burgundy and brown. These colors give you a feeling of warmth and are associated with sunlight, heat and fire.

Warm colors give an impression of advancing visually in space which means in a quilt there is the illusion of them coming forward. This impression of advancing can be enhanced by placing them next to cool colors.

Kaleidoscope quilt in a warm monochromatic color scheme
Kaleidoscope quilt in a warm monochromatic color scheme

 

 

What is a cool color?

Cool colors tend to have a suggestion of blue as an undertone. On the color wheel they make up the other half which is green to red-violet.

An example of cool colors would be the colors of the sea – turquoise, blue and green. Other examples would be the color of winter, night or shadows – indigo blue and deep purple.

These colors give you a feeling of calmness and relaxation as well, they can make one feel refreshed. They can also give an impression of  being cold and impersonal.

Cool colors give an impression of receding away into the distance. Depending on the color they are sitting beside in a quilt, will determine how much they appear to recede.

Kaleidoscope quilt in a cool monochromatic color scheme
Kaleidoscope quilt in a cool monochromatic color scheme

 

 

The two quilts above are made with the same pattern but one uses a warm set of fabrics and the other cool – what a difference that makes to the design.

These warm and cool colors can be used together to create depth and movement in a quilt. Experiment with them and see what happens when you put certain combinations of warm and cool colors together – you may be surprised what is created.

The quilt below has a combination of both warm and cool colors with predominately warm. I love how the blue recedes and the orange pops out.

Warm & cool fabric combination in my Strata quilt
Warm & cool fabric combination in my Strata quilt

 

 

What color scheme is made up of both a warm and cool color?

The color scheme that uses both warm and cool colors is the complementary color scheme. A complementary color scheme is made up of two colors directly opposite each other on the color wheel. Since half the wheel is warm colors and the other half cool colors it stands to reason that a complementary color is one of each.

The most common complementary color scheme is red and green. These two colors represent Christmas.

 

Red & green are directly opposite on the color wheel
Red & green are directly opposite on the color wheel

 

 

Complementary colors

How many complementary color schemes are there?

There are 6 in total. Three of the schemes are made up of a combination of the primary and secondary colors while the other 3 are made up of the tertiary colors.

Yellow/Purple

Purple & yellow complementary colors
Purple & yellow complementary colors

 

 

Red/Green

Red & Green complementary colors
Red & Green complementary colors

 

 

Orange/Blue

Blue & Orange complementary colors
Blue & Orange complementary colors

 

 

Red-Purple/Yellow-Green

Yellow-Green & Blue-Purple complementary colors
Yellow-Green & Blue-Purple complementary colors

 

 

Red-Orange/Turquoise

Red-Orange & Blue-Green complementary colors
Red-Orange & Blue-Green complementary colors

 

 

Yellow-Orange/Blue-Purple

Yellow-Orange & Blue-Purple complementary colors
Yellow-Orange & Blue-Purple complementary colors

 

 

Which is your favorite color combo?

My all time favorite is the orange/blue combo.

For the complementary project I decided to stick with my favorite and use the orange/blue color scheme. This way I can make another cushion cover that will go with the monochromatic one that I made yesterday.

I still need to pick out some fabrics from my stash for the project but I have pulled together a few other items that I purchased at my local quilt shop and need to put to use in this project. No point saving them for a special occasion as everyday is a ‘special occasion’ – how true that is!

I’ll be looking at creating contrast in this one with the 5 elements of contrast just as I did in the monochromatic one. Although this time I’ll add different medium to create the contrast. You can see that I have some yarn and embroidery floss in the photo below. So many ideas, not enough time.

Variety of tools & notions
Variety of tools & notions

 

 

But, alas it’s the end of the week and there has been a ton of information to absorb this week so my little project with the above tools I’m going to start in September, when I’m back for another week of blogging here at QUILTsocial.

This will give us each something to look forward to and we’ll be able to review and use the information presented this week.

Now that you know the answer to how many complementary color schemes there are, you’ll want to start thinking about which one you’re going to use next month for your pillow cover. Happy Quilting!

 

 

Jennifer runs Quilts by Jen, a fantastic educational resource for quilters with many great free tutorials ranging from how to choose fabrics, understanding the value of fabrics, pressing, building Bargello runs, pinning, binding, sandwiching, couching, quilting, and much more. Check them out!

2 Comments

  1. Michele T

    This is a very informative post… I am drawn to both warm and cool colours, depending on my mood!!

  2. Cecilia Bahr Thex

    When it comes to colors, I guess I’ve never used a color wheel. But in thinking about what I use most it would have to be cool colors, but I also do the warm colors. Really it depends on what I’m making and how it owes with the environment it is going to be used. If it’s clothing depend on them persons skin tone and what they like.

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