Color Theory: Complementary Colors and How to Use Them

Colors are important in making our artwork look good. But, how can you know if your color choices will work well together? When in doubt, you can rely on the basics of color theory to always make good color decisions.

Complementary Colors #ctmh #closetomyheart #complementary #color #colour #theory #scheme #diy #card #scrapbooking #colorfamily #colourfamily #family
This is the Close To My Heart color wheel, made up of all our exclusive colors.

(Download your printable CTMH color wheel here.)

Complementary colors are two colors opposite each other on the color wheel, such as Cranberry and Willow (red and green), and Goldrush and Pacifica (orange and blue). If you notice, one side of the color wheel is made up of warm colors while the other is made up of cool colors. Complementary colors, since they are across from one another, will have one of each. They create a vibrant contrast, making each other pop without being jarring to the eye.

Complementary Colors #ctmh #closetomyheart #complementary #color #colour #theory #scheme #diy #card #scrapbooking #colorfamily #colourfamily #family

When you’re creating your art, in this case a scrapbook page, avoid using the two colors equally. To keep your artwork interesting, try using one of the colors primarily as a background and the other for accents.

Complementary Colors #ctmh #closetomyheart #complementary #color #theory #diy #card #scrapbooking
You can create something beautiful using one set of complementary colors. Like in this card and the page above, simply incorporating different hues of the same color (or color family) will give your art the visual interest we all seek.

Knowing how to properly use color will only enhance your artwork. Look for a new Color Theory post every month where we will share basic color concepts and artwork inspiration to help you make flawless color decisions that will elevate your artwork.


12″ x 12″ Wonderful Page
D1757 My Acrylix® Stargazer—Scrapbooking Stamp Set, X7229B Stargazer Paper Packet, X7228B Gimme Some Sugar Paper Packet, X7230B Chelsea Gardens Paper Packet, 1385 White Daisy Cardstock, X5962 Goldrush Cardstock, Z3367 Vellum Paper, Z2833 Pebble Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad, X7229C Stargazer Complements, Z4143 Stargazer Dots, Cricut® Artbooking Collection

Cricut® Shape:

4¼” x 5½” The World Is Yours to Explore Card (Horizontal)
B1565 My Acrylix® A New Adventure Stamp Set, X7227B Make Waves Paper Packet, X7228B Gimme Some Sugar Paper Packet, 1385 White Daisy Cardstock, X5982 Canary Cardstock, Z2831 Charcoal Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad, X7229C Stargazer Complements, X7229C Stargazer Complements, Z1263 Bitty Sparkles, Z3274 Clear Sparkles, Cricut® Artbooking Collection

Cricut® Shape:

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23 thoughts on “Color Theory: Complementary Colors and How to Use Them

  1. Thank you so much for our very own Colourwheel! This is going to be a fantastic tool to help our Customers choose colour schemes when we (the consultant) are’nt around to help them.

  2. Thank you so much for our very own Colourwheel! This is going to be a fantastic tool to help our Customers choose colour schemes when we (the consultant) aren’t around to help them.

      • Your color wheel is a novel alternative to the otherwise-boring RGB and RYB color wheels, particularly in that the slices for each color appear to be flexible (i.e. ranges for each hue are not fixed). I’d really like to use it in a demo software application to programatically calculate opposites and other harmonies (split complementary, triad, etc.) but want to be very transparent and give you the requisites credits. At this point the app is totally in beta mode and not available to anyone else, including blog sites, Apple Store or Google Play. However, the long-term goal would be to migrate a polished version to a larger audience. This means that in this indeterminate interim period, we’d apply your desired copyright sign / trademark symbol to the demo model; i.e. even though it would not be public, it would still be shown to a small set of testers (<20) who would see your branding. Ultimately, we're trying to settle on a single "main menu" screen that best fits the *majority* users' preferences for picking colors and paints, such as color wheels, "pickers", sliding scales across the visible light spectrum to just plain ole' text searching under color names. That means we may not go with a color wheel in the end as our main menu but will need one or more in testing to whittle down the options with testers. We have the standard color wheels (RGB, RYB, HSL, HSV, etc.). Please let me know what you think–could share screen shots and the demo app in about 8 weeks (estimated).

    • If you want three colours you can use a split-complementary trio. choose one main colour and the two colours on either side of the main colours complement. ex. blue is your main colour then add in not orange but red orange and yellow orange. Don’t use them equally, think 60/ 30 /10 %. You can also use blue orange and either red orange or yellow orange, it’s not a recognized combo but it will also work but the oranges will appear much closer in hue.

  3. Thank you so much for the colour wheel! I am trying to decide on colours for a card workshop and this will really help!

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  6. I love this and your proportion tips! Can you help me understand why you have the violet family not opposite from the yellow family? I appreciate your help!

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