Color Theory

This year, 2005, I am teaching high school art. On this page you will find some of the resources that I have made for the color portion of the art course. While it is true that the student could and probably should draw these shapes to paint sometimes there simply isn't enough time and that is where these printables come in.

Best wishes to you and have fun teaching color theory. :-)


  • quality mixable paint in these colors: white, black, red, blue, and yellow
  • paint brushes in various sizes
  • paint mixing trays, water, paper towels and a protected surface for working
  • paper that is paint friendly
  • artist apron for each child (optional)

Color Terms:

Hue: Pure color without the addition of black, white, or gray

Tint: Color with white added.

Tone: Color with gray or its complement added.

Shade: Color with black added.

Value: The relative darkness or lightness of a color.

Intensity: The strength of a color, especially the degree to which it lacks its complementary color.

Saturation: Vividness of hue; degree of difference from a gray of the same lightness or brightness.

Achromatic: Designating color perceived to have zero saturation and therefore no hue, such as neutral grays, white, or black.

Color Wheel Terms

Primary Colors: Colors at their basic essence; those colors that cannot be created by mixing others...
red, blue, yellow

Secondary Colors: The colors achieved by a mixture of two primaries...
purple, orange, green

Tertiary Colors: The colors achieved by a mixture of primary and secondary hues..
red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, yellow-green, yellow-orange

Complementary Colors: The colors located opposite each other on a color wheel.

Analogous Colors: The colors located close together on a color wheel and have a color in common.

Color Schemes and Group Terms

Artists can use color groups for their palette to make a visually pleasing color scheme.
Analogous Color Scheme uses any three or more colors on the color wheel that have a color in common and are adjacent on the color wheel.
See possible example: Edward Hopper - Compartment C, Car 293
Complementary Color Scheme uses colors that are across from each other on the color wheel.
See possible example: Vincent van Gogh - Noon: Rest From Work
Monochromatic Color Scheme uses one color and all of the tints, tones, and shades of that color. See possible example: Vincent van Gogh - Trees with ivy in the asylum garden

Triadic Colors

These are the colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel.

Primary Triad
Tertiary Triad
Tertiary Triad
Split-complementary color schemes

Split complementary is a variation of complementary. There are 12 possible variations. In the first example below, the 3 colors connected are red, yellow-green, and blue-green. Green is the complement of red, but in a split complementary color scheme, the colors adjacent to the complement are used instead of the true complement.

Warm Colors

The colors from yellow and red-purple are usually called warm colors.

Cool Colors

The colors from yellow-green to purple are usually called cool colors.

Artists that could be studied during a color theory class

Rembrandt (color value)
We started with Rembrandt as a opener artist. He is more commonly known than some of the others that we will study this week.

Caravaggio (color value)
We didn't use this web page, but here is the WebMuseum Caravaggio web page:

Vincent van Gogh (color palettes)
Read about artist, look at certain paintings and tell what type of palette was used.. (complementary colors, split-complementary, analogous, monochromatic)
Web site linked below is a resource for paintings.

Edward Hopper (color palettes)
Do the same as above.
Web site linked below is a resource for paintings.

Donna Young

Blank Comic Strips - Draw Your Own Comic Strips!

handwriting lessons

You are at, online since 1998. Thank you for visiting my website. Donna Young

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