Split Complementary Colors

Split Complementary colors on a color wheel
Split Complementary Colors on the color wheel

Split complementary colors are a variation on the traditional complementary color scheme. Instead of using two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, split complementary colors use three colors that are adjacent to the complementary color on the color wheel.

In traditional color theory, the color wheel is divided into primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue, and cannot be created by mixing other colors. The secondary colors are orange, green, and purple, and are created by mixing the primary colors. The tertiary colors are the colors that are created by mixing a primary color with a secondary color.

Complementary colors are located directly opposite each other on the color wheel. For example, red and green are complementary colors, as are blue and orange, and yellow and purple. When used together, these colors create a high contrast that can be very striking.

Split complementary colors use one color from the complementary pair as the main color, and then use the two colors adjacent to the complementary color as accents. For example, if the main color is blue, the split complementary colors would be yellow-orange and red-orange.

One of the key advantages of using split complementary colors is that it creates a less intense contrast than traditional complementary colors. This can make the color scheme more balanced and harmonious, without being as overpowering as a traditional complementary scheme.

Another advantage of split complementary colors is that it allows for more flexibility and creativity in color selection. By using three colors instead of two, you have more options for combining and contrasting colors, which can lead to more interesting and varied designs.

In addition to creating visual balance and harmony, split complementary colors can also be used to create emphasis and focal points in a design. By using the main color as a background and the two split complementary colors as accents, you can draw the viewer's eye to specific areas of the design and create a sense of hierarchy. This can be particularly effective when used in combination with other design principles, such as repetition, contrast, and alignment.

Split complementary colors can also be used to create a sense of depth and dimension in a design. By using a light or pale version of one color and a dark or saturated version of the other color, you can create the illusion of space and distance. This can be particularly effective in graphic design, where the use of color can help to create a sense of depth and movement.

When using split complementary colors in your designs, it's important to consider the overall color scheme and the mood or atmosphere that you want to create. Split complementary colors can be very effective, but it's important to use them in the right context and in the right proportions.

For example, if you want to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere, you may want to use softer, more muted versions of the split complementary colors, rather than bold, saturated colors. On the other hand, if you want to create a bold and energetic atmosphere, you can use brighter, more saturated colors.

It's also important to consider the other colors in your design, and how they will interact with the split complementary colors. In general, it's best to use split complementary colors as accents or highlights, rather than using them for the majority of the design. This will help to create a sense of balance and harmony, without overwhelming the viewer.